Guys, we’ve all been there. You have that moment when you question your ability to do ANYTHING right, or whether or not you’re even cut out to handle the At Home Dad thing. So, if you’re sitting there at your kitchen table with a Cheerio stuck to your arm while you stare wistfully into a half-empty cup of coffee while your kid(s) are running roughshod throughout the house and you are struck with the horrible notion that your day isn’t even half over…this is for you.
We all look for tips to make life easier. If we didn’t, LifeHacks wouldn’t be a ‘thing’. So, I’m going to share with you, five simple things that you can do to help maintain your sanity when you’re at the end of your rope.
Seriously, this one is so innocuous and simple, that it will sound ludicrous at first. And yet, it’s so powerful that it will literally reshape your day.
(Bonus, this can be done with the kids too! So, privacy isn’t needed.)For three minutes, preferably right after you get up in the morning and before the daily momentum starts dragging you down. Go to the bathroom and strike a superhero pose. I don’t care what superhero, as long as it’s your favorite and it’s bold.
Science has proven that striking a power pose for three minutes raises your testosterone levels and gives you a feeling of bravado as well as giving you a nice melatonin boost to help you take things more in stride. You know, like the superhero you are.
2. There is No Spoon (Ongoing)
The point in The Matrix when the kid says that bending the spoon is easy because there is no spoon, he was talking about bending yourself so your spoon looks bent. Basically, in a nutshell, when the madness sets in and you start losing control, you are the one who needs to change. If a certain tack you are taking isn’t working, change it up.
Throwing out any pretense of how you think the day will go also helps alleviate stress further down the road. The day I stopped trying to force my two toddlers into a strict schedule that was better for me, the less frustrated I got with them for not adhering to the schedule. Remember, no matter what, YOU are in control…but only within reason.
3. Get Some Sunlight (10-15 minutes)
If you’re going to handle stress and maintain energy, you’re going to need your Vitamin D. A recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, says that people with lower vitamin D levels are more than twice as likely of dying from heart diseases than those who ‘worship the sun’ on occasion. The study cites “decreased outdoor activity” as a major reason for the deficiency.
Plus, the added bonus of going for a walk or playing in the yard will get your blood flowing, releasing all sorts of endorphins and oxygen into your system. And if you manage to break a sweat, guess what? Your body is dumping toxins left and right.
4. Play WITH Your Kids
So often, we get overwhelmed with making sure the dishes are done, or laundry is getting rotated and folded etc…that we can get caught in the dangerous game of turning the TV on, or tossing the kids an iPad to keep them occupied while we get our work done.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should NEVER do those things. There are times when you desperately need to poop alone or get a load of laundry put away. But when you start feeling like you’re losing control, is when the digital nanny becomes a crutch instead of an individual tool in a vast tool box. Remember, if all you have is a hammer, EVERYTHING begins to look like nails.
I suggest that at some point in the day, get on the floor with the young ones. Get down on their level, and play the way they want to play. You’ll be surprised what sort of interactions you get. Plus, it’s bonding.
Also, don’t take your kids to the park and just let them run around while you sit and stare at them. Jump up on the slide with them. Have a rousing game of ‘chase’ or ‘tag’ or any of a hundred games you played as a kid. Again, you can combine this one with #3 and pull double duty! Don’t worry, the laundry will still be there when you get home.
(Bonus: You can wear the kids out and possibly get them down for a nice quiet nap, or if you have more than one kid, you might even get the mythical ‘Nap Overlap’.)
Smile. Even if you don’t want to. In fact, I would posit that’s when you need to smile the most. There’s an old saying I used to use when bartending, “If you can’t make it, fake it.” Oddly enough, moods are like mixed drinks. You can fake them.
A smile is nature’s way of making you feel better. Yes, you smile when you feel good, BUT you can also feel good because of your smile. In a recent study published in Psychological Science, they tested a groups’ ability to recover from stress after performing a difficult task. The one thing that differed in all of the groups was, you guessed it, ‘Whether or not they were smiling’.
They found that ‘smiling participants recovered more quickly from stress than those with neutral expressions’…
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How am I going to smile when I don’t want to?” I’ve got you covered, chief. It’s as easy as finding a chopstick, pen, or pencil. Put that bad boy in your mouth while you’re doing your chores around the house. Soon enough, your body will start thinking, “Hmmm…while I don’t feel entirely happy, the smile muscles are active…so, I must be smiling…so I must be happy. Well, then I guess I better start producing more of those chemicals that make me feel more happy, then.”
So, there you have it, five simple things that you can do to restore peace and balance in your world. Remember, even if there’s only one kid, you’re already outnumbered. Use every tool in your box, and look around for new tools. You won’t regret it. Good luck, superhero!