Balance is a scale, both concrete and imaginary, on which we weigh things that affect all aspects of our lives. We apply balance to analytical problems, to the air pressure in our tires, to opposing forces of physics, and to our check books. Balance is a neutral and equal state of stability and being able to maintain a personal balance in our lives is essential for maximizing and promoting mental, emotional and physical well-being.
I cannot stress enough, the importance of having a well-balanced life, especially if you are a parent. In order to help parents achieve the desired balance in their lives, and also be able to aid their children in attaining balance, I have developed a technique called S.W.E.E.P.
To live our lives to the fullest, we must try to find balance in five key areas which together form the acronym S.W.E.E.P.
The five key areas to examine are Sleep, Work, Eating, Emotional expression of self, and Play. People whose S.W.E.E.P is in check, can teach, guide and love from a position of balance and, quite simply, have better overall relationships. When we strike that balance and make that connection between our minds and our hearts, many benefits follow. Let’s look at each of the five areas, individually, to get more understanding and a better perspective of how the S.W.E.E.P technique is applied to our lives. My suggestion is that you journal your S.W.E.E.P experiences. Write down the answers to your questions, and then decide from there how you will make the changes needed to achieve a good balance.
The precious value of sleep seems to be something that is often overlooked. Sleep is measured not just in quantity, but also in quality. Busy schedules allow us to devoid ourselves of what our body needs most; restorative rest. How do you expect to function with the demands of work, life and parenting if you are not getting proper sleep? You simply cannot. Examine your own sleep habits and those of your family.
How many hours of sleep do you get in a night? Is your bed comfortable? How do you feel when you awake in the morning? Do you dream while you sleep? Do you have a routine before bed? While you sleep are their disturbing noises?
On average, you should try to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Your sleeping environment should be a serene retreat where rest and restoration is the main focus. Lack of sleep or poor sleeping conditions can add to irritation and being short-tempered with your co-workers, your significant other and your children.
Yes, work is something that we all must do to be successful and to maintain a certain standard of living. But it does not have to be viewed as a negative component or unavoidable obligation. We can make work stimulating and engaging where we build satisfying relationships with our colleagues. Examine the different aspects of your work.
Do you set and achieve goals at work? Do you have friends at work? How is your relationship with your boss? Do you work inside all day? Are their windows where you work? Is your work rewarding, financially or otherwise? Do you feel appreciated and respected at work?
When I refer to work, I am not restricting it to only a paying position outside of the home. The category of work includes school or sports for our children, schooling for ourselves, and of course, stay-at-home parenting. If you are dissatisfied with your work and planning a change, remember to be patient. A life shift such as this takes time and planning, and it affects everyone in your life.
Eating is a necessity of life; we must eat in order to survive. Incorporating healthy eating habits is not merely about what we eat, but the way in which we eat and with whom we eat. Examine your own eating habits and those of your family.
What do you eat? Do you enjoy eating alone or with your family? In what room do you generally eat? Do you cook at home? Do you and your family talk while you are eating?
First Lady, Michelle Obama, has an initiative to tackle the concern of childhood obesity by educating parents not only about what foods are healthy, but how the surrounding life style goes hand-in-hand with how food is provided and presented to children. Even more admirable, she is starting at home with her own daughters. As the First Lady, she insists on eating as a family and using the shared mealtime as a way to learn about the positives and negatives in one another’s day. These habits allow for building a strong connection during meals and broaden the focus beyond just the food.
Emotional expression of self:
Emotional expression of self is a window into the psychological state and is the essence of the soul. Relationships are strained when emotional expression of self is compromised. Expressing and allowing expression is the key to a healthy dynamic among individuals. Ask yourself if you truly know how to have feelings and express those feelings in a healthy manner. Your behavior and response in emotional situations sends a distinct message to your child. Examine your own emotional expression of self.
Are your intimate relationships fulfilling? How do you handle feelings ofrage, sadness, fear, happiness, disappointment, and frustration? Are your heart and your head connected during the process? Are you able to control your emotions or do they control you?
It sounds simple, but it is not always that way. Once again, ask yourself, “Do I know how to have feelings?” Of course everyone feels and has feelings, but the true question to ask, is how do you identify and express those feelings? When you understand why you are experiencing certain emotions, it will allow you to better express them to others. If you have an inner conflict that you are struggling to resolve, being able to successfully identify and communicate that conflict to others is part of the process of healing yourself.
If the expression of self is the essence of our soul, then play is the nurturing of that soul. So many of us do not believe as though we deserve to play…playing is for children. Well, aren’t we all still children on the inside, hopefully growing and learning every step of our own individual process? Play is not to be confused with sex or intimacy; it is a personal release and means of relaxation and enjoyment. Examine your own allocation for play in your life.
How often do you have fun? Do you do preferred activities with others or do you do them alone? Do you go out in social settings? Do you spend alone time caring for yourself? Have the activities you consider to be fun changed over the years? How?
Play provides feelings of fulfillment and joy which can be found through hobbies, exercise, socializing or sitting at home reading a book. If the playful part of you gets suppressed, you are more likely to get angry, depressed and frustrated. Play is the reward for all the hard work you do, and it supports your ability to be strong and make sound decisions.
S.W.E.E.P is an easy-to-remember checklist and can help you evaluate how you are doing with keeping yourself in balance. A parent with balance is more equipped to be a loving and healthy role model for their child, and as a parent you owe it to your children to be the best possible you. Remember to first S.W.E.E.P yourself, and then you can successfully S.W.E.E.P your children and help other in your life to S.WE.E.P themselves. Parenting really does begin with you.