“If an organization is resourced, it has all the things, such as money and materials, that it needs to function properly.” – Collins Dictionary
With the holidays in full swing, I wanted to share an important reminder. You have one of the most powerful parenting resources at your fingertips: YOU. In any given moment, you have access to the sensations in your body, your breath, and the space in between your thoughts. Your ability to access these tools can be the difference between feeling drained and feeling resourced as a parent.
We all have access to these inner resources in theory, but stress tends to instill the belief that we don’t have time. We don’t have time to meditate or do yoga. Our breathing gets increasingly shallow and we get stuck in our heads– our to do lists, our worries, our fears. Ultimately, we disconnect from our bodies as well.
The truth is, even though we are with ourselves constantly, connecting to the deep and enduring resources we hold within is difficult. Many of us were never taught to do this as children, and our capitalistic society urges us to push our way forward and work ourselves thin. Once stress gets the best of us, knowing we have these resources available to us at all times does little good. We can’t utilize our resources if we don’t FEEL resourced.
A Better Resourced You
None of us like feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or exhausted around the holidays, but what can you do about it? How can you course correct? How can you reconnect to your Self, your source, so you can access all of the resources you have available to you? I’ve got a few baby steps you can start working on today to help you make it to the new year on more than just fumes. Ready?
Give yourself permission to say no.
When you find yourself overwhelmed by a busy schedule, practice saying no. Cancel plans if you need to. You don’t have to say no to everything, but start paying attention to the feelings your obligations stir up inside you. If something stirs up genuine excitement, it’s a yes. If not, consider saying no. Of course, we all have things that are obligations rather than just commitments, things that we can’t say no to. But it’s rare that our schedules are full of true obligations. Baby steps are okay here. Even if you can only find one play date, tradition, or party to decline, start there.
I’ll give you an example. We had planned to go chop down a Christmas tree and start a new family tradition this year. But going to the tree farm began to feel more overwhelming than exciting. So we took it off our calendar and dug my parents artificial tree out of the closet. It saved us time planning and executing as well as saving us a little bit of money, too. It’s not perfect, and we don’t have any photos from the tree farm, but our holidays are still feeling magical. Cutting out the tree farm prevented us from feeling stretched too thin, which allows us to feel more resourced and be more present with each other. That’s a huge win in my book.
Practice belly breathing.
After you turn out the light, before you go to sleep at night, place your hands on your belly. Practice breathing deeply into your belly, so that your hands rise with each in breath and settle back with each out breath. Count each inhale and exhale, saying something like, “I am inhaling one, I am exhaling one.” If breathing deeply doesn’t come easily, try taking as full a breath as you can, then holding your breath for a count of five. Introducing this little bit of breath retention can help stretch the diaphragm and increase your lung capacity. Please don’t try this if you’re pregnant, though. It’s better to keep a full supply of oxygen flowing to baby and deepen your breath work over time.
Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
This one is so easy to overlook, but has been so powerful for me. I was running low recently, and getting really clear about my bedtime routine made a huge difference in my energy reserves and my ability to tap into my own inner resources. The simplest way you can go about this is to choose a target bed time, one that insures you get enough sleep, and then commit to relaxation in the hour before you turn out the lights. For me, that’s meant that I put down the phone, write in my journal, and read for pleasure. I had been reading for work every night before bed, and I found that it was disruptive. I’d get so excited about what I was reading that I’d have a hard time sleeping. I’d start adding new things to my to do list, and I’d find myself wanting to just get started instead of going to work.
These suggestions are stepping stones. Whether you embrace one of them or all of them, you’ll notice a shift in your stress levels and your energy reserves. If you begin to create a little more space for your breath and relaxation, you’ll start to notice a shift. It will become easier to access your breath throughout your day. If you start establishing boundaries around your bedtime routine, it will give you practice establishing boundaries for yourself in other areas of your life. And if you pay attention to what gets you excited and start saying no to the things that don’t, you’ll be getting even more practice with boundary setting while you create more space for the things that matter. Plus, as a bonus, when you start to pay attention to your resistance and your excitement and use that to guide your choices, you’ll be acting from a more intuitive place.
Have you made any changes to your routine so you could be a more resourced parent? I’d love it if you’d share your story in the comments!
If this kind of work is your thing, you might also enjoy my collection of reflective writing prompts for parents. It’s a great way to jump start or get a little more traction from your journaling practice. Just enter your email address below and I’ll send a copy your way.