The Four Levels of Energy

This is something I put together to manage energy and over time helped in ways I didn’t even know it would help. It’s an energy scale with 4 levels and how to handle being in any of the levels.

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The first level is you are highly energetic. That’s a great time to do something creative. The second is you are OK but not “euphoric.” Doing normal things is good. The third and fourth are when you are drained and what I want to address.

The third level is when you are just kind of down. A pep talk might help. Telling yourself, “Maybe I could make some better choices” might help. Kicking yourself in the butt to just to the laundry so you have time later is wise.

The fourth level is different. It’s when you are completely beat dead. Maybe it’s sleep deprivation, an illness, or looming dark feelings.

I think when people give advice to people who are down, they are far too quick to assume that a person is in the third level as opposed to the fourth. “The dishes can wait!” is an example of advice that is going to be poorly received by someone in the fourth level. They are thinking, “And who else will do them? I need them done. I am drained. I need help.” “The dishes can wait” is usually terrible advice anyway.

When you are in the fourth level, you need to go rest. You need to speak up for yourself as soon as possible. Dragging on like this will make it worse. The quicker you are about speaking up, the less time you will need to recover. You’ll get to the third, then second, then first levels quicker and be there more often.

The way I didn’t realize it would help me is that I monitor this for my loved ones now too. If I see my husband is burned out, I offer to let him go sleep or do something rejuvenating. I don’t force it. I don’t tell him, “Oh you need a day to do X. I INSIST you do X. Here I bought you all the stuff so you can do X.” I just offer the time and space for him to rejuvenate and he has full control over what it is. Please just take the time and come back full of energy!

Do you have a similar “energy management” system? How might this help you in the effort to stay strong and patient during difficult parenting challenges?

See my book Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years, which has other emotional regulation tools

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