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How to Stay Young…Even with Kids

How to Stay Young…Even with Kids


    People often feel their age once they become parents. Not only does the physical toll of childcare begin to wear down the body, but so does the emotional stress on the mind.

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    Left unchecked, this can gradually degenerate into an unfortunate physiological condition, often technically referred to as “Old & Cranky”. To avoid such a diagnosis and recapture the feeling of “young & hip”, here are three practical tips:

    1. Get Down and Dirty with your Kids

    It is difficult to have fun playing with your children. How can it be “fun” when you are constantly interrupted with zillion questions while you are on your smartphone/Facebook complaining to another parent about the tedium of playing with your kids? However, have you ever really tried to “play” with them, at their level, seeing things through their perspective, empathise with the things that fascinate and frustrate them? Doing so will, of course, feel a little childish but isn’t that the whole point—to rescue yourself from “Old & Crankiness”?

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    In any case, isn’t finding the answer to your child’s question “why are some dogs’ poo white?” just as stimulating as responding to your friend’s question “Why did Celebrity X break up with Celebrity Y”? More importantly, adopting this attitude may actually put some real “fun” into your interaction with the children.

    2. Date Your Partner

    The most crucial prerequisite to this action is to get hold of a trustworthy babysitter—someone you feel comfortable leaving your precious children with once a week while you and your partner are out painting the town red. Labouring through a forced dinner at a fancy restaurant worrying about how they are at home does not qualify as painting the town red, nor does sitting through a poshy musical while texting the babysitter once every 10 minutes.

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    I am talking about really re-living the good ‘ol days when you were both young and spontaneous, knocking back cheap beers at an even cheaper pizzeria, fooling around at the back of a cinema with no clues about what is on the screen or just dancing (badly) the night away, laughing and jabbering about everything but the children.

    3. Fall in Love with a Hobby

    Think back to a time in B.C. (Before Children) when you were truly passionate about something (watching TV doesn’t count), be it pursuits of physical (running, cycling), intellectual (chess, poker?) or even eccentric nature (stamp collecting, writing). Then recite the “story” that you automatically trot out in A.D. (After Descendents arrived) as to why you can no longer pursue these passions (no time, no money, no energy, etc).

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    Now, completely invalidate the “story” by resuscitating all the reasons that first attracted you to those old hobbies, or developing zeal for new ones. This simple act of igniting a passion in one area not only can add an extracurricular strand of excitement to your life, but also has the potential to diversify your mood away from being exclusively dictated by how well your work progresses during the week and how your children behave at the end of it.

    Final Thoughts

    If these tips make you sigh with trepidation because of the perceived efforts required, it is a sign that you are already at an advanced stage of the “Old & Cranky” ailment. Snap out of it and force yourself into these actions. While they may seem daunting at the beginning, the consequent benefits will be appreciated by, not just yourself, but also your partner and your children. As for those who already do these things (and more) as a matter of course, you should really be the one writing for Lifehack, suggesting further steps that people like me should take to feel more “lively and crazy”, even with kids who are livelier and crazier.

    (Photo credit: Kite Flying via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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