With all of the things that occupy my mind day to day, it can be so hard to find the time to step back and be mindful of ourselves. As a mom and wife, the needs of others are constantly coming first. A lot of the time I don’t mind this, especially since I recognize that my kids literally could not survive without someone to take care of them. And my husband obviously could survive without me, but serving him by maintaining a clean home and having dinner on the table are ways that I show my love. But after a long day of demands on my time and energy, I often don’t feel like I have a lot left in me for myself.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a “Back To School Mom’s Night Out” that my friend Kyla from Ford-ology put together. A small group of about 30 women got together and ate, laughed, talked and enjoyed stepping out of the role of mom and wife for a couple of hours. As part of the evening, a blogger acquaintance of mine named Kim from Talk Wordy To Me, took a few minutes to share some of the things she does to try and stay mindful of herself and the moment she’s in. I took a page of notes (front and back) on everything she had to say and left feeling empowered and motivated to be a better me and to focus on mindfulness. The rest of this post is basically what she shared, broken down into five ways to be mindful.
Think about what makes you feel happy, calm and whole
When was the last time you took a step back and thought, “What makes me feel happy? Calm? Whole?” Unfortunately for a lot of us, it’s probably hard to remember. We spend so much time worrying about what makes others feel that way that we often forget about ourselves. Obviously there is a balance to be found here, but for myself, I find that if I’m not taking care of myself and doing a little something for me, other things start falling out of place. I’m more prone to snap at my kids or my husband for small things or the thought of doing something for someone else beyond what I’m already doing seems overwhelming. BUT when I do the small things that make me feel happy by taking time for myself, I’m better able to cope with the curves life throws me. I loved the suggestion Kim made about making a “happy list” and putting it in a place where you’ll see it: the bathroom mirror, the back of your phone, at your desk, somewhere you’ll see it. And then, make an effort to do those things each day. They could be as simple as meditating, connecting with God through prayer or scripture study, exercise, one on one time with your kids, writing or even fixing your hair.
Don’t let your dreams die just because you’re a mom
This is a hard one for me. I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. But at the same time, having something outside the home I could do that was separate from being a mom and wife was very fulfilling for me. In some ways I think I’ve been afraid to have a dream because I’m afraid it will take away from the things I’m doing right now: raising a family. However, I do think it’s important that my kids see that I have dreams and goals and that I work to reach them. This is an invaluable lesson that I have the opportunity to teach through example and I’m working to find a balance.
Take stock of your thoughts
I shared a quote on my Instagram last week that said, “Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening.” Our thoughts are our voice inside our heads. The words we say, whether out loud or not, have an impact on ourselves and those around us. A great suggestion from Kim was what she called the “stop and switch method”. Basically the idea is that you stop a negative thought in it’s tracks and switch it around to be something positive. For example: “Why would that person want to be my friend? They are so cool and put together and I’m not.” Instead you can say: “Why wouldn’t that person want to be my friend? I have a lot to offer.” You may have heard of positive affirmations, which are statements that you are working towards becoming a reality. If you keep saying them, eventually you’ll believe them and you’ll become what you want to be.
Let go of perfection
With the prevalence of social media and our access to it, it’s easy to believe that what people share about their lives is their reality. Even if we know deep down that it’s probably not, our minds are powerful things. We see the clean home, happy kids, lavish vacations, nice clothes and fancy restaurants and we want those things in our lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a picture of something for a post, whether it’s food or a craft or a room, and it looks great! However, if I were to pan out and do a 360, I guarantee that the space in the peripheral is less than perfect. Instead of condemning ourselves when we mess up, let’s celebrate our failures and mistakes and recognize they are a part of the journey. This is another great opportunity for us to teach our kids through example that failure and mistakes don’t mean you give up. It means you brush yourself off and try again.
Be an essentialist
There is a book that has become increasingly popular called Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It’s similar to the idea of minimalism in that you are working to clear away the clutter and live with only what you need. I love this definition given by Kathy Gottberg on her blog Smart Living 365: “It is the identification, and then the continual choice, of living only what is essential.” When it comes down to it, I really think that we could live with a lot less than what we currently have, but what that means for each of us will be different.
One question we can ask ourselves is: Am I constructing my life in a way that makes room for the people and things that are important? If yes, then good for you! If no, then maybe this would be a good time to think about what could be eliminated from your life. I took a time management course called Define Your Time at the end of last year from Nicole at MOMentity and it was so much more than just how to manage your time. It was about what’s most important to you, how to get rid of what isn’t and ultimately how to be happy with the time you have and what you’re able to accomplish in it. (You can read my review HERE.)
One of my favorite things that Kim said that night was “Unapologetically make room in your life for that which makes you happy, grounded and whole.” I hope one or two of these points hit home with you and gives you that little extra nudge to take the steps necessary to improve some aspect of your life. You are amazing, important and worth the time.