One of my all-time favorite movies is What About Bob? In it, Bill Murray plays a man, Bob, who is scared of everything. At the beginning of the movie, the psychiatrist suggests that Bob take a vacation from his problems. He meant figuratively, but Bob decided to do it literally. Hilarity ensues as Bob follows the psychiatrist to his vacation home and ultimately finds peace from his anxieties by driving the psychiatrist absolutely crazy.
I feel like this movie relates so much to parenthood. Sometimes I feel like I’m Bob facing the chaos of the world around me. And honestly, sometimes I feel like my kids are like Bob, following me around driving me crazy! So much of my daily life as a parent involves things that make me feel anxious, tired, and unsettled. Often, our daily life just feels chaotic. I love order, strategy, and a plan. And for the most part, my children haven’t followed that formula. Chaos is sort of the nature of their game.
On any given day, chaos looks like messes in every single corner of my home. I clean up one section only to find another pile of chaos somewhere else. The volume level that my girls create is loud enough to shatter glass. And sibling fights? All semblance of order flies out the window. It’s like a street fight.
Just last night, right when it came time to prepare dinner, chaos ensued. I was scrambling for a missing ingredient, the horses needed to be fed, and the dog rolled in poop and needed a bath. This was all in a short window of time. Nothing but chaos. I felt miserable and exhausted before 7:00 pm.
I bet you have your own stories much like this one. Our lives may look a little different, but one thing is true, chaos is bound to happen on a daily basis. I think that’s why as a mom I’ve started to embrace the advice given to the fictional character, Bob. We need to take a vacation from our problems—a vacation from the chaos.
So then, how can we experience some peace in our home in the midst of the daily chaos?
I think it’s good to start by identifying what feels chaotic to you on a daily basis. Is it a messy house? Dinner time madness? After school activities? Sibling fights? Zero time to yourself? No time together with your partner?
Think about the answer and then think about what you can do on a daily basis to bring some relief. You can’t change others, but you can do something for yourself. If you know that the chaos brings out the worst in you (it does me) then think about what you can do to help yourself.
That night I described earlier? I couldn’t control the fact that all those things happened. I couldn’t create a world without chaos, but I did find ways to experience peace in the midst of it. After all the fires were extinguished, I took a “vacation.” I grabbed my sparkling water and my book and escaped to my bedroom. That’s because my bedroom is the most peaceful place in our house. It’s the one room that is decorated to my liking and has big windows overlooking the pasture. Nothing but peace. I made sure to lock the door and I set a timer for 20 minutes. Mini vacation from my problems.
Think about how you can create a peaceful place—a vacation spot—in your home. Have a plan for when the chaos hits, but also do things on a regular basis in the midst of just normal chaos.
Here are some ideas:
Create one space in your home that is yours. If your kids are like mine, they basically try to take over the entire house and claim it as their own. They leave their trash everywhere and all their things everywhere too. That’s why I created a little nook in my bedroom. That is my retreat. There are no LEGOs, glitter slime, or candy wrappers in that space.
Think about the things that you love about a peaceful space you’ve experienced. When you’ve gone on vacation, what is it about that place that made you feel at peace? Maybe it’s plants, candles, lighting, pillows, or music. Find those things and fill your space with them. You may not be able to bring the ocean to your home, but maybe a sound machine with waves could bring a sense of calm.
Once you figure out that space, protect it. Keep the clutter away. And when you retreat, lock the door (if possible) and set a timer. Even a short vacation to the tune of 10 minutes can do wonders. Maybe you want to just sit in silence. (God knows our ears could use a break.) Maybe you want to scroll social media. Maybe you want to read a book or journal. Start small, but give yourself a little sense of peace daily.
The more at peace I feel—the more I create peace within me—the better I am to handle the chaos that parenting brings. When I care for myself, I can walk into my home, into the chaos, and everyone lives to see another day.
What have you done to help create a sense of peace in your home?
This post originally appeared on The Parent Cue