Monday, 29 October 2012

Energy Levels and Timing

A great place for a nap
I am writing this post while tired, more tired than usual that is, as an experiment to see how much it affects my performance.  I won't be editing it, or touching it up, so please enjoy the kinda fits in with the post's content.


When the Little Dude was about two, we were at the park with a good little mate of his, who we'll call the A-train, and his mum, the Ringmistress (if you want a great sewing blog to inspire you, check hers out).

For every step the Little Dude took, the A-train chugged about 100.  The Ringmistress covered some miles that day while the Little Dude and I were pretty chilled.

The Ringmistress commented that it must be great having a kid with even energy levels, punctuating the statement with a small sine wave drawn in the air, compared to a kid with energy spikes and plunges, gesticulated with wild sawtooth waves painted up in my face.

It was an epiphany.  The Ringmistress is usually spot-on with her insights and this one hit me in the face and has become a useful tool for behavior management before bad behavior begins.

Energy levels and timing.

It is no secret we do our best work when we feel energetic.  We are more alert, happier and as a result, the stuff we do is more enjoyable and of higher quality.  The same goes for play.

We all have periods of low energy during the day.  We also have periods where we function much better.  It is a fact of being awake that our energy levels wax and wane.  With kids, in my experience, the swings in levels are greatly exaggerated compared to an adult.

Artificial nap replacement.
I have two kiddlywinks. When both kids are waning, it is disastrous.  And if I am waning too, it is the perfect storm. Being able to identify these moments early is key to defusing the pending disaster.  The kids niggle, they stir, they moan and whine.  They start squishing up each other's space, as we call it in our house.

And at 5pm every day, my sweet little children become demon possessed monsters and there is no god willing to redeem us from their wrath.  All I have left is the dim light at the end of the tunnel, dinner and bath as a distraction on the rickety train to bed time. Hopefully the will to live hasn't donned a blond wig and tied itself to the tracks.

Typically I will get the kids to do separate activities. Squeaker is still having a nap each day so that problem is easily solved for midday lulls.  The Little Dude festers in a whingey funk, dragging everyone around him into the maelstrom.  I give him passive activities to tide him over.  This may involve perusing a book with interesting pictures (e.g. a book about the Universe) or I may queue up a bunch of YouTube videos on topics that currently interest him (trains, dinosaurs, planets, songs etc).

For me, I like to ride out my low energy periods with a twenty minute power nap when possible. Or chugging a couple of shots of courage, pictured, to assist lurching to the next upswing in energy.

By knowing when everyone is likely to be tired and grouchy, I can plan when to do things.  The groceries are never done before Squeaker's nap.  And heaven help anyone who walks into our house around 5pm.  By managing the kids -- and myself -- in this way, I can make sure that everyone is well behaved when it is needed most.

Well, it's time to press the publish button.  Hopefully this poorly constructed, tiredly written post hasn't put you to sleep too.

If you like my posts feel free to comment, subscribe or share them with friends using the links below.


  1. And here I was thinking that the 5pm crazy hour(s) was just in honour of my arrival home from work. There's no peace in our house until he's squared away in bed, which can be as late as 9pm. Then it's time to get some sleep, go back to work and do it all over again ...

  2. My sister used to call it the gangrene hour. Fond memories from 20+ years ago. Enjoy!