Dr. Laura Markham
Founder of AhaParenting.com | Author
“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.” — Martha Graham
Raising a child takes so much out of us that we often sacrifice most everything else that’s important to us. But if we don’t stay connected to what keeps us inspired, we run dry.
What lights your fire? Maybe you’re passionate about painting, or you go crazy if you can’t garden. Maybe you need to be around other adults for at least part of every day so you can talk about politics or parenting theory instead of Legos and lollipops. Maybe, like me, you crave a deep silence and stillness.
It may seem impossible, while you’re parenting, to find time for your personal passions. And it’s true that most of us don’t get the privilege of spending much time on those passions while our children are small. Kids require a lot of our time. And there’s always that small matter of putting dinner on the table.
But on the other hand, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to find ways to re-energize and inspire ourselves along the way. Our posts for the past couple of weeks have all been about de-stressing and self-care. One sure-fire way to re-energize is to tap into the passions that fuel you on a deeper level.
1. What energizes you? If you don’t know, sit quietly and ask yourself “What would inspire or energize me right now?” Then listen for the answers. Watch for them as you go through your day. Jot them down on a list — “What energizes Me.”
Don’t be surprised if what you’re drawn to as energizing is very simple. It may be that right now the grand passions you once had sound exhausting, and what would inspire you is a hot bath with no one touching you, or sitting in the sun for ten minutes in silence. That’s fine. Listen to what your soul needs now, today. That may well be different next week. Just start where you are and write what comes to you.
Then consider each item on your list. How can you work this into your life, even in small ways? Schedule it. Do it! Appreciate it, even the very small steps!
Watch what you need change over time, as you attend to yourself.
2. Start small. Is there a way to tap into whatever makes you passionate, even while your child is young? Maybe you can’t write the great American novel this year, but can you write a little in a journal every day while he naps, just to enjoy the act of writing? Maybe you can’t perform at a nightclub on a regular basis, but can you practice once a month with other musicians? Maybe you can’t start a restaurant yet, but can you incorporate your passion for food into life with your children by cooking together? Or maybe now that you’re a parent, what you’re really passionate about is supporting parents. Your life as a parenting coach may be a few years away, but is there a forum or babywearing group you could participate in?
3. Go for process, not product. The point isn’t adding something to your list, but replenishing yourself. So forget about being productive; enjoy the creativity, discovery, and communing with your deepest inspiration that gets your juices flowing and connects you to something deeper and more vast. For today, start by tapping into that deep reservoir of creativity that replenishes you. Maybe that just means sitting in silence in nature. Soak it in. Listen to the song your heart sings when it’s full. Over time, just follow where that song takes you.
4. Create the healthy habits that will energize you. In addition to whatever lights your fire, think about what healthy habits would energize your body, mind, and soul. How can you work those into an already-overflowing life? The only easy answer is to make them part of your routine. If you have to remember to take your vitamins, you won’t do it most of the time. If you take them with breakfast every morning, you’ll do it automatically. If you crave time to write in your journal, how about making that a routine while your child does homework, or while you’re nursing the baby?
5. Work what energizes you into your life. Schedule in a tiny bit of what energizes you, every single day. You may have to let other things drop off your list. That’s ok. You’ll have more energy to tackle the laundry on the weekend, for instance, if you keep yourself inspired daily.
You’ll be amazed at the power of allowing yourself to live more fully. The Aha! moment is that balancing your needs with your child’s by keeping yourself energized also makes you a better parent!
This works best in small steps. You don’t have to be able to see the end of the path, just to take the next small step. What small step can you take today?
This post was originally posted at AhaParenting.com on 6/30/16
About Dr. Laura Markham
Dr. Laura Markham is the founder of AhaParenting.com and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life. Dr. Laura says that earning her PhD in clinical psychology at Columbia University was just the beginning of her education as a psychologist. Becoming a mother convinced her that parents are doing the hardest job in the world, and need more support. She says her aspiration is to change the world, one child at a time — by supporting parents.