The Vortex of the Metaphorical and Messy Storm

The other day, on a Saturday morning, I was trying to do a few more work things before the weekend began in earnest. My kids, three-years-old and seven-years-old, were busy watching tv so I snuck away to the living room to get some quiet.

No more than three minutes later my younger child came in and sat next to me. He started hitting the <backspace> key as I typed so most of my words were jumbled. As I was trying to redirect him, my older child came in and started practicing her Christmas songs on the piano.

I sometimes feel like the vortex of a messy storm and everywhere I go, it follows. When I long for quiet and space, it makes it unbearable because I know I’m supposed to be finding the joy in this time when my kids want to be near me and yet I just want to get a couple of things done.

The holiday season amps this up. There’s more to get done and I’m heading into a stretch of 11 days without any childcare. So I am leaning in to some strategies that help manage chaos for all ages.

Let It Go (It’s Not Just a Song from “Frozen”)

The more I struggle, the harder it is. This is especially true with timing – the mornings are when I want to do my own thing and also when things are at the highest energy.

But with a little experimentation, I’ve found that when I’m able to let go of my agenda and just go with the flow of everyone around me, I get a bonus of creativity later. It’s an unexpected paradox that be giving up my productivity, it boomerangs back to me. It makes me think of the Buddhist maxim as expressed by Sukhraj Dhillon, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.

Funny – and true. On the Saturday morning that inspired this post, I put my laptop down and just played with my kids. When I was able to return to my work, I got it done and this post just flowed out too.

Direct It

Sometimes the chaos around me swirls with extra intensity because of lack of direction. That is, there’s a little anxiety when we don’t know what to do. When I direct it, either into something like “let’s clean the silverware” or into something I like to do like exercise games, it becomes both focused energy and more palatable to me.

I don’t think this just applies to kids either. At a party when adults are feeling out of their element, giving people jobs seems to help them settle as well. It’s the scattershot energy that feels so dysregulating to me.

Find a Bigger Stage

If you know me at all, it’s no surprise that my solution for most everything is to go outside. There’s a wonderful story that I’m paraphrasing from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo about a Hindu sage and his apprentice. The apprentice was always complaining so the master took a handful of salt and put it in a glass of water. Instructing the apprentice to drink, he asked, “How did it taste?” and the apprentice grimaced and replied, “Bitter.”

Then the master took a handful of salt and put it in a lake and instructed the apprentice to drink from the lake. “How did it taste?” the master asked and the apprentice joyfully replied, “Fresh!”

When the energy of everything feels way to overwhelming, taking it outside makes it feel way more manageable for me. Growing up, my family had a tradition of playing touch football after holiday meals. I’d often prefer to just go for a walk alone when my kids are amped – but if I can’t do that, taking their energy outside makes us all feel better.

And when I manage these three things, I am way more primed to enjoy being the center of my little ones’ attention. There’s no doubt I will be replaced by screens and friends in the not-so-distant future. May I learn to enjoy these precious storms as the vortex while I can. And because all of our families change, for better or for worse, may you too!

For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at 

And if you want to follow me wherever I go, just like my little ones, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

41 thoughts on “The Vortex of the Metaphorical and Messy Storm

      1. Much is a blur to be honest. The kids will say “remember when we did this….” and I will have no recollection

  1. You’ve perfectly captured the essence of a very real struggle, Wynne. And in such a relatable way – picturing Mr. D hitting the backspace bar, then Ms. O coming in to play the piano – we were THERE with you. 😄 Then I loved the ways of navigating these sorts of times that you shared – and I’m gonna’ do my best to remember them the next time the vortex begins building! Thank you so much!

    1. You are such an empathetic reader, Kendra! Thank you for relating to my struggle and come along on this ride. May we all have storm free holidays! 🙂

  2. Lived experience is a boon to those reality checks when adulting isn’t necessarily the best answer. Stay warm over the next few days Wynne.

    1. Oh, I love your phrase, “when adulting isn’t necessarily the best answer.” Yes!! Hope you are staying warm too and all this snow is completely gone by the time you have to fly out, Deb!

  3. Such a great post with so much wisdom and truth! I remember having similar issues when my kids were young and time intensive- they were some of the best/most trying/most fun/toughest/insert-almost- any-adjective-here days of my life. And I don’t think I would change anything about them. 🙂

    1. There is something so comforting about your statement that you wouldn’t change anything about them. Thanks for the sympathy and the perspective, Todd!

  4. Your thought, dear one, about how soon screens — of all sorts — and friends will change your position, slightly — is right on point based on my recollections. I remember the feeling — the push/pull where I was thrilled to be the center of the universe but simultaneously overwhelmed by the loving little satellites who think we’re the sun, moon, stars. It’s a lot. And then poof! You’ve still got gravitational pull, but other curiosities begin to command their attention. Love how you write your way through it. Wynne at her best! 😉😘😉

    1. What a lovely guide you’ve given me through this time. And I’m delighted to write my way through it because it puts me in touch with all of you that cheer me on!! Thank you, my friend!

  5. Yet another post filled with wisdom, Wynne. You’re right that soon enough your kids’ demands on your time will be freed up by screens and friends. But in each phase of life there are new types of demands (until, I’m happy to report, when you’re old and retired). Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrants come to mind, figuring out what’s important and urgent, what’s not important and not urgent, and in between. I thought of the quadrant when I read your example of cleaning the silver! When I was getting ready for my wedding, 55+ years ago, my mother – yes, my mother – said, whatever you do, don’t ask for silver. All you end up doing is polishing it, whether you want to or not! This was long before Stephen Covey’s great advice, but she had it figured out. Not important and shouldn’t be someone else’s call that it’s urgent. For you, getting out into nature should always be either in your important/not-urgent quadrant or your important/urgent quadrant, both high-priority quadrants! 😊💕

    1. I love that your mom told you not to ask for silver. That is so wise. And for the record, I don’t have any but I do make up tasks like that with stainless steel sometimes… 🙂

      I love your post about the Covey quadrants and you’re right on with where to place my time in nature!! Thank you for adding your wisdom and empathy, Jane. Happy holidays!!

    1. Oh boy, you are living it too – and you must be about ten years ahead of me in the parenting game so I’m getting a sense that this continues… 🙂 Happy holidays, Claudette!

  6. Words of truth Wynne, however there’s one thing that I would like to share with you on my own experience with now adult children. When we engage with them in unproffered times of allowing them to invade our space when young they somehow simply will not let us go. Example: I just woke up to a text from my 28 year old daughter who I always every day exchange good mornings with and she wanted to know how my dinner with her dad and auntie went. She’s busy at work yet still cares what her momma is doing! While I have much more time to write uninterrupted I always mostly stop when my adult children come in my office! Tonight I am finishing my memoir but also my daughter is coming over for her favorite dinner, salmon and asparagus, and we’re going to watch Xmas with the kranks her favorite movie! There’s no place I’d rather be and when she goes home I’ll write ✍️ ❤️❤️❤️

  7. Relax, don’t worry, everything will flow into place! I speak from experience, having been a single mom, now a grandma. Kids have radar when we feel stressed and like cats, come to be close to us during those times. Thankfully kids can be redirected into busy jobs, while cats? Not so much! Go outside and play in the snow a bit with the kids tomorrow!

  8. Thanks for sharing your own “back story” Wynne! I often marvel at your ability to manage work, run a household, blog, respond to a bazillion comments, all the while juggling two young ones who crave your attention. A look at the behind-the-scenes activity makes it all even more of a marvel, as you wrestle with a whirlwind world of activity from morning to to night. Eeks. Your wisdom and insight flows through it all, and never fails to give me food for thought. Thank you for sharing! Wishing you and your family a joyful and blessed Christmas and holiday season!

    1. Oh, Julia, your comments have such a wonderful way of making me feel seen and appreciated. Thank you! I’m wishing you and your family a wonderful and joyous Christmas!!

  9. Great post. I really relate to it as I’ve been watching my 8 year old grandson most weekday afternoons. He has so much energy and I’ve got stuff to do. It’s such a push/pull feeling of stress sometimes that you expressed so well in this post. I know, like you, that when I (mentally) put aside the day’s agenda and focus on engaging with him, I end up feeling better. More satisfied and peaceful, allowing me to gain focus later to more easily get things done.

    1. I love how you put it – that you feel more satisfied and peaceful. That’s exactly it!! Yes, and that’s a better spot to operate from!! Thanks for sharing that and relating to my struggle. May we all figure out how to relax and enjoy these holidays! Wishing you the best, Rhonda!

    1. Thank you so much for your delightful support and encouragement. You’re right – it’ll be fine. Actually better than fine. I hope you enjoy your celebration too!

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