Stretch, but don’t snap.

My daughter turned 10 a few weeks ago. It also fell on Fathers Day this year so, in our infinite wisdom, we decided to have an over-the-top, unicorn-themed birthday party with 40 guests, followed by a four-girl sleepover.

Being a double-digit milestone, somehow I thought having a huge celebration was a great idea. I thought, ‘I’ve got this.’ I was being clever and outsourcing food, a lovely friend was making the four-tier unicorn cake and my gorgeous neighbour was being Leni’s personal hairdresser on the day.

The party was a big success. Then we launched into sleepover mode.

We made homemade pizzas, set up mattresses downstairs, opened gifts, watched Youtube videos, ate too much sugar (as you do) and then at 10.30pm it was bedtime. Or so I thought.

Shortly after midnight my daughter burst into our bedroom, turned the light on and shouted that her best friend had vomited.

All good. I can clean vomit. I don’t have vomit phobia. Then this poor little soldier went on to vomit every hour on the hour until 7am. As anyone would, we stayed up looking after her until the worst of it past.

In retrospect we had tried to do too much that day. In the two weeks preceding the party I had skipped a few gym sessions and that’s a no-no for me. I had not eaten well. I had worked on weekends and in the evening leading to poor sleep.

The result: I was like a rubber band that was stretched to breaking point. This pattern can play out in all facets of our lives.

When we fail to give ourselves a break from work it can become all consuming and lead to physical or mental health problems.

Families can also be energy-sapping in all sorts of ways. Whether it is kids, immediate family or other relatives, our sense of responsibility often overrides our need for self-preservation. While there are many situations we must lean into, we will always be better if we can get some downtime to re-group.

Whatever the situation, there is an important principle to keep in mind here.

Stretch, but don’t snap.

Look after others, but don’t forget to look after yourself.

There are always going to be times when life gets hectic and you will breeze through them if you have the foundations in place to allow you to stretch to the requirements.

If you need to justify it to yourself, think of this ‘downtime’ as refueling. You’ll come to a grinding halt without fuel, but with a freshly-filled tank you can make the contribution you need to and have a bit left over. The trick is often giving yourself the permission to do it, and then actually doing it.

Regular readers of these articles know exactly what this looks like:

1. Nutrition

2. Hydration

3. Adequate sleep

4. Movement

5. Down time

It could also be going to the movies, reading, time with friends, walking in nature, shopping - whatever works for you.

It’s still a lesson that I need to re-learn every so often. So what did I learn this time?

Birthday parties and sleepovers will not happen on the same day EVER again. Sorry kids, but that’s how it’s gonna be!