Controlling Family Chaos: Lily Tomlin Outsmarts Einstein

Lily Tomlin

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” -Lily Tomlin

Ever feel like you’re running yourself ragged?

When that happens to Diane and I, we know we’re not exactly walking the talk, if you know what I mean. Sometimes circumstances take control of our calendar, and we choose to roll with it… for a while. The catch is to be conscious when we are making that choice, and to rein things in before family life gets out of control.

Albert Einstein once remarked that, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” I won’t argue E=MC2 with him, but I will argue for balance! For parents, especially for parents with complex kids, life is more akin to riding a unicycle. While juggling. While eating a power bar because you were too busy to stop for lunch. (sound familiar?)

Balance is a Process, Not a Destination

To keep your balance, sometimes, you need to stop, put both feet on the ground, and let yourself rest – because standing on one foot can get exhausting after a while.

How can you recharge your batteries? For me, after the hustle of the last couple of weeks at work, a break was in order. I scheduled a (mostly!) free week to spend with the kids, and I’ve done a pretty good job of staying away from the computer and email, this tip notwithstanding. Mostly, I’ve allowed myself to go a little brain-numb, and it’s helping me to regain my equilibrium. (Works for our kids sometimes, too.)

Yes, the last few months have been crazy. But this break is giving me a chance to recalibrate and start fresh. I’ll re-enter the world a touch more slowly and take my time when work and school resume. And when things get busy again — and my unicycle is in danger of tipping — I’ll reevaluate, rein in my calendar, and take it more slowly. A week off may not be possible, but there are other ways to get back on track.

Taking Micro-Vacations

If a vacation isn’t in the cards for you right now, you can take mini-breaks to re-energize your body and reinvigorate your mind: go for a brisk walk or attend a yoga class, indulge in a massage (you deserve it), or make time to have a family movie night or dinner with a friend. Small breaks can add up and remind you to take the time to breathe and to be.

Sometimes life seems to run away with us. It’s going to happen. That’s cool.

The challenge is to recognize it and be intentional about slowing things down when we can. That way, we stay in control of our schedules and prevent them from controlling us. Ultimately, that’s what keeps family life from spinning out of control.

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