Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids

How to raise self-disciplined, connected, happy humans

Want to Feel More Alive? Take the Stone Out of Your Shoe

You can’t feel generous toward your child when your energy is being sapped.

Are you Nurturing Yourself while Raising Your Child, yet? We're on the homestretch of this "Self-care for Parents" series, so take advantage of these last couple of posts about self-care, before we're back to kids and behavior! 

“If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it." -- Anthony J. D'Angelo

Our body sends us constant signals about what's not working in our lives. Often, we ignore that information. We smother it with our little addictions to make ourselves feel better (comfort food, facebooking, shopping, another latte.) But that's like having a blinking light on the dashboard of the car and responding by pulling the wires out so the light stops blinking. Your car will eventually break down.

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You can’t feel generous toward your child when your energy is being sapped by things that make you anxious or weigh you down. That stone in your shoe may seem small, but it's wearing you down, hobbling your full aliveness -- and your relationship with your child.

What if you just paid attention to those little annoyances, and addressed them? Even if each one takes a week or three to clear up, think how much better your life will be in a few months.

How do you know what you need to clear up? If it makes you feel bad inside, or "act bad" outside, it’s draining you. For instance, if you frequently find yourself in a bad mood at the same time of day, find a way to change what happens. Listen to the message your gut is sending you. Can you respond by caring for yourself, while being respectful of others? This might mean you:

  • Start the bedtime routine half an hour earlier so you can collapse half an hour sooner at night.
  • Have your partner or friend take the kids all Saturday afternoon so you can finally tackle a project that you’ve been putting off, like making your way through that pile of bills and paperwork.
  • Change your mornings so everyone leaves the house in a good mood. (Wondering how? Here are some ideas.)
  • Change your routine so you aren’t keeping playground company with a parent whose approach bothers you.
  • Stop fighting with your child about a particular issue and work out a win/win solution that meets your needs -- and his.

If you're like most parents, you have a long list of things that are sapping your energy. Why not pick one, and make a plan to make it better? Just take it one step at a time, and cheer yourself on.

Every time you resolve a long-standing problem, throw something away, cross something off your list, or remove a negative influence, you’re casting off a burden. That gives you more energy to do what’s really important, whether that’s staying patient with your child or nurturing yourself. You won't have as many breakdowns in your life. And you'll probably find you feel a whole lot more alive.

Laura Markham, Ph.D., is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting.

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