[See original article published here.]
Sometimes when you have computer problems, the quickest solution is to reboot. Computer experts advise this all the time. They say restarting your computer will install updates properly, and help fix any abnormal issues you may be experiencing. How incredible would it be if we could do that with ourselves?
The other day, I met Jill. She told me about her most recent frantic day: Her 8-year-old son had thrown up right on the breakfast table minutes before his ride arrived; her 3-year-old daughter was having a temper tantrum because her toast had butter and jelly and she only wanted jelly; and her 16-month-old girl had happily scattered her scrambled eggs all over the floor.
Jill said, “When I have those kind of days, I feel like Alexander, the boy from the children’s classic book: ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.’ ”
In this book, Alexander realizes it’s going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day when he wakes up with gum in his hair and trips on a skateboard. Things just go from bad to worse until he goes to bed and he wishes he could move to Australia!
Jill needed a reboot. Perhaps many of us need one, too. It’s been a long winter and we still have more to endure. What’s a mother like Jill to do?
Here are some suggestions that may help you refresh, despite the “bad days.”
• Exercise: Often, many things need to align perfectly before moms get to exercise the way they’d like. However, many moms have found creative ways to work out and have fun with their children at the same time.
Running while you play tag, “monster” chase, or any active game can be an alternative for everyone. Run with your children all over the house and you’ll be ready to quit the game before they do. They also may enjoy the challenge of trying yoga animal poses with you. Dancing is another option. Extend your arms and swirl around to the music, letting them lead the fun.
• Practice meditation basics: Numerous studies confirm that mindfulness exercises or meditation helps change attitudes and thought patterns. It provides significant mental and physical benefits.
A simple mom-child meditation activity can be as follows: Choose an object that you can “study” together with your four senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell) for 1-2 minutes. Ask questions like: What is its shape and color? When we touch it, how does it feel? Is it soft, rough, or smooth? Does it make any sounds as we touch it or when we shake it? Let’s take turns smelling it; what does it smell like? Your minds may wander. Note what everyone is thinking about and return to the activity. Finish when you notice they’ve lost interest. Repeat the activity every day to give your mind a break. This activity is not so much for your children as much as it is for you because young children have an easier time “living in the present.”
• Set the goal, the timer and go! Our “to do” lists can be frustrating. We have the “essentials” and the “would be nice” to-do tasks. Playing with our children and making dinner is essential. Catching up with our children’s scrapbooks or cleaning the pantry shelves “would be nice” to get done some day. We all need a sense of accomplishment. Tackling a long overdue task can contribute to that feeling.
Here is a suggestion: Decide on the task you’d like to finish. Set the timer between 15-30 minutes, then do it! Once the timer goes off, you stop and go about your regular day. Do this every day until you get it done. By the end of the week, you’ll have done something you thought you didn’t have time to do.
• Focus: Avoid multi-tasking. A recent study reported that you can actually accomplish more when focusing on one thing at a time. Spending time with your children is the most important task each day. When playing with them, focus on them 100 percent. Mute your phone and leave it in your bedroom. Emails, texts and other media can wait. Your actions and nonverbal cues will show your children that you are there for them. Show them that you hear them, understand them and care for them.
• Check your attitude: I have an acquaintance who when asked how she is doing, proceeds to list all the negative events and issues going wrong in her life. Despite advice and tips from her friends, she hasn’t been able to see the positives in anything. On the other hand, this is how my ill and aging 87-year-old neighbor responded when I asked her how she was doing: “I am counting my blessings. That’s what counts. Things don’t have to be one way all the time. Changes happen and I go with them, and laugh instead of growl.”
• “Make do”: Recently a certain little preschool girl asked her mom to get her summer gear out. Every day she insists that both she and her little sister wear bathing suits over their winter clothes. Her mom said, “She likes to pretend she’s at the beach. I think somebody is sick of this cold weather.” We learn so much from children! This 4-year-old is “making do” with “what is” right now, and that’s enough for her. What about us, how are we coping?
Some days may be humdrum, others may be worse. The terrible and horrible ones happen sometimes. But we cannot escape this reality. We have to “make do.” The fog dissipates and the sun eventually comes out — but what we do with our current circumstances is really up to us.