Monthly Archives: September 2016

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.

fairy

All the good things about painful childhood memories

No matter how tough you are, no matter how grown up and mature you are, there is a little girl living in every mother. A little girl that wants love and attention, that wants to be hugged and listened to, a little girl that has her own very sacred wishes, dreams, fears and emotions.
Who is that little girl and should we, moms, do anything about her?
Especially, when there is so little time to take care of our own children.

I think this little girl deserves attention. The kind of attention she was deprived of in her real childhood. The kind of understanding she never received (lucky you, who did). She deserves to get answers to her childhood questions (lucky you, whose parents always answered your questions as honestly and openly as they could).

If I learn to take care of that girl, I will be able to better listen to my own children and become a better mom. The painful memoirs from our childhood, the insults, the moments when our parents hurt us (intentionally or not) – all this is our personal “stairway to heaven”, the key to reach a better understanding and deeper awareness in our conscious adult life.

water-drop

In these moments of painful childhood memories, it helps me to make a short list of main things that hurt me most. When I shared a secret that was revealed to the whole world. When I was looking for a helpful advice but remained alone with my own doubts and fears. When I was looking for solitude but instead was disturbed and questioned. This is not a list of “things I will never do to my children”. This is only a list to remind us how wrong parents can be, how blind and insensitive they can behave, how deaf they can be to their kids.

And eventually, when I remember all the “bad” things, now, as a grown up, I feel grateful. I know it sounds weird but I do. Had it not been that sour experience of childhood betrayal, sorrow and all the big, unanswered Why’s –- –I would never become who I am now. I could have become rude and inattentive. I could have given these auto-pilot answers to my children’s questions or ask these silly auto-pilot questions and lead the most meaningless conversations with my kids. (“So, how was school today?” “Normal”).

But instead, every painful memory is a reminder, that the little girl is still there. Every time my child asks something I look in their eyes and listen carefully (even if I’m tired). Every time my child tells me something, I put my phone face down and it’s just us in the universe. My child, myself and the little girl in me, who grabs some attention on the way.

clock, time

Happy working mom. Does she exist?

“Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life.”

— Anonymous, www.grinningplanet.com

A friend of mine, who didn’t have kids at that time yet, asked me a question long time ago: “How do moms manage to work and run the house with children at the same time? When I come home from work in the evening I’m exhausted to such an extent I can only breathe and cannot imagine myself doing anything else except lifting my phalanges lower limbs high into the air and stay still for at least 30 minutes. What about working parents? How do they manage?”

Back then I was working as a home-based freelancer with my first daughter who was almost 2 and I couldn’t tell her how it feels to come back from the office. Nevertheless, there are quite a lot people around me who are lucky to raise great kids and work full time far away from their bed and kitchen.

So yes, it’s a big and interesting question: how to manage the level of productivity, professional focus and concentration during the work day and then be an energetic and happy mom in the evening of the same day. And though I cannot give advice to parents who spend most of their lives in an office, I surely have been through the pain of keeping myself awake through romantic summer nights with deadlines I had to meet, and during noisy vacation days when I had to exploit my talents despite the crazy sounds coming from the kids’ room.

Here is how it works for me.

To make it simple I will divide the day into 4 parts:

morning – waking up and plugging into your source of energy
work day – squeezing creative juices without using too much caffeine
family time – spending happy time with kids and family (or leaving them and go for a nap without feeling guilty)
bed time – putting the little ones to sleep and enjoy a few quiet moments before collapsing to bed

The “good morning” stage: wake up time, make up time, meditation time:

As the joke goes: the most important is to get up. Will wake up later.

The way to keep yourself balanced through the day begins right from the moment you wake up. Your work conditions, work environment and your personal health – all play their role in the degree of your love or hate of the world by the end of the day.

Different things work well for different people. For example, do you hate waking up early and getting to the office by a certain hour? Then doing so will drain your energy and empty your source of inspiration before you even get to work. Something must be changed in that case. Of course, not all companies allow to work from home or arrive late, but you know the situation better to evaluate what can be done, how the schedule can be maneuvered to fit itself best to your nature.

Do one thing that makes you happy in the morning

Even if it means 30 minutes less sleep. A quiet cup of coffee (unless you have a talking coffee cup), a 10-minute meditation with some native American flute music, a short walk outside, breathing exercises, muffin baking, drumming – anything that helps you pass this sensitive time called “morning”. I strongly suggest doing it while the kids are still asleep (it works well with older kids who hate waking up anyway). There was a time when I finished a big muffin with two cups of instant coffee while reading jokes.
At other times I used to meditate and do soft stretching with gentle yoga music in the background. Both activities are completely different, but all is good as long as it serves the purpose: make me happy at this stage of my existence. Don’t try to do something “healthy” just for the sake of it. Better do something that might sound less perfect but does the job.

Now you are entering the 2nd stage – the work day

Experiment

with different working hours, different surroundings different lighting and even different placement of your laptop while working. (there were times when I discovered that sitting crooked straight at my home desk makes it so hard for my back that I was unable to concentrate. So either replace your chair, your back (huh?) or just move to the sofa.

Ignore myths 

night laptopThere are certain false truths that might stand in the way of great experimenting. One of the myths I was bound to is – “inspiration comes at night” or “nights are the best time to do creative jobs”. This is totally wrong. Muses come, muses go – sunshine is not their enemy. Night is, indeed, a great time to work but remember, that you have to wake up early the next morning (this is not a post about free artists who sleep during the day and work during the night). As a working night owl parent, straining your brain at night is a luxury you cannot afford anymore. So keep on experimenting.

There are other myths people might be telling you, or you might read somewhere that can keep you away from optimal work flow process.

Another example is: “I can do it all alone”. There are a lot you can do, but sometimes you need help of others so don’t feel abashed, confused or embarrassed to look for help from colleagues, friends or whoever you can. Don’t try everything before asking for professional advice. Don’t try pulling the carriage all alone but rather look where you can use knowledge of others and offer your help in return. Don’t be a lone wolf.
These are only two examples, but I’m sure there is a ton more. You can share your own in comments.

Say no to the perfect conditions

balance

That will never happen. If you are getting tired after the first 10 minutes of work that can mean two things: either it’s not your day (get more sleep, jump a little bit and roll on your back). Or – you hate your current task so much that you are exhausted from the inner fight or having to keep yourself chained to the damned working activity. If you hate it but cannot drop it at this very moment (a client is waiting for your report, article etc.) stop the work for a few minutes and meditate – think of the whole situation it as a life exam (that will not last long for various reasons), imagine yourself doing your best and finishing it.

Now it is the third phase of the day called “family time”

bear mom
There is a joke: “do you also call the day when you clean, cook and tidy up – your day off?”

Family-time is when your kids get back from schools-kindergartens-nurseries-playgrounds. It’s not necessarily evening and you’re not necessarily ready for the switch from “serious” brain work to the “light” brain work (playing, jumping, talking, soothing, controlling etc.). Here are some tricks I use to guarantee soft landing from “work” to “home”:

Take them out

Even if for 30 minutes. Usually, kids don’t get enough time being outside while at schools/kindergartens anyway. You surely don’t get enough fresh air (unless your office is in a tree house) as well. So you all need this refreshing time to spread away the remains of the work/school energy that is left there. There is almost nothing better than gaining powers in the fresh air.

Or keep them busy

chess

with anything at home while you are regenerating. Give yourself some time alone, even if it means letting them watch a 15-minute cartoon, a 10-minute TV show or showing them a game they can play without adult supervision. This should be really short, just for you to shake off the work mood. (There are cases, though, when I am too exhausted to spend quality time with anything except my pillow. Then, the 15-minute playtime turns into 40-minute cartoons/games/TV shows while I regain my energy in another room. Don’t pretend to be cheerful and energetic when all you need is a good nap).

Read to them

bookshelf

Reading out loud is something most kids like, and most moms don’t find too hard to do. Dining time, for example, is a great time for storytelling. What is so good about reading out loud? First, it’s a good way for a mom to get relaxed. You don’t even have to make up stories but read the written text. Second, it’s a good way for the kids to learn something (therapy fairy tales or fables) and be with their mom at the same time. I, personally, find reading out loud a great opportunity to teach my kids something, to communicate with them (they ask questions, I explain) and to enjoy a homely atmosphere. 

At this point, when the 4th phase arrives (and your partner arrives from work as well) it’s time to turn the active part of the day off. Putting them to bed is a separate topic we’ll discuss later. Good night, meanwhile.