It’s OK to slow down

Family photo October 2001
Family photo right before Eliza was born (2001) and my mom and step-dad left on their mission. Those angels faces…

I just saw a fascinating video that came via a rugby coach’s email. (Pete was going to start rugby but had a foot accident in February in which he pulled a bunch of ligaments and was in a boot for a long time.) A young entrepreneur wanted to learn from a Navy SEAL after observing him at a 100-mile race in San Diego. He wanted to learn from the man, and so he invited him to come live with his family. He learned that he could do so much more by pushing himself. The SEAL told him that we accomplish about 40% of what we are capable of doing.

What a great thought to learn!

I feel inspired to do a little bit more today and move closer to my potential!

I have another thought that I’d like to share from my experience over the last 20 plus years of motherhood: it’s OK to perform at 40 percent. It’s OK to slow down sometimes.

Here’s why:

As women, our bodies are always cycling and changing. Constantly. We don’t have a day off from change. For me, that means that on some days, I am physically more on par than others. But my job never changes: I always have 9 people who I need to think about, me included. They are my most important stewardship. And that job can be overwhelming.

Now you don’t need to have 9 people to care for to feel overwhelmed. One new baby will do the trick! (Think: every time we added a new child to our family, and frequently after that!) So don’t worry about comparisons here. One single baby, young child or even teenager can be enough to take you to your limits.

While I want to be a marathon runner, I’m not there yet. Because sometimes my days feel like marathons just keeping up with my family. Here is what I have learned to do: slow down.

On the days when my body isn’t on par to run fast, (and I’m not talking about the physical exercise here–I’m talking about the speed of keeping up with my family!), then I simply slow down. I give myself permission to not do as much as I would normally try to do. I might skip something (or a number of items on the list) that I normally do. I might go to scriptures in my PJs and take a nap on the coach afterwards instead of jumping up and making breakfast and lunches. (You can do that when your children are all 10 and older!) I ask someone else to stick out cold cereal and bowls on the counter. Or after I get everyone off to school, I might do something enjoyable, such as blogging or reading or going on a walk WITHOUT the dog, or calling a friend or playing a song on my violin or whatever. Or I go to the nursery to buy a new potted flower for my table, if it’s the beginning of the month. Or write in my journal. Or whatever.

I just change the pace.

It can feel harder to change the routine with little children, but there are ways. You are in charge of the routine. There are no pajama police who are going to come write you a ticket if you didn’t get up, exercised, dressed, and showered by 9 am. So be kind to yourself.

(Which is easier said than done.)

But being kind to yourself is something that I have felt Heavenly Father invited me to do on days when I needed it. I have felt very peaceful about not running faster than I have strength. I find it easier to be kind to others when I am kind to yourself. God said the first commandment is to love him and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. When I am a slave drivers to myself, then it is easier to be harsher towards my family. On the other hand, when I practice gentleness, I feel more peace. I believe that as I have tried to be gentler with myself, then I have become gentler with others. I like my more gentle self.

I can push myself to do more on other days, and I do. “Go further. Try harder. Run faster. Be like a Navy SEAL! Go! Fight! Win!” (Oh, there’s the cheerleader in me coming out! I still can’t do a cart-wheel… Haha)

But on other days, I don’t worry about the other 60%. I slow down. And I smile.

Want to read some much more inspiring thoughts about slowing down? Go here or watch below:

You could also read my response to hearing this talk back in 2010. 

Here’s a podcast from Power of Moms about “running away” when you have preschoolers. I love the question April asked, “What did I love to do when I was little?” Write? Be outside? Cook? Do art? I love what Saren suggested: “Come up with a list of what you love to do.” A third take-away: people will open up their resources to you if you ask, such as laying in someone’s hammock in their backyard. Tell them that you need a break and wondered if you might _____. WOW! It’s so great to learn from each other as moms. Don’t be intimidated by the lie that other moms have it all together while you don’t. I’ve had that thought so much. It doesn’t help and it’s not true. We all have our challenges. Just learn from the good from those around you.

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