Over the years I have come to the conclusion that I sometimes need to call a time out. The holidays have never been easy for us. For the longest time Keyan literally bounced off the walls all day long. Merely being witness to this would make one tired. A Montreal winter can be cruel – either there is no snow at Christmas or the temperatures drop to an unbearable degree. This reality makes it difficult to plan ahead when thinking of activities to occupy children – especially with one with limited abilities. Either way the holidays were never a time for us to simply relax. At the end of every day we would find ourselves utterly exhausted trying to keep Keyan happy (stimulated & occupied).
It’s easy to blame being tired on Keyan. Sometimes we draw conclusions and simply never revisit the topic. For the longest time I blamed Keyan for my holiday exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong he is partly responsible but not fully. I am over the moon happy with Keyan’s behavior this holiday season. It’s as though he has been through the worse hormonal shifts and has settled into his skin. Although he bounces around the house his behavior is predictable. We have created an environment in our home that makes him feel happy, safe and stimulated (in just the right ways). Why then am I still tired?
I brought back into question what is making me tired? Am I getting enough sleep? Yes, with day time naps I have been getting enough sleep in a 24-hour cycle. Am I eating right? For the most part yes, with the exception of some baked goods and a piece of chocolate here and there. Am I drinking too much alcohol? No – not all, with the exception of New Year’s Eve (that is what I was aiming for anyway). How about being bored? I am not bored because I have invested my time reading some good books while I sit with my family fireside. What is it then?
When I compare my so called “normal days” with the holidays I spend way more time alone. The job I have makes it so I can work from home. During a regular week I work on average 2-3 days from home. I need to in order to keep my thoughts straight and to produce good work. At home it is just me and my beloved service dog, Bagou. She is my constant companion. (note: assigned to Keyan) and needless to say the conversation is pretty one sided. For those who know me they know me as a person who talks a lot. Yes, it appears as though I talk a lot and that is because I spend so much time alone – so when I am around people I want to engage. Working from home makes it so I am in my head…no one to talk to….no one to listen. Therefore, when I am around people my nervous system becomes highly aroused more so then a person who is emerged in conversation all day. Think about a time when you were away from the office (or wherever you work) to attend a 3-day conference. These types of things are usually so tiring and that is because for the most part of the day you are forced to sit, listen and and contribute outside of what is your norm. A new environment, surrounded by strangers and all day engagement means your senses are heightened - taking in more information then usual. That will definitely make you tired.
So back to the holidays…why am I tired? I have come to the conclusion it’s because I am spending more time with my family and when I am with them I always “on”. (ok you got me – with the exception of my afternoon nap). It’s about taking care of the family; cooking more, cleaning more, engaging more, talking more and negotiating more. Then I become tired and cranky. That’s not very nice to have a miserable mama bear over the holidays? In the past I used to feel guilty because eventually I would take it out on my husband and the kids. Time is precious and hear I am making my time with them less then fun. This holiday my husband and daughter are seriously helping with the cooking and cleaning why am I so grouchy? The answer is I am tired and when I get tired I know I need more space to myself. I have learned to call a “time out”. How does that work you ask? Well it’s stating to your loved ones that you are reaching your saturation point and you need a bit of space. It is aligned with the idea of “self-care”. If I take care of myself then that means I can take better care of my family. I just called a “time out” so I could write this BLOG entry. I told my husband that I was locking myself in my room for an hour or so in order to recharge. I simply needed to withdraw and do something to nurture my soul.
When I take a “time-out” I decide what will make me feel better…that can mean so many things as long as space and time is granted to me. I think 30 minutes to 2 hours is reasonable. (obviously it depends on you and your family). My “time-outs” can look like:
· A run / workout
· A warm bath
· A walk with a friend or the dog
· Watching a film
· Taking a nap
· Making soup or trying a new recipe
· Organizing my closet
· Visualizing my future / projects
· Dreaming of travel destinations
· Deciding on what races to run
· Researching things on the internet
· On-line shopping
· Social media engagements
· Listening to a Podcast (to learn something or simply to LOL)
It took me a few years to come to the conclusion that I needed to learn to ask for a “time-out” from the family for a short period of time. After my “time-out” I usually come back refreshed and ready to go. For the longest time I felt guilty because it felt like a selfish act but when I realized I came back to the family with more patience and kindness then I knew I was doing the right thing. That also allows anyone else in the family to call a “time-out” if they need it. We are in this family together – to help love and nurture one another and if 30 minutes is all anyone needs to catch their breath then I say call a “time-out”.