Do You Know Superwoman?
We all know someone and we wonder how she does everything. She may have an amazing career and juggle being an amazing mother, and wife. She does everything for everyone, her makeup is always perfect, she always has a smile on her face, and she never seems to run out of energy. Do you know who I’m talking about? Can you relate this to someone you know in your own life? You look at her and you think “Wow! I wish I could do all that. How does she does she manage it all? I would lose my mind if I tried that!” In truth, what she is longing for is a slow down.
A few people that I know come to mind. They are all amazing God-fearing women that have great husbands and kids. I look up to them and respect and admire them. They are also quite humble and if they are reading this they probably do not realize that they are reading my description of them. I love that about them too.
The thing is, when you talk to them, they will also very clearly tell you of times in their lives where they were overrun by stress. They may seem like superwoman to others, but they will be the first to tell you that they do not see themselves as that. Learning to slow down and take time for themselves, is something that they have all had to master in order to keep themselves sane. One remarked to me last week that she had learned to worry less and trust God more. That statement stuck with me. I thought to myself, “How much better would MY life be if I did that more?” (I did mention they are amazing women, didn’t I?)
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Earlier last week, I needed to slow down. I was not myself. I was crabby, irritable, and plain just no fun to be around. My insides felt like a ticking time bomb ready to explode when my kids didn’t do something fast enough or well enough. That is not the type of Mom that I want to be.
My nerves just felt on edge though. Every little thing was getting to me. I try to act laid back for the most part, but that day, it was most definitely NOT how I felt. Do you have days like that too?
When I was younger I probably would have exploded and yelled at the kids, then maybe even stomped off to my room and cried. Makes you wonder who the real kid is here, doesn’t it? We all have moments where we are not the mother/father/person we want to be. Contentment Questing implies a search for contentment and self-improvement. I hope that is what you find here because it’s what I have been finding here and trying to share with you.
What I actually did was I slowed down and had a mindful moment.
What Is A Mindful Moment?
I stopped and did an internal assessment. Basically, I slowed down and asked myself “How am I feeling?” The actual “wording” was a bit different if you can apply that term to internal thoughts. The actual internal dialogue looked something more like “Woah, Jennifer, what is wrong with you? Why are you acting so crabby? This is not like you, and it’s not how you want to act. What is causing all this?” The answer came to mind almost as soon as I asked the question. The answer was “I am so tired!”
I also tried to take in everything that was around me at that moment. I closed my eyes because it’s easier for me to assess the other senses when I’m not getting visual input. Stilling my thoughts, I tried to just feel what was around me for a moment. I tried to feel the fact that I was tired. I felt that I was thirsty, something that I had not noticed before. So, I took a few deep breaths and tried to think logically about what to do next.
Do You Need to Slow Down?
When I realized that I was tired, the obvious answer was “I need to take a nap!” Even as an adult, I still get tired and cranky. There was another issue too that it took me longer to realize. I felt this pressing weight of all the things I needed to get done. The pressure of being much too busy was getting to me. I needed a slow down… badly
I didn’t feel like I had time to enjoy things because I was so focused on getting them accomplished. I didn’t even want to go on vacation because one of the things that I felt pressured to do was prepare for it. Before I slowed down, there just did not seem like there were enough hours in the day to get everything done. I sure didn’t feel like there was time on my self-imposed schedule to nap! I was feeling overwhelmed, pure and simple.
Simplify to Slow Down
The first solution that I thought of was a simplification. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to slow down, the first thing to do is to look at your schedule and see if you can cut back anywhere. The kids do not need to be enrolled in a ton of extracurricular activities that stress you out trying to get them everywhere they need to be. There is nothing wrong with hobbies and extra-curricular activities. What I am saying is that they do not need to be enrolled in so many that the parents are overwhelmed and there is never time for anything else that you would rather be doing.
If your kid is at soccer and he/she loves soccer and you like going to the games and practices, then that’s great. Don’t stop. If however, you feel like “Oh no, not soccer practice again!” and your child feels the same way, then cut it from the schedule so you can slow down. Spend your time doing something that you and your family benefit from. It does not have to be the same things that everyone else enjoys.
Having unique hobbies is great. Just don’t let your hobbies overwhelm you. They are supposed to be a stress release, not what stresses you out.
Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself.
If you are like me, other people depend on you. I have 2 kids and an elderly relative that depend on me to care for them. I am the glue. Do you know what happens if the glue falls apart? Everything else falls apart too! When you slow down and take care of yourself, you are also taking care of the other people in your life that need you and need your joy.
Slowing down and taking care of yourself is not “wasting time.” I used to think that it was, but what happened was that I depleted myself. By refusing to slow down, I felt like I was running on “empty” most of the time. When you are the caretaker, you give of yourself. That’s a wonderful thing. You can’t pour water from an empty bucket. If you need to water some flowers, you have to fill the bucket up first in order to be able to give the flowers a drink. That’s what slowing down for self-care does. It fills up your emotional bucket so that you can take care of people that you love and that depend on you better.
The Keeping them Busy Myth
This is my personal opinion, but I have heard parents say “Keep them busy, keep them out of trouble.” Kids need slow down time too! If you have them constantly running everywhere all the time, do you know what you get? An exhausted kid. Just like we need slow down time, kids need time to just be a kid too. They need to learn how to use their downtime constructively, just like you. In my slow down time is where I discover a lot of hobbies that I really enjoy.
The other thing is, you can’t keep your kid busy forever. There will be a point that you are no longer in control and they have downtime and choices to make about how to spend it. I want my kids to have good healthy interests already instead of just “go, go, go” and fall into bed exhausted every night. They need sleep and rest and brain power for studying. They also need to know what they like and what they enjoy so they can chase after the healthy activities that they choose.
Again, I am in no way against extra-curricular activities and hobbies. I am quite for them, in fact… as long as they do not get to the point they are overwhelming and exhausting.
You Can Do it All…. Just Not All at Once
I have done many different things in my life so far, and I intend to do many more. The thing is that I realize I can’t do it all, at once. If you find yourself too busy to think, take some time and slow down. Re-evaluate your priorities. If you are getting upset over something, ask yourself “Is this really going to matter in the long run?” and “Is this something that I care to fight about?” That was some very good advice that I got last week from one of those amazing women that I talked about in the opening.
It is ok to let some things go. Prioritize. Make sure the very important things get done, and then let the rest take care of itself. When you find time to do the big things, the little things seem to find all kinds of places to fit.
Slow Down to Enjoy the Journey
When I do not take the time to slow down, I do not enjoy things very much. I’m so stressed and concerned about keeping the schedule,that I drive too fast and stay exhausted. I learned a lesson long ago from my husband.
Rising, but not Shining
Like many of us, he gets up very early and goes to work. He slays dragons for me all day, and then comes and helps me if I need it, and he gets way too little sleep. He has to make up that sleep sometime for his body to function correctly, so Saturday is his crash day. When we were young parents, I resented this. Here I was not getting any weekend rest and up with a baby that did not recognize weekends. I wanted to get up early, start the day and do something! He knew it would make me happy, so he did.
But when we did that, he was so sleepy, that neither of us had much fun on our excursion. (By “excursion” I do not mean anything fancy… it could have just been a trip to Walmart) He felt exhausted. I later learned that if I wanted to do anything on Saturday and enjoy it, it was much better to get a later start and to let him rest. When you are exhausted, nothing is much fun. How you feel affects those around you.
If you feel exhausted all the time, LIFE is not much fun. Slow Down, and savor the journey.
The Better Plan
Together, we discovered instead that it was much better to let him have his sleep. When he got up, he felt rested and happy. We might have gotten a later start than what I would have liked, but we ALL had more fun when his attitude was better. I have also finally figured out that as the Mom, my mood affects that of the whole household. I know you have heard the expression of “When Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. If I am crabby, as I described earlier, it affects the mood of the entire house. If you are a mom, your mood sets the mood for the entire house as well. That’s a lot of responsibility! You owe it to your family and to yourself to make sure that you feel taken care of.
We all know someone that appears to be superwoman. Likely, if you ask her, she will tell you that’s not true. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to have a mindful moment and slow down. Think about how you are feeling and why. You are responsible for your emotions. Simplify your schedule if you can. Think “Is this really important?” “Is this worth my time, effort, and feelings?” “Will it matter all that much in the long run?”
Take some time to care for yourself. Squeeze in a nap, if you feel tired. When you do not take time to slow down and care for yourself, it’s not just you that suffers, it’s your family too. If you are a mother, then your mood will set the mood for the whole house. Be mindful of that. Slow down, and don’t live go, go, go. Enjoy life. It is a journey.