Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kid Juggling

This week, my husband and I played a game called "kid juggling."

In this game, you juggle kids back and forth between each other as you arrive home and leave again for some work or personal obligation. The object of the game is to make sure at least one of you has the kids and no one gets dropped accidentally.

Have you had a week like this? Maybe you have entire months like this. I know many couples who are on opposite shifts and see each other only in the doorway or asleep in bed.

This is not a fun game to play. It is hardly a game you can win. And certainly not a good environment for practicing patience.

My husband, who is a band director, had something going on every night this week, from a board meeting to color guard practice, to shuttling students to a jazz concert at a local university, to assisting with new principal interviews. I am trying to work full-time between an office more than an hour away and my home office. My girls, 4 and 7, were scheduled in the midst of our schedules with school, a piano lesson, preschool and daycare. Did I mention that both my husband and I had bad colds?

Made me wonder what needed to give. And it was probably me.

When a 4-year-old has to get up at 6:30 a.m. and doesn't get to bed until 9:15, there could be something wrong with the family schedule. Thank goodness that isn't the case every day for my family, but it made me wonder if we had our priorities straight. Maybe I've taken on too many hours than are feasible for my family right now. Maybe a little less money in exchange for a little more home time and sanity is worth it.

Then again, any of us with full-time employment that is fairly secure should be feeling gratitude rather than wondering if we are sacrificing our children's happiness. Times are tough right now. Maybe all of us, the kids included, have to dig in our heels and do the best we can under less than ideal circumstances.

The fact that I'm worried about being a good parent should count for something. Your worries count for something too.

Just know that you're not alone. We're all struggling through each day with children...just trying to eke out a living and a life.

Kudos to the kid-juggling, hard-working parents out there. I'm right there with you.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Okay, so it's been a while since I posted. But my new goal is to post twice a week and to post a question at the end, so please keep me on my toes and leave a comment to motivate me!

I just taught a great class in St. Michael, Minnesota, with about 12 parents in attendance. It was my Introduction to Patient Parenting class. One of the questions I asked was how many of them took vacations.

Two raised their hands, a couple waved their hands in a noncommital way and the rest stared at each other.

I thought so.

So I asked the ones who had raised their hands whether they had vacations that involved doing nothing or that involved lots of activities. Uh-huh. They were just as busy on their vacations as in the rest of their lives.

Because our lives are so busy with children, our brains never have a chance to settle down from "fight or flight" beta waves. So I suggested to the parents that they take mini-vacations.

Sit for 10 minutes and look at a magazine. Stare out the window. Lay on your bed and close your eyes for 15 minutes. If you are afraid you will fall asleep, set the alarm. Listen to soothing music. Call a friend and laugh about how crazy your lives are. Go fishing. Take a walk...a slow leisurely walk. Write in a journal. Read from a book of quotations or poems.

These mini-vacations are just for you. So make sure the kids are in a safe place and then allow your mind to drift to a happy, sunny, relaxing space. Let your muscles relax. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

This is not only healthy for your mind, but also for your body. It will counteract the production of stress hormones that surge through us each time we are worried or frantic about the next thing on our to-do list. It also helps you to practice patience because patience requires mindfulness...staying in the moment. My favorite mini-vacation? A bubblebath with my ipod cranked up. But I have to be careful not to get the ear buds wet!

You deserve some down time, too! So what's your favorite way to take a mini-vacation? Tell me about it.