Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Fever Cure #1: You First

When I fly on an airplane, I have the privilege of viewing, once again, a presentation on emergency procedures. Most of the time, I confess that I don't pay close attention. However, there is one aspect of the safety procedures that sticks with me now. It's this: put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then put one on your kids.

Put the mask on yourself first.

It seems counter-intuitive. I would instinctively want to put the mask on the kids first. But it's smart advice, and not just for air travel emergencies. I found that it works for many of the common ailments and crises that our homeschool faced. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I had held the belief for many years that if I took care of the family's needs first, and everyone was content, then I would have time and space to take care of mine. Homeschooling turned the tables on this idea, as I found that the demands seemed endless -- there was always one more thing to do -- and my neglected needs piled up. I burned out, more than once, by being a servant to my family.

So my second spring fever cure is this: you first.

Your next thought may be similar to mine. How in the world is there time for that? How can we possibly make one more thing happen? This is the problem usually. Homeschooling moms know they need to take care of themselves, but it's very hard to find the time to do it.

I have had my own struggles with this, too. I have tried a lot of things that didn't work. I have set new resolutions, only to find later that I couldn't follow through. But through trial and error, I finally discovered two simple, low-cost remedies that really did help me. I could apply them in any setting, under almost any demands. Doing these two things saved my sanity, my health, and ultimately our homeschool.

Remedy #1:

Find a simple, inexpensive thing to do that brings you joy. It's not for anyone else, just for you. Do it every day possible for a week. Adjust the "joy break" to the demands of your schedule. On busy days you may only have five minutes. On weekends, you may find an hour or two. Do something that really takes you away from the daily pressures and makes you forget for a few minutes all of the responsibilities.

Go out for coffee. Watch a movie you love. Take a walk. Visit a pretty shop. Read a nice magazine article. Light a candle. Have dessert. Soak in the tub. Put some flowers in a vase. Do something just for you every day.

I know it doesn't feel like there is time for this. Do it anyway. You will cope with the demands of spring if you can give yourself a slight edge with little, daily refreshments. Keep them simple. Keep them daily. If you are too drained from too many demands, too much noise, too many things to do, then this is a smart remedy. Stop the world for a few minutes. Catch your breath. Let your soul pause to fill up with delight.

This is the FIRST thing to do. Everything else will go much better, afterwards. Trust me. Just make time for it. This is not selfishness; it's smart management. Studies done in the workplace show that when people take regular "joy breaks," productivity soars. Every time. You will work smarter and solve problems faster with a little joy. And that could be real handy right now.

Remedy #2:

Add a short time-out to your routine. For fifteen minutes once a day, sit quietly in a pretty room, in a park, on your porch, in your bedroom. It's important to be away from your work space for this. No cell phones, no TV, no kids, no interrruptions. Close your eyes. Listen to all of the sounds. How many do you notice? Take some deep breaths. It's all going to be okay. Really, it is. After a few minutes of stillness, allow yourself to read an inspiration passage or to experience something lovely -- a Psalm from the Bible, a passage from an inspirational book, a flower in a vase, some favorite music.

Do this every day. No, it won't solve all the problems. But this simple pause (extra and beyond what you are doing now) will give you a chance to recover perspective and emotional resilience. From this quiet place, you go back into your world to cope with the sensory overload you have been enduring and with a schedule that is overfull.

It seems silly, in a way, to think that these two very simple things could make such a difference, but for me they did. They were life-savers. They were achieveable, inexpensive, and effective. They were a great place to start.

1 comment:

  1. I think my life consists of always doing #1 and #2! Well, #2 usually happens later in the day. Maybe it should come earlier!


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