Sustainability is something we talk a lot about in our house. We are definitely a little on the crunchier end of the spectrum when it comes to conservation practices, earth advocacy, and environmental protection, so energy efficiency comes up a lot.
Most of the time, when Nathan and I are talking about sustainability and energy efficiency, we’re actually talking about personal practices not saving the earth.
Energy efficiency is a hot topic these days. Lately, everyone seems to be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and limit their energy output. I support these actions completely and do many of them in my home.
I think we need to apply this same idea of sustainable energy to our daily actions and personal practices. When it comes to global energy efficiency, we might not be so great at it yet but at least it’s on our radar. When it comes to personal energy efficiency, we could use some help.
I’ve been thinking about how this plays out in my life. In past years, Thanksgiving has been especially stressful. Planning, organizing, and making the meal is a lot of work. Add to that a toddler, a thanksgiving day yoga class, and the fact that the meal does not actually happen at my own house, is a recipe for overwhelm and depletion.
Most years, I end up with a headache, a stomachache, and a heavy serving of guilt from picking more than 1 fight with my mother. We also tend to start the meal an hour after we planned to.
This year, none of that happened. I managed to make 6 dishes without feeling exhausted or sick. I got along with my mom all day. We ate very close to 4:30pm, which was the plan. All of this despite the fact that Milly ended up running a 103.4 degree fever and needed constant cuddling, peppermint compresses, and naps.
How did this happen? Because I chose to be efficient with my time and energy, Thanksgiving was not only enjoyable but actually relaxing.
Around the holidays, our energy efficiency diminishes. We overplan, overbook, overdo in general. I wrote a blog already about how to survive the holidays consciously.
What I’m more interested in is how we can sustain good health and good habits year round. Or how we can maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout our lives.
The yogis I admire the most are the ones who have made their yoga practice sustainable. They’ve figured out how to maximize their energy, using powerful energy when more strength is required and softening their approach at times when they don’t wish to burn out.
As parents, this balance is a tricky one.
Parents tend to burn the midnight oil. We do, do, do for our kids and leave very little for ourselves. The most common complaint I hear from fellow parents is that there is no time. They are too busy for much of anything except running frantically from one place to another. Coffee is the savior that keeps them going when they’re bodies are protesting. Stress and exhaustion have become badges of honor in the world of successful parenting.
I don’t think they should be.
In fact, this is what inspired me to create the Conscious Healthy Mama program. I was tired of feeling tired. I was done with feeling frantic, rushed, out of control, and cranky. I had no desire to rely on coffee or any other external stimulant to boost my energy. I wanted to enjoy my new life as a mom, rather than constantly wish I could go back to an unencumbered life.
In the past 2 years, I’ve learned a lot about energy efficiency within my life as a mom. Here are my top tips for being an energy efficient mama:
*Plan and prepare your week, including your meals.
If you’re not a planner, become one. I wasn’t always. I resisted planning ahead like the plague. It’s still tough for me. Every time I do, I am less stressed and better prepared for the day and week ahead.
If you’ve ever been in my house, you’re probably laughing at this one. I know Nathan is, since he proofreads my blogs. This can be simple or complex. One of the small ways I organize is to keep my house keys in the same spot all of the time. When I don’t, I spend energy and time running around the house looking for my keys. Not worth the energy and time loss or the frantic, rushed feeling that results. Find one small way you can conserve energy by organizing.
*Set clear boundaries.
What are you willing to do? What are you unwilling to do? Make a list. I am unwilling to answer or even check emails after 7pm. If something is urgent, it can be texted. I’m a yoga teacher and a health coach, so likely, whatever is sent after 7pm can wait until the next morning. That simple boundary helps me enjoy my evenings with my family so much more.
I know, I know. Boundaries. Being too rigid is also a problem. If I maintained every rule I’ve set for myself all of the time, life would become very dull and unappealing. I have to know when to say yes and when to say no. This means occasionally staying up past my bedtime to go see a musical or a favorite band. Knowing my limits also means sometimes choosing NOT to do something I love if it also might deplete me on that specific occasion.
*Ask for help.
Whether you’re asking a fellow mom if she can pick up both kids from their soccer practice or asking your partner to order dinner so you don’t have to make it yourself, asking for help can be the difference between feeling calm and feeling crazy. Stretching yourself too thin is never a great idea, but we do it all of the time.
See above about being stretched too thin. This includes activities for the kids. Limit how many times you’re in the car hauling people around. Make more time for the things you love or things the entire family can do together instead of getting pulled every which way for the sake of “not missing out.”
Missing out is underrated.
These 6 actions have helped me conserve my energy immensely in the past 2 years. It’s not perfect. I still misplace my keys. I still occasionally check my email after 7pm. I sometimes still rush frantically out of the door, bemoaning the state of my life and my inability to be on time anywhere ever. I did this morning.
I do, however, have great tools to help me get back on track when I am off and simple habits that help me sustain a healthy, less frantic life.
I am confident that these simple methods of conserving my energy, will not only help me continue to navigate the twisty roads of parenting, but will also help me live a more easeful, enjoyable life.