“I guess you are really tired for real, mom”, she said.
I wanted to cry when I saw the disappointment on my daughter’s face. She had waited the day trip to Kitee aquapark for so long. And when we finally got there I just couldn’t hide my tiredness from her.
“Yes, mom is very tired. I’m sorry dear.” I said.
“But let’s go to have a sauna for a while. After that, I will have more energy and then we have some fun in the water.” I continued.
That’s what we did on that freezing Finnish winter day when it was -28°C outside.
In sauna, I decided to let go of all the other things for a moment, and just concentrate on being with the children.
We ended up having a nice couple of hours together. Children enjoyed, and mom as well. In the evening then I took some time for myself to rest while children played by themselves.
In Finnish we have the word “ruuhkavuodet”. It means the busy parenting years.
I knew that those years would be constant balancing between children, work, marriage, social life and personal wellbeing but (good that I didn’t know) how tired you can actually be during those years.
All working parents know that there are weeks, months and even years when you can be happy that all family members have clean clothes and the food that is on the table is somehow decent (and that there is food on the table).
Stress hormone levels are high.
You know what chronic stress does to your body and mind but find it hard to do anything about it. You try to invest energy to fix one thing in your life and at the same time, another one collapses because it would need your energy too.
Or someone in the family gets sick and the whole everyday palette crushes.
A dangerous thing called cynicism may start to grow inside you if the situation continues bad long enough.
I read some time ago an article “10 Natural Tips To Beat Chronic Stress“. I got scared when I noticed thinking after it that “F**k it. Why try anything because it does not change anything or help anyway.”
Things that require minimum effort, but bring maximum benefits are high in value during busy parenting years.
Time spent outdoors together -even for a short time- belongs to those high-ranking things.
Since it’s winter, in our family, it has meant cross-country skiing, skating, sledding and all other things done with snow.
Of course, it requires that you see the effort of going out, but years of experience has showed me that the benefits of outdoor life to both children and parents in the form of better sleeping, appetite, mood, physical activity etc. are so high that outdoor life beats the other means.
Whether it’s being outdoors, baking or whatever, when you combine the doing with mental practice of letting go of everything else, you can notice that even 15 (or 5) minutes can make miracles for both you and your children.
Since, like adults, also children they sense the tiredness, but they also sense the presence.
After my daughter’s comment in aquapark, it felt really bad to remember again that my busy years and tiredness are my children’s childhood.
Luckily, when browsing the photos of this winter I remembered that the comment was not all truth. Besides tired moments this winter has included many moments together full of energy. They may not have been big in scope, but often little moments and things in life are the biggest in the end.
It’s anything but easy, but arrange the time to take care of yourself too during the busy parenting years! And learn not to demand yourself too much. We all are just humans and one person can do only what one person can do.
About the topic, I’ve also written a story called “Trying Your Best is Enough”.
My blog post series “On the Way to Simple Living (17 parts) includes also many tips how to balance work and family life.
(I wrote the series in 2014 so it includes a lot of photos from our Savonlinna home 🙂 )