The secret life of high-energy parents

We’ve all encountered those perky, high-energy parents always smiling, laughing and running around with their kids. These are the same parents who even have time to do things for themselves. All this, while you were just starting to feel proud of yourself for getting the kids up, fed and out the door before noon. Ugh.

Annoying right? Well fear not. I’m going to share with you some of the secrets behind these high-energy parents. Follow these tips and you can be well on your way to becoming one of them yourself.

A note to those high-energy parents reading this article – please don’t take offense to me calling you annoying, I’m really just jealous but working at it. 🙂

1. Sleep. There’s no coincidence that this is number one. The easiest way to top up your energy level is to start with a great night’s sleep. When the kids are down and the house is quiet grab a book or magazine head off to bed and read for a while. It’s easier to drift off to sleep after some down time and with nothing else to do around the house. Some people need 8 hours of sleep others require less. Get as much as your body requires.

2. Don’t overbook. Don’t try to do too many things in any given day. This is especially true if you have very young kids. Running around all day every day is exhausting and really drains you of energy and enthusiasm. Keep some days, evenings and the occasional weekend open to catch up on rest and to just be still. Don’t feel you need to explain everything all the time either. If you’re busy just say so and if you’re not but would rather have a night off, just say so. No one will think any less of you, in fact you may plant the seed with them to do the same.

3. Get a life. Nothing injects energy and a renewed vibrancy into your life like getting out and having a life of your own. Reconnect with old friends, get a bite to eat after work with a co-worker or meet a close friend for coffee. Avoid a babysitter and invite other parents around with their kids. The kids can play and you can socialize and have much needed adult interaction.

4. Adopt a “good enough” mentality. Very few things will ever be perfect. This includes the state of your house when you have kids or pets. Try and avoid stressing over the piles of laundry, dust bunnies in the corner, or less than perfectly stocked pantry. Plug away at these things a little at a time. Strive for progress not perfection.

5. Have an easy meal night (or two). Keep the gourmet 5 course meals for special occasions or at least limit them to a couple times a month if you wish. Quick, easy, and nutritious meals are great for a family on the go. If you don’t already, seriously consider setting up a weekly or monthly meal plan. It helps take the guess work out of meal time and allows you to eat well consistently.

6. Get active. It seems a bit counter intuitive but the more you get up and get moving the more energy you’ll have. Get back into an activity you used to love or try something entirely new. Think aerobics, kick-boxing, yoga or weight training. Try running, signing up for a dance class, or start swimming.

7. Do what you love. Doing something you’re passionate about energizes you. Passion allows you to get excited about something and it rarely feels like work. Do you really enjoy painting, drawing, or photography? Or is writing, dancing, or teaching more your thing? Don’t know what you’re passionate about? Dabble. Dabble in a bunch of different things to see what gets you excited. Things you fear may not be enjoyable could turn out to be your new love. Have an open mind and go for it.

8. Get help. One sure fire way to burn out is to try and do everything yourself. You are not superwoman or superman so stop holding yourself to this unrealistic expectation. Ask for help. Get your kids to take part in some of the chores. My two year old helps me clear the table and load the dishwasher. I’ve never really asked him to do it but he just likes to be included and to do what we do. Hey, works for me! If you’re having a dinner party ask people to bring a main dish, a dessert, or a salad. It’ll save you from spending the entire day cooking and from being exhausted even before your guests arrive.

9. Live to your own schedule. Every family is different and what works for one may not work for another. Set your own schedule and manage your time around your passions and those of your family. Time management is key for preventing burn out. Read more on this in our article: 7 Time Management Techniques For Real Families.

10. Down time. Nothing zaps our energy more than feeling like we’re “on” all the time. Serving others is great and when it’s done out of love it doesn’t feel like a chore or that it’s even draining your energy. Given enough time, you will eventually feel exhausted, lethargic and just tired over all. Take some time out just for yourself. Book a massage, get a facial or meditate. Take a nature walk, people watch in the park or soak in the tub with a good book and soft music. Whatever it is, it’s important to have some down time and just be alone with your thoughts.

Next time you see a parent who’s full of energy, happy and enjoying life take a look at what they’re doing. Odds are they’re doing things they love. It’s tough to fake enthusiasm for the long haul but if you align your activities with your priorities and stop trying to do it all, you’ll find you will soon have energy to spare.

What have I missed? What are some other things we can do to up our energy levels as parents?