Tag Archives: energy

allocation of energy

Allocation of Energy – how to learn the skill?

Every mom knows when her energy boils down to emptiness. This familiar feeling when nothing matters anymore. It’s ok when is happens once in a while, can be even fun, in a way. But not when it becomes an unfriendly routine. Not when there are kids to take care of. Allocation of energy is a far-reaching strategy and tactics, that every mom must master (three times “m” is a pure coincidence).  Why? Because mom’s energy supply is limited, at least this is how it is known to me at this point of existence. I haven’t yet found an endless channel of abundant power and, therefore, I get greedy when it comes to my very own energetic resources.

Allocation of energy – says it all

There is no recipe for harmony.

However, the author of this blog is sharing her own, checked and proven ways to maintain balance of energies.

The key word is – right allocation of energy.

As I’ve  written here and in another post, the energy supply is limited. Therefore, mom should be extremely careful when she chooses to invest her energy in this thing or another. She is not a super-hero (only sometimes) and, therefore, must keep a finger on the pulse of everything – when to act and when to rest.

Allocation of energy means, that mom:

  • makes a billion of micro-decisions every few seconds.
  • keeps cool and weighs her words, intonation and decibels.
  • uses mental tools to supervise the situation (with kids, her tiredness, mess etc.)
  • knows when to let things go.
  • smells herself burning from fatigue and runs away into the chambers seconds before the explosion.
  • controls the expression of her face (eyes especially), her mimics and never fakes a smile.

There are these and many more. Today I discovered something: my kids can maintain their quarrels perfectly well, they can figure what was wrong, how to share and how to find a solution. It was an amazing experience to watch and learn from. And this too, is allocation of energy when I spare forces for other things rather than control their every step and every fight.

How to learn the skill of allocation?

It’s not a quick trick and it’s not something that one can learn from another. It’s a transcendental experience and comes from daily practice.

Still, there are a few basic questions that mom should ask herself  as guidelines:

Do I need to rest or can I go on?

Grabbing a 15-minute nap is always, always, always a blessing. I do it on every possible occasion and this way of allocating my resources works perfectly well. I rarely get a “normal” 8-hour night sleep but rather steal these short nappy moments that save me. This way I can not only “function” but even do luxurious things like knitting, cooking specialties, practice yoga and smile.

Do I really need to do what I do right now or is there a better plan?

Moms often run on autopilot and it’s completely normal. There is a ton of “autopilot” things for a mom to do, like laundry, picking up kids and so on. However, the automatic lifestyle might bring a mom to an unpleasant state when she starts doing everything on autopilot. Here is the turning point when a mom must ask herself – the soup that I’m cooking at the moment, the homework that I’m trying to help my child with, the windows that I suddenly decided to clean – is it all a part of my conscious choice or is it another output of the endless recursion of my autopilot life?

Do I feel pain or discomfort in any part of my body right now?

This is a very important element of mom’s healthy routine.  Moms tend to neglect themselves until they’re half dead, because there are other important things to do first, right? But my body is the working machine and it must work well. Listening to one’s body and catching its signals before it’s too late should be happening on the background in a continuous mode. Not only during meditation. (Or ,in other words: a healthy mom should be living in a meditative mode at all times). When any tiny discomfort is felt it may be a sign to act or not to act: to take a rest, to stretch joints, to take 5 deep breaths, to shake off thoughts (literally, shake your head and body, it helps), or many other movements that moms find useful. The worst thing to do is to ignore the signs of discomfort and postpone the activity for a “better time”.

Is there any particular disturbing thought making circles in my head?

Thoughts are like small tricky monkeys, jumping around, pretending to be nice. They control our thinking apparatus through inner dialogue, silently. Without knocking and asking for permission. Recognizing a disturbing thought is a halfway to heaven success. When a mom is not reading her thoughts but only acting emotionally she is at risk of getting involved in horrible situations: quarrels, fights, exhaustion, strong distaste of life and even depression. All that, only because there was something that was bothering her apriori but she was not aware. She only took the emotional output of the yucky thought and streamed (screamed?) with it. Bad, bad choice.

The author of this blog suggests her method – but as a suggestion only .  Gently massage the central point of your chest (right where the fourth chakrah is, for those who know) with the index, the middle and the ring fingers. If your inner state of mind is calm, you should not be feeling any intensive emotions. However, if this gentle massage arises stronger feelings and you seem to enjoy it immensely, it is a sign that something is disrupted and should be brought back to balance. Then do it. Keep on massaging the area until you don’t feel the need for it anymore. Nothing tricky, only requires attention and consistency.

Here is a recommended video by Danica McKellar, who is sharing her views on how to stay aware and make conscious choices. I advise to start watching from minute 2:20

 

avoid back pain

Avoid back pain – 5 minutes per day

Hello, I am your back and I am in pain.

How to avoid back pain with just 5 minutes per day and some minor effort? How to fend off the creepy feeling of your spine nearly breaking by the end of the day?

Do you ever know what your spine is through while you don’t even feel it? Every time I curve sit near my laptop, every time I bend in the wrong way, every time I have to lift something heavy my child – there are little bells ringing “My back, my back, my back! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”

All the exercises and techniques I show here are super short and dense. Just like in the post about breathing techniques – also here, you can learn to avoid back pain significantly with an activity that will steal 5-7 minutes from your schedule.

Is it even possible to completely avoid back pain?

Yes and no. Yes – if you train for at least 30 minutes every day in the right manner (better with an instructor or guided by a video). No – if you skip the practice, neglect and dismiss the first symptoms of  discomfort and only use heating pillows to put under your back before going to sleep.

Every mom knows what pack pain is. Some moms do something about it, others neglect it and wait until it strikes them hard one day. Avoiding back pain on early stages is one of the best things a mom can do for herself and her children. 

Busy females who run banks, raise twelve kids, maintain apartments and have to carry water from the river every day definitely have no time for classic yoga, Pilates, swimming and a bunch of other healthy things. The author of this post is a buzzy busy mom who only finds time to blog and take long showers, but never the time for a proper work out.

Therefore, here is one great exercise that anyone can do without special training. All you need is a mat or a carpet to sit and roll on. It takes about 5 minutes but makes a huge positive change to the back. No more wailing about lack of time!

Here is how it goes:

Step 1: Sit down, bend your knees and hug them with your arms. Your back can be straight but it’s ok if your back is slightly curved.

Step2: Pull your knees to your chest, keep on holding them with your hands. Your feet can be crossed or parallel – I prefer mine to be crossed, but it is up to you.

Step 3: Gently push yourself down on the back, while your legs are crossed in the air, your hands supporting them. All your movements should be slow and careful.

Step 4: Roll back until you are back to the initial sitting position. Your hands are hugging your legs all the time. Are you feeling ok? If there is dizziness you should drink some water and sit still for a while.

Step 5: Repeat the rolling back and forth, this time try to stay on your spine for a longer time while rocking back and forth. If you hear “bones cracking”, it’s ok. This is the way of my back to thank me after a long day of no exercise.

When rolling forth, you do not have to reach the initial sitting position every time. Touching the floor (or the mat) with your toes is enough, though you can reach a fulling sitting position if you want to. I prefer not to, as it causes my head to spin. I prefer my back-and-forth movements to have a shorter amplitude.

Step 6: By the end of the rock-n-roll sit straight again, gently release your arms from your legs. Stretch your legs forward or to the sides and bend to the right and to the left. Touch the toes of each leg with your hands, as much as possible.

Avoid back pain in a more creative way

For ingenious moms are bored to just roll back and forth, here is a twist in the scenario: every time you land back try to move your body a bit to the right or to the left (once you picked a side, stick to it). Every time you lift up try to move your body again to the opposite side. For example: every time I roll down I land slighty to the left, every time I move up I move slightly to the right. Repeat the same way with every rock.

At some point you will be able to make an entire 180 degree turn using the ups-and-downs!

The same exercise can be done in a slightly different way. Instead of rolling back and forth on your spine, you can roll from side to side. Legs are held by your arms, and you are using the stomach and the back muscles to move your body from left to right and vice versa.

yawning therapy

Yawning therapy

So, what is Yawning Therapy?

It’s a natural and simple way to get rid of stress, bad mood and undesired thoughts. Yawning is free, you can do it almost anytime and you don’t need a life coach to teach you  to grab some extra oxygen. Yawning therapy is one of these simple and neglected things people have forgotten (Why? Because most people are busy with other things, that’s why).

Every mom needs to do some yawning once in a while, and when she does is consciously and purposefully, things change: from mere yawning to an effective relaxation technique.

What is it good for?

  • good mood (not a bad thing at all)
  • beauty (some extra oxygen into the cells is a great idea). Tears, that come down by the end of the practice are good for rinsing and refreshing the sensitive eye skin.
  • brilliant ideas and inspiration that come into mom’s head (when the head is not heavily occupied by dirty soup, scattered soup and sock making… sorry, I meant dirty diapers, scattered socks and soup making)

Before you start the yawning therapy

  • you can be alone or among strangers who don’t care about you (like in a bus or in a busy street. But not during family dinner, even if you are with your sunglasses on.)
  • if you cannot be alone, at least put some sunglasses on or turn aside so that your face will not be seen
  • you will not have any make up on your face or at least in the eyes area.
  • You cannot talk or listen to anyone at the time of the practice, it will distract you and reduce the effect (well, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but I had to say it just in case).

Yawning therapy. Three steps:

Exhales longer than inhales

start breathing 4-6 (or any other number, but make sure your inhales and shorter than your exhales). Keep on breathing and counting: 1-2-3-4 is an inhale, 1-2-3-4-5-6 is an exhale. Continue the same way even if nothing happens: just lie and breath (you can do it in a sitting position as well, even in a public place. Just make sure you have sunglasses on).

Let yawning happen naturally

soon, you will start yawning. It will happen naturally, no need to do anything special otherwise than breath in the 4-6 way. Let yourself yawn as it goes, dont’t try to stop or control it. It is better if you are alone, but if not, as I said, make sure that you have sunglasses on or that nobody sees your face. It can get in the way when someone is observing you while yawning. Also, no need to cover your mouth, forget about rules.

Tears of relaxation

In the third stage, tears might start running down and it’s not because you’re sad and sorry, but it’s a natural process which I cannot really explain. I only know that it occures and that it leaves black traces of mascara, so better remove it before.

When to stop?

You can stop the practice at any moment, no special instructions needed. I would recommend doing it for 10-15 minutes at the least, because it takes time to get to the stage of “tears” and relaxation. 2-3 minutes will not be enough for a proper therapy, but it’s still better than nothing.

stressed for meditation

Too stressed for meditation.

As a mom, I relate to different states of mind. Though meditation has become part of my everyday being, still, there are situations when I’m too nervous, tired and overwhelmed with thoughts that won’t let go. Too stressed for meditation. Relaxed breathing just doesn’t happen that easily in these cases. What to do then?

Observe. I observe myself being nervous and I listen to my fast beating heart. I don’t even try to meditate or relax since it won’t work right away. Observation is the first step: it distracts me from one thing – negative thoughts and brings me to another thing – of moderate tranquility. From there, it is possible to move on to steadier breathing.

Observe also means accept. I accept my state, my craziness, my darkest thoughts and malicious fears.  After accepting, I cut them off naturally with one word. You choose your own word, I have mine.

Now, my favorite techniques on how to get going:

So, where do I start if I am too stressed for meditation?

These are not magic ways or special self-treatments. These are ordinary methods of relaxation that work only because I want them too.

Down count breaths.

As I wrote in another post, counting breaths is a simple and powerful technique. Yet, down-counting is another way to calm when ordinary breath counting does not help. The same down-counting method helps when you are working out in the gym: to do 10 push-ups is easier when you start from the 10th. The same goes for meditative breaths: I set myself a goal of, let’s say, 7 breaths, and start from the 7th to the 1st. A silly mind trick that works.

When stressed for meditation – don’t meditate. Act.

Breathing is good but sometimes it’s not enough. Physical action, dynamic meditation, movement. This movement has to be chaotic, useless, silly, purposeless. Dancing, jumping, shaking, scratching stretching and so on.

Do it alone.

It’s not always possible, but being alone works best for me. What if she cannot be alone at this moment, what if she is surrounded by children who want a happy mom?

Then, I tell them the truth, at their level of understanding. “Mommy is tired. Mommy needs a few quiet moments. Mommy will rest for just a few minutes and then will come out and play/make cookies/stay on her head.

Laugh. Or pretend to.

Remember that laugh scene from “Witches of Eastwick”? I believe, that laughter can do magic wrinkles and if not make you literally fly, then at least give that same feeling. The feeling of freedom, relaxation and transcendent joy. When too stressed for ordinary breathing meditation, mom can laugh or pretend to laugh – the extra short exhales that make the belly work hard and a faint of a smile. Slowly, mom can get used to create that pseudo-laughing image of herself on a regular basis (it is funny when you think about it). Self-irony has lots of benefits when you think about it.

 

life scenario

Breathing techniques for tired moms

The overwhelming, hectic and messy day routine brings mom to hell an unbalanced state. All she wants is to drop down somewhere (bed is the best option but other options such as carpets, armchairs and sofas fit as well). Here is where simple breathing techniques can save the mom’s world.

Imagine this: a mom is surrounded by her dearest little ones. Each kid is in a different mood producing appropriate sounds: loud, demanding, complaining, even crying. Mom’s task: to remain calm, solve the problem, remain calm. Repeat, if necessary.

I’ve learned to catch this tiny moment when “remain calm” mantra stops working and turns into “get wild”. It starts somewhere in the chest, around the 4th chakrah. The breath does not flow as easily as it should. And from here, there are only a few steps to the “wild” state.

Here are three simple breathing techniques I use to retain the balanced mood and prevent anger and frustration to take over.

breathing techniques

 

 

Breath 4-6 – when you are alone

Count till 4 while you breath in. Count till 6 while you breath out. The rule is simple: inhales are always shorter than exhales, even if you choose different numbers. The technique is good for quiet moments with yourself, but not for moments of acute stress. One important thing to remember is to stop for a second between the inhale and the exhale. This is the short moment when no breathing is taking place – this little suspension, the peak, the ultimate point between the ups and downs. As a part of the meditation, stop for a moment and recognize you are there. Relive this turning point when the inhale is already behind and the exhale has not started yet.

Do extra short exhales – for acute stress

breathing techniques

It is a yoga practice, which I like to use when I feel I’m approaching a totally wrong place. In moments of darkest despair and crazy fatigue it is the best thing after chocolate. The inhales take only fractions of seconds. The exhales are also super short and they require the belly to work hard. During this technique stomach works the most, releasing the negativity through the out-coming air.

Breath normally but consciously – for every situation

Watching the flow of air all the way up and down is a great relaxation practice before fatigue has reached its extreme point. When I am not in the mood to count 4-6, the best thing is just to allow the breath to make its natural way in and out. The most important here, is to watch this natural flow of air, keeping thoughts-of-the-day out if your mind.

It’s amazing, how many things can be achieved by simple breathing exercises, if practiced regularly. In the worst moments, it’s good to remember, that breathing is the most essential part of human existence. While it is possible to survive without food or water for a while, oxygen is an invisible companion following us in every life situation, good or bad. A totally basic thought, true. For me, however, these basic things are like beams of light in a dark attic.

bubble

How to cut malicious thoughts during the day?

Why is it so important for mom to preserve her energy and keep her inner balance all the time?

The answer is so simple, I’m not even sure I have to write it, but, still:

  • Because children need happy mom
  • Because your partner will appreciate a happy wife/friend
  • Because you will feel very good about yourself being content

The order is purely accidental (I’m not saying that children are more important than your partner and you are the last one on the list. It just so happened, that I wrote it in this order).

So what’s the big deal about keeping our level of energy on its proper level?

The big deal is, that there are constant sources (people, events, THOUGHTS) that suck our energy. All the time. Unless you stay in focus on what’s going on, you might find yourself completely drained (sick, annoyed, depressed) by the end of the day.

I took three main sources who steal your energy (or better to say – you let them do it).

1. Energetic vampires: –

People, who are trying to get your reaction (read = energy) by provoking you, consciously or not. When these are your “friends”, it’s easier: just stop being their friends. But when these are your family members, it’s a more complicated case, since you are expected to love and care about your relatives.

There is a good old movie by Woody Allen called “Cassandra’s dream”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795493/plotsummary?ref_=ttmi_stry_pl

where the subject of “blood relationship” is taken to the extreme point: – an uncle offers two brothers to “get rid of” of an old connection, strengthening his case by “family ties”. The end is sad, but anyway, I like this movie, because it illustrates how far things can go if we don’t learn to stop whatever smells bad.

But there is the price for that.

The result? Some people might feel offended. Some family members might press you very hard, try to manipulate, plead into doing something that you feel that you hate. On the other hand? You retain your comfort, your energy, your good mood and your balance. You run your family the way YOU want, you raise your kids the way YOU want, in short – you are the owner of your life and no uncles, aunts, moms and dads can tell you what to do. It’s not only about learning to say “no”, but also saying “no” and feeling good about yourself.

2. Events.

–Sometimes we are dragged to take part in events we hate: family parties, weddings (this one is particularly annoying), a friend’s birthday party, social gatherings you feel obliged to attend and so on… Events always consider people, so it’s not the events but the certain people you don’t want to see. In cases when you cannot find the right excuse keep it as short as possible. Put a reminder, set an app with anonymous call or simply say that you must go. One hour, forty minutes -– you decide the minimal amount of time you can spend there without seeming to have escaped too soon.

The trap:

We always want to be nice and if nobody is leaving early it looks inappropriate to run away. But remember, that if you stay too long, the carriage will turn into a pumpkin. You will later regret having surrendered to the social pressure and having spent too much time in the wrong place and with the wrong people. So be nice to yourself first and stick to the minimal amount of time you have set to yourself in the first place (unless the circumstances have changed and you feel you enjoy it).

3. Self-destroying thoughts.

This one is almost impossible to control, but with the help of techniques you can tame the monsters and make them pass away slowly, like the wind blows clouds away. The conclusion that I have come to is: bad thoughts are often a result of our own bad physical condition: fatigue, sickness etc., and but not necessarily events. Why do I think so? Because, from own experience, we can take a lot of things easy when we’ve had a good night’s sleep feeling healthy and good about ourselves (how many times did you feel all these good things at the same time? Umm…)

The best way to keep malicious thoughts from sucking your energy is to catch the thought from the very beginning when it is sneaking into your mind but hasn’t done any serious harm yet. You can catch it by its tail and ask yourself: “Do I really want to think about it now? Am I the master of my thoughts or are thoughts controlling me?” If this is not a problem-solution thing but a sticky, disturbing situation, out of your control, that can stretch like a muddy shield blocking the sunshine, better cut it off right away. (Will talk about my own techniques of cutting malicious thoughts later on in this post ).

As a bottom line:

No matter what beast empties your energy, one thing is sure:– you should not allow this to happen. If there is a specific problem: go on, do some brainstorming and look for a solution once and for all. But if it’s a vague situation where you feel you are dragged into self-accusing, self-punishing thoughts  shake it off sharply, without mercy.

How to shake off thoughts that suck mom’s energy?

I use some very simple techniques. The amazing thing about these techniques is, that you can practice them without interrupting most of your daily routine.

  • Count your breath: Breathing is something we do as long as we live, and I appreciate every breath I take. Counting the in-s and out-s is a good method when combined with some automotive task (cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping) or when trying to fall asleep. Make sure you reach 300 (I’ve never made it that far, by the way).
  • Speak mantras: make up your own or take ones that already exist. Any words that help you – work for good, as long as they are not intended to hurt a specific person (words have power, beware). For example: “Do I want to be calm and happy or nervous and sick? Of course I want to be calm and happy!”

These words don’t have to be wise or sound smooth and spiritual. Their purpose is to help you and no one hears and judges your eloquence.

I mentioned only these two techniques, because they are simplest to follow for a busy mom. There are other great ways to empty yourself from junk, but those require a resource most moms can’t brag about –- time.

So, while my kids are small, I choose to save my time and my energy and, simultaneously, be the boss of my own life, as much as possible. Wishing you, my readers, the same.

silly

Absurd self-pitying helps mom survive the day

When I started this blog I had a vague idea what it is going to be about.
I knew there were a lot of things I could share with the world. But I wanted to be selective and not try to please everyone.
Most of the posts concentrate on how to be a meditative, happy and balanced mom, not to burn yourself on silly things, unnecessary tasks and hassle.

So, as a “balanced” and “meditative” mom the big question came up today was:

does mom always have to be happy? And what if she isn’t? Does she have to do something about it right away?

Why does the rest of the world put up with the hypocrisy, the need to put a happy face on sorrow, the need to keep on keeping on?… I don’t know the answer, I know only that I can’t.
Elizabeth Wurtzel

http://www.brainyquote.com/

We are led to think positively, bad mood and fatigue is something not fashionable, not something you’d like to talk about in a social event, party or business conference. Because it hurts your image of success, your brand or whatever you are trying to promote. Successful people must stay cool, isn’t it so?
But I’m not trying to sell you anything, so I have the luxury to be honest.
In the past few days I haven’t felt particularly happy. There is no special reason for that other than physiological exhaustion and the desperate need to refill my energy.
I’m sure there are lots of mom who feel constantly drained out by daily tasks, but they (the moms, not the tasks), would reluctantly admit the fact that they want to drop everything. Just everything. The kids, the dishwasher, the laundry, the partner, the family holidays, the morning routine. And take a rest in a forest, on the beach, on the 30th floor of some luxury hotel or anywhere else you can think of (I, personally, choose the forest, what about you?)

The goal of this post is to remind us, moms, that it’s OK to feel bad and it’s OK not to do anything about it at the given moment. At some point you will have to do something, since you cannot drag yourself on autopilot forever (there is a high price for that in the end). But right now, in the middle of the day, just allow yourself to fall into the weakness.

What helps me in extreme cases of fatigue, when I’m on the verge of tears from my own helplessness, is to bring the situation to its very absurd.
Usually, I hate pitying myself and hate when others do. But in extreme cases, I do pity myself in a derisive way to make things look so ridiculous that it would, eventually, make me laugh.

You can find your own words for absurd self-pity, but remember the rules of the game: it must be totally grotesque, no real pity. For example: “..oh, poor girl, such a poor girl. She barely stands on her feet and she has so many things to do today…  Things she cannot postpone, cancel or delegate… Her babysitter has cancelled, her husband had gone on a business trip and she faces it all alone. What a tough world… time after time she has to pull herself on and never stop for a rest… at night she has to make the laundry, at 5 a.m. she has to milk the cows, then mend shoes and sue holes in shirts and pants… her bloody fingers cannot move from pain, and she also has to cut the woods to make some fire… it’s so cold outside… wild animals run around, she must keep on the fire… oh, don’t let her sink in the sea of her own tears. How sad life can be… Are there words strong enough to describe how much she wants to drop dead on her pillow, close her reddish eyes, let her hand dive into her hair and just stay still like this for about a century? Why, oh why, can’t there be a miracle to let things happen by themselves. Why can’t kids show up home by themselves, why can’t the damned laundry make itself, why can’t the dishes jump out of the dishwasher and settle themselves properly on the shelves. Why, oh why does she have to do it all? There is also some mental work waiting to be done… poor girl, her brain is not working well, she has memory leaks, she is going to lose the job and probably homeless since she is the one who earns all the money in the family… what a shame, and there is no way out…”

The most important part is the intonation. Even if you don’t say it out loud, the merciful song has to play inside accompanying every silly question. I assure you, that after these lamentations, if you work hard enough to bring it to an absurd, you will eventually laugh and find some bits of energy to continue through the day with more optimism. Life is not that hard, after all, and you don’t have to cut the wood to make fire.

Of course it cannot work like that forever. At some point, the sooner the better, you will have to regain the gas in a traditional way (read = sleep). But this surrealistic method has helped me so many times, that I can surely tell – it works! If it’s not new for you and you have your own anti-crush recipes, you’re welcome to share. I’m always willing to learn new survival techniques.

thinking monkey

Moms, chocolate and solitude

summer bunny

A couple of days ago I met a friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen all summer. She has three kids, and though her general appeal is very attractive, the way I remember her is: balancing between being enormously tired and trying to look content. There are no other ways multitasking moms can look.

But this time when I met her for a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, I noticed an alien light shining through her eyes, the skin looked fresh (makeup?) and there was an overwhelming look of victory in every gesture, movement and glimpse.

This is what a three-day child-free vacation can do to a mother. The short but rewarding tour was a present from her husband, who decided once in a long time to be generous and bring his wife 10 years back in time.

Not sure how long the effect will last, but one thing I am sure about: we all, mothers, need some time alone with ourselves where its only me and strong WI-fi connection.

What are the ultimate benefits of not seeing your child for a few days? I’ll name the obvious ones –and you are welcome to add the rest in comments.

1. You get some good night’s sleep.

sleeping dog

Even if your kids are big, they can still be night trouble-makers. Some kids like to share their parents’ bed (I see absolutely no problem with that, let’s argue about it in the next post). Some kids drink all your juices before falling asleep (a couple of fairy tales ple-e-e-ase, a midnight stand-up show they expect from you, then there is “mom-bring-me-some-water”, “mom-I-am-scared”, etc., etc.). So. When you are isolated, you can finally sleep in whichever position you want and at the time you want (after taking long, undisturbed shower).

2. Kds start appreciating their mom.

We tend to take for granted what we have. It’s terribly unfair, but often moms, who do not spend the entire time of their life with kids, are remembered as better moms. A short break from the routine is a good reminder that things do not last forever, that things can be different. Kids feel it very well, and don’t worry about hurting their feelings: it will take a lot more than 2-3 days to ruin anything (of course I’m not talking about kids under the age of 2-3 or super-sensitive/hyper-whatever kids).

3.  The “wow” effect on your husband/partner who starts appreciating you too.

All the “invisible” housework a woman carries on everyday without complaining: the magic of clean shirts, pairs of almost same socks, cooked food, visible floor (without supervision it gets covered extremely fast by pieces of Lego, clothes, paper, and small, sharp objects that cut into your bare feet in the middle of the night). So once your partner stays with the kids he will be, well, the one to do the laundry (we are not talking about romantic vacation, remember? It’s you and your laptop).

4. You view your own life from a different angle.

You have a rare chance to meditate, to NOT do things, to NOT worry – all your daily small and big house duties, concerns, thoughts and movements are frozen until the day you are back. For a couple of days you are back to your very old self, when you were a high school student, a teenage girl and could spend hours however you like. We, mothers, tend to completely neglect this part.

These are the obvious reasons I see for taking a short break, but there are surely more.

Now the practical guide: –how to make things happen.

There is no fairy who will turn a pumpkin into a carriage and bring servants to look after your kids. The good news is, that it is much easier to organize than it might seem.

First, decide where approximately you want to stay and for how long. Remember the main purpose: isolation, meditation and rest. If there are other things in your mind, like sightseeing, tours and restaurants, than the potential destinations will be different. So first, focus on your purpose: do you want to spend 2-3 days in blessed solitude with no crowded folks around, no buses, luggage and similar tourists\ attributes? Then look for a non-expensive quiet location and good, home-style hotel.

A hotel or an apartment? How to choose.

I personally would prefer a hotel with good breakfast included. I always read people’s reviews on breakfasts and I recommend you to do the same unless all you want to have is a piece of white bread with suspiciously-looking apricot jam (happened to me in a 4-star hotel). But it’s up to you: some people prefer having their coffee in a nearby cafe so hotel breakfasts are not a big thing for them. No matter what you choose, there is an important thing to bear in mind, from my own experience: while it’s obvious (to me, at least) that you don’t want to spend a fortune on this trip, don’t choose the cheapest hotel, just for the sake of it. Better pick a 3 star family run hotel with good reviews rather than 4 star hotel with worse feedback. The interior of the place you are staying in is one of the most important things: you should have this cozy homely feeling while staying there. So spend some time on research, read the reviews, look at the pictures, don’t give it up only because it’s a bit pricey. After all, it’s not like you’re taking this vacation every week.

Should I plan my time or just let it flow?

It’s a tough question, because planning contradicts the initial purpose of pure meditation and diving into yourself. On the other hand, being completely alone with yourself without knowing where to throw your body for the next 7 hours can be hard for some people. Especially moms who are used to continuous and often useless action. What I would advise it to check, just in case, what attractions and nice places exist around the place you are staying in. Parks? Museums? Open-air concerts? Even isolated villages can have nice sites but you must check for them in advance to avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nowhere to go.

Who stays with the kids?

Organizing a proper care for the kids is no less important than your hotel, attractions and meditation. The best way for a mom to relax is to know that kids are in good hands. Ideally, if you do it during the weekend so your partner can take maybe one extra day off to cover your entire absence. Nannies, babysitters, grandparents, goblins– are a good additional help. Additional – is the keyword here.No matter how many helpers come and go there must be one captain on the ship, who will supervise and take control of all the action: the babysitting hours, the kids’ eating/sleeping/bathing schedule (not necessarily in this order). This is probably the time to take a risk and fully rely on your partner.

 

A few words for conclusion:

Before setting on this kind of vacation keep in mind, that there is no goal. Don’t set high expectations to avoid disappointment. Don’t think you’ll return enlightened, super-young or as a totally different person full of secret knowledge. This may happen and this may not. It depends on many factors, some of which you cannot predict. So my advice is – do your best in terms of choosing a place, preparing your kids and husband for your absence and – au revoir.

Coffee – an energy shot or meditation? Why morning coffee is bad for you.

Don’t get me wrong. I love coffee, and I used to be a coffee addict some time ago. I didn’t stop with it completely but I have substantially reduced the amount of coffee (and all the accompanied sweets) that I used to consume after understanding why it is actually bad for me.

So here are a few points that made me realize that using coffee for refreshment is one big illusion.

First, morning coffee became a routine, a habit, something I do just because I am used to it, even when I don’t really need to be refreshed (on weekends, on holidays, on days when I don’t need to get up early). There is nothing worse than doing something unhealthy just because you are used to it.

Second, coffee usually comes with friends. I don’t mean humans. Coffee’s best friends are: sugar, cookies, muffins, truffles, brownies, candies, ice-cream … you name it. I drink coffee without sugar (proud of myself) but compensate it with sweets (oh, shame on me). Eventually, by doing some easy math, I concluded that coffee makes me gain weight. Too bad.

Third, one cup of home-made cappuccino or latte doesn’t have the slightest effect on my thinking and acting abilities, therefore, I actually need two-three cups to feel something moving in my nerve system brain. Two-three cups of coffee is not that much, you say, but add the sweets, and you get a pretty little lady with some pretty extra weight.

But what really made me change my mind regarding coffee is, that I found that its effect is much more short-term compared to breathing exercises, a bit of stretching, two glasses of cool water. The more naturally you use your energy resources and take them out of your sleepy self, the better and the longer these resources serve you.

What some people say on that –

  • But I love coffee!

So? I loved coffee more than anything in the morning. And I managed to quit. Once you understand that caffeine simply borrows your energy (and whatever is borrowed you have to give back at some point) you may change your mind and replace it, at least, with tea.

  • I can’t open my eyes and start doing anything without coffee!

Sorry, I don’t buy it. Yes, your first week or two will seem empty and endless without the usual cup of brown liquid, but it’s all a matter of habit and understanding why you are doing what you are doing.

  • I just can’t live without coffee.

Ok, make a deal with yourself – one cup of coffee twice a week, in the middle of the day (use tea in the morning instead). You will gradually get used to the idea that coffee is no longer your morning partner.

As a mother, I totally relate to the morning fatigue, crazy sleeping hours, lack of relaxation and the strong desire to compensate myself with something sweet and refreshing at the same time.

But there is no magic – the energy you derive from yourself by using caffeine is taken “in advance”, it is borrowed by you from your own body. And the price I used to pay was double fatigue later on.

Now I use coffee only in extreme situations when I know I need to be super alert. Another occasion to have a small cup of coffee is when you want to meditate over it, enjoy every sip, use coffee not as a quick shot, but as a rare pleasurable delicacy.