Are you having trouble unwinding? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all of the demands that parenting life throws at you? Do you feel burnt out? Welcome to the wonderful World of parenting. Parents have one the most time/energy consuming jobs on the planet and it can sometimes feel all consuming.
Over the last few weeks, life has thought me some very valuable lessons Being constantly sick and close to burn out forced me to look inwards. There were questions that I had that needed to be answered. Why am I tired all the time? Why am I getting sick so often? Why am I fighting with my wife?
After sitting down and journalling about my problems, I saw where the issues lied. Looking at my calendar and schedule, there was no time for myself or my relationship. I was living a life that had was going at full speed for one and a half years without any semblance of a break.
I was on a collision course with burn out and divorce unless I made some massive changes. Since becoming a father, I felt that I was invincible. My inner voice told me that no amount of sleep deprivation or work could stop me from moving forward. This could not have been further from the truth and my health suffered as a result. Trying to do too much led me to being sick 5 times in 6 months. The last round of antibiotics was the nail in the coffin.
Something had to give. I was sick, tired and fighting with Olivia the whole time. The 16 hour days, 7 days per week, had become untenable. To add to being a full time parent working parent of twins I was trying to balance writing a blog and training for half marathon. Not only was I overworked but I was under rested.
To counteract the extreme tiredness, I discovered some revolutionary solutions for getting my life back.
4 Solutions To Help You Unwind
Unwinding Solution 1 – Get A Babysitter
One of the best decisions that I ever made was getting a babysitter that can handle twins. It took me a year and a half to find to do this. Don’t wait that long. Paying somebody to mind the twins 1-3 times per week has freed up time for me to look after myself and my relationship.
Having a babysitter means that for at least a couple of days per week, I can switch off and not worry about my to do list. This is down time, for 8-15 hours per week, is enough for me to recharge my batteries. A babysitter has also reduced the amount of friction in our marriage that comes from being parents of twins.
Most parents do not find the time to look after themselves and this unhealthy. You need to invest in time for yourself to recover. Since finding a baby sitter I have committed to one date night per week and one day for myself twice per month.
My health had forced my hand in finding a babysitter and I wish that I had done it earlier. It is hard to see it at the time but you always learn the most from difficult situations in life. I hope that my lessons will save you from suffering like I did.
Unwinding Solution 2 – Make Sleep Your Priority
The next big problem when it comes to being a unwinding is sleep. The old “I’ll sleep when I am dead” adage is not a motto to live your life by. One of the reasons that I was sick so often was the lack of sleep.
Trying to run, work and blog on top of being a parent is impossible when you are not sleeping properly. For the first 6 months to year of your baby’s life it is normal to be sleep deprived. After that, sleep deprivation becomes a health hazard. Invest in a good sleep mask and ear plugs and turn off your phone an hour before you go to bed. You can read more about how parents can get more sleep here.
In the last couple of weeks, I have placed a priority on sleeping and it has made a massive difference to my health and overall performance. Sleeping is a natural remedy for a lot of ailments and it will really help you to unwind.
Unwinding Solution 3 – Be Patient
Another massive failure of mine was trying to do too much. Since having the babies I have massive goals and aspirations and it can be overwhelming at times. I have learned to slow down and be more patient in what I want to achieve in life. My goals have become much longer stretch goals.
Instead of trying to achieve massive success in some areas in the next 6 months or year I am now planning 5, 10 and 20 years down the line.
This longer term approach has taken a weight off my shoulders and helped relax. The less pressure that I put on myself the easier it is for me to unwind. If you are familiar with Seth Godin’s book Outliers, then you will know the 10,000 hours rule. To summarise the rule, it takes 10,000 hours to become World Class at anything.
This view has helped me to relax. For example, I have invested rougly 1,000 hours into my first year of blogging. To get to the level that I want to achieve as a writer/blogger it will take another 9 years or 9,000 hours.
Unwinding Solution 4 – Make Time For Yourself
You do no just need to take breaks and go on dates with your partner. You also need to take time for yourself to relax and unwind. As mentioned above, I have scheduled two days per month for myself, when I look after number one. This could be going to the cinema, a trip to spa or a massage.
Taking time on my own with my thoughts is a great way to unwind. As a parent, I feel that I am always switched on. It is either work or family and not much in between. Taking time to proactively do something for myself on my own helps to hit the reset button.
It is normal to feel like parenting and life are getting on top of you. This is true for nearly all parents. You are not alone in feeling overworked and under appreciated. Learn from my mistakes and before you get sick, take a break.
Get a good baby sitter. Use the time when the babysitter is there to rest and recover. You also need to make time for your relationship. Go on a date night as often as possible. Do something fun!
After you have prioritised your relationship then you need to do something for yourself. Get a massage, go to a spa or watch a good movie.
Whatever you do don’t forget to make time to unwind. If you don’t then you could be doing some very long term damage to your body. The last thing your children need is a sick parent.
Are you a parent that is struggling to unwind? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.