How often do you find your internal voice quietly saying, “Breath, you’ve got this…keep it together”?

I hear it a bit. Not as much as I used to, but it bubbles to the surface occasionally—Keep it together…keep it together.

I then wonder, Which ‘it’ are you talking about? As a parent, business owner, spouse, friend and reasonably engaged human, there are lots of its.

Life in this day and age is hard. We are all so busy being ‘busy, good-busy’ that we get tangled up in life instead of just being present in it. Yes, I know it’s also miraculous (How improbable is it that any of us here at all?) and joyful and fulfilling, but Jeez it can be a struggle. And I know that sounds familiar to you.

Having pondered this a bit, I think ‘it‘ is me.

If I fall apart, then a pile of things will very likely come crashing down as well. So, as I have gotten older and (I like to think) better like wine, I have had to work hard on resilience, empathy and mental well-being in particular. It’s a routine I’ve come to accept. I see it no different to going to the gym. (Actually, the gym is as much for my head as it is for the rest of me.)

Over the years – just like you, I imagine, I’ve become a pretty handy juggler of life, catching things thrown at me from all directions. Every few years I catch another one, just as important as all the others, slotting it into the routine motion of life, adjusting and carrying on.

Not too long ago I thought I’d reached my juggling limit but could see a few more things heading my way. In they came, one after the other and, I admit, I struggled. The outward Max would never show that to people but strangely, in the chaos, rather than let some of them drop, I grabbed an extra one: Me.

What followed was some long overdue mindfulness, compassion and even some clarity. Definitely a comfortably selfish time-grab, too. I highly recommend finding the space to do that. Try a 20-minute break on your own with no devices, just you and your thoughts and the world around you, and time to enjoy a tea or coffee. Be honest, when was the last time you did that?

I now find myself demanding more time for my family and I. It has helped many of the other life parts fall into place. It’s given me the space to just stop and take stock of what is really important, to take it all in and sometimes simply watch my four-year-old. I caught him checking his bum out in the mirror the other day. Don’t believe me? Check out my Instagram (@mouthofmax). I’m pleased to advise that I managed to get pants on him that day.

Somewhere in my ‘too busy’ life recently, I found (actually ‘made’) the time to read an article that really tugged a chord: Boundaries, routines and early bedtimes – 13 habits that raise well-adjusted kids.

Points 4 (Empathy) and 6 (Playful parents) in the article rang true for me. As did this passage:

Children don’t say, ‘I had a hard day…Can we talk?’ They say, ‘Will you play with me?’”

We don’t set aside much room in our lives for fun and games anymore. Our days are filled with stress, obligations and hard work, and without realizing it, we are more disconnected from our kids than ever. Play is the work of the child and to connect with our kids, we must play with our kids.

Taking the time to put down our phones and realize that our kids need. us. to. play. It sounds silly, but all the mindless funny cat videos and random Tasty recipes will still be there years later; our children won’t.

So, phone-scrolling be damned. Max is going to play and let the inner child out again.

In fact, I’m thinking of taking up actual juggling. Surely, it can’t be harder than the juggle of everyday life.

Do you have the balls to make time to be a playful adult or parent?

How do you keep it together?

Questions, anyone?

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