Letting Go of Self-Imposed Rules

Some­times cre­at­ing a self-imposed rule is a good thing.  For exam­ple, I will only eat one cook­ie or I will drink at least 70 ounces of water a day.  Some­times though, I think that we get ideas that cer­tain self-imposed rules are expect­ed.  I find this hap­pens to me most often in par­ent­ing.

Instead of trust­ing my instincts and using mod­er­a­tion, I find myself won­der­ing what oth­er par­ents like me are doing about a par­tic­u­lar issue.  How are they han­dling screen time?  Bed­time?  Toys with bat­ter­ies?  Plas­tic toys?  Sweets?  The list can go on and on and on and on!

Enjoy­ing their screen time (in mod­er­a­tion!)

About a week and a half ago, I was part of a dis­cus­sion with a friend where she said, “Let­ting go of self-imposed con­straints is so free­ing!” in the con­text of par­ent­ing.  I had nev­er thought of it, but I think that par­ent­ing Jonas as an infant is the first time I was real­ly able to let go of many of *my* self-imposed rules.  Kael was born 4 weeks ear­ly, so doing every­thing right seemed even more impor­tant to me after he expe­ri­enced dif­fi­cul­ties nurs­ing and jaun­dice right off the bat.  I remem­ber set­ting him down for a nap one day because it was “time.”  He laid in his crib and bab­bled and talked for about an hour with­out falling asleep.  By the time Jason got home for lunch, I was near tears!  I didn’t know what to do.  He was sup­posed to nap so he could wake up and eat.  If he didn’t eat, he wouldn’t gain weight.  He was already ear­ly and small.  What was I going to do?!?!?  Look­ing back, I think there were prob­a­bly two options in this sit­u­a­tion.  One, he was per­fect­ly con­tent, so I could have left him.  Two, he was awake and not seem­ing sleepy at all.  I could have picked him up and brought him back into the oth­er room with me.  It seems so sim­ple now, but it was very stress­ful at the time.

When Asa was born, I knew what to expect (Ha!).  He was the sec­ond child, so I knew that he would be easy going, a good eater, and a good sleep­er.  He was going to spend lots of con­tent­ed time in the swing or play­ing on the floor.  He would be able to sleep any­where and through any­thing.  It turns out that Asa was a won­der­ful­ly per­fect addi­tion to our fam­i­ly, but he was also none of those things I described.  He had sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety from the time he was born.  He had reflux, was sen­si­tive to dairy, want­ed to be held all the time, and did not sleep well or for long ever.  I spent a lot of time in his ear­ly months try­ing to fig­ure out how to change my par­ent­ing to get the results I expect­ed I should be get­ting if I had been doing things right.

When I was preg­nant with Jonas, I ran into Jason’s boss and his wife at a restau­rant one evening.  They were both real­ly excit­ed for us to be hav­ing anoth­er baby.  (They are won­der­ful by the way!)  They both assured me that even though I was going to have 3 chil­dren and only two hands, it would be alright.  They also said I would enjoy the infan­cy of the third baby more than I had with the oth­er two, because I would final­ly be able to sit back and enjoy.  It sound­ed good, and it def­i­nite­ly gave me hope.  It turns out they were right.

Hav­ing a new baby is won­der­ful, and it is also stress­ful.  Even in the midst of the adjust­ment to a fam­i­ly of 5, I felt as con­tent and relaxed with how things were going as I can remem­ber feel­ing about a new baby.  When Jonas used to wake up and just hang out for 45 min­utes or an hour in the mid­dle of the night, I was able to remind myself that it wouldn’t last for­ev­er and soon that time would be a mem­o­ry.  When he went through the phase of the 40 minute nap, I reas­sured myself that at some point he would sleep longer than that if he tru­ly need­ed it.  He did.

Now, as I think about my friend’s wise words and those exam­ples in my life, I won­der what else am I hold­ing on to as an unnec­es­sary self-imposed rule.  This week, my goal is to know my chil­dren, see their needs, and respond to them with­out wor­ry­ing what oth­er par­ents “like me” might do in a smi­lar sit­u­a­tion.

A Word for the Year

Right now, on many blogs, there is a lot of talk about New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions, goals, and some­thing I only heard about for the first time last year, choos­ing a word for the year.  The idea of choos­ing one word to frame my inten­tions for this year intrigues me.  I’ve been work­ing on writ­ing some goals for this year.  So far, they are more like non-goals or state­ments of inten­tion than actu­al goals. Right now, I think I’m okay with that.  This is my life.  These are my goals, and this is my jour­ney.  I can do it how I want.

So, yes­ter­day and today as I’ve been try­ing to decide how I feel about not hav­ing goals in the tra­di­tion­al way of defin­ing them, a word stuck in my head.  I hadn’t real­ly planned to choose a word of the year.  I real­ly intend­ed to craft my state­ments of inten­tion and non-goals into goals.  Then, yes­ter­day, while I was clean­ing up in the kitchen, a word came to me and has been float­ing around my head since.

I think I am ready to step up and claim my word for 2012.  It is focus.  For so many rea­sons, this word res­onates with me and appeals to me.  I’m hope­ful that in anoth­er blog post I’ll be able to get all that out and explain why I am so excit­ed about this word.

Found on Flickr Pho­to by Michael Dale

2012 Goals-Step One

Found via Flickr by ang­i­etor­res

 

A cou­ple days ago, I wrote about how I want­ed to devel­op some goals for the upcom­ing year(s).  I don’t have them writ­ten yet, but I did get a start.  The first thing that I did was to make two lists.  One is a list of things that I say and believe are impor­tant to me and my fam­i­ly.  The oth­er list was a list of things I say are not impor­tant or that I don’t want in my life but are in my life.  For exam­ple, I always say I don’t need a tv or that we shouldn’t ever wor­ry about get­ting a bigger/nicer/newer tv.  How­ev­er, Hulu Plus and Net­flix make it real­ly easy to just sit down and flip some­thing on in the evenings.  Shoot.

So, now I’m going to look at those lists for a while and try to fig­ure out what about healthy food I like and want to incor­po­rate into my life and the lives of my fam­i­ly.  How real­is­tic is it to try to start run­ning again lat­er in the sum­mer after Baby is born?  Do I want to stop watch­ing tv com­plete­ly or just lim­it it?

2012 Goals

The oth­er day, I saw that some­one had liked a link called “How I Rocked my 2011 Goals and Plan on Tak­ing 2012 by Storm.”  I was intrigued, so I clicked on it.  I’ve always liked the idea of goals and res­o­lu­tions.  I’ve even made them.  I just don’t do all that well after that.  Last year, I took the Craft­ing My Life course from Amber Stro­cel.  One of the tasks we were giv­en was to ask impor­tant peo­ple around us what they see our strengths and weak­ness­es to be.  One of the peo­ple I asked was my hus­band.  He said lots and lots of very nice things about me.  🙂  Then, he slipped in that he won­dered if maybe I wasn’t all that great at fol­low­ing through with things.

I said some­thing about not fol­low­ing through because I hadn’t found the thing that caught my inter­est, but the truth is he’s prob­a­bly more right than I would like to admit.  I like new things.  I like things that are fun and inter­est­ing.  I don’t like things that are repet­i­tive or things that require effort at the end of a long (cold) day.  So, in the end, mak­ing changes or set­ting goals is not exact­ly my forte.

I left the “How I Rocked My Goals” post open in my brows­er, and then today, I came across a “How I Set My Year­ly Goals” post by anoth­er blog­ger.  I don’t think this was any sort of sign or any­thing.  I think it has more to do with read­ing 50+ blogs dur­ing the New Years Res­o­lu­tion time of year.  I’m not think­ing that there are any big rev­e­la­tions com­ing up for me in par­tic­u­lar.  I do think, though, that there are ben­e­fits in set­ting goals, mak­ing changes, and tak­ing steps to move my life in the direc­tion I would like it to go instead of let­ting it go how­ev­er it hap­pens to go.

So, over the course of the next week, I’m going to be think­ing about my pri­or­i­ties, my goals, and what I need to do to make some things in my life hap­pen.  I am not sure if I’m going to post my goals on this blog or if I’m going to decide to share them with close friends or what.  No mat­ter what I decide, though, I will have at least one goal this year.  At least one goal will go beyond think­ing about it in my head and not doing much else with it.

I am a runner

Pho­to tak­en by QSim­ple via Flickr

 

I am a run­ner.

I don’t run fast.  I don’t run far, but I run.  I run three or four times a week.  Right now, I’m part of a begin­ning runner’s group, and were fol­low­ing a plan that incor­po­rates both walk­ing and run­ning.  It’s sim­i­lar to the Couch to 5k plan, but the run­ning and walk­ing inter­vals start at 2 run­ning of walk­ing and 4 min­utes of walk­ing.  After sev­en weeks, I am at 9 min­utes of run­ning and one minute of walk­ing.

I tried run­ning a few years ago, and I fol­lowed the Couch to 5k plan.  For some rea­son, I found it real­ly dif­fi­cult.  I felt like I was always strug­gling and dread­ing my work­outs.  I also felt like I’d failed when I had to take an unsched­uled walk break.  I got real­ly frus­trat­ed, and I stopped run­ning.

After Jonas was born, I start­ed the Couch to 5k again, and I stopped again.  I think I prob­a­bly start­ed it too soon after hav­ing Jonas.  My body must not have been ready for the impact and the strain of start­ing a new work­out pro­gram.  What­ev­er the rea­son, it didn’t feel good, and I stopped.

A few months lat­er, I heard about the beginner’s run­ning group in town.  A friend of mine encour­aged me to try it.  She had joined the pre­vi­ous year after her son was born.  One of the things she had to say about it was, “it is one of the best things I have ever done.”  Now, if that’s not enough to encour­age me to do it, I prob­a­bly nev­er would have.  🙂  So, I went.  I didn’t love it, but I went back the next week and the week after that.  In between, I make time to run on my own three oth­er times dur­ing the week.

For what­ev­er rea­son, some days are bet­ter than oth­ers.  Some days I feel strong and feel like I could have run for quite a bit longer.  Oth­er days are a strug­gle, and I won­der what I was think­ing to run on pur­pose.  But, I do it.  And, after the run, I’m always glad that I did.

I don’t know how fast I run.  I don’t know how far I go.  Right now, I’m con­scious­ly not keep­ing track, because I don’t want to set up expec­ta­tions that I can­not meet.  I like know­ing that I can now run 27 min­utes out of 30.  I like hav­ing a good sweat dur­ing a work­out.  I like know­ing that even though I’m not run­ning 5 miles every night, I am run­ning 108 min­utes a week more than I was just a few weeks ago.