You’ve been working on a project for so long that it no longer makes sense. It no longer feels unique or revolutionary or even coherent. The brilliant idea that got you going in the first place now sounds inane. How did anyone think you were ever smart?
What is true in the workplace is true in parenting too. In the beginning, you’re running on endorphins and noble statutes that you feel certain will become the cornerstone of your family. The motivation is high. And then, a month or 12 years down the road, you’re calling everybody by the wrong name and not even pretending it matters.
There are ways to get unstuck from the parenting dead end. Professionals use tricks all the time to gain a fresh perspective on long-term projects. New York Magazine shared a few tips on how writer’s get past the block and it turns out they work pretty well for parents too. Here are five ways to help you gain a fresh perspective on your family when you need it most:
1 | Take a break from the problem and do what you can do
You’re in the middle of sleep regression or potty training or sixth grade algebra and you cannot see your way through to the end. That’s okay. Focus on what you can do: three meals a day, car naps, fifth grade math. Hitting your high notes in both work and parenting builds confidence that will help you can take the pressure off when everything’s not working perfectly. You have your strong points as a parent. Use them.
2 | Give it the hard sell
Ads are designed to make you want that perfect outfit, job, car, or vacation. They show you all the shiny sides of it. The problem with family though is that you’re in it, day in and day out. You’re bound to see the dents and scratches. This is when you need the hard sell. Try describing your family to someone not in the muck with you and hit all the highlights, all the good stuff. You’ll begin to notice the points that are working in your favor. Focus on those and not the pee spot on the rug that wasn’t there a moment ago.
3 | Relocate
There’s a reason people hold business meetings in coffee shops or work from home one day a week. If the “sights, sounds and smells of the physical place” can influence your creativity on the job, they can do the same for your parenting. If you’re feeling stodgy in your routine, take the kids somewhere new to eat, to play, and to explore and let the new environment revitalize you as much as them.
4 | Think big picture
The longer you work on something, the less perspective you have on it. It’s easy to look at a colicky five-week-old and seriously doubt your ability to make it to 18. But that season will pass. Whatever hard part of parenting you’re in right now will pass. This works in reverse too. Maybe your kids are tweens and entering what might be the most harrowing time for the entire family: adolescence. Look back and remember all you have survived already and know that you will again. The bigger the picture, the easier it is not to get sucked under by the moment.
5 | Step away
Sometimes, no matter how many angles you use to approach a problem, you still can’t see your way past it. That’s when it’s time to step away. One study conducted by the University of California and the University of York found that over 40 percent of our most creative ideas come during time away from work. So, get yourself out of the house without the kids for five minutes, an hour, or a weekend, and give your mind and body a rest. When you let your mind wander, it might just wander to a point.
Parenting is a long-term contract. It’s the biggest project you’ll ever complete. It’s only natural that you’d hit a wall every now and then. But there are ways to work around it, just like any professional might, so that you can be as brilliant as you once thought when you first signed on for this gig.