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Finding the balance of mind and body at home

Have you ever had those days when your body is exhausted from activity, but your brain is mush from lack of stimulation?  If you’re a mom, you’ve been there.

There’s only so much intellect that’s sparked when you read George and Martha for the eleven-thousandth time.  Yet breastfeeding every hour and changing 20 diapers in a day will leave you absolutely spent.

As parents, especially with smaller children, it’s hard for us to live a balanced daily life, with a healthy mix of brain and body activity.

Darren Rowse recently created an activity/rest matrix on his personal blog.  I think it’s a pretty accurate portrayal of what we crave as we work at home — balance.

Graphic by Darren Rowse

As his asterisks say, the specifics are merely examples, so you could easily list other activities, especially in the work of parent and home manager.  Since I’m also a self-employed entrepreneur from home, writing and designing web sites, Darren’s “desk job” example really works for me.  The same is true for many of you.

A few other activities could be:

• Body Active/Mind Active — decluttering, organizing, cleaning a major space, even cooking

• Body at Rest/Mind Active — budgeting, paying bills, storytime with kids, homeschooling, running errands, some forms of crafting, reading

• Mind at Rest/Body Active — daily cleaning (dishes, laundry), easy cooking, playing with your kiddos at the park, breastfeeding

• Mind at Rest/Body at Rest — quiet moments of solitude, journaling (only basic body movement), prayer (though this could often require an active mind)

Aim to Live “Here”

I agree with Darren — a good goal is to live balanced right in the center of this grid, where we have a healthy mix of brain stretchers, body rest, mind quietude, and body activity.

How often do we parents have those all-and-nothing days? I’ve often had days where I feel like I’m moving nonstop, doing rather brainless activities like cleaning up messes, chasing after kids, and building clubhouses with the couch cushions.  It’s not deliberate exercise, but it still leaves me wiped out at the end of the day.

I’ve also had days where I check email, write my book, stare at html code, read blogs, and let’s face it — stare off into space.  On those days, my body feels atrophied.  I feel like I’ve wasted a good part of the day, even though I could technically check off a lot on my to-do list.

My best days are when I do a little of everything. I get enough sleep, I exercise my mind with quality books and mental activity, I wrestle with the kids and walk to the park, I write, and I do yoga.

That’s not always easy, but it’s possible.  We all have those off days, when the kids are puking and the agenda is running one errand after another.  But on the “regular” days, we can make a deliberate effort to focus our energy on living in the center of that grid, creating a healthy balance with our minds and bodies.

What a great example for our kids.  How much healthier a core from which we derive our energy and purpose.

Where on Darren’s matrix do you tend to reside?  What are some other activities we could list on each grid?  What does this look like in your daily home life?

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  1. Kim @ Forever Daisies

    Very interesting! Seeing the matrix was like an Ah-Ha moment! I think my big challenge is when I need to rest my mind, and try doing something that should allow it, however cannot turn off my thoughts!

    Great post!
    .-= Kim @ Forever Daisies´s last blog ..Dream. Be Inspired. Create! =-.

  2. Micha

    I really like to be at the body at rest / mind active corner, but seeing all the laudry to do, I think I should go to the body active one.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Wimmlingen =-.

  3. steadymom

    Balance is such an interesting topic – so important, yet can be so difficult to attain. I’m an all or nothing type of person, so I find having my schedule laid out for my day helps me (most times!) remember the ideal balance I’m aiming for.

    Thanks, Tsh!

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Some Blogging Resolutions =-.

  4. Tiffany

    I saw this matrix on Darren’s blog, but just glanced over it and moved on. Thanks for bringing it into the parenting realm and grabbing my attention with it. A friend of mine used to say “I know there’s a balance. I see it every time I swing past.” I feel like that sometimes. Striving for balance can be hard.
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Fill Your Freezer – Menu, Grocery List, Recipes – Week 8 =-.

  5. Jacquie@hair extensions tips

    With two small kids and working from home I find myself in the upper part of the matrix. I feel tired and stressed. I definitely need more meditation and exercise.
    Thanks for this post.
    .-= Jacquie@hair extensions tips´s last blog ..Curly Conditionners Hair Care =-.

  6. Tashia

    Great Post! I have to admit that being home with kids for 6 years now, I have been all over the chart:) so this is perfect timing for me. I work from home and my youngest is now going to preschool a few days a week, so hopefully I can get into a routine where I can incorporate all of these areas.
    .-= Tashia´s last blog ..Enter to Win a Dave Ramsey $999 Emergency Fund =-.

  7. Myrrh

    Definitely struggle with the mind at rest part. Even when I’m doing tactile tasks (which is challenging for me) I’m deep in thought. I’m sensing (pun intended) I need to do things that engage my whole body (i.e. exercise) to force my brain to slow down. I think this is common especially with introverted intuiting types (I’m an INFJ) since live mostly in our internal world.
    .-= Myrrh´s last blog ..The New Name =-.

  8. turnitupmom

    Interesting matrix. For me, I tend to spend less time on the Body Active side. I need body active moments where I am doing something that’s primarily for me. Not running errands or folding laundry or doing dishes- these things tend to be a drain. I need to sweat and get those endorphins going! I am able to achieve this through dance class (alone) or by taking a brisk walk (with my child). I think one of the most challenging pieces of being a mom is finding the time to do anything alone.
    .-= turnitupmom´s last blog ..Believe Nothing =-.

  9. Amber@alittlemorecrazythancool

    Thanks for sharing this matrix-concept. What a great way to look at it! I’m working on the whole mind-at-rest thing- that’s a toughy for women I think! 🙂
    .-= Amber@alittlemorecrazythancool´s last blog ..Friend Makin’ Monday! =-.

  10. 280 Days

    My daughter is 2.5 yrs now, and I’m making a real effort to get more balance in my life (I’m a full-time mum). I’ve joined an exercise class that I love, I’m starting to write more, am in the process of setting up my own business and am trying to book more time out to have me-time (baby-sitters required!). However, today I have been in a whirl of seemingly endless house chores – you were so right in a previous post saying that cleaning whilst littlies are around is like shoveling snow when it’s still snowing, sigh. Body engaged, mind off.
    My gorgeous girl is in bed now so just having a well-deserved sit down with a coffee, biscuit and my favourite blogs…
    .-= 280 Days´s last blog ..10 Things You Discover When Weaning =-.

  11. donna o

    “My best days are when I do a little of everything.”
    It is such a simply phrase. One I am SURE I heard a hundred times before, yet seeing this combined with the “grid” it just clicked! I am hoping to implement this “crazy idea” of doing a little of eat every day. I get the feeling that, if I can accomplish this for a few days a week, then I will feel more accomplished. I too am an “all or nothing” kind of person. If I cannot sew an outfit in one day, WHY bother”. I can be so silly sometimes. Thanks for the post and the encouragement!

  12. Parenting Ink

    I struggle with this, too. I know where I’d LIKE to be on that matrix, but I’m not yet there.
    I think, like you, that I do best when I fit a little of everything into each day. Even if the “me” time is reading 5 pages of a book while I’m in the carpool line at school, if makes me feel more like me.
    .-= Parenting Ink´s last blog ..Weird Parenting Advice =-.

  13. Cheryl @ Moms in Need of Mercy

    How ironic–thanks for this post! I have come to the conclusion recently after having some trouble sleeping that I need to be better about doing something very active for at least 20 minutes each day to really tire my body out. Sometimes finding that time amidst all the chores and parenting that takes place is hard and easy to skip…but now I realize I just need to do it! I would much rather be able to fall asleep easily than lay awake for a few hours because my body just doesn’t feel that tired.
    .-= Cheryl @ Moms in Need of Mercy´s last blog ..On Offering (and Accepting) Hospitality…(and a Giveaway!) =-.

  14. baby bedding

    Great Post! I think this is common especially with introverted intuiting types (I’m an INFJ) since live mostly in our internal world. Thankyou for your sharing..

  15. yeesha

    health food

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