Are you living in the zoo or in the jungle?


Are you living in the zoo or the jungle?

I’m not referring to the loads of laundry, endless dishes, your son’s bathroom, and that massive collection of hot wheels throughout your living room. I’m referring to how YOU are living within yourself.

This seems like a silly question, especially for me. I met my husband in a college bar, fell in love, had our first born, and moved to the suburbs. We chose Naperville because we wanted a great school district, safe neighborhood, and a family friendly atmosphere. Approximately 3 years later, we had baby #2.

Like a toddler, I thrive on routine. Wake up at 5am, workout, feed the minions, down my protein shake, ensure oldest minion is free of breakfast remnants on his face, give his backpack a quick scan, and get him out the door ready for carpool. Then my youngest and I head out to storytime at the library (seriously, Naperville, three libraries? You make it so easy.), a play date, or the grocery store (preferably one that hands out free cookies). We return home, I attempt to get a vegetable in his mouth, and then….ahhhh naptime. Yes, fellow mamas of 2 and under year olds. You know exactly what I’m referring to. Those 90-120 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet bliss to fill any which way I choose. And because I am certifiable type A, my time is typically filled with laundry, cleaning, bills, or organization of some sort. Then, at exactly 2:10pm, I wake up my chunky monkey and we head out in my sweet minivan to pick up my oldest from Kindergarten. Once home, we have a snack, play legos, practice piano, I step on aforementioned legos, curse under my breath, and then prep dinner. Shortly after my husband strolls into the house and our kids welcome him with hugs and excitement. After dinner it’s bath time (or the battle of bath time “This is the worst thing in the entire world, Mom”. We aren’t short on drama over here), then we read exactly 3 books, and send our boys to dreamland. Then hubs and I exchange moments about our day with a glass of red while I prep lunches and set my crack pot (coffee) for the next day’s adventures.

And, repeat…

In case it isn’t clear yet, I love routine.

I like to know what is happening and when it is happening. I don’t like surprises unless it involves my birthday or sushi (how do they sneak so much goodness into one little roll?). I’ve instated Taco Tuesday’s, Pasta Wednesday’s, and so on’s just to keep things in predictable motion. I plan my workouts one month in advance. I manage both a digital and chalkboard family calendar that is updated regularly so we know what to expect throughout the month. I have check lists and chore lists and to-do’s prepped the night before so I know exactly what my day will look like tomorrow. I keep order. I like order. I need order.

Friends, I live in the zoo.

It’s safe. Predictable. Easy. And it’s as comfortable as an oversized sweatshirt with fluffy slippers.

But it isn’t always the best way to live. In fact, if you are anything like me, you could be missing out on some pretty awesome opportunities.

One Saturday morning, I overheard my husband and son discussing a video they had watched on YouTube. It was titled “Learning like a Jungle Tiger”. Whether you have a 6 year old or a 16 year old, or if you are a thirty-something that could use a little perspective (eh-hem, that’d be me), I promise you this 5 minute video will be time well spent. The basis of it is that the tiger that lives in the zoo has a very easy, predictable life. He is super safe in that cage. However, the jungle tiger has to learn how to hunt, protect, and live in a dangerous environment. The jungle tiger has a much harder life. She’s living at the edge of her abilities and constantly stretched outside of her comfort zone. The jungle tiger is growing exponentially and can survive anywhere. And chances are, she’s pretty confident in both her stripes and scars.

Unlike our tiger friends, we get to choose how we live and what we think:

I can’t dance.

I am not athletic.

I am a terrible cook.

I could never wear that outfit.

I wish I could sing.

Pinterest is ruining my life.

These are all limiting beliefs that we’ve become comfortable with self-labeling. We want to do the things that make us feel good (in our comfy cage). But what if we tried doing the things we aren’t naturally good at? Learning has very little to do with our natural gifts. We can learn ANYTHING in the right environment.

Since watching this video, my household has adopted the “zoo or jungle” way of living. Whenever someone is faced with a decision that would normally default to what they are comfortable with, we ask “Do you want to live in the zoo, or live in the jungle?” Without question, it’s the jungle. It’s wild and scary and so very uncomfortable, but my god it is so much healthier for us to experience and grow from, regardless of the outcome.

So, fellow moms, as easy as it may be to keep your routine, I encourage you to unlatch your cage and play outside. Sign up for that Zumba class. Attend a mom’s night out by yourself. Burn tonight’s boeuf bourguignon and sign up for a cooking class tomorrow. Grab a handful of friends, or don’t, and get to that karaoke bar. Make the Pinterest fail. Chances are, you’ll learn from the experience and ace the next one. And if not, that’s ok too. Not every hunt will be a success, but we can still grow from the adventure. What we choose today will ultimately make tomorrow that much more memorable, or, just another routine day.

After all, your minions are watching you. They are growing and learning how to step outside into the wild under the care and direction of you, Mom Tiger. Let them explore, share their discoveries, and learn as much as possible along the way.

Learning Like a Jungle Tiger: Boland

Mama, yogi, health enthusiast, and lover of all things family and the perfect glass of red.

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