I used to work full-time, now I stay home with my children full-time. And I’ve come to realize that both circumstances present unique challenges in creating a balanced life! When working full-time, I was always striving to find the work life/home life balance. Now, as a SAHM, I’m working to balance of giving 110% to my family 24/7, and maintaining my identity as an individual.
Being mindful of five things has helped me to feel more grounded as an individual/mommy/wife, and ready to take on the day. I also find myself more present in the day-to-day with my children and husband, which is the ultimate goal. So, what’s this “magic formula” that’s worked so well? Read below to find out!
I’m typically a morning person. It’s just the way I’m wired—usually. Nine months of pregnancy and the newborn sleep schedule caught up with me—so it’s not as easy as it used to be. But, I’ve learned that when I can and do take that time for me, everything else seems to fall into place better. This is my time that I use to reflect on life and plan the day ahead. It’s my time to blog, to meditate, practice yoga, to enjoy every last sip of my coffee in sweet solitude. This extra hour brings with it a sense of calm and stability that spills over into the day ahead. As a result, my whole family reaps the benefits of a calmer me. Once the kids wake up, it’s “game on.” With small children and unpredictable sleep schedules, there are some exceptions to the rule. But I can genuinely say that, waking up an hour earlier, brings benefits for both my mind and my body that last well into the day.
This is easier said than done. I know, because in the past, our bedtime schedule with Emerson was…well…non-existent. Erik and I knew we should get Emerson to bed earlier, but it never happened. Emerson is a night owl, so it was easy to let her stay up late with us. One of the positive points of my recent pregnancy with Luke is that our habits changed for the better to accommodate my pregnancy exhaustion (ha)! And, have stuck ever since. Upon following a nightly routine, we actually have a happier, more well-adjusted child. She, along with most children, do so much better knowing what to expect on a regular basis. Erik and I have also come to look forward to this time together. This is our time for one-on-one, adult conversation and/or an episode of This is Us (DVR’d of course) and a glass of wine or chamomile tea. When I’m really on my A-game, I even lightly plan for the day ahead and prepare lunches for everyone, myself included.
Thanks to modern-day conveniences of online everything, I delegate as much as possible to technology whenever I can. For meal planning and prepping, my go-to websites are: Plan to Eat or EMeals. Plan to Eat is wonderful, because I can add my favorite recipes and it will create the shopping list for me, based on my meal plan for the week. EMeals is great for the weeks I don’t want to hassle with thinking of dinner options. It allows me to use a pre-set menu, meal plan and shopping list, taking almost every ounce of brain power out of the equation. From there, I’ll shop for my groceries online. I usually shop Harris Teeter or Walmart, online. These two services save hours of time for me in a week. For budgeting, I’m a huge fan of EveryDollar.com , a Dave Ramsey created website and app that allows me to transfer my budget from one month to the next, easily updating categories, where needed. And, from my iPhone, Siri is my favorite digital assistant, adding appointments to my calendar or saving random thoughts to my notes or tasks lists.
And, now that I’ve just sung the praises of technology, I’m going to tell you to turn it all off! Technology is a power that can be used for good, or bad, practices in mindfulness. In many ways, it helps make life simpler (see above!), but can also create unnecessary stress and anxiety. The dings, chimes and chirps have a tendency to make me feel like I’m on-call, on edge, and always a bit distracted. Innocent as it may be, a quick Google check here or photo app there looks the same to my kids as if I’m ignoring them for Facebook. And the last thing I want is for them to grow up with every memory of me with an iPhone in my hand. We also have a “no technology rule” from the time Erik gets home from work until the kids go to bed, so we can enjoy our evenings distraction-free. You can also set your phone to Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode, if that works better for you. But sometimes, I find I just need to turn it all off.
I know, it seems impossible, right? When everyone else’s needs naturally seem to take priority over your own, how do you find time for things that seem like a luxury? Just 10 minutes of yoga and/or meditation, reading the Bible or a brisk walk around the block does wonders for my mood and energy levels. On the glorious occasions where I get both kids down for a nap at the same time, I love to indulge in a face mask and meditate for 10 minutes or take 10 minutes of stretching and do yoga. By all means, take more time if you have it! But, on days where it feels like I don’t, I strive for just 10 quality minutes of time for myself.