The title of my memoir, and tombstone, will one day read: “You were a lot nicer than everyone thought.”
I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me that after we become friends.
I’m not really offended by this anymore. It’s true, I suppose. I AM a nice person, quite a wonderful person actually, but there are definitely a few layers that you have to peel back to get to the real me.
And more often than not, it’s me that’s standing squarely in the way.
This lovely photo was taken last summer during a fun weekend for creative entrepreneurs. It was full of inspirational women, informative workshops and delicious food. One of the best parts was that I got to experience a DREAM destination: Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. THE Mindy Segal of Chicago’s Hot Chocolate fame made us dessert and shot the shit with us about creativity and making mistakes. Dream. Weekend.
And, side note, I’ve been obsessed with Camp Wandawega and it’s story and the incredible owners since I “discovered” it on Instagram or some featured Anthropologie or Crate and Barrel branding shoot, I’m not even sure where. I never even went to camp as a kid but something about this idyllic, back-to-basics place brought me such a sense of peace and calm. The place was heavenly and it’s where my dream for Renewing Mom Camp was born (and will one day come to fruition, damnit!). But that’s another post…
Anyway, while the event was near perfect, for whatever reason, actually experiencing it was quite different. Looking at this photo, I feel a bit of sadness about that otherwise wonderful weekend, because I didn’t really connect with the group as much as I had wanted.
As an introvert, I know that I need time alone to recharge. But this was something entirely different.
It had been a hot and sticky weekend of great workshops, inspiration and networking. At one point, during a break, the group was cooling off with a swim in the lake. Most of the women from camp, about thirty of us, gathered in the water and on the dock, talking, getting to know each other. Laughing. I didn’t join them.
Instead I sat in this chair. Paralyzed with fear and anxiety. About what, exactly, I couldn’t tell you. I pretended to work on my laptop and wrote in a journal to appear busy. I didn’t want anyone to know how I actually felt: lonely, like a little girl on the playground of a new school. I had no idea how to insert myself into a group that seemed to gel and spontaneously become “best friends.” I know that probably wasn’t true, but that’s the story I told myself. “Everyone had clicked and connected. Everyone by me.”
“Go down there!” I commanded myself. “If for no other reason than the fact that you are melting!”
But I sat glued to that chair. And I didn’t move. I hid my red, raw, teary eyes behind huge sunglasses. I sat and watched. Feeling alone and unremarkable, unworthy of knowing.
What. The. Fuck. Where did this awful, limiting, and totally untrue belief come from? And why? Where was the confident woman from just a few days, even hours earlier, that was so excited to be attending that incredible event? To experience the dream venue she had seen in magazines, inspired to shared her vision for a new business and to learn from other creatives?
I wish I could say that I got up from that chair and joined the group, ending the weekend with new friends, great connections and remarkable memories. Instead, I look at this photo sadly and really just want a do-over. Because I didn’t get up. I sat in that chair, literally and figuratively, for the rest of the weekend.
I try not to be a Monday-morning-quarterback and dwell too much about what I could have and should have done differently. But I try to learn from experiences. Because you don’t get any do-overs.
There’s no where to go but forward. Straight into it. And then through it.
I don’t know if it would have worked but I sure could have leaned into a little more, instead of hiding and waiting for the fear to pass. Because it never did. It never will.
What could I have done? I could have walked down to the water and sat on the dock with the group. I could have admitted to one of the women that I felt a tinge of overwhelm by everyone’s amazing business success. I could have asked more questions of the women sitting next to me to get to know them better.
On their own, none of those things seems that scary when I think about it like that. Yet they would have helped me face my fears head on and begin to move past them.
Facing fears doesn’t require cannonballing yourself into the lake. But you can sit a little closer to the water. Even dip your toe in a little bit.
Sometimes, probably more often than you might like to admit, you’re standing in your own way. So step aside, and get out of the way, so you can be on your way.
It’s that time of year when everyone is hitting the refresh button on their health. Too many indulgences and not nearly enough sleep, water, or exercise has left me feeling fluffy in the midsection. For many of us, we’ve been enjoying the holidays since pumpkin spiced everything hit in late September, which means it’s time for a detox.
Here are some easy and realistic ways I am detoxing after the holiday season to get myself back on track with my health. I also like to use these tips to reset myself after an “extra fun” weekend or a vacation too.
1. Drinking extra water. Like soooo much water that you feel insanely full. In fact, I’ll wait while you go pour yourself a glass now. It’s going to feel like a LOT at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly. It’s a simple thing to do, yet so easily forgotten. It’s a great way to flush everything out of your system, hydrate, and reset the body. Set a phone timer to help remind you to take a drink or get an app.
2. Intermittent fasting. This means skip a meal here and there. There’s a ton of research out there to show how well this can work. Basically, fasting gives your body a break from constantly producing insulin. I generally stop eating by 6:30/7:00pm and skip breakfast. I drink black coffee or tea (no cream and sugar, that breaks the fast) and eat an early lunch/late breakfast around 11:00 to keep me full until dinner. I’ll have one small, protein-packed snack (hardboiled eggs, nuts, that sort of thing) in between to hold me over until dinner.
3. Skipping most snacks. Snacking also means your body is constantly producing insulin because it’s constantly being fed. Also, when I snack, I always end up consuming more calories than I realize. A few years ago I did a weight loss program that had me cut out all snacks. I only ate when I was truly hungry at which point I just ate a small meal.
Paying attention to my snack consumption made me realize just how much extra I was eating! ALL. THE. TIME! For example, my husband and I used to finish dinner and, after the kids were in bed about an hour later, we’d get into some chips and salsa and graze while chatting about our day. I wasn’t hungry but it was just something to do. Skip the snacks, sister and you’ll see some dramatic results.
4. Vegetarian meals. Adding several veggie-based meals to my meal plan for the week really helps me de-fluff, likely because I’m upping my veggie and fiber intake.
5. Skip the spirits and sugar. This one is the least fun, I won’t lie, but there’s no denying that this is necessary after a holiday. Cold turkey is my favorite way to start though it’s admittedly the toughest. But after a few days, it gets a lot easier. You don’t have to do Whole30 (although I highly recommend it if you want a serious reset) but cutting out sugar and booze for a short while will undoubtedly unfluff your muff(in) top. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
6. Micro-exercise. Mel Robbins introduced this idea to me last week and I think it’s brilliant! Now I love a good workout to help clear my mind but working out every day has always proven to be really difficult for me. I’m sore from my workouts or just too tired. Mel suggested that in 2019 she was going to commit to daily micro-exercise. That meant doing something to move her body for five minutes every day. Whether it was squats, or sit ups, stretching, planking, lunges, whatever. If she did more, great! But otherwise she only had to move her body for five minutes in order to “check off” the box on daily exercise.
I love the idea of taking the pressure off of myself to do a “serious” workout every day. I had been mixing in more walking and stretching in between workout days as ways to keep moving but the micro-exercising sounds perfect. Sometimes even a walk is too time consuming and in the mid-west, winter walks are usually on a treadmill (bleh). Get creative but plan ahead. Create a list of easy exercises you can do. Here are a few suggestions:
5 one-minute planks
alternate lunges and squats
alternate pushups and planks
alternate jumping jacks and squats
alternate tricep dips and pushups
alternate crunches and side bends
Are you battling a little holiday fluff or did you manage to keep things in check? What’s your favorite way to reset and get back on track? Comment below with your suggestions!
The holidays are a lot of fun but can often add a lot of stress to life, even without the spirited family members you only see once a year. (Of course I don’t mean YOU, sister!!)
The stress is especially felt by moms because it’s basically our sole responsibility to create magical and momentous holiday memories that our children will remember for the rest of their lives. No pressure or anything but, don’t effing blow it. Faaaaaack!
Ok. Take a breath. You can do this! It turns out that it’s not that difficult to actually accomplish these said “monumental memories” and it actually doesn’t require a Pinterest degree, a trip to Michaels & Hobby Lobby (although those are usually pretty fun anyway), endless baking and decorating, insane amounts of gifts, biting your tongue at holiday dinners, etc..
Here are seven tips to keeping your sanity over the next seven weeks. Cheers!
1. You are in charge of you.
Repeat after me: I get to choose what we get to do over the holidays.
Say it again: I CHOOSE what we do!
If you hate turkey, don’t serve it on Thanksgiving. If you want to spend a whole day in your jammies with your kids watching movies, skip the party. If Christmas cookies aren’t your jam, make pizzas together (or hell, just order one).
Think about the fondest memories you have in life. What are the things that you remember the most about the holidays? It’s likely that your favorite moments were simple moments: Playing with cousins or siblings for hours. Wearing your pajamas all day and snacking on leftovers. Snuggling on the coach with your parents (who were also in their pajamas all day! Woah!). Driving around your neighborhood with hot chocolate in your thermos, looking at holiday lights.
Just as you would clean out the clutter in your closet, eliminate clutter from your calendar this holiday. If it doesn’t excite you, make you smile, give you peace, respect your family values, etc., JUST. DON’T. DO. IT.
You may be thinking, “That’s great, but Aunt Edna in Milwaukee is going to be REALLY pissed if she doesn’t see the kids this Christmas. We can’t skip that.” If seeing Aunt Edna brings you joy and isn’t a stressor, but all means. But if seeing her requires you driving all three kids up for an hour long visit and that requires you to leave another event (that you and your family really want to be at) so you can do that, maybe you could skip it this year?
That’s not to say, never see Aunt Edna again. But maybe you make a point to plan to visit her BEFORE Christmas so you can actually spend more time with her and not feel rushed. Maybe you could set up Skype for her so you could “visit” more regularly without the drive. Aunt Edna will miss you at Christmas but she will love that she actually gets extra time to see you overall. And if she’s still mad, well, she’ll hopefully get over it. You did the best you could do.
The point is, can you figure out a way to manage the expectations while staying true to what is important to you and your family. You are in charge of your life and that includes the holidays.
2. Schedule fun first
If you don’t prioritize your life, somebody else will. If you want to have a fun holiday season, put it on the calendar! When are you going to drive around the neighborhood looking at lights with the kids? Are you baking cookies over a weekend? When is that going to be? Do you want to do a movie marathon? Block-off the time. Otherwise, you will wake up mid-December wanting to plan some fun family time only to find out that you don’t have a single free day in which to do it.
Plan the (fun) work then work the (fun) plan! And don’t forget to share your calendar with your significant other or family members. Make you and your family the priority this season and don’t let others dictate how you spend your time. (See #1 above).
3. Plan for indulgence
I’ve said it before but it’s like Halloween officially kicks off “eat all the crap” season. I don’t work in a formal office setting and thank my lucky stars during this time. I would have the hardest time not indulging all day long!
In general, I think planning for indulgence is a great idea, but it’s especially true during the holidays when they could easily become a habit.
Take a look at your calendar and look at what’s ahead over the next few weeks. Are you attending holiday dinners with family? Office parties? Did you manage to snag that Aldi Wine Box Advent Calendar? (LUCKY!) Are you doing a cookie exchange?
Knowing what’s on the horizon, can you create a realistic plan for yourself. Is it realistic that you will attend your office party or a cookie exchange and not eat a single thing? Maybe. But if it’s not, come up with a realistic strategy so you can enjoy that experience without totally jumping off the goal train. Allow yourself to enjoy (and maybe even over-indulge a little) but plan for what the days leading up to and immediately after that indulgence will look like.
Maybe you go the party in the week having already eaten a full (healthy) meal so you indulge less and maybe just enjoy some sweet treats and cocktails. Maybe during the week leading up to the party, you eat clean and eliminate sugar. And, in the days following the party, do the same. Also, put that plan in your calendar!
Maybe you amp up your workouts a little bit (or at least don’t stop doing what you’re already doing!). You don’t have to join a gym but find a way to be active everyday. Take a walk during your lunch break, run around your neighborhood a few times a week, stream a workout video or find a free app for your phone. You could even do a few basic movements (squats, leg lifts, side bends, ab contractions, etc.) while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting to pick up kids from dance practice. Just do something. (See #1, again, about YOU being in control of YOU). And don’t forget to drink a little extra water during this season as well.
The (good AND bad) little choices you make every day add up. Even small things like skipping the whipped cream on a holiday coffee drink, parking farther away from the store, or eating before the party, can make a big impact by December 31.
4. Keep it simple, Martha Stewart.
Buy it in a box, friend. I’m terrible at baking. Too much science and measuring and all the things. Also, my husband and I have zero self-control so I try to keep anything that’s warm and sweet and delicious from ever coming out of my oven or remaining in my house for too long. I swear that we will eat it all before it cools and gets put away.
But I think decorating cookies is fun and my kids love doing it. So I keep it simple. I buy a mix or the “slice and bake” at Target and let the kids bake away. The same goes for elaborate meals. There’s an amazing restaurant in my town (actually several!) that will cook an entire holiday dinner for you to take home and serve piping hot. All you have to do is pick it up, although some probably even deliver. Mind. Blown. I have a 22-month old baby plus two boys that roll around my house like puppies the second I step into the kitchen, no wonder it takes me a week to prepare a holiday meal. SKIP IT SISTER. Order out.
You could even make it a pot-luck. People LOVE bringing their “grandma’s-favorite-secret-special-must-have-on-thanksgiving-christmas-new-year” dish. Let them! (Just make sure they take it with them when they leave, you don’t want all that extra tupperware cluttering your house and good luck returning it to them before Easter).
This also applies to things you have to bring to a party. Hit up the deli at Whole Foods, snag a take-and-bake pizza from Costco, or use my super-secret-crowd-pleasing-two-minutes-to-make “cream cheese + pepper jelly” appetizer recipe. You get the point. It doesn’t all have to be homemade and Pinterest-worthy.
5. Make lists.
List-makers are giving me a major eye roll right now. Duh, a list. Of course we have a list. But here are a few lists you might not have thought about that can help you survive the holidays:
A list of where you’re hiding presents. While “lost presents” sure do help you get a jump start on the next year’s shopping, it’s probably better to avoid losing them in the first place.
A list of people you’re buying gifts for and what you’re buying (include links if you’re shopping online). Helps you stick to a budget and actually think about each person BEFORE you hit the store. Otherwise it’s like going to the grocery store at 5pm without a list or plan for dinner. You wander aimlessly around and everybody ends up with ugly slippers from Kohl’s. Make a list!
A list of holiday parties where you will have to bring something (white elephant gift, bottle of wine, or an app?). Do you have to bake a dessert? Schedule that in your calendar a few days in advance. Or put it on your “to buy” list when you’re at the store the next time. This list also helps prevent you and your husband from showing up to an “ugly sweater party” that’s actually the following weekend. Not that I’ve ever done that.
A list of coupons and coupon codes that you may use and their expiration dates! It’s also a good idea to calendar those expiration dates in your phone or planner. I can’t tell you the number of times I went to buy the holiday cards online only to be a day or two past the “major sale” date. Sad face.
A list of your holiday decor. This is a list you should make after the holidays because it helps you take inventory of what you have and what you might want to buy next year (or on clearance in January). Maybe you need more artificial tress (I have seven, I’m obsessed) or new ornaments, etc.. If you don’t take inventory at the end of the season you’ll be guessing when you try to make purchases later.
I like to keep a notebook in my purse just for my lists. Some days they are for grocery lists, other days school reminders, and now, during the holidays, entire chapters devoted to holiday planning and preparation. Make the lists customized to you and your life and you’ll see how much they help you survive these holidays.
6. Give yourself a pep talk
For some, the holidays mean stressful and anxiety-inducing family gatherings. And sometimes, you just can’t say no to the “Aunt Ednas” because they are actually your mom or sister or father-in-law and it’s guaranteed that you’re seeing them at the family dinner.
In those cases, I think the best thing to do is to take some time a few days before the event to prepare yourself for the interaction. Can you role play scenarios with your spouse about how you’ll respond to topics or conversations you know might set that family member off? Can you meditate before hand to clear your mind and put yourself in a calmer and more peaceful state of mind? Can you create a game plan for that moment when you start to feel yourself getting upset or provoked? I find that a huge smile and saying “that’s a great point! Will you please excuse me while I …see if anyone in the kitchen needs help/refresh my glass of wine/use the restroom/getthefuckoutofhereasfastasIcan” is usually enough to deflate the situation, calm me down, and get me far enough away from the toxic conversation so I can collect myself.
Obviously, this doesn’t always work and can be exceptionally more difficult where there is trauma or deeper issues at play. But, if you can just remember that you can only control yourself and your own reaction in a situation, you may prevent the situation from ever coming up or be just better prepared for when it does.
If all else fails, pour yourself another glass of wine and go hang out with the kids in the playroom.
7. Find time for yourself.
Is this even a blog about self-care if I don’t tell you to find some time during this beautiful and special time to stop, breathe, and look around at all of the magic around you? All of the gifts and experiences and cookie and parties are for naught if these next seven weeks fly past in a total blur.
Look at the excitement on your kids’ faces when it snow for the first time. Breathe in that delicious aroma as you cook something special for your family. Hold your partners hand and snuggle up a little as you walk together. Sit by the fire at your house (or at Barnes & Noble if you need to get the hell out of your house) with some cocoa and a good book. Don’t stop doing the things you love.
It’s going to take a little effort and some planning but an incredible holiday season is within reach. Enjoy this special holiday time, mama friends. May peace and sanity be with you.
I may have put my foot in my mouth when I claimed that “strolling the aisles of Target didn’t constitute self-care.” Or maybe I just haven’t been doing it right this whole time. Because, recently I managed to completely turn my mood around with a quick trip to the bulls eye and an off-the-cuff mantra chanted in my car.
The weekend had been hot and rainy and basically miserable. So my husband decided that it would be a perfect weekend for a bbq. I immediately started panicking and thinking about all of the dishes that needed to be washed, things that need to be prepared/purchased/hidden/thrownaway/remodeled/reupholstered/repainted/ etc.. And that was just in the kitchen. The thought of a party immediately started causing me stress and anxiety.
I’m a great though often unwilling hostess so it was going to require a titanic-sized pregame mind shift to change my mood. And quickly.
The morning of the bbq my children and husband were driving me insane. The mood was not good. I was crabby and complaining and biting everyone’s head off. So, what did I do? I ran from my house as fast as womanly possible, grabbed my favorite new apple AirPod earbuds, and headed to the place where moms go to be understood, see friends, and restock every inch of their lives with “necessities”: Target.
So how did I get myself from bitchy to badass in a quick trip to Target?
Turn on the tunes to improve your mood.
My mood was foul. I put on my “New Mood” playlist. It’s basically my Rachel Hollis’ inspired list of “songs that make me feel like a badass” and blasted them as loud as I could take it. I got out of my car and walked through the parking lot into that Target with my (totally fake) badass attitude. I walked up and down the aisles picking out hamburger buns and tortilla chips as if everything was exploding around me, like the most awesome movie you’ve ever seen, the loudest, angriest, music I could muster from my playlist, blasting in my ears.
When I got back into my car, some 20 minutes later, I realized that I was SO close to flipping my mood but it just. wasn’t. quite. there. I was so frustrated. And still irritable. The party was in a few hours and I had another 10 minutes before I was home. I didn’t want the day to be a bad one just because I was in a funk! I had to do something more.
Fake a smile. A great big, cheesy grin.
Years ago, I used to force myself to fake smile when I need a mood change. It was SUPER cheesy but I read somewhere that when your face is in the shape of a smile, it triggers something in your brain to make it think it actually IS smiling so you actually feel like you would if you were smiling. Meaning that I could basically fake myself into a good mood.
If that had worked in the past, I figured smiling AND telling myself that I was in a good mood would work even faster.
Talk to yourself.
I sat in that car in the parking lot and plastered the biggest, fakest grin I could muster on my face. And then I started to talk.
“I want to be in a better mood.”
“I want to be in a better MOOD.”
“I WANT to be in a BETTER MOOD! I WANT to be in a BETTER MOOD.”
That turned into, “I’m going to be in a good mood. I’m GOING to be in a good mood. I’m IN a good mood.”
“I am in a GREAT mood. I AM IN A GREAT MOOD!”
I started talking to myself. In my car. Out loud. And I talked. And talked. And I repeated the same phrases over and over again. Fake smile and all. Until my words began to change. Became more positive. Stronger. Happier. My voice got louder. Stronger. Happier. Exactly what I wanted my mood to be. I said what I wanted to feel as though I was already feeling it.
And, then, maybe because I felt so ridiculous, at which point I no longer could feel irritated and annoyed, I actually started to feel good. Better. It was working. It HAD worked. Woah.
I pulled into my driveway ten minutes later and felt different. So much better. I hadn’t really done anything that extraordinary and I hadn’t been gone all that long, but I was changed. And I felt good. And the rest of the day was a lot of fun.
It’s a amazing thing, isn’t it? Mindset. How’s your mindset today? Maybe you need a quick run to Target? You don’t even have to buy anything. Just walk those aisles like you own the B and tell me you don’t feel better.
Getting Over “the Middle” Like a Pair of High-Waisted Jeans.
Clowns to the left of me. Joker’s to the right. Here I am. Stuck in the middle. With you?
Are you here with me? Feeling stuck? Halfway to the end. Halfway from the beginning. Too far to go back. Still so far to go. An overwhelmed mama.
We’re still about a month away from the middle of the year, but this year is starting to feel a little heavy for me. I’m not quite sure why. On paper, things are awesome. The weather has been amazing, I’ve discovered a new Cider Rose that has made my life, I’m taking a family vacation with my sister and her kids in July, I’ve even managed to plan a few date nights and some of them even include my husband. Things are good! Great, even. But, somehow, I’m in a funk.
Last December, I got really serious about preparing myself for how awesome this year was going to be. I set goals, made plans, created vision boards, and drafted lists. I got a planner and pens and stickers and washi tape. And then I got ANOTHER planner to help me keep the planner organized. I was ready.
And now, here we are, a looong way from December, and I sort of feel like I’m trudging uphill through knee-deep mud, carrying a backpack of good intentions and guilt. I’m checking the lists and planners a little less frequently. I’m hitting snooze a little more often. I’m feeling the chokehold grip of the daily grind getting a little tighter around my neck.
What the hell, June? I’ve been waiting for you for MONTHS. What gives?
The perfectionist in me is also really pissed. “If we had just listened to Perfect Renata and let her run this show, we wouldn’t be feeling this way.” she seethes. “I made a lot of plans six months ago, I’ll be damned if I give up on them now.”
Why is follow through so damn difficult? Where did my momentum go? What happened to those bright, shiny, incredibly inspiring goals? Why do they now feel like baggage?
The thing is, my goals don’t have to be something I have to accomplish in a one-year time frame. I don’t have to wait until December to determine whether or not I’ve been successful. If I break them down into smaller, short-term goals they become more attainable. And I feel less of the burn out because I’m not constantly running a marathon. Occasionally, as one of my favorite inspirational mentors, Lisa Druxman likes to say, it’s a sprint.
Druxman (who is incredible btw and if you haven’t read her book, get it immediately) has taught me that breaking down goals into smaller sub-goals leads to a greater likelihood that I’ll stick to and actually attain the bigger ones. The same thing goes for forming new habits.
I’ve been trying for years to consistently wake up at the same time. Three or four days per week, I have no difficulty (ok, more like difficulty that I can more easily overcome) getting up at 4:15 to do a 5am work out. But to do it every day? Or at 5am on days I’m not working out? I just cannot drag my a$$ out of bed for the life of me.
It takes 66 days to form a new habit. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? At least not on day 2. But what about day 20? Shoot, I might not make it to day 5! Per Druxman, if you can break the habit down into smaller increments, say a few days or one week at a time, it becomes far more likely that you will attain your desired result. And when you achieve that goal, you’re that much more motivated to continue.
Unlike me at 5am. See above.
Have you been looking back at the goals you set last January? Are you like me and feeling overwhelmed and like a giant loser because you’ve stalled in your progress? Don’t scrap the goals, embrace the middle. Here we are.
Now what can we do about it?
What can we accomplish today? THIS week? THIS month? How about in the next 2-3 months? Do it. Then do it again. And again.
This how I’m going to prevent mid-year burn out. This is how I’ll keep trying to motivate and focus on getting over that hill, through the middle. I don’t suck as a person. I’m not lazy or worthless.. I’m entirely capable of achieving the goals I set for myself in January. I’m human. And I just need to reset myself a little bit. To put one foot in front of the other. And keep taking steps.
I’m pulling out the vision board from last winter along with my list of goals and action plans. It’s time to shake of the cobwebs and dust a little bit. And start again. Yes, today. In the middle of the week. Because today is as good of a day as any to get through this middle.
Self care doesn’t have to be complex or expensive.
Four letter words are the best. Short, not-that-sweet, always to the point. But not all of my favorites are the salacious ones.
Two of my favorite four-letter words? Self-Care.
Unlike some of their naughtier counterparts, the meaning of these four-letter words isn’t always as understood. Does self-care mean taking a fancy barre class? Getting a weekly manicure or massage? A standing “date night” with your best friend? An extra five minutes in the shower? And for moms especially, what does self care look like?
Sure, those can be ways to take care of yourself, but self-care doesn’t always require a babysitter or extra money. It just requires planning, a little discipline and a desire to take care of yourself. Three things YOU absolutely possess and can implement today!
Now, don’t punch me, because you’ve actually heard all of these suggestions before. The thing is, you’re not doing any of them. Ergo you are overwhelmed, stressed, feeling burned out and disconnected from your life. Stop it. And start doing these things instead. Right now.
1. Fine-tune your evening routine to crush your morning one.
I really hate this one, but damn it if it doesn’t work. Every. Single. Time. The idea here is that every night, in some way, shape or form, get yourself ready for the next day. That will inevitably make your morning run 100 times better than a typical morning.
For me that means cleaning up my kitchen as much as possible before I go to bed: washing the dishes and running the dishwasher, clearing the countertops and kitchen table, and sometimes packing lunches packed or prepping breakfast (something like overnight oats).
Trust me, the last thing I want to do at 8pm after my kids go to bed is to stand in a room where I have been standing all damn day long. Every ounce of my being is screaming for me to RUN away from the dishes. “It can wait ‘til tomorrow,” the she-devil in my brain coos, luring me towards Netflix or mindless Instagram story scrolling. Every single night, I never ever EVER want to do this.
But, since I’m in charge of the morning routine at our house, setting it up the night before always makes my morning easier.
Can you think of a way that you can simplify your morning by doing something the night before?
2. Take care of yourself by getting sweaty.
Sex, yoga, meditation, running, taking the stairs at the office, whatever gets you huffing and puffing. Several times a day. Every day.
I know that I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. And while you might say, “oh but I work out,” I bet you could probably still benefit from a little more heavy breathing. Consider adding meditation to the mix. Or taking a bike ride with your kids. Are you having as much sex as you’d like? Be honest with yourself. (And then with your partner.)
You don’t have to spend your day sweaty, just get more in touch with your body. How it moves and feels. What it likes and dislikes. What it responds to and shies away from. Start to pay attention to what your body is telling you and how it responds to the actions you’re taking. Or not taking, for that matter.
Consider the state of your sex life. Is it in a good place? A satisfying place? Just because it isn’t doesn’t mean it has to remain there forever. But, as favorite person of mine always says, “hope is not a strategy.” You can’t HOPE for things to one day get better. You have to take action.
So listen to your body and then make some changes. You deserve it.
3. Be the first person in your house to wake up every day.
This tip also really sucks. I mean, getting up in the dark? What in the hell? (This self-care thing is super fun, right? No wonder no one is actually doing it.)
Getting your a$$ out of bed is by far the hardest part. Once you’re out of bed, it gets exponentially easier to be awake at what probably is an insane hour. When I wake up, I repeat to myself, “I’m so happy to be awake, I’m so happy to be awake, I’m so happy…” to trick my body and brain into thinking that this early wake up stuff is something we actually want to be doing and not some bizarre circadian rhythm mixup.
Once you’re awake though, YOU get to choose what to do with your time. Journal, read a book, catch up on some work. Usually, I work out and then read or write with a cup of coffee. But, that doesn’t have to be what you do. The key is to find what will motivate you to get yourself out of that deliciously cozy bed. Maybe it’s meditating, maybe it’s catching up on folding that laundry you just couldn’t will yourself to do the day before, maybe you want to write in a journal or catch up on a show, THIS TIME IS ENTIRELY YOURS!
The trick here, and something I struggle with, is knowing when to stop with the morning me-time and switch into “midweek morning routine crazy mommy.” It’s almost like getting out of bed: “Don’t make me leeeeaaavve!” It’s a journey not a destination, right? I’m working on it. So get up before your people tomorrow. You’re going to be tired regardless, so you might as well do something for yourself.
Self-care doesn’t require you to leave your house or have to cost you a dime. It just requires a little discipline and maybe some planning. And all the coffee.