Go Ahead: Fill Your Proverbial Cup

About three weeks ago my work schedule changed a bit; I added a second campus and 11 extra hours to my work load. That doesn't read like a lot more work, but I went from working three days a week to five days a week. I'm still juggling my kids' various weekly appointments, and I've been swamped with student appointments as we approach that mid-term mark in the semester. But this week....this week it's SPRING BREAK, and my spring break just happens to fall two weeks after my husband and kids' spring break, so that means an entire week BY MYSELF. 

The week before break I started making a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in this time: touch up all walls where paint is chipped from our various home improvement projects, clean up the mess in our basement from said projects, put a protective coat on our bathroom vanities from my paint job last month, schedule my annual physical (GAG), schedule an appointment for my dog's updated vaccines, clean my always nasty floors, purchase all the loot for my kids' Easter baskets, hit up the grocery store, call the hot tub repair place to come fix my hot tub that has turned to an ice bath, and purchase new underwear. Seriously---that was my to-do list. Oh, how my spring break priorities have changed since becoming a mother. Prior to becoming parents I would've used spring break to sleep, travel, and catch up on my Hulu queue. The things now populating my to-do lists are necessities, not frivolities. 

I watched my list grow over the week prior to break, and those old suffocating feelings, the ones that make me feel like I'm drowning in a sea of tasks, surfaced. So to combat them, I made a separate list next to this one and titled it, For Me. On it were things like finish a book I'm reading, write at a coffee shop, go see the Sandhill Cranes (we have an awesome migration that comes through central Nebraska each spring), get a massage (I've never had one, but people keep saying they're pretty awesome). I felt pretty good for doing this....but...I'm on my second to last day of my spring break, and this morning I noticed that I've managed to cross off all but one item from my "necessity" to-do list and only ONE item from my personal to-do list. What's up with that?! 

Realizing that my break is slipping away, today I decided to tackle another item off my personal to-do list. After dropping my kids off at school, I came home and crawled back into bed with a mug full of coffee to finish Whale Talk--a book I started four weeks ago but only managed to read one quarter of it.
A friend of mine sent me the book when I was going through a rough patch with my kids; it's a book that was in the curriculum at the school we both taught at in Omaha but one that I had never read. I stayed in bed for three hours this morning only getting up to pee or grab a bowl of cereal...or clean up the dog's vomit....I digress. I finished that book this morning...in my pajamas and under the covers in my warm bed. I didn't shower until 11:30. It was heavenly. For the first time all break I felt relaxed and ready to work and not rushed and frazzled. I realized this morning that I need to carve out more time for these moments that fill and relax me. I'm a better human when I fill my proverbial cup before trying to fill everyone else's.

Parents: Cut yourselves a friggin' break and find ways to carve out time for those activities that replenish your tired soul. What would you fill you up? Identify one thing you'd like to do more of, and then make a plan to get this done. Work with your spouse to make sure you both are afforded this time...write it down on the calendar (because we all know if it's on the calendar, it HAS to get done). If you're a single parent, lean on a friend to watch your kids for an hour while you engage in cup-filling. Then repay your friend by watching his/her kids so he/she can do the same. Seriously...do it...parenting is tough work, and we all need a break once in a while.

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