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.