Is the coast clear where you are? A.K.A. school is back in session. We have made it through another long, grueling summer with our tiny task masters. Choruses of “I’m boreds”, mountains upon mountains of snack foods being consumed and the NEVER.ENDING.MESSES. How we made it through the season we may never know. But, I can’t be the only one a little relieved to get back to the normal routine. I mean, we all LOVE our kids, but they are demanding! 11 weeks of unbridled neediness is enough to drive anyone a little loopy. Throw in a family vacation and I can’t be the only one hearing the squeaky gates of hell opening!
I’m sure, if you are like the millions of other moms so focused on keeping the wolves children at bay, that someone has fallen through the cracks – you! Yes, momma, now is the time to hit the reset button on you and get back to, or start up a healthy routine that puts you somewhere near the top of the pecking order once again. Because, if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Amiright?
Now that you have 6-8 hours of freedom in your day, may I suggest spending it wisely? I promise, promise, promise – it will benefit your entire family if you take these tips to heart and put them into practice. Even you, working moms, who don’t get 6 to 8 hours of freedom in the afternoon can totally adapt these tips to help you focus on your own needs, have less stress and get more enjoyment out of life!
Tip 1 : Prepare to be prepared! Summer is hard but the school year isn’t easy either. Sure, you don’t have to hear the dulcet tones of your kids engaged in guerilla warfare with each other from sun up to sun down every day. But there’s soccer practice, HOMEWORK ( help me, Lord!), band and every other activity on the planet that your kids have to do, literally, 7 days a week. So BE PREPARED. What do I mean by that? I mean from finances to delegation – get a rough idea of what is due when and get your shizzle in order. Scrambling around to have money for cleats or ubering a kid to a football game last minute because of a timing conflict is NOT how you want to spend your precious, precious energy. I really love the Cozi Calendar to keep it all organized, delegating tasks and budgeting time and funds. It’s a sanity saver!
Tip 2 : Block out time for JUST you. I literally don’t care if you want to spend 1 hour a day taking a nap! Block out that time to focus on you. If you are a working mom, take time after the kids are in bed to meditate, read, do some yoga…whatever YOU want to do. Scientific American wrote an article about the need for mental downtime. In a nutshell, your brain doesn’t work really well if you never step on the breaks, put it in idle and let it sit there a while. In the middle of the day take some time to regroup. The rest of your day will go a whole lot more smoothly if you do.
Tip 3: Practice saying no and then put that practice into action. Listen, a few well timed nos will save you a WHOLE lot of stress. “Can you bake 5 dozen cookies for tomorrow?” No. Can you watch so and so? No, Can you help me move? HELL NO! Really, it’s OK to stop yourself from becoming overwhelmed. As women we feel the need to be fixers. If they ask you will come. Right?
No, no, and no!
It’s not selfish to not spread yourself thin. Sometimes it’s easier to allot a set amount of time to general helpfulness – like 2 hours a week. Once you are out of time they are out of luck. You are not Superwoman and,really, you shouldn’t even try. People that don’t respect your boundaries don’t respect you. This is particularly hard for the stay or work at home mothers who are seen as doing nothing all day long and having oodles of time to be at other people’s beck and call – if they only knew!
Last but not least – try to start a gratitude practice. You might be scratching your head over this one – “Like what IS a gratitude practice anyway?” Basically, it is being mindful of all the little things in life that make you feel grateful – and some big things too. It not only helps to focus your mind in a positive way but helps your health – bonus! Having gratitude means your are more mindful and present every day. It is, possibly, the simplest but most effective practice of all and can have the most impactful results. I wrote little bit about gratitude here – it will help get you started.
Hopefully you put all three tips and my favorite, gratitude practice, into play in your kid-free hours. If you do, I promise you’ll be out of meltdown mode and ready to tackle anything your minions throw at you. Next summer might be a little smoother too!