Working Parents and the Elusive Second Wind

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As an educator, I must say I enjoy the annual 2+ months of summer vacation. While I certainly keep busy by researching current trends in education and reflecting back on those not-so-fantastic lesson plans from the previous school year, I use the time wisely to be with my children as a well-rested and fully functioning parent.  The time spent with my kids ends up leaving me with so many wonderful memories filled with heart-melting smiles, unbeatable belly laughs, and unforgettable whispers of sincere “ Thank Yous”  after a fun-filled day.

However, since we lack the ability to freeze time, it’s a given that the air will eventually turn cooler and the leaves will slowly begin to change color. Before we know it, it’s time to get back to work and once again struggle mightily to find that second wind after a long day of teaching.

The term “Second Wind” refers to that welcomed burst of energy after a long day. Picture this:

You’ve worked hard since the moment you awoke, expending copious amounts of energy as you successfully managed to navigate through the daily plights of your job. You feel like you’ve hit a wall, and nothing sounds as tantalizing as going home to relish in the unrivaled comfort of your bed. All of a sudden, just as your eyelids begin to drop down with the force of a convenience store shutter at closing, you’re hit with a sudden jolt of energy. Amazingly, after being snatched away by the Goddess of Sweet Sleep, you manage to break free from the temptress’s grasp and move on with your day as if you hadn’t expended an ounce of energy.

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The Second Wind phenomenon is a critical component in the preservation of working parents’ sanity. Every day, we leave our job to pick up the kids at daycare with the hope that a second wind will sweep in and help us get through the evening without unleashing a profanity-laced tirade aimed at the perpetually whining PBS character, Caillou.  No one needs to see or hear that…especially the children.

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But, what if that second wind fails to arrive? What if we consistently find ourselves struggling to make it through those precious few hours of quality family time? It’s a fear that all working parents have as we know our kids need us at our best.

So what can we do to ensure that we get that much-needed boost of energy late in the afternoon? There are many ideas floating out there – with caffeinated beverages topping every list. But as someone who is known to get a bit shaky from too much caffeine, I know it’s important to have other alternative energy catalysts. Here are three ideas to help you find that second wind…

  1. Go for a run.

Sure, it sounds counter-intuitive.  Why physically exhaust yourself when you’re already mentally drained? Are you familiar with the term “Runner’s High?” It’s an unbelievable bodily response to that jaunt through the neighborhood, leading to increased endorphin levels. It’s the presence of these endorphins in the bloodstream that produces a brief feeling of euphoria, allowing for an uptick in energy.

 

  1. Take a cold shower.

What better way to get that necessary wakeup call than the sensation of ice-cold water running from your head down to your toes. The shock of cold water on the body will temporarily awaken your senses and allow for increased alertness. It’s certainly a refreshing way to hit the “Refresh” button after a long day of work.

 

  1. Ten-Minute Mindfulness Exercise

While I have yet to master the art of meditation, I have made it a point to practice mindfulness on a daily basis. I take a few minutes each day to be truly present in that given moment. During this alone time, I’m not worried about the things that may have gone terribly wrong at work. I’m not anxious about the tasks I have to complete once the kids go to bed. I’m only thinking of my surroundings right then and there. I’ve found that just 10 minutes of mindfulness is enough to help reduce anxiety and stress, allowing for the replenishing of positive energy.

While there are certainly many options to help you find that elusive second wind, feel free to give one of the three aforementioned ideas a shot. It could end up being the difference between having a fantastic evening with your family or verbally assaulting the creators of an animated television show in a fit of unbridled rage.

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Until next time…

Ryan

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