Cabin Calm

There’s something about being up North at the cabin that allows your mind and body to enter a simpler state of calm, ease, and presence. It doesn’t happen immediately. It takes time to remember how to slow down and breathe, especially after being quarantined in your home with your husband and three children for over eight weeks. Maybe for some families it has been a time of connection and relaxation, but it doesn’t seem that way for us.

With the kids at home all the time it has felt like we are constantly just trying to keep up with laundry, groceries, meals, washing dishes, school work, and an assortment of chores that never seem to end. Having everyone in the house all the time has often left me feeling more exhausted than connected. By the time my youngest is in bed I have nothing left to give and am ready for some quiet time to myself rather than connecting with anyone else. Then it’s lights out and we do the same thing all over again.

For some reason the cabin feels different. It feels like we are on vacation from all the expectations that weigh us down at home. We can individually take more time to do what we love. We can all get a little more space. Everything slows down up here. The days feel longer and so much quieter. The sibling arguing is non-existent at the moment as we all take time to rest and fill ourselves up. Unlike our house, the cabin has an open floor plan, which also seems to add to the feeling of togetherness.

My husband got up early and went fishing this morning. I had time to make pancakes and read a book. My teens rode their bikes 14 miles round trip to the little store, something they’ve never done before. We gave them permission to go ahead and explore beyond their previous boundaries, a memory I’m sure they will never forget.

My youngest collected acorns. I saw him grabbing handfuls of sunflower seeds out of Grandpa’s bird feeder. I was about to yell at him to stop, but I paused and looked at his face. He was so in the moment, making a special concoction for the birds. I just sat and watched him. He found a container and mixed his acorns with the sunflower seeds. He stirred them with his hands and tried to crack the acorns open. Then he sprinkled them around the deck for the squirrels and birds. He saw me watching through the window and proudly smiled and waved. I was glad I didn’t disturb his creative flow.

Next my son got on his bike and we made it halfway down the driveway together. He jumped off to stop and feel the sand. He wanted me to stop and feel it too, so I reached down and rubbed my hand in the sand. He was right, it was super soft. We continued on. I was hoping to get in a good walk while he rode his bike, but he stopped at the end of the driveway. He got off his bike and plopped himself down on a dirt path.

I stood over him for a few minutes. I thought of hurrying him along, but instead I decided to sit and join him. He collected more acorns, buried them, and watched the ants crawl around. We sat there for a very long time. An old memory flashed through my head from when I was a little girl. I used to be just like him, enthralled with watching and collecting ants on our driveway for hours.

As parents life seems to get so busy and complicated. All we really need to do is slow down, be present, and allow everyone to have time to fill themselves up doing something they love. Tonight we will put the youngest to bed early and watch a movie together with the teens. Usually I would be too tired to do this, but tonight I am looking forward to it.

Now I just need to figure out how to bottle up the best parts of our north woods experience and bring it home with me!

~Do Bettter & Shine

4 Ways To Calm A Baby Dragon

Our morning started out a little rough today. My youngest came into my room this morning before I was even out of bed and asked for a hard boiled egg. I told him they were all gone. He said, “I already took one.” I said, “You didn’t try to crack it open did you?” He said, “Yes. It’s all over the table and chair.” So before I even had my morning coffee, I had to wipe up a slimy egg mess. I didn’t react,I just wiped it up. He had even tried to wipe it himself with a towel, which I sort of appreciated, but it really wasn’t helpful.

We put that mess behind us and somehow became distracted looking at toy dragons on Amazon together and lost track of time. He was becoming over hungry and overstimulated from looking at my computer screen and I could tell it was going to be a downhill slide. When he starts to unravel he becomes like a fierce, fire-breathing baby dragon. I put some food in front of him to hopefully stop his emotional spiral.

He ate breakfast and then came into my bedroom very upset and dysregulated. He needed to calm his little body. For some reason I decided to sit in a meditation pose and quieted my own body first. He was still angry and started crawling under my bed. I started tapping and he yelled, “Stop moving!” I went back to my still meditation pose. I took a deep breath, and in my mind I said, “Breathe in love”. As I exhaled a deep breath out, I said to myself, “Breathe out stress.” After a few minutes I started to do some yoga poses and then ended in a child’s pose. I was feeling calm and relaxed, even with a baby dragon under my bed.

Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

After just a few minutes my baby dragon slowly came out from under the bed. I stayed in my child’s pose as he grabbed pillows from my bed and laid them on top of me. After he piled 6 pillows on and around my body he climbed on top of me too. I now understand how pressure and weight can be calming, not to mention the darkness from being buried under the pillows. I could feel his small, warm hand touch mine. I grabbed it and held on.

His anger had completely disappeared in a matter of minutes. He wasn’t a baby dragon anymore. He was a happy little boy again. He asked, “Want to play?” I said, ” Sure.” So I had him lay down and put the pillows on top of him with some added pressure from my body. When he said stop, I stopped. He emerged from the pile of pillows and they scattered around us. We snuggled up in the dragon nest and just laid there together for a while breathing in this calm, quiet moment of connection.

My son is very sensitive, like myself. We take in all the commotion around us and seem to be hyper-aware of the energy of others. This little experiment was a great demonstration of the law of attraction. When you feel calm and loving your child will attract towards you with the same feelings. Your child needs you to be present and hold space for them when they are struggling. This will help them feel safe and regulate.

When you are disconnected, stressed, and not present, your child will feel the same. When he is in a state of dysregulation and then feels your stress on top of it, even if you are not aware of it, he will go into fight or flight. So, it’s really pretty simple. If you can change your energy level to a calm, positive, present state you can change your outcome to the same.

Four Steps To Calm Your BABY Dragon:

  1. BE Quiet
  2. BE STILL
  3. BE PRESENT
  4. Breathe in love

I was reading a story this afternoon with my son. It was called What Makes You Happy? It talked about all kinds of silly things that might make a kid happy. I asked my son, “What makes YOU happy?” I was shocked by his wise answer. I thought he was going to tell me riding his bike or watching his favorite show. His profound answer for a 5 year-old was, “Getting love.” Kids don’t want to make our lives hard, they just want love.

~Do Better & Shine

Little Pieces Of Joy

I used to think I was the most patient person in the world, until I had children. Maybe you are lucky and you have an easy child who listens to your every word and follows your every direction. Well, most children are not like that, especially mine. I guess you can’t consider yourself patient until you are really put to the test. Quarantine adds a whole new level, especially when we have just completed week five.

It’s been a rough week. I have a teenager who thinks he can stay up all hours of the night now. He isn’t required to be up at any certain time for Distance Learning, so his evenings are when he connects with friends and has his fun. He talks on the phone for hours on end with his headphones stuck to his ears. Friday morning he startled me out of a deep sleep by slamming the refrigerator door a bit too hard. I was not happy when I stumbled into the kitchen to find him making a mug cake in the microwave at 2 am. I gave him a glare, shook my head and went back to bed.

It took me two hours to finally fall back to sleep since I was tossing and turning in utter frustration of why he would want to stay up so late. Then as luck would have it my five year-old wakes at up at 4:30 am ready for the day to begin. I knew it was going to take a lot of work for me to survive the day. I do not do well when I don’t get enough sleep.

With everyone at home all the time there is a lot of clashing energies. Frustrations seem to build quickly. I am trying hard to keep the meltdowns to a minimum, but they still seem to happen daily. If I am not on top of my game things can spiral downward very quickly and when you get past the point of no return, it is never pretty and takes even longer to recover from the madness.

I’ve let go of a lot of expectations. The house is a mess. Kids are stressed. My husband is out of town. I can’t do it all and I am trying to be alright with that. The basement floor is covered in legos and I just have to walk away. I don’t have the strength to worry about that right now. I am taking care of myself first by writing this blog, even when there are a million other things I could be doing. My nights are for myself. I will do yoga, take a bath, read, and try to learn something new.

Today was long since I am still recovering from lack of sleep from the day before. I am beginning to get my youngest ready for bed. I gave him a bath. He still won’t let me wash his hair, but I was flexible and let it go. I brought him a warm towel and jammies from the dryer which I have never done before in my life. He loved it! He brushed his teeth after taking his time and doing it all by himself. I thought I was in the home stretch, ready to head down to bed and then he asked, “Can I have a snack?” Of course I had to say yes, in fear he might starve to death overnight, so I gave him a banana.

I thought a banana would be a quick, simple snack, and then we could be on our way to bed. When I sat down next to him at the table he quickly jumped up and went to the drawer to get a butter knife. At this point I was too tired to tell him to put it back. He peeled his banana and then began to cut it into slices. I watched patiently without saying a word. He didn’t stop there though, he then proceeded to cut each slice into tinier pieces until he had a mound of little banana pieces on his plate. After this intricate cutting work he began to slowly eat the pieces with his fork.

I just sat and watched him in amazement. He was so present in what he was doing. He actually ate the whole banana pile, which was amazing in itself for such a picky eater. After he took his last bite he looked at me proudly with a big smile on his face and said, “I was practicing my cutting!”

I could have stopped him and told him to put the knife back. I could have yelled at him for making a mess on the table and wasting time. I could have just said no. Tonight I decided to let him be in charge, maybe it was just pure exhaustion, I’m not sure, but I let him take the lead and it took a little longer, but added a spark of joy to his night. After this fun and exciting snack he happily went to bed.

Sometimes it’s the little wins that make everything seem ok. Sometimes we need to let go of the control and let our kids just be. It’s ok to let them stay up late in this unprecedented time. It’s ok for them to make mug cakes (maybe not at 2 am). It’s ok if they cut their banana into as many tiny pieces as they like.

We all need to find the little things that bring us joy right now. Not everyone will choose the same thing, but we all have something that brings us joy. Make a list and then carve out as many moments as possible throughout your day to bring the sparks on your list to life. It can be as simple as cutting a banana. It will make all the difference.

Do Better & Shine