My life is full. So is yours. It is easy for me to get so caught in the needs of the moment that I absolutely forget to do essential things that make me happy. That’s why I’ve recently made myself this shortlist—it sits on my kitchen counter: Four rules to apply again and again. These are the things that I don’t always remember to do, but that if done, are super happy making for me. And they’re easy. All it takes is remembering to do them: Hence the list.
1. Go to bed early. Hello, obvious. I get up between 3-4 times every night to nurse my daughter. When I go to bed early I ALWAYS win. I can’t do this every night, because I also covet those precious adult-only hours after the kiddos are asleep. But if I can do this even a couple of times a week, I win big.
2. Get out of the house. It’s not always obvious when you are a stay at home mom. I mean there is stuff to do at home—laundry to fold, floors to sweep, places to organize etc. So I have to write myself a note. Get out of the house. As my husband says– trying to accomplish those tasks with the kids around is often totally unproductive, so why not just get out of the house and make everyone happier. It’s good to be outside too! We recently got some great outdoor gear for the whole family from Helly Hansen that has us all ready for every kind of weather! I love Xylus’ new jacket.
3. Get more girlfriend time. (That means calling and making dates.) Years ago I saved an article I read about how important girlfriends were to a woman’s health. I have an innate sense that women need to spend time with women, and men need to spend time with men— even when they are in a totally satisfying committed partnership. Still, when you’ve got tiny mouths to feed and diapers to change by the end of the day you are exhausted from little person maintenance, calling your girlfriends, or scheduling time with them is not high on your list. Hence the reason I put it on mine. So yesterday when I had that impetus to reach out to a couple of girlfriends, instead of just thinking it, I sent the texts. Two of them showed up for wine and chatting last night at 8:30– after the kids were in bed—and I tell you I don’t regret it.
4. Separate my children’s needs and emotions from my own. I think this is the case for most mothers (we feel our children’s needs deeply) —but I am also highly empathic. I had a dawning realization the other day that the diverging needs of my children was such a painful experience for me because I actually felt both of their conflicting urges within my own being. I decided that rather than allowing this to crazy-make-me, instead, when I discovered this feeling I would refocus on my own being. Generally when I check in with myself I find I am actually not in need of anything— other than soothing my children. Or put another way—I feel just fine. Noticing this helps me take the focus off their conflicting needs and then address them in turn. Then for example, when one child desires sleep and is almost asleep in my arms and the other starts yelling for help in the other room (waking up the first) I don’t actually freak out. Focusing on my center, which is actually calm, helps me address their needs from the internal place of a person whose needs are satisfied and knows her children’s can be too. I put it on my list because I need practice, practice, and practice to make this work for me. It’s not obvious and it takes work but I figure if I can get this down now it can only help us all—forever!
P.S. Two rules that I didn’t put on the list because I don’t need reminding about them are 1. Mediate and 2. Exercise. They’ve been my essentials for years and are now more important to me than ever! I shudder to think what I would be without them.
What’s on your shortlist?