Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Lesson in Spilled Milk

Ever had one of those moments when your innocent child teaches you so much about life that it just astounds you?

The other day, I was in the middle of serving lunch when Hayden accidentally spilled some of her milk. In true four year old fashion, she started to melt down over it. In her world, this was a big deal! Now she wouldn't have any milk to drink, there was milk all over the table where she was trying to eat, and lunch was generally ruined. Definitely worth a big freakout. In my own shortcoming, I was getting frustrated with the over the top reactions to everything, but then I had an idea that I thought might help. I called her over into the kitchen where I was, calmed her down a little bit, and then said, "Can I ask you a question?" She agreed, so I said, "Have you ever had a problem that I couldn't fix for you?" She shook her head no. Then I said, "Watch this!" I took her cup and handed her a dish rag. I wiped off her cup and refilled it while she wiped down the table. Everything was good as new! 

I called her over to me again, and said, "Did you see how I fixed that for you? It's all good as new now, right?" She nodded, and I continued, "So see, whenever you have a problem, you don't always have to freak out and start crying. If you just remember that I can help you when you have a problem, you can come ask me for help and I'll help you fix it, okay?" 

Before I even got the words out of my mouth, I could feel that nudge in my heart, reminding me that my Heavenly Father is saying the same thing to me. How many times do I encounter a problem and throw myself straight into a grownup freak out fit, not remembering that if I would just ask Him, He would take care of it for me? I could almost hear Him saying, "Have you ever had a problem that I couldn't fix for you?" Of course not! Even in the middle of my biggest, most cry-myself-to-sleep, life altering problems, He's been right there with me and has seen me through. Of course He's more than able to fix any problem for me- often in a way that I never could have imagined myself. So why do I find it so hard to remember to trust first in Him, instead of imagining the multitude of ways that my life could go wrong? 

Maybe this little reminder was more for me than it was for her. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quiet Time- The Super Sanity Saver!

365::50 - relax
Photo Credit

Just one simple concept has totally revolutionized my life. Seriously! Who knew that something as simple as a daily quiet time could brighten my entire day, and my entire outlook on life??? I sure didn't, or you'd better believe I would have started this a long time ago!

You see, my kids don't nap. I dunno why, but they've always been the kids on the low end of the "sleep needed" spectrum. They both dropped down to one nap around 12 months, and both stopped napping completely around 19 months. I know- that's really early. Tell me about it. This means that from morning until bedtime at night, I've had at least one kid awake that entire time for almost 2.5 years now. It's been exhausting! Being an introvert has only made the problem worse. As an introvert, I need alone time like I need oxygen, so with the kids up all day I'd then stay up late after they went to bed to get some alone time. Then I'd be tired the next day from staying up too late, and then I'd be grumpy and get frustrated with the kids more easily, which would lead to me REALLY needing alone time at the end of the day. And then I'd stay up too late again. It's been a really vicious, exhausting cycle.

I'd always dismissed the quiet time idea as something that wouldn't really work for us, or that would be too hard to implement, or something we didn't really need. Ha! The other day I was complaining to my friend about how exhausting motherhood was, and how it would be so much easier if the kids would just take a nap. She brought up the quiet time idea, and again, I blew it off. But the next day the kids were going crazy, and I had to pull them off of each other for what seemed like the millionth time, and I decided to just give it a try.

"Okay, guys, it's quiet time now!!!"

They looked at me inquisitively. Then they actually got excited! Tristan said, "It's quiet time?" "Yep, buddy, it's quiet time. Quiet time means that Hayden is going to play in Hayden's room, and Tristan is going to play in Tristan's room. You guys will each play quietly in your room until I tell you that quiet time is over."

And it actually worked! I couldn't believe it. They actually (mostly)stayed in their rooms and played quietly! I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to have some peace and quiet! To have a little break in the middle of the day when I'm not having to play referee, or entertain someone, or listen to screaming is just AMAZING. The first day, quiet time lasted about 25 minutes, but after a couple of days of practice, quiet time yesterday lasted for a whole hour! A whole hour to myself in the middle of the day! It's seriously one of the best things that's happened to me in a long time.

I'm getting time in the middle of the day to relax, recharge, and regroup, which means that by the time the kids go to bed, I can just finish out my day, relax a little bit, and then go to bed at a decent hour. No more staying up late because I'm absolutely starved for alone time! I've actually been going to bed at a decent hour, which means that in the mornings I'm actually in a good mood! I've actually been waking up feeling optimistic about the day- knowing that if I throw myself into doing activities with the kids and taking care of housework I'll get a break in the middle of the day.

I can't even explain how much of an impact this has had on my outlook in general. I had NO IDEA that just a simple daily quiet time could make me feel so much happier about my life. If I had known, I would have started this years ago! If you have small kids that don't nap anymore, I highly recommend that you teach them to have a daily quiet time. If you're anything like me, you'll totally thank yourself!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Entering Recharge Mode

I'm an introvert. Very much an introvert, actually. And this month has been absolutely exhausting for an introvert like me.

Just in case you don't know what an introvert is, let me give you a quick run down. Contrary to popular opinion, introversion is not the same as being shy, not the same as not liking people, and is not the same as being selfish or self-centered(all common, but false, assumptions about introverts.) Introversion means that a person that's an introvert will be drained of energy when interacting with other people, and will be re-energized by spending time alone, or with one or two other people. (For me, since I'm a strong introvert, spending time with one or two other people doesn't really cut it in the re-energizing department. I need regular time by myself to feel like myself.) Extroverts are the opposite- they gain energy by spending time with others. Many introverts like spending time with other people, they'll just need an adequate time alone afterwards to recharge. Many introverts are friendly and outgoing, and in a social setting act similar to extroverts, they'll just need some time by themselves to process later. A big part of an introvert's life is inside their own head, and they need time to develop and care for that world. Does that make sense? 

So. I need lots of alone time to process and just "be". This past month? Hasn't been happening. First was Hayden's birthday. Then with the church's anniversary service, Thad was pretty much gone and out working all day, every day for two or three weeks straight(and he was out of town and completely gone for three of those days). He was working hard, but so was I, taking care of the kids and the house completely on my own. The anniversary service itself was amazing, but that was an ENTIRE day of interacting with people- totally exhausting for me, on top of already being exhausted. Whew. Then add on the regular Sunday and Wednesday services, on top of other various meetings and interactions with church members, etc. The weekend after the anniversary service we had a wedding to attend, so that was another long night of interaction. I know that there are a lot of you out there that have a lot more on your plate, and I'm not trying to complain, just explain where I'm at right now. 

Just as I was starting to recover from all that and feel normal again, my aunt and uncle came into town. I love my aunt and uncle. I LOVE spending time with them. But it was not an ideal time for my introverted self to have company. I apologized for not being as energetic and fun as I usually am when they visit, but I just didn't have a lot left to offer! They were gracious enough to understand, and my aunt arranged for us to get some one on one time together. For me, it's not the same as alone time, but still a lot more helpful than being around 5 or 6 people at a time- plus I really enjoy spending time with my aunt. 

They left yesterday afternoon, and I don't think I've ever been more excited to have the house to myself! It wasn't that I was happy for them to leave, I was just so happy to be by myself(well, plus the kids) for the first time in what felt like forever. I felt a tiny bit more refreshed when I finally dragged myself to bed last night, and thought maybe I'd be good now. Oh no. 

I didn't realize just how bad things had gotten until after church this morning. I normally feel a bit drained after 3 or 4 hours of interacting with people every Sunday, but today I was just exhausted and even felt a bit panicky just after church got over. I could not wait to get out of that door and just get away from everyone! Then it dawned on me. I've been running on fumes for three weeks now. My level of interaction compared to my needed alone time has been grossly out of balance the past month, which means that my tolerance for interaction with other people is extremely low right now. I'm in serious need of recharging! 

So this week is self care week. I'm focusing on me this week. Tomorrow Thad will watch the kids for three or four hours so that I can have some alone time. Maybe that will be enough to catch me back up, but if it's not, I'm going to take every opportunity that I can this week to recharge. The kids might watch a little more tv than usual. I might not get as much housework done. But that's ok. I'm scared to find out what might happen if I don't take care of myself and get the rest and rejuvenation that I need. I can't be the mom and wife that my family needs if I'm burned out and not feeling like myself. So this week, I'm putting myself at the top of the priority list.

And tonight? I'm getting the kids to bed, and then settling in with a glass of wine, a bowl of strawberries(and GAPS icing to dip them in), and some GCM. It's been offline for four days now for a summer break, and I can't wait to dive right back in.