Taking It Slow

As a general rule, I don’t take photos whilst I run. There are two reasons for this. The first and main reason is because I am rather competitive by nature, not with other people, but with past versions of myself. I don’t want to waste time by stopping to snap a good view, no matter how breathtaking, as I’m always trying to run as fast as possible and beat previous personal records. The second (minor) reason is just because I’m not very good at taking photos! I don’t take the time to adjust the settings or compose a good scene, as in the rest of my life, I rush to get it done and be on my way.

But this morning, I went for a run and I knew it would be slow. I’ve had a month off training due to illness and every time I’ve attempted to run in the last few weeks my lungs have felt like they’re going to give up in protest at the cheek of me making them work. I also did a rather brutal leg day yesterday and my glutes are angry with DOMS. So this morning I set off in the beautiful Spring sunshine with a brilliant blue sky above me and took my time. I just ran 4.5 miles around the country lanes nearby but it was so restorative. My lungs worked and because I wasn’t racing myself I didn’t beat myself up when I stopped to walk up some particularly steep hills (even with the knowledge that I usually run up them). I even stopped to take a picture of the rolling Devon hills with Dartmoor looming in the distance.

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People often react with a mixture of horror and bemusement when they find out how much training I do (5/6 days a week of running or in the gym) but for me, it’s my time away from the kids, just for me to re-set. It’s my medicine for mental health, my quiet headspace to think and just be me. After 50 minutes running in the gorgeous fresh air this morning, I feel ready for whatever the day throws at me, whether that be warring brothers or a particularly hefty workload. And this morning I feel like I also finally took on board everyone’s advice to slow down.

In life I am prone to trying to do everything quickly. Sometimes this is in the fitness side of things, trying to lift ridiculously heavy weights without building up to them or trying to launch into a crow pose or handstand without all the conditioning and beginner progressions necessary to lay the groundwork. Sometimes this is in the house, doing a half-assed job of washing up or other housework just to get it over with. Sometimes this is in my role as a parent, rushing bedtime or games with the kids, simply because of parenting-fatigue or an inability to be in the moment when there is a never-ending to-do list. Sometimes this is in my self-care, not taking enough time to rest because I’m anxious to get back to my busy schedule.

But after having been ill for the best part of a month, I have had to slow down. My body wouldn’t let me rush anything! And actually, I think I’ve come out the other side hopefully a little wiser for it. Which is why, when I came in from my run this morning with an urge to write, instead of putting it to one side to pack lunches, do home ed and process registration forms for work, I decided to sit down with a cup of tea and share my ramblings with whoever might be reading this instead.

Sometimes there are deadlines that have to be stuck to and sometimes you do need to hurry. But a lot of the time, it’s all in our heads. We can probably take five and slow down without any horrendous consequences. So I’d encourage you if, like me, you’re prone to rushing, to take it slow today. Even if it’s just taking a few minutes to sit in the sun and soak up the rays before getting back to the grindstone, you’ll feel better for it. (Or if time, family and work allows, do what we did yesterday and spend several hours lounging on the beach enjoying the spring sunshine and the water gently lapping the shore – bliss. See, I told you I’m learning!)

Sophia Jumping!

This photo is courtesy of the talented and most lovely Elsie

 

 

 

Fitting it all in (everyone needs a super Dad)

I woke up feeling glum today. I have been a lot recently. I don’t really know why, perhaps it’s the adjustment to having three (although I don’t think so), maybe it’s my itchy feet and mind, feeling a bit stagnant, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the knowledge that it is simply impossible to fit in everything I need and want to do. The housework needs to be done (at least to a basic degree of cleanliness), meals need to be prepared, laundry washed/dried/put away, I need to follow our chosen curriculum, if only loosely, in order to satisfy Sophia’s desire to learn, I need to spend meaningful time with Isaac, I often need to feed Elijah, I need to take them out to our groups several times a week. On top of this I want to be able to workout (cardio and weights) 3-4 times a week, I want to keep on top of regular posts for this blog, I want to express milk for a lady who I promised some to, I want to knit, to read, to bake, to play cello. I want to spend time with Dan where we’re not just sat in front of the box watching shows on netflix. I’d like to make time to get involved with local politics (especially after the election results – but I’ll save that for another post). But there is absolutely no way I can do all of that, even a fraction of it, to the standards that I’d like to. It seems unlikely that I will ever be able to meet the needs of everyone to the extent that they need and I’d like.

I was feeling it all getting on top of me and asked Dan if he’d drop Sophia to dancing and take the boys to the park. As they left the house and the silence descended, I physically felt the waves of relief wash over me. I immediately felt guilty (mother guilt eh!) before deciding what was a priority for this stolen hour to myself. I knew I needed to get some exercise, that it would help to shift the gloom. So I popped on my running gear, locked the door and escaped. It was only 25 minutes but there’s nothing like running by the river at high tide, feet pounding, birds singing, heart racing, to clear your head. I arrived home feeling, if not happy, at least more focused and less grumpy. After a quick shower, I  managed to whizz the hoover round before getting dinner on. Amazing really, the power of a mere 60 minutes of solitude and of getting some exercise. No wonder everyone keeps banging on about it!

But the thought that struck me mostly was that this wouldn’t have been possible without Dan. And I do take him for granted. I’m not one for slushy posts but I do feel like he’s taking on Super Dad (capitalised and everything!) status this year. From the final weeks of pregnancy where I couldn’t get around much and he snuck in park trips and little outings with the kids in every spare window of time he could find, during my almost complete bedrest immediately after Elijah was born when he took over childcare, house care and wife care completely to these early months where he is always there to take one, two or even all three children off my hands in order to facilitate some time for me to get some things done. I am beyond blessed to have him as my other half in life.

And it was him that dished out some wise words when I was bemoaning my inability to do everything I wanted/needed to. That it wasn’t all on me, that we work as a family together. That the needs of everyone don’t have to met solely by me. That we should all pitch in together and hopefully that way, we’ll get by and even find time to enjoy ourselves.

I know I’m not the only one struggling. So I wanted to write this short post not because I wanted pity, or because I’m being smug about my wonderfully supportive husband. No I wanted to write this to remind myself, to remind you, that we are not capable of doing it all. And we shouldn’t have to be. So don’t beat yourselves up over messy houses, missed workouts, the opting out of some educational or fun activity for the small people because you’re just not feeling up to it. Remember to take help when offered, to ask for help when needed and to accept, that the well being of our family does not rest solely on our shoulders. For a family to be successful, everyone needs to put in and take out. A mother does not a family make. And man, what a relief that is to realise. So do what you can without pushing yourself too hard, prioritise the essential and most desirable. And then relax. And be happy.

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P.S. Thank you again Dan. Love you!