Four requirements?

lost girl with map

There’s nothing like a new year coming up to give us all the feeling of renewal. A fresh start. Another chance to do things right. I admit, I’m a resolution person. I don’t see the harm in setting a few goals for yourself, and what better time to hit the start button on your new aspirations than a brand new year? I mean, we even get an extra day in this one.

In 2011 I resolved to reclaim a bit of my life after 2010 gave me the end of a really rough pregnancy and then the juggling act that was two 2 year olds and a newborn. I survived! Whether or not I’m better for it may be a matter of opinion. I haven’t abandoned the experiment per se, but I’ve just had other things on the brain.

Last week I read a thought provoking post about the 4 minimum requirements for vibrant living. Basic needs.

Reading these four things, I started a mental checklist in my head. And I realized I wasn’t checking anything off.  I feel like I did get a little of myself back in 2011, thanks to blogging and taking strides to do more for me, but I feel like I’m losing it again. In recent weeks my big girls have stopped napping, robbing me of 2-3 hours of time that was important not only for production, but also for just plain sanity. The past few months have me fumbling through my days, seeing a big picture goal, but missing the little steps that will get me there. I start one thing, get distracted by something else, drop that for something else…everything must be done right then because otherwise I’ll forget. I have no sense of order, no set to do list, and no feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, save the fact that my kids are in bed and I didn’t have to run down the street screaming at any point during the day.


The four basic things, according to the author, are simple really:

  • Food
  • Rest
  • Calm
  • Activity
Yet they can seem so elusive. If we don’t take charge of these four things, the rest of our lives will disintegrate into a haphazard mess of fatigue, disorder, and stress. Otherwise known as my current state of living. And I can feel that something’s off.

. I eat like crap. Not fast food, not a lot of junk food, but I’m not feeding my body in the manner it was meant to be fed. I usually eat a good breakfast, but it’s downhill during the day. Since the big girls stopped napping a several weeks ago, I barely break for a decent lunch, usually just scavenging their leftover grilled cheese sandwiches, grapes, and pretzels like a stray dog, neglecting to make myself anything of substance. I grab a handful of goldfish here and there, maybe throwing in an orange for good measure. It’s not uncommon for me to realize that it’s 4pm and I haven’t had a drop of anything but coffee to drink. The worst part is that my body feels the way it’s being fed — like crap.

. When the big girls stopped napping, I lost 2-3 hours of my day. I used that time to do chores, take care of miscellaneous to-do’s, write, or just relax. No more. Even if I set them up with a movie, I’m still tending to their every snacky and drinky need or rushing around trying to make the most of the 90 minutes or so. I can’t focus. So much of what I did during that time now has to be done either after they go to bed or not at all. I rarely hit the hay before midnight, and if I do, I stay up until that hour to read in bed or catch up on a few blogs. It’s like I can’t shut my brain off before that time. I’m lucky in that I don’t have early risers, but the late nights are surely taking a toll on me and my undereye circles. Not to mention that being around your kids for so many straight hours with no break is freaking exhausting.

. I don’t know this word. Can you use it in a sentence?Laundry piles up, the kitchen’s a mess, the kids’ toys are haphazardly put away, I have a newsletter to prepare and no post for the next day. I get overwhelmed by it all. Since I do get so distracted by every little thing, I end up doing a lot, but not getting a lot done.

Not only is it exhausting being around kids all day, it’s just down right maddening with no sanity break. We all need a little time once in a while to recuperate and get back in our A game. Without this, I lose my patience faster, and I find myself resorting to yelling to get their attention instead of speaking to them rationally, and that’s not fair to any of us. I know it won’t always be this hard, but I don’t want my lack of calm to become the norm. I want my kids to enjoy being around me, not grow afraid to ask me things.

. You’d never know it now, but I was a bit of an athlete at one point. Not super fit or exercise crazy, but I did make the effort to regularly keep my body moving and stay somewhat in shape with running, resistance training, and softball. Even after the twins were born I could be seen pushing my double jogger all around the neighborhood just about every single day, sometimes twice a day, thanks to Austin’s usually mild winters. But then came #3, less time, more fatigue, less motivation, more general apathy.A good friend of mine has really gotten into running in the past few months. Previously she was like me, doing it when she could or felt like it. Then she really took off with it and made it a lifestyle. Hardly anything keeps her from it. I have to say, she looks fantastic. Her skin glows, her hair is radiant. And I’m jealous. Not just of her even more rockin bod, but of the fact that she has this thing. This thing that is all hers, that not only keeps her healthy, but also keeps her sane. I hate that I’m having a hard time finding the drive. But I want that.

Food, rest, calm, activity. Four things. Four little things that seem so simple, but I realize I am fulfilling noneof them. Which I’m sure accounts for my general feelings of fatigue, unhealthiness, and just plain blah. I’m doing my body and my mind a disservice. I need to restore some order. Maybe I need to develop some better time management and organizational skills. I need to take charge.But oh how I do hate being in charge, even if it is of my own being.How do you feel about these four basic requirements as stated by the author of the original post? Do you meet them?

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Join the Conversation


  1. 1 word: oatmeal! Make the girls (all 4 of you!) oatmeal for breakfast and then sit and eat it with them. This is a work in progress here at our house but i’ve found that if i at least get the first meal of the day grounded and nutritious, i’m more likely to stay on track for eating (and those other 3 elusive things) the rest of the day. big pot of oatmeal! we like to add flaxseed meal, almond/soy milk, and fruit. well ok the girls won’t go for fruit IN their oatmeal – god forbid – but i do. xo

  2. It’s so hard to find time to do ANYTHING when you have kids and/or a family.
    I wake up in the morning, hustle myself and my daughter out the door and get her to daycare, then get myself to work. I work all day (and have thought to myself often that I should exercise at work BUT when would I eat lunch?), then I drive back to get her, then home, make dinner, play, bath time, play, relax with her while we read, bedtime, then have time to read blogs or write and it’s dark out. I live in the country I am NOT walking outside where I can become dinner for a hungry animal.
    I’m also exhausted at this point and have to put away the dishes, gather the laundry, put the toys away, make time for my husband (GAWD), and pay bills.
    Where is the calm?
    I have been trying to do at least 10 minutes of exercise since the first and I have stuck to it for 2 whole days! My abs are killing me.
    No seriously, I can’t breath!

    1. We have to keep in mind that it won’t always be this hard…they’ll get older and need us less…and won’t be nearly as cute. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the nice things you said about me, you almost made me cry! It’s not easy to find the time and I usually feel guilty about the not spending that time with my family. But you are right, the best part is that when I am running it is just “me” time. It also recharges me and gives me more energy for my family and it keeps me mentally balanced. I know with three it is even harder to find the time, but hopefully as they get a little older it will get easier.

    1. I hope so too. I’ve struggled with it on and off since having the twins, and there;s just so much other stuff to be done. You know, like Pinterest. 😉 xo

  4. I really related to this post. It’s amazing how it only takes four little things to improve our quality of life. This is definitely something I need to figure out, and you laid it out so simply. Now to make a list….and check things off!

  5. we started yesterday with the change of diet. I started anew exercise program. No one here is grossly (our kids are athletic and fit) but we are all often tired and sick because of our habits.


    You haven’t met my family. That one isn’t going to happen.

    good post

    1. My twins started talking to a neighbor as we were walking one evening and she was all, “I bet it’s loud at your house!” Calm won’t happen around here any time soon either.

  6. ummm…. yeah, no. I’m not filling any of those four requirements either. not really encouraging, but you’re definitely not alone friend. my day is pretty similar to Leighann’s – with a few minor differences – but like you, I also eat like crap. I think it’s worse on weekends and nights that Hubs is working, as I don’t need to worry about feeding all three of us – I get Goose something deent to eat, then either snack on stuff myself, or scavenge hers, or just forget to eat because I’m doing something else. Rest/sleep has been hard to find lately – and it’s not because I’m knocked up – but because my sweet angel *snort* doesn’t like to sleep without me (stupid,stupid,stupid move!!) so I often fall asleep with her, and wake up at odd hours in her bed, uncomfortable, cranky, and unrested… if I do happen to make it into my own bed, inevitably she will wake up needing me JUST as I’m getting to sleep (have I mentioned how much I’m looking forward to Hubs switching to a day shift in April??) Calm… just another 4-letter word… although one that isn’t used as much in our house as some others. Activity?? what? ya know, before I got pregnant with Goose I was part of a 3-days a week 30-minute bootcamp during the lunch hour at work? and then at the beginning of 2011 I was doing a pretty darn good job at keeping with Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred? (I was also eating, regularly and healthier) but I don’t know if it’s just pure laziness, exhaustion, or if it’s partially pregnancy-related laziness & exhaustion – but I have no energy, or motivation to be active… could also have something to do with the fact that it’s winter in Michigan… meaning it’s cold, gray, and often raining/snowing – so outdoor activity is null, and my lunch hour is off-schedule – so I can’t join several co-workers for a lunch-time swim, and I’d rather eat than exercise alone… I mean, sheesh – what fun is that? I wish I were a runner… but I’m not. So yeah, you’re not alone, at all. xoxo

    also – apparently I need to get back to blogging a little more regularly, so I don’t have diarrhea-of-the-mouth all over peoples’ comments anymore. I apologize for that, truly.

  7. Wow…looking at those four things reminds me just how out of balance my life is.
    I nodded along with you about the exercise, the poor eating, and no rest.
    And you totally made me giggle with this line, “Calm. I don’t know this word. Can you use it in a sentence?”
    May the year ahead find you happy and healthy…and calm. 🙂

  8. I kind of like those 4 words and they are right in line with what I want my 2012 to be. Baby steps and we’ll all get there. The kids just need to get a wee bit older first, right?

    1. I think the kids getting older will make things a lot easier. Someday our old selves and our new selves will start to merge.

  9. Great post. I struggle with all these things with one child who is almost 6, so I have no idea how you keep it together! I love the idea of breaking it down into these 4 simple (but hard to achieve) needs and think it’s great you are trying to think about how to get there..even if slowly at first. You go, girl!

  10. you are reading my mind again. or expressing my thoughts for me, which is nice, since that’s the thing I long to make time/room for that I don’t. . .

  11. Food – if I can fix myself a protein-heavy breakfast, the rest of it just falls into place over the course of the day. That doesn’t happen every day, though, and the days it doesn’t happen, I end up eating somewhat crappily by mid-afternoon. Somehow it’s easier to give all the kids a healthy lunch than to fix myself one.

    Rest – I have the same problem of needing me-time before bedtime, and if everything is running at 500 miles an hour until 9PM, that can be a problem. (Even with kids in school for most of the day, if I’m up at 6 to get them out the door, or maybe be the one to drive them to school, there’s still lots of stuff that has to be done before they get off the bus at 3, and dealing with 3 kids, one having homework every night and the other two having major communication issues, can be draining. I take them out places sometimes, and that wears them out, but it also wears me out, and one of them, needs the him-time before bed, so if we’re out a little too late in the evening, neither he nor I gets to bed at the time we each need to.) I’ve been wanting a margarita and a nap since sometime in December, and so far, no nap has materialized for me. (I had a margarita with dinner the last time my husband took me out, but that’s been it.)

    Calm – I shut the bedroom door and lock it behind me sometimes, and I’ve trained myself to find my “happy place” with the help of a particular bit of music. It helps, anyway.

    Activity – We got a treadmill last March. It’s been awesome. I can walk *and* read at the same time! (Except it had some problems when we got it, and eventually the company decided to replace it, which meant dragging the old one downstairs, in pieces, taking it back to the store, and getting a new one, in a box, requiring assembly. The down-and-up happened today, and I’m incredibly sore!) Beyond that, it’s mostly just running around, getting A, B and C done (and sometimes managing to squeeze D and E in, but not as often as I’d like). Some days, at the end of the day, I look at what I’ve managed and I feel good about it, but more often than that, I’m wishing I’d gotten just 1 or 2 more things done. (Today, for example — I didn’t manage to get grocery shopping done as I’d planned, because the swapping-out of the treadmill took much longer than I thought it would, and I have an annoyed knee and a grumpy hamstring now.)

    I sometimes have “not enough green tea in the world” days, although somehow they’ve been less and less frequent lately. Let’s hope that trend continues. (It helps that my new insulated cup holds the heat a lot longer than my old one did, so it takes me longer to get through the tea, so the temptation to brew more happens after a longer period of time….)

      1. It sure is. 🙂

        Dang. Back to figuring out just what housecleaning can be done before my mom arrives at an as-yet-undetermined time today. (And I need more tea….)

  12. I don’t know how in the world I missed this post by you, but it is just what I needed to hear this morning! (maybe that’s why:) ) I too do not meet those 4 most basic principles very regularly if ever these days. I think getting out of the house to exercise would help a lot!

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