Rest and Refuel: 6 Tips for Recharging Your Batteries

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Tracking PixelThis post is sponsored by SLEEP NUMBER® as part of an ongoing partnership with them to discuss Family & Rest in our home…helping our family be the best they can be.

If you type in “Parenting Advice” in Google, 63,600,000 results pop up, ranging from how to get your kids to stop flushing Happy Meal toys down the toilet to the more important things like how to raise confident, grateful, motivated little people. Over the years, I’ve stashed away some tried and true advice that has served my family well, but I always come back to the foundation of good parenting: If you want to help your family be the best they can be, focus first on being the best you can be. It is not a noble sacrifice to deprive yourself of rest and care and fun to make sure your kids have it because what they need more than rest and care and fun is you. The best you. The you who follows her passions and makes time for friendships. The you who is fully-rested and wakes up ready for the day. The you who listens to her feelings and responds to them–who’s kind and forgiving to herself, who values her body and mind and heart. That’s the mom who’s trained before her marathon–who’s most equipped and ready for little people who need her.

After my third kid, I had no choice but to give up the whole I-can-survive-on-a-few-hours-of-sleep thing. Occasionally, under abnormal circumstances, I’ll pull a late nighter, but for the most part, I now go to bed shortly after my kids go to bed. And it makes me such a happier person. When I’m short on fuel, I’m short on patience and compassion which leads to lots of guilt. And guilt drains the compassion and patience tank even more–a vicious cycle of not enough. So, how do I help my family be the best they can be? By keeping my tank as full as possible.

My favorite fuel tips? When I’m feeling low on anything, I can always return to this list to fill my tank.

1. Body Love.
Do something good for your body. A good meal. A run. A healthy smoothie. Remove junk from my diet. Increase water intake.

2. Mind Love.
Mind love looks exactly like body love–remove the bad, ingest the good. I know what works to fill up my brain–poetry books, good quotes, a moving memoir, writing in my journal. Putting my phone away. 5 minutes of meditation. Draw in a sketchbook.

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3. Do Something For Someone Else
Make a collage and mail it to a friend. Call someone and tell them 3 nice things you’ve noticed about them lately. Leave a nice comment in someone’s social media feed. Take a friend you’ve been missing out to coffee–and tell them you love having them in your life. Make a small donation to a cause you love.

4. Pare Down
Do a 20-minute sweep of your home with 2 bags–one to donate, one to throw away.

5. Touch
Snuggle your kids. Hug your husband when he walks in the door. Spoon your kids in bed while tickling their hand. Kiss cheeks.

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6. SLEEP. SLEEP. SLEEP.
Climbing into bed and calling TOD on the thoughts, the stresses, the to-do list, the daily routine is equivalent to plugging your body into a power source and recharging. You will wake up with so much more to give. My bed is my sanctuary, and I love it even more now that we have a SLEEPNUMBER i8–my side is customized just for me, and it’s the comfiest piece of heaven.

Mama’s charge-up list works for the entire family. My kids function best with a consistent rest schedule (we alter schedules for Dash’s naps!), and their grumps can always be cheered up with some affection.

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(Their favorite pre-bed ritual? Books about themselves.)

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Thank you Sleep Number  for encouraging the important discussion of family rest and recharge. We’ve fallen in love with our Sleep Number bed which features DualAir™ technology that allows Brett to adjust his side to what his body needs and lets me get my side perfect for me.

Rested, happy mama means I can take care of my family and, er, fish those toys out of the toilet without losing my cool. Click here to find a Sleep Number store near you.

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Mother’s Isle: The Giving Tree

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I stood at the highest point in Collier County yesterday, a hill over nine miles away from the beach where you can look out and see the entire city engulfed in a canopy of blue sky and edged by a scattering of high rise beach condos that look like little Lego buildings from where we were standing. It was beautiful–quiet and breezy, and Lainey was right there with me to enjoy the moment, still holding my hand at one week short of 9 years old. For juxtaposition, I should add that there were about 40 other kids with us, a bus that–by the grace of God–made it up the hill safely (kids screaming all the way), and we were standing on an observation deck constructed over a closed garbage hill at the third grade field trip to the county landfill.

That’s right. I had a sacred motherhood moment, standing–literally–smack center of a dump.

Back up to that hand in mine though. To the swoony early Mother’s Days when breakfast in bed meant nursing a baby snuggled next to me while it was still dark out, and the question of “What are we going to do today?” could be answered in a simple rock-paper-scissors style game of “go for family adventure” with stroller, Boba carrier or baby sling. There’s no new way to say that time flies, but every year, I understand my mom’s dream a little more–the one she still has where we’re little again, but she wakes up, unable to catch her breath for a moment because the sudden truth that we’re all grown-up and moved away feels crushing in contrast.

We painted mother-son hand prints in Dash’s class this year, wore tissue paper corsages in Nella’s, and Lainey’s 10 Reasons Why I Love My Mom has been taped to the refrigerator of my heart. But they’re getting bigger, and life expands, and the fact that motherhood doesn’t all fit in a magical snow globe anymore-even though I knew it wouldn’t–takes some getting used to.

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We hold the same tradition though–a day at Isles of Capri for Mother’s Day. The footprints they leave in the sand are bigger now. But the sand and the beach and this place where we’ve been making memories for years is different too. Less beach, more docks. A wall built by the fire department. Changing tides. “It’s not what it used to be,” Brett mumbled, “I miss our old place.”

“I do too, but we’ve changed too, you know,” I answered. “Everything’s going to change. It can’t stay the same.”

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As for me, I have a strange loyalty to places that hold memories. In a way, this is our Giving Tree. We’ve swung on its branches, carved our names in its trunk. Paddled its kayaks, taped our dollars to its bar, put our babies in walkers and let them glide across the old wooden planks of its tiki hut floors. I’ll come back to this place if it’s simply a tree stump, and I’ll sit on that stump and remember every good time it’s given us. And I’ll be grateful as I am today that times and people and places change, but year after year, this day still comes–this celebration of motherhood–the heart-breaking, beautiful, ever-expanding definition of what it truly is, and the joy of watching them grow. I’ll take it all.

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Some blue skies and happy snaps from our Mother’s Day this year:

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The teeniest tiniest crab you ever did see. Meet Ralph.

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Several years ago, this exact spot used to be covered with crabs–hundreds of them that would scurry and dive into holes as soon as they saw you coming. Austyn and Brandyn used to fill buckets of them when they were little. We can only ever find a few here now. I think the rest have grown up and are off at college studying crab things. Good for them. You go, little crabs!

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Looking for sea snails stuck to the dock pilings…

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Nella thinks everything is a crab. She runs rocks and shells to me, completely overjoyed to show me: “Mommy! Look, it’s a cwab.”

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Oh, Giving Tree. You’re so pretty.

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(Little Ballyhoo here got to say a nice up close and personal hello to Dash and got put right back in the water where, I’m sure, he breathed a little sigh of relief and then swam off to tell his friends about the boy he met.)

The changing, the growing, the receding tides…through it all the sun rises and sets. The breeze still blows. Take my word for it. I felt it at the dump.

And if you think that’s a far-fetched silver lining, wait. I have a better one for you.

Heidi called me the other day to report that her husband, while doing business in New York City last week, called to tell her that a man stole money from his wallet and ran–right in front of him–in Central Park.

“So I told him,” she said, “That’s so awesome! Do you realize you have the best story now? Jeff! You got the full New York experience, this is so cool!”

“You seriously put a silver lining on that?” I asked. “Heidi, you cannot pull an Enjoying the Small Things on GETTING MUGGED.”

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Hope y’all found a little sunshine this weekend.

Top 10: My Fair Lady

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The Annual Fair Post. Where Life Gets Real.

No, seriously. Every time. One year, Lainey lost her tooth in a pile of pebbles and stood wailing next to the corn dog stand while Brett and I sifted through rocks on our hands and knees looking for one white pebble-shaped tooth in a pile of thousands of white pebbles. Last year, Dash fell hard in the driveway as we were loading up to go, and we had to gauze up his bloody shiner before leaving. And this year? Two potty accidents–one at the carousel and one at the funnel cakes–that left us with a little Tarzan running around in shorts made from my t-shirt with leg holes ripped with my teeth.

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With no further ado, my Top 10 Favorite Things About Family Fair Night

10. Fairs are Real Life Crayon Boxes.

For all the times I’ve bought a new box of Crayola 64 just so I can open the top and stare down at the perfect rows of rainbow and all their potential, walking through a fair is the closest human experience you’ll have to living in a crayon box. Candy Apple Red, Popcorn Yellow, Cotton Candy Pink, Rainbow Ferris Wheel Kissing Swirly Blue Sky. No matter how much grease you have to smear off your face at the end of the night or many dollars disappeared from your wallet, there’s always the color trip you get to go on when you buy a ticket to the fair. Worth it, my friends.

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9. 4H Friends

Blue ribbon bunnies, monstrous chickens, spotted piglets–the 4H tent is one of our kids’ favorites.

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My friend dragged me over to the bunny cages when we arrived (late, as usual). “Come here, I have to show you this bunny that looks like you.”

“See! He’s wearing liquid eyeliner!” I asked the bunny if hers was MAC’s Fluidline Blacktrack too, but she didn’t answer me back.

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8. Fair Dust Light.

Magic.

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7. Nice Carnies

Has there been a reality show yet on carnies and fair life and what it’s like to be on the road and running these things? I think it would be fascinating to see behind-the-scenes. I can say this year, the carnies were so kind to our kids. They went out of their way to make them feel special, let them win, have another round, get the prize they wanted.

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6. Dash’s “Gimme some money” face

Actually, did you know County Fair is synonymous with Gimme Some Money? Now you know.

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5. Breaking All the Parenting Book Rules

On fair night, we say yes to all the sugar because cotton candy and ice cream and trying an elephant ear for the first time are fair rites of passage.

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We waste money on silly games because huddling together as a family to cheer for the water gun shooter or the rubber duck fisherman is worth more than the $5 it cost to play the game.

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And we ignore bedtimes, choosing instead to let the little ones fall asleep in strollers and in our arms, to the sound of skiball winners cheering and Twirl-a-Whirl music blaring–because it’s 10:30, we’re together and how often do we get to do this?

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4. Grandparent Memories.

This is the second time we’ve had my mom and Grandpa George with us at the fair, and it made for some sweet memories.

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3. Winning a Prize Face.

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That there above? That’s Panda, our new goldfish. Brett and I are thrilled with this, of course.

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He’s lived six days so far, which–isn’t that like 89 years in goldfish time? Actually, I looked this up and sadly, I’m wrong. Life expectancy for a captive goldfish? THIRTY YEARS! Who are these people? I want to meet them because I think Google is lying. Regardless, Panda is happily swimming now in a glass bowl with a few cups of water and two Shopkins for social support.

2. Letting Go

At the fair, nothing matters. Peed your clothes out twice and nothing to wear? No big deal. Spilled your lemonade all over the stroller? Shucks, who cares. Smell like goat and grease and chicken poop? Welcome to the club. Fairs are for letting go and having fun, and that’s it.

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1. Knowing we’ll be back.

Same time, same place, next year.

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More Fair Tradition: Last year’s fair. 2014 Fair. 2013 Fair.