Can I be practical today? I’ve talked a lot about healthy living from a mental and emotional point of view and I want to add some things in.
I’m talking from my own experience but I feel that this can apply to any
lifestyle. Anyone from a bachelor working a full-time job, wanting to pursue a dream, to an empty-nesting grandmother can find some value in these TOP 8 SKILLS FOR LIFE BALANCE.
First of all, I came from ZERO
I’ve been driven for a long time toward balance. I come from a business
background where I was driven, organized, fast-paced, multi-tasked well and had to work hard to do so while engaging in people skills. Not because I didn’t have any, but because my default was to put my head down and just get stuff done, and that made the people around me always feel like I was mad at them or indifferent.
I was the kind of manager that would walk in and tell my staff that the trash cans were overflowing before I remembered to say “hi” or “how’s your day going.” So I worked to learn the communication and leadership styles of my team and disciplined myself to talk more, engage more and actually show how much I cared for my people. I wish I knew back then that I was doing a good job. I always felt like I was on the cusp of failure.
So stepping into motherhood changes everything. I had NO IDEA what kind of mom I wanted to be. My mom was just really learning how to be “motherly” when I was in high school. She had mountains to climb to become healthy at communication and nurturing (she is now my personal hero by the way). On the flip
side, my mother-in-law mothered four boys, ran daycares and took care of TONS of kids. She was both super involved, heavy on the communication and very defined in what she believed was the right way to parent.
So I was in this frenzy of trying to decide what was MY way… MY truth… and at
first, not many of my previously mastered skills were coming into play. Multi-tasking while nursing didn’t work since I struggled and struggled to even get nursing to work. I knew I wanted to slow down and hold him and look into his eyes and not always be doing something else at the same time. I did manage to learn that if I wear the baby I can do dishes and laundry. But the exhaustion ya’ll!! I was soooooo tired. Brain fog. No life rhythm. No meals happening. I didn’t even cook before we had kids. Like… at ALL.
I don’t remember ever baking with my mom, but she was so disciplined in the kitchen – she just did it all. Every meal was perfectly laid out before my
stepdad sat down (until high school… that’s another story).
So my skills… the
ones that moms hand down… they were limited.
Fast forward. I want to be an awesome mom! Like super DUPER mom. But I’m so tired of seeing moms kill themselves for it because they can’t will themselves into being better. I felt like I was learning all on my own by watching others around me and reading blogs that contradicted each other. Learning to even get out the door and arrive somewhere on time while the baby is having a
blowout and the toddler keeps taking his shoes and socks and coat off is HARD! Keeping an even remotely clean house when everyone in it is working against you is HARD!
here are some things that I’ve learned. I’m still working on the mastery part. 😉
1) From the
beginning, I’ve been disciplined with their sleep schedule. If you don’t have kids then apply this to your own life rhythm. Have one. A rhythm that is. I know this is extra hard for creative types (I am one) but it matters. They need sleep and so do I. I created a routine before bed and set their inner clocks. I can count on the downtime. I stick to the routine because nap time is heaven and at times even vital to my survival. Plus they are so much happier when they sleep well. When my littles don’t nap they cry and throw fits ALL evening (then I cry and throw fits the whole hour before I can put them to bed, haha).
2) Spread out the
work load or discipline yourself to make tidiness a part of your routine. I taught them how to clean up after themselves. My three year old takes his dishes to the sink, scrapes his food in the trash, washes his hands, even wipes the table where he sat. Now the older two do all of the dishes (except knives and other things I don’t want in the dishwasher) and their own laundry and once a week everyone has to do their weekly chore list that gets the whole house clean instead of it all falling on me. They had to start small and at first it was more work but it’s paying off!
3) I schedule in “me” time. Before they get up and during nap time I work on my business or play music. Almost every week I have dinner or coffee with a friend that I can connect with. And I snuggle my hubs with a movie at least once a week (relaxing baths would still be on the table but I hate our bathtub). This is the time you want to read a book, catch up on a podcast or write. I play podcasts when I’m folding laundry (and they’re outside playing) or driving alone because my kids constantly interrupt. 🙂
4) Meal planning. I HATE cooking! Or at least I used to. There were times I’d walk
into the kitchen and cry because I had so many food limitations and I was hungry and didn’t know what to eat. The weeks I meal plan and prep for crockpot dinners, pressure cooker meals and just plain take the meat out of the freezer that I need for the next day are HEAVEN. Those weeks take such a mental load off of me at 4 pm when I’m starting to think about hitting the kitchen or when I realize I don’t have to do much cause it’s already made (As a side note, eating well matters. Ya ya everyone knows this. But you won’t make changes to your diet that you can stick to if you don’t plan it out.)
5) Exercise and water. I’ve REALLY
struggled in this area. I know how much I need it and yet making the water go down my throat is excruciating sometimes. BUT it’s vital to living in balance and health. I’m constantly teaching my kids what’s healthy cause I want them to start out healthy instead of fighting to get it back when they’re older. My exercise varies. Sometimes it’s yoga, sometimes it’s a walk and other times it’s a high energy kill-my-legs kind of day (I still hope to become a distance runner one day but I haven’t turned hope into action yet). At least three days a week is ideal. We all know this. Right?
6) Knowing my stress levels and when to say “no.” Before
kids I was totally a “yes” person. I did it all… literally I did everything I could and whenever I was asked. I had the energy back then but I also had people-pleasing guilt. So. Not. Healthy. When I started saying no it actually caused MORE stress ’cause I was letting people down and not living up to expectations. Mine or theirs. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started changing the way I thought about it. I have to give my best to what matters most in my immediate world. If I crash because I’m doing too much then I don’t have my best to give. If I don’t take care of me then I can’t really take care of others well.
7) Scheduling & Time management. Saying “no” to certain things also means you have to be intentional to say “yes” to what matters to you. You have to put it on your calendar. Carve out the time. Schedule the alarm to remind you and then do it. Give yourself grace as you are developing new skills instead of giving up ’cause you slept through the alarm this week. Give yourself a pep talk and go at it again. It matters. You matter. Keep going!
8) Organization. I could really go deep with this. I’m passionate about it and could say a lot… keeping it short… my motto is “have a place for everything and put everything in its place.” The five other people in my house are all learning this. Make organization a journey so it isn’t overwhelming. If you have horizontal surfaces in your house that are always covered start making homes for those things and gradually teach yourself (and your family) to put things away as they are done with them instead of dropping them where it’s convenient.
Am I 100% at all of this? Nope. Not even close. But I’m a firm believer that no matter where you are these things will change your life.
The thing is, balance IS self care. Self care involves our mental and emotional states. It involves our state of mind. It involves our body! If our hormones are out of wack or our adrenal gland isn’t firing correctly, then we aren’t starting off well to begin with. I had months where I couldn’t peal myself off the couch because of my adrenal gland saying “nope.” It was throwing everything off. Being overweight, having spikes of sugar and caffeine followed by lows on a constant roller coaster isn’t balance.
Balance doesn’t mean that you give equal time to everything you’re involved in either. Students need to give a very imbalanced amount of time to study but they still need to schedule in the other things that give them health in their bodies and emotions while they’re filling their minds!
New moms may give an “imbalanced” amount of time to a newborn. Some things take a back seat. But that doesn’t mean she can’t take her vitamins, plan healthy meals, have a friend over for coffee and read a chapter in her favorite book during one of the baby’s naps. She’s investing in her own future with every moment she invests in the bundle wrapped in her arms and she’s healing and nurturing life while she rests but she may need to get out of the house too. 🙂
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