Monday, June 6, 2016

When I ought to be happy... but I'm not

Summer is sunshine and long days and late nights. Summer is celebration and happy colors and friends. Summer is freedom from the demands of a schedule, it's sitting poolside and popsicles and isn't it supposed to be fun? This week I've been over here like "this is supposed to be fun! I'm supposed to be happy! What's wrong with me? Why am I not happy?!"

This week I've had to embrace the grace for this transition. I've been able to look at myself and say "I'm not happy. This is hard for me. I sometimes struggle with transitions, but I'm confident that before long I'll hit a new stride and we'll be okay. It's okay that I'm not loving every minute of this. It won't be like this forever". 

So right now I'm here offering the sympathetic hugs and the metaphorical fist bump as we transition to the summer. 

For better or worse here are a couple of things I'm trying to do during this transition, aside from letting myself off the hook: 

Adjust expectations 
My husband works in HVAC. He literally got home from work last night at ten o'clock and he had to turn away work in order to get home that early. He came home, took a shower and went to bed. After a long day of full-contact parenting yes, I would have liked for him to be home earlier eaten dinner with us and taken over for a little while. But during this busy season of work that's an unrealistic expectation. If my expectation is that he's going to be working long hours this summer then resentment won't have a chance to rob me of my joy. 

I also choose to lay down the expectation that my kids are going to get along every single moment of every single day and that my teenagers are going to have good attitudes - we're all humans here and we're all going to have bad days and grumpy moments. It's okay.

Gather moments of gratitude 
It is important for me to keep some kind of gratitude journal when I'm stressed out. I sometimes find my internal monologue becoming a list of everything that went wrong today. Choosing to try to notice the good things that happens during the day helps me change that inner monologue to one of gratitude instead of disappointment or exasperation or STRESS. 

Plan for joy
I am guilty of going in auto-pilot during busy times. I sometimes find that I've spent all day at home with my kids but I haven't really spent any quality time with my kids. I've talked at them all day but there wasn't a lot of time for hugs or smiles or encouraging words. I've been trying to ask myself "how can I plan for joy" for example one night I got out some balloons and turned on some happy music. Other times it's been pancakes for dinner and a dance party in the kitchen. It's not something that comes naturally for me but it's something I'm trying to get better at. 

Create rhythms in the day 
for example: for better or worse we have been watching Kung Fu Panda: legends of awesomeness the cartoon on Hulu almost every night before bed. It gives me a moment with the kids to just sit before the bedtime debacle. It also gets the kids calm(er) at the end of the day and it brings us together. It would be awesome if we were gathering around something more meaningful but this is my real life. 

I am also attempting to keep meal times at about the same time, our moments of going out and staying home and being quiet at around the same time every day. Not all days follow the pattern but I try to keep a simple block schedule even during the summer. I feel better, and I think so do the kids. 

Get outside 
it might seem like a no-brainier but here in the Deep South it is sometimes easy to choose air conditioning over sunshine - but getting outside every day always makes everyone a little bit more cheerful. The boys are less hyper and the girls are less grumpy. Sometimes when I'm just totally Loosing My Mind this is my go-to move.
Here are a couple of resources that have fallen into my lap this week that I thought I'd share. 
Emily P Freeman is offering 7 days of still moments of pause. I highly recommend them.
Jess Connolly is offering some worksheets "Summer Guide to THRIVE"

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