"I now take orders only from my inner Knowing... It feels to me like a loving, playful guide, like the reason it will only reveal the next right thing is that it wants me to come back again and again, because it wants to do life together." - Glennon Doyle
Are you exhausted and depleted? This pandemic has been such a long slog, with so much sacrifice required. Most parents were already over-extended, and still struggle to find any time for themselves.
But that approach isn't sustainable long-term. If you don't re-connect daily to what keeps you inspired, you run dry. That means you can't model for your child how to live a meaningful life. Worse yet, if you don't access your own juicy aliveness, you're depriving yourself, so you can't give your child the emotional generosity every child needs.
Inspiration literally means to breathe in, to energize our life force. So one of the best ways to combat the exhaustion of this pandemic is to connect to your deepest inspiration, your inner knowing.
Everyone has their own way to tap into those inner springs. Maybe music gives voice to your soul, or being in nature is essential for you to feel centered. Maybe, like me, you crave the deep stillness of some form of meditation or prayer.
It may seem impossible, while you're parenting, to find time to pursue something that's so "unproductive" when children have such big, immediate needs. And there's always that small matter of keeping the bills paid and getting dinner on the table.
But on the other hand, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, even in a pandemic. Maybe especially in a pandemic. Here's how to re-energize and inspire yourself along the way.
1. Make a list of 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 to show up 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 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 five 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 whatever 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! Revel in it, even the very small steps. Appreciate yourself as you enjoy the gift of this experience. Whatever you pay attention to becomes stronger. Watch what you need change over time, as you attend to yourself.
2. Start small.
Is there a way to tap into whatever makes your heart sing, 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 your child naps, just to enjoy the act of writing? Maybe you can't perform at a nightclub, but can you practice once a month with other musicians? (Yes, there are ways to make music with others, even with the delays inherent on Zoom.) 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 Course you could take, with a forum you could participate in, to build your experience and knowledge?
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 more vast. I know, that takes time. But for today, start small. Get your kids occupied with something and set your timer for five minutes. Then sit quietly and tap into that deep reservoir of creativity that replenishes you. Maybe that just means sitting in silence in your living room. 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. Those will give you more inner resource to take steps toward what inspires you. How can you work these habits 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? How about listening to a guided meditation before you go to sleep each night? (Bonus: It will help you sleep!)
5. Work what energizes you into your daily 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. Your child would rather wear wrinkled clothes right out of the laundry basket than have a depleted parent. Just weigh each chore: Is this really as important as you feeling energized and inspired so you can radiate love to those around you?
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 will also give you more great parenting moments, because you'll have more inner resources.
This works best in small steps, as you practice listening to your inner guidance. 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 is post #7 in our series on self care: The Secret of the Full Cup.
The full series:
“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
“The secret of living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.” - Tibetan Proverb