Driving Without Fuel

Here’s a question for you:

Would you attempt a cross-country drive without a single gallon of gas in your car’s tank?

At the risk of stating the obvious, nobody in their right mind would try to take a trip in a vehicle that lacks fuel!

Then, why, OH WHY, do so many of us attempt one of the world’s most difficult endeavors without any fuel???

Perhaps rocket scientists or brain surgeons may argue that their job is harder, but I beg to differ: Parenting children in this day and age has got to be the most challenging (and, hopefully, rewarding!) job in the world.

Just like the minivan without gas, or the Everest-climber missing his equipment, or my son’s remote-controlled car without batteries- we parents cannot accomplish much when we are running on empty.

Have you snapped at your child lately or otherwise demonstrated an undisciplined lack of patience?

(Yup, me too…)

The vast majority of the times that we ‘slipped’ we were tired, hungry, angry, or otherwise disturbed.

That’s a reason, not an excuse!

Now, that doesn’t mean that we have free reign to yell at our kids just because we’re stressed out!

What it does mean is that we MUST take responsibility for our irritability and impatience.

How can a harried, exhausted mom expect to serve dinner with the same serenity as a relaxed, content dad?

Now that we have established that parents must be ‘fueled-up’ in order to raise their small souls, what type of ‘gasoline’ ought to be used?

Well, there’s a choice at the pump: 87, 89, or 93!

Fuel 87) Physical exercise.

Paradoxically as it may seem, exercise actually gives you more energy. Endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones are released for sixteen hours after your work out. Think of exercise as the natural alternative to Prozac- it just makes you happier and calmer!

Be a better parent- an extraordinarily, fabulously more effective parent this year- and add 30-NON-NEGOTIABLE minutes of exercise to your day, every day!

If you absolutely don’t have time, make the time! Turn it into an activity that involves your children. Try a dance or aerobics DVD with your child- my boys love to jump and laugh along with me! All youngsters love stability balls, light dumbbells, and steppers!

Fuel 89) Friendship.

As a busy parent, you are quite concerned about your child’s social life, birthday parties, and never-ending play-dates.

However, when was the last time you scheduled a grown-up play-date?

Having frequent contact with good friends will improve your physical and emotional health, and breathe a fresh ray of sunshine into your daily life.

MEET A FRIEND this week, and watch out for that extra bounce in your step!

Fuel 93) A Hobby.

Before you skip this section because you think you do not have any hobbies, you can replace the title with “stuff I like”.

There’s a good chance that you spend an enormous amount of time, money, and energy providing things that your child likes, while you forget about what YOU like!

When was the last time you played your favorite sport, created a beloved craft project, or read a good book? Try to recall the activities that gave you a ‘high’ before you were a parent, and then schedule them back into your life; it will transform you into a new-and-improved parent.


So, there you have it- all the ‘gas’ that a mom or dad needs, just to turn the ignition and begin the journey.

Just as nobody experiences guilt when they gas up their car for a trip, there ought not be any feelings of guilt when you take the time to fulfill your own needs!

Once you are properly fueled, you’ll need more provisions for your cross-country trip: food, a map, a GPS system, oil, and windshield wiper fluid- to name a few. Stay tuned for coming RaisingSmallSouls articles for more ‘equipment’ on your parenting journey!

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  1. Oh, this is precisely what I need to hear! I am constantly pushing myself in so many directions that I leave my own needs for last and have been feeling really burned out! Thanks for making me aware that I must NOT run on EMPTY!!!

  2. I too have made this realization recently….and what a world of difference it has made on everything I am doing. I am happier and so are my husband and children. THanks for the analogy! It will help me to remember!

  3. Very good article. It’s amazing how we moms allow ourselves to be run ragged. However, until the rest of the family helps, we might not have much of a choice.

    Thanks for the reminder that we need to take care of ourselves, too, or we won’t have anything left to give to those we love.

  4. Sounds good, but another important “fuel” is to find some time alone with God and let Him replenish us through His Word!

  5. I was greatly helped by hiring a “mom’s helper” to play with my son while I got caught up on all kinds of things (even quiet, alone time). Since I was there at the same time, I was able to have a younger child than the baby sitters I used when I was going to be away from the house.

  6. I really enjoyed this article. I tried to use the quick fix link and got the same info as the Tight on Time link. I am looking for ideas about workouts to do with my two year old son. Any suggestions?

  7. Okay, it’s interesting how things fall in your lap when you need them. I am a homeschool mom of three and had gotten to a point of ragged. I made the commitment to get back into horse ownership and riding after taking a break for nine long years. It was the best decision I have made in a long time and has saved our family!! For so long I have put myself aside and secretly resented it. Now we are happier than ever in our commitment to homeschooling now that I have made time for just me. I get to have my cake and eat it too!! I just put the word out for a quality babysitter, prayed a lot, & my dreams came true! I go to the barn twice a week for three hours & some evenings after the kids bedtime. I haven’t been this happy in years. My kids love the new and improved mommy & so does hubby! It’s a win-win kind of arrangement! You won’t regret it!

  8. Thank you for your insightful comments:)

    Audrey, I just fixed the Quick-Fix link, thanks for pointing that out. I really appreciate that you can do a full workout in 10, 20 , or 30 minutes- whatever amount of time you have! When I need a new DVD, I browse amazon and read reviews, however these have been my favorites for a while.

    Erin, riding a horse sounds fabulous! Kuddos!

    Joan, thank you for your mention of God, we cannot accomplish anything without Him!

    Now, I’m off to bed with a new good book!

  9. I love this website and have been receiving the emails for sometime now. I too used to ride and loved it, but it’s not in the budget anymore.
    I own a business and work just a couple of days a week in my studio so that I am home for my daughter.
    I own a Paint-Your-Own pottery studio and have a Ladies Night set aside each month for ladies to come in and pamper themselves a bit! Ellen is right, as women we need to take care of us to take care of ours. Pottery painting has been a God send for those that come and enjoy the couple of hours of complete relaxation and down time while they paint and enjoy appetizers and such.
    A great deal of studios have this night available for women.

  10. This article was just what I needed after the melt down I had last night when my 4 year old and 2 year old would not go to bed. I have one on the way and I have been second guessing my parenting skills. I just read the article this morning and I have scheduled a game night with some old friends of mine and my husband. I can’t wait to share this with my husband.

  11. Lynne, I used to love painting pottery as a teen- thank you for reminding me to get back to it!

    Kim, I’m so glad this turned up at the right time for you and congrats on setting up a game night:)

  12. Greetings all I hope you are in the best of health and faith,
    Being of altruistic nature my whole life and giving of myself totally to others, I have found that unless I spend time doing something I enjoy or want to do every day for at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, I will loose it!
    I become snappy, impatient, resentful, and feel unappreciatted unless I have some time to myself daily. Somtimes that “extra time” means a nap or extra half hour of sleep!
    There is a saying in my religion that our bodies have rights over us, our neighbor has rights over us, our family has rights over us and so on. You have to get enough sleep, food, water, affection or you cant function. Sometimes, just my toddler son’s smile or hug can replinish me! A guick massage from a family member can be great, or a professional one if you can afford it. Touch can be healing. It has been proven scents cause chemical releases or responses in our systems. I like essential oils but also don’t you remember a favorite smell of childhood? What happens when you smell that again? You go back to that feeling.
    It could be your mom’s baking, a store, or a particular season.
    I like that commercial about care givers getting cared for once in awhile. We are mothers, care-givers, as women we not only raise the next generation, some of us are educators too, we carry the world’s weight on our shoulders! I am a much better parent when I meet all my bodies and soul’s needs, and make even a small amount of time for myself daily or more once a week.
    And of course, there is God, or as some people believe “a higher power”
    Whether you believe in God or not, one HAS to feel there is a plan or meaning in life or everything would eventually seem useless. Helping others and not expecting anything in return is more uplifting than helping and being disapionted when others or family doesnt give back what you feel you gave. If you do things for others, whether you do it for the pleasure of God or for good karma, even just that is rewarding, but we musn’t destroy ourselves in the process. We need “fuel” to be there for our families!
    Sara Umm Sakina

  13. I constantly need to be ‘nagged’ to take care of myself, so thank you! One of the easiest ways to get in some extra exercise is to play at the payground with the kids! Climb and run and do the monkey abrs-so what if you look like a goof? the kids will love it and so will your arms and legs!
    Thank you and God bless you!

  14. I’ve been receiving the emails for a while now, but this is the first time in months that I’ve taken the time to read the full article, and I’m glad I did.

    About six weeks ago my sister and her two kids moved in with my family while her husband is deployed to Afghanistan. Then a month ago I had my second child. I am a stay at home mom and my sister quickly found a great full time job. Her 6 year old son is in school, and her daughter and my son are both 3 years old. Basically this means every day I take care of not only the house/laundry/cooking/grocery shopping, but an infant, two three year olds, and in the afternoons a 6 year old. It has been very draining.

    I’ve found time to read, simply because while I’m nursing there isn’t a whole lot else I can do, but my body aches to be able to work out or play volley ball again. I just today went to my biweekly bible study, and spent lunch with a friend and her daughter. When I got home from that I felt so rejuvenated, I actually hand washed some pots that had been sitting in the sink for longer than I care to tell you!

    I look forward to being able to do sports again and plan on joining a volleyball league with my sister. But I wanted to add that eating healthy plays a roll too. I know that I don’t get enough fruits and vegetables and that is probably also contributing to my poor health–physically and mentally.

    I plan on getting the whole family into eating healthier, and being more active. I’m going to need all the fuel I can get to keep up with my new family of seven!

  15. I read through the other comments and was reminded of all of the things I USED TO enjoy doing. I have put myself too far on the back burner for too long. I’m going to start reading for fun… not just parenting books. Play vollyeball for me, not to teach the kids how to play. Just plan on spending more time on myself.
    Thank you for this timley post.

  16. As soon as the new year rang in, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote, “Take time for me.” And that’s a resolution I will stand behind this year!

    I used to take yoga before I had children and it was very therapeutic for me… I can remember being in a healthy state of mind…. I was in a good place both mentally and physically. It helped me feel fit, energetic, happy and peaceful. I want to feel that again.

    You mentioned fuel 87, 89, and 93. With yoga it is possible for me to get all of that at once – physical exercise (87); taking friend (89); and for Fuel 93, a hobby, well you said I could replace the title with “stuff I like” and yoga has always been the “stuff I like”.

    I love reading your articles. Thanks for this article and reminding me to fuel up and not to feel guilty about taking some time for me.

  17. I guess all moms go through the exercise of actually finding out if u r a “good-enough mom” material! Nothing you do for the child is ENOUGH! you are always telling yourself that you can do better even when you are doing your best! Yes answer to all that is what you put in here, TIME FOR SELF AND THINKING OF LIFE BEYOND RAISING A CHILD ALONE! Hvinf followed that for sometime now, i can tell all the young moms now ” HEY MOMS, IT REALLY REALLY WORKS!” Kudos to you moms for making the world such a bearable place…..