We all want to be great parents and great partners to our other halves. But do you ever stop to think about how being a great parent, and partner, requires that you also be a great YOU? It’s a bit like oxygen masks on an airplane. You must adjust your own mask before you can help anyone else with theirs. Have you set yourself up to be a great you?
No one expects you to be perfect. And certainly not perfect all the time. We all know the give and take that some days require: you step back from your “A” game in one direction to deliver it in another. The key is remembering to make up for it after and regain your balance.
The other key is knowing yourself: what helps you achieve your best self and how to place those things in your daily path so you can regain it quickly when you stray. How do you recharge? From where do you draw energy? What types of things sap that energy?
Some people need time alone to think. Others need quality time with a friend. Some find it at church, the gym, hiking in the mountains, or fishing. Retail therapy or gardening might be your answer. For me, it’s about travel. Seeing a new place refreshes and energizes me like nothing else.
When I get out of my comfort zone and away from my calendar alerts, I think about completely different things than when I’m in my bubble at home. My creativity reemerges. I experiment, explore, problem solve, and learn. I fail a lot. Muscles I don’t use in my normal daily routine get stretched, and those I use at work and home get a much-needed rest.
I don’t have to go far, just far enough to change the scenery. It doesn’t have to be long, just long enough to truly unplug. (Of course, I always welcome longer and farther!) But it gives me a chance to take on a new challenge, overcome it, and remember what that feels like. It gives me a chance to stop and think clearly, which is often hard to do in the midst of over-stimulated lives. Going through the discovery process deepens my relationships with others and with myself. It also reunites me with my sense of wonder. All these things make me a happier, more inspired, more interesting person.
If I could travel all the time, I would. Unfortunately that’s not my reality, though I try to make sure I always have a trip on the horizon. Even if it’s a distant horizon, it gives me something to look forward to.
When I’m between trips, I find ways to relive my experiences by incorporating reminders into my everyday life. Little totems from my adventures – jewelry I’m wearing, artwork I pass by, a quote on my computer, or a new practice I start my day with – trigger memories that transport me back for just a moment. Often, that’s all I need to find my happy place when the stress starts to get to me.
I’ve also started seeing that my kids can serve as little reminders now that I've begun taking them with me. Whenever he makes a certain "I'm-a-big-kid!" smile, I think of how much I learned about my son when the two of us went to New York last June. It was a proud momma moment and that look always brings me back to it.
When I’m happy, inspired, and energized, I’m better at everything. God knows you need plenty of energy, patience, flexibility, and resourcefulness to keep up with an active partner, let alone a couple of equally dynamic littles. Before I can focus fully on them, I’ve got to find my own groove. Getting out of my home turf and exploring the unknown world around me helps me do that. Tell me in the comments: what helps you find yours?