Once when my daughters were young, I had the opportunity to go to Paris with my mother and mother-in-law.
Seeing Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and the Louvre, the trip was nothing less than magical. Exploring the streets of Paris, walking along the Seine, dining in a restaurant Ben Franklin frequented; I was in heaven.
It was all divine. But then I came home.
I’d missed my family desperately while I was away, couldn’t wait to hug them all and just be with them. But then, just hours after my return, all I could think was this: How did I ever do this?
Because doing laundry and sweeping floors and checking homework and helping little people get clean is a far cry from Paris. Being away made me realize just how much of my time was spent handling the chores of life and tending to the needs of others. Instead of being refreshed from my time away, I was depressed. Sounds selfish, I know.
It took around a week or so, but I eventually got back in my groove and re-adjusted to the only life I’d known before Paris. I came back to my happy self, loving my life as I always had. Now that my children are older getting away is a little easier. But the re-entry after a trip? It’s still just as hard.
Recently, my husband, youngest daughter and I had the perfect weekend away (our older daughters, busy with their own lives, remained at home). And now we are back. Home to a house that could use a good spiffing up, home to work commitments and chores and a calendar chock full of the activity that comes with a busy family of five.
All of this confirms what I learned so long ago after my trip to Paris: re-entry into real life stinks.
Because real life is messy. It’s full of dirty dishes and dentist appointments and traffic. It’s chaotic and stressful and joyful all at the same time. But mostly, it’s just busy.
Try as I might, I always have more on my plate that I’d like. This can make me stressed, irritable, martyr-like even in my attitude.
So on those days when I just want to chuck it all and head to a beach on a remote island somewhere, I find I must pause. I’ve discovered if I re-frame my circumstances, it makes all the difference in how I feel. Sometimes I have to dig down deep to get there, but when I do, life is so much better.
Here are three mind tricks I use to help me cope. If you too have trouble dealing with the chaos of a normal, happy but busy life, you may want to join me in getting a fresh perspective.
When thinking about what needs to get done, replace the words “I have to” with “I get to”.
I get to spend time with my daughter as I chauffeur her to her various activities. This one on one time with her is priceless and is an opportunity to get to know her better.
I get to write articles on various topics and get paid for it: writing is work but it’s work I love. How many people get to do work they love?
I get to clean and care for a beautiful home that serves as a respite for my family. It is full of life: three thriving girls, a dog, a hedgehog, fish and a husband I love; how lucky am I?
When headed down the pity-party path, I finish this sentence with the first thought that comes into my head. “ It could be worse, …”
It could be worse; I could be battling a terminal illness, a lawsuit, mean neighbors.
It could be worse; I could have kids who were struggling, really bratty or strung out on whatever kids get strung out on these days.
It could be worse, I could be married to a man who criticizes, or is never home or makes me crazy.
It could be worse, I could have a job I hate, could be writing for free or worse yet, not be writing at all.
Even writing these words reminds me of how good I have it…
And when all else fails (note to self: should probably start with this one), I thank God for what he’s teaching me, because if nothing else, it gives me a healthy perspective.
Thank you God for this very hectic day reminding me to guard my time wisely and not waste it.
Thank you God, for giving me daughters who humble me, who remind I don’t know everything, and who help me accept my imperfection.
Thank you God for having a healthy body and mind, a fresh start each day and a chance to change my attitude for the better.
Being in Paris taught me how magical the sites of this world are. Being away from my family showed me how much I love them. Re-entering into my crazy life, well, that taught me the importance of a positive attitude, no matter my circumstances.