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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 December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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