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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