Our lives as busy mamas can wear us out, not just physically, but also mentally.
Even five minutes of silent meditation can give your mind a much-needed rest. I like to meditate at the beginning of my toddler’s naptime. Another good time could be first thing in the morning.
Just sit quietly, close your eyes, and notice your breathing. When your mind wanders to thoughts, plans, reflections… just acknowledge your thinking, notice it, and let it go. Bring your focus back to your breath.
Meditation is all about coming back to the breath, to this present moment.
Give yourself a few minutes every day just to be.
Consciously thankfulness boosts happiness, and it’s totally free.
No need to wait until you have a pretty journal.
Make a list of everything you’re thankful for right now. Write it in a notebook or on loose leaf paper, or type it in Google doc or in Evernote.
If you’re out and about, you can record it using your phone. Or just make a mental list.
The simple act of noting all the goodness in your life—and feeling thankful—changes things.
Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes. Being a mindful mama, it’s easy to heap on the guilt at times when we don’t live up to what we want to be and do as a good parent.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Of course you want to be the best mama you can be. If you are trying, good!
When you make mistakes, or feel like you didn’t live up to your ideals, think about how you can do better next time, and remember that you are not your mistakes.
You can apologize to someone, maybe your child, if you need to. Our children learn vital lessons by observing how their parents handle their mistakes.
As we lead by example and show our children how to deal with mistakes, repair relationships, and forgive ourselves and others, we are doing some of the most important work of parenting.
In the daily hustle it can be easy to run out of time for fun and play. Think of ways you can fit in more fun, both with your family and on your own.
As a family you can play games, sing songs, or watch a funny show.
When you take your kids to the park, make sure you play, too! Go down the slide, swing on the swings, climb on the jungle gym.
What did you like to do for fun as a child?
Did you like stickers or reading or scrapbooking or rollerskating? Collecting things? Playing sports?
In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about how as a child, she loved cutting out pictures and copying quotes she liked, and then matching them up in journals that she called her Blank Books. As part of her yearlong “happiness project,” she decided to try it again and loves it.
In my younger years, I loved writing letters. I’ve let that go, even though my Momma still regularly writes me sweet notes and cards. That is something I want to incorporate into my life again–writing letters and cards to my family and friends.
Speaking of friends, actually finding time to meet up with them can really be a challenge, between naps, pick ups and drop offs, work schedules, and just life.
Even though it isn’t easy, make sure you prioritize your girlfriend time.
Call them. Text them. Send dates and times that could work for you. Put a date in your calendars.
Connecting with friends online is also good, but make sure to get some real life face time with your friends. It is amazing how good it feels to connect with your kindred spirits.
Do you love to paint? Write poetry? Dance? Sew?
Make time, even if it’s just a little, for your creative pursuits. A quick sketch, a living room dance, or some creative writing are such a good way to decompress and have fun.
Often you can combine family fun with creativity, such as joining in when your children are painting, drawing, or playing with playdough.
Make sure you do your own thing sometimes, too, so you can completely get in the zone for maximum creative bliss.
I am a dyed-in-the-wool list maker.
It feels really good to cross things off my to do list, especially those things I’ve been resisting for whatever reason. I’m bad about putting things off that feel too hard for some reason, oftentimes for a reason I’m not even consciously aware of.
Think of something you’ve been putting off for a while. You keep moving it from one to do list to the next. Maybe it’s been there a week, or even months.
Maybe it’s an appointment you need to make, or some “hotspot” in your house you need to declutter. It keeps getting worse and worse and more and more overwhelming. The more you put it off, the more impossible it seems.
Now, before you actually do it, I want you to do a little 30-second exercise.
Imagine yourself doing your dreaded task. Literally do it in your mind. Feel what that feels like.
Now imagine yourself finishing your task. Imagine yourself feeling fantastic and happy and relieved at having gotten it done!
I bet you are actually feeling good right now. I hope you are! Our minds are amazing.
Next, estimate how long it will take you to complete the task. It may not be very long. For a phone call to make an appointment, maybe it will just take a few minutes. For a big decluttering project, maybe longer.
If it’s a bigger project, just commit to work on it for five minutes. That’s five minutes of progress that you wouldn’t have made otherwise. And sometimes that’s just enough to break the inertia of inactivity and resistance.
Finally, do your task, or your five minutes of your task, and feel great about it!
Cross it off your list with a flourish!
If it’s not completely done, that’s okay. Just write down “work on decluttering the side table” or whatever, and cross that off! (Yes, I do sometimes write things down and immediately cross them off.)
For the past three years I’ve been doing what I lovingly refer to as my “Leonie Planner.”
Leonie Dawson is an awesomely encouraging, fun, sweet, and totally inspiring, uniquely herself mama/blogger/entrepreneur. Her Amazing Biz + Life Planner is something I look forward to doing every year now, starting in January and working on it throughout the year. I love her colorful artwork and all the fun sections to fill out, including affirmations, self-care, 100 goals, and more.
Using her Amazing Biz + Life Planner is a great way to love yourself more. Doing it, even just reading through it, makes me a little bit happier. And it’s fun to set goals and check them off when you do them.
You don’t have to start it in January. I got my first one in April of 2013, and it was wonderful, encouraging, and empowering.
If you’d like to try it, you can use my affiliate link here or click on the image above.
Reading inspires me. Are there blogs you enjoy, that lift you up and leave you feeling sparkly or relaxed or full of energy and excitement for the day?
One of my favorites is Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits.
Reading autobiographies and memoirs can also be inspiring. I recently enjoyed Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run, in which he shares his life story and how he became an ultra runner, running races of over 100 miles. (I didn’t even know people did that before reading the book!)
A book I’m currently reading is The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. I love her premise that creativity is fostered through a disciplined practice of sitting down to the work of creativity every day.
What inspiring books do you want to read or reread?
10. Mental Relaxation
I’m talking about getting everything you need to do out of your head and onto paper, so that you can relax and stop trying to remember everything.
I normally keep long lists of my “next tasks,” the things I need to do.
But over time, it’s easy for some things to slip off the list, even if they’re still on my mental to-do list. And some items never actually make it to the list, even though they’re on my mind.
They end up floating around in my subconscious. Occasionally they bubble up to the top of my awareness, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah! I need to that!”
But then they sink down to the floor of my mind again, where they cause stress, simply because some part of my brain is occupied with trying to remember that thing I need to do…
The answer is to take a few minutes and get it all out of your head and onto paper. Years ago I read Getting Things Done by David Allen, and this is one of my most useful takeaways from his method.
Take a sheet of paper, and just start writing. Everything, big and small, goes on your list.
Write it ALL down.
Not sure if you definitely want to do it? Write it down.
Not sure when you’re going to have time to do it? Write it down.
Is there something you want to read at some point and don’t want to forget about it? Write it down.
Write it all down.
Later you will think of more things. As they come to mind, write them down! Don’t let them sink back down into your subconscious.
There is an amazing calm that comes with doing this. It may be surprising to realize just how much you’re carrying around in your mind, trying to remember.
After you’ve written everything down, categorize your tasks. For example, you can pull out the items that you’re thinking about doing but not sure of, or the items that you think you want to do but are not sure *when* you’ll be able to get around to them, and put them onto a “Someday/Maybe” list. You can also create a “reading” list.
I also keep a shorter daily to do list. But just having a place where everything is written down is a relief, especially if you’ve been carrying a lot in your mind.
But we need to remember how precious and valuable we are, too.
It is a beautiful example for your children to see a mama who loves herself.
You deserve to be happy.
What gifts can you give yourself today?