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.
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”?
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.
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).
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.
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)