When It All Falls Apart (For Moms In August)
by Jenn Gallucci
By this point in the season, rhythms might be unravelling, children might be acting listless or revolting against the colorful chore list. Today I offer 4 steps to help when your best laid plans fall apart and the start of school suddenly feels a marathon’s distance away.
1. Forgive yourself and them
It’s inevitable. There will be one morning or many, between now and the first day back at school, where you look around you and see kids in their underpants at noon, laundry and toys strewn everywhere, last week’s canning project still taking up the whole kitchen, and you can see that a trip to the grocery is necessary just to serve lunch. And, then there’s what you hear all around you: bickering, fighting, loud nonsensical kid chants they picked up somewhere and won’t let go of, or that word you’ve escaped until now—bored.
You want to reheat your coffee and escape to a quiet corner of the house with the door closed (aka. the bathroom). Go ahead. We won’t judge you. Let’s do it together. Now that you’re there see if you can take a deep breath. One that starts from your belly and ends at your throat. Exhale all the way back down letting go of your expectations of yourself and your children. Maybe even laugh at yourself a little—hiding out in the bathroom. It’s going to be OK. Keep inhaling acceptance of this moment; the state of the house, the state of the children, the mess, the unravelling of it all and exhaling any judgements, expectations, and guilt you are storing inside you.
You may not have much time before a little one comes to find you. That’s OK too. Because whatever amount of time you take to pause and breath, accept and let go is going to bring you back to the OKness of the present moment. Maybe you will notice a small shift within yourself. A new ease, a sense of humor, or a spacious heart where once there was tightness. Or, maybe when you venture out from your quiet place you notice a subtle shift in the house or your children. You may suddenly see the beautiful sun drenched skin of your mostly naked kids instead of just their underoos and unkempt hair. Or, you may have the capacity to forgive yourself and them for falling out of step. You may feel more capable to enter into the fray with patience and notice what the next step is more clearly.
2. Revisit your rhythm (tweak if necessary)
Remember in the first post in this series when we created a daily rhythm? Now is the time to go find it. Make a date with yourself after the kids go to bed to revisit it. Poor yourself a glass of something yummy, light a candle, grab a bite of chocolate—whatever you can do to make this reflective time more enjoyable.
When I revisited the rhythm I created 6 weeks ago I noticed a few shifts. Somewhere along the way we started going to bed an hour and a half later and waking up an hour later too. Breakfast is now at 9 or 9:30! I’m not sure when this shift took place or if it happened gradually but I’ve decided I’m OK with it. It’s summertime after all. We no longer have summer camps to get up for. It makes sense.
I also notice that I am starting to go to bed later and sleep in with the kids. This is not working for me. When I start my day later the practices I value, that keep me healthy, calm, and vibrant start to slide away. Suddenly my designated yoga time is gone or another day has slipped by without meditation or my work from home hours have either dwindled significantly or are taking up our whole day—leaving no time to get to the beach or be spontaneous.
Setting aside time to take a fresh look at our daily rhythm I can see what I might tweak to get myself back on track again. I can revisit our summer values and summer wish list (post #4) while recreating a routine for the last month of summer. Reminding myself that a routine holds us but doesn’t bind us. It’s the backbone of our summer days.
3. Begin again
You may be thinking, of course! Begin again; how simple. But, how many times have you tried to start a new healthful habit only to falter 2 weeks in. You know how challenging it can be to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. It’s both challenging and simple. The challenge is getting out of your own way: getting over yourself, practicing forgiving yourself, saying, so what, and beginning again. It’s so much better to have hiccups along the way, starts and stops, rather than just throwing in the towel (different from throwing the map out the window—which we will talk about soon).
I’ve been working on a daily meditation practice in earnest for the past 6 months. I enlisted an accountability partner, I signed up for 2 different 30 day commitments with lovely teachers, and I have many past tools to draw on. And, yet, I falter and fail over and over again. Through this process I have learned that shaming myself for lack of spiritual discipline doesn’t help. My only way back to my seat is remembering my commitment to myself and to the practice of stillness. When I take the expectations of what I think it “looks like” to meditate off my plate I am more able to just do it, whenever and wherever I’m at. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s like slogging through mud, but even if it’s 5 minutes and even if there are weeks in between I’m still meditating.
In regards to my kids, I see that I can reinstate quiet time at the hottest part of the day after lunch. This gives them much needed introspective, imaginative, restful time to recharge as well as time apart to miss each other. It’s like a restart button in our days helping us to not blow a fuse. They may “ugh, mom” me but that’s normal and I just remind myself of how much more peace there is after our in breath.
So, what’s beckoning you to begin again this week? I suggest picking one item for you and one for the kids. Let go of shame and blame and begin. It will feel so much lighter once you do.
4. Throw the map out the window and get ice cream
Remember back in post #3 when we talked about simplifying? Here is where you will be glad you did. When all else fails and the funk has landed at your house it’s time to shake things up, throw out the plan, and go get ice cream—maybe even for dinner. It might not be “ice cream” for your family but you get the idea, right? It’s time to throw caution to the wind and do something out of the ordinary. Wow the funk right out of your house!
Last week I blew my kids’ minds. We were having an extra emotional transition between mama and papa’s homes. The morning was spent listening, soothing, holding, pulling out every woo-woo, alternative remedy I could think of to soothe the soul. At a certain point I knew we needed to shake things up to let go of the emotional rollercoaster. So, when we sat down to read a story together (our usual remedy) I asked “How would you like to go see Finding Dory at the movie theater?” And, everything changed, just like that. “Really mom???!! Could we?” We bought our tickets online, washed tear streaked faces, and piled into the car. I then took it a step further with, “we’re leaving a bit early so we have time to get a treat to bring with us.” My oldest said, “Whoa, mom, we don’t need to do that. The movie is treat enough.” I smiled, knowing that keeping these fanciful ideas in my back pocket until we really need them has served me well. We did stop at the market on the way to pick out a treat and we enjoyed our “out of our box” movie adventure very much. Sometimes you just need to throw your hands in the air, surrender the plan, and treat yourself.
For your family, it could be a trip to a park or beach you haven’t been to yet, a touristy trip through your own city, a new book for everyone at the local book store, a double scoop, or a sleepover with friends in your backyard. There are so many ways to shake things up, step out of the ordinary, and take a new turn in your day. It’s OK to throw the map out the window.
Jenn Gallucci is a self-care guide and creativity coach for women and moms. She's passionate about women taking care of themselves and finding time to pursue the things that truly light them up so they can live fully and share greatly.
You can find out how to work with Jenn on her website, www.jenngallucci.com. She has lots of great resources there too!