You are doing just fine. But, do you want to do better?
My dad’s nickname is Rocket Man. For most of his life, he’s never been caught in a chair. He is always moving, always working, always doing something.
A few years ago my sister started calling me Rocket Girl. I didn’t know what she was talking about at first. I rarely leave my chair!
After reflection I realized that, yes, I tend to do a lot of things. I’ve always been somewhat of an overachiever. I mean, six kids? homeschool? two blogs? cookbook? Yeah. #overachiever
But, when my hip started hurting me all the time and when I started to get heart palpitations frequently, I realized that I needed to start taking better care of myself. Yep, that was 40.
Oh sure, I could get by. I could get by just fine, thank you very much. But, I didn’t feel good. I was no longer at my best always pushing, pushing, pushing.
I just couldn’t keep going at the pace I was going and be as effective as I’d been when I was 20.
And neither can you.
Whether you bite off more than you can chew or not, you take care of others. And someone needs to take care of you.
You and I both need to take care of ourselves.
Here are some of the things that help me get past survival and feel good about who I am as a woman, wife, and mother. When we do them consistently, we will feel awesome.
1. Are we getting good rest?
I was either pregnant or nursing for about 12 years straight. I got used to operating on little sleep. I didn’t like it, but I persevered.
Nowadays, I have what I call the luxury of sleeping all night. Don’t get me wrong. At least once a week someone wakes me up with a bad dream or upset tummy, but for the most part nights are quiet.
One of the biggest changes I had to make a few years ago was changing my bedtime. Introvert that I am, I really wanted alone time. That time was only at night after everyone was asleep. Just a few years ago my regular bedtime was 1 or 2 am. Ha!
I think the immature girl in me thought it wasn’t cool to go to bed early. No, sweetheart, it just wasn’t wise. I’ve learned better. My bedtime is now between 9 and 10 pm. Although I still get up early, I’m finding that an early night is best for my body.
I’ve also learned the beauty of a nap. JUST 20 minutes. No more. And I feel like I’ve drunk a cup of coffee!
You will need to find what works for you. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Lie down in the car at soccer practice instead of playing on your phone. DVR the tv show instead of staying up for it. Go to bed early. Sleep in.
Whatever works, find ways to get more rest for your physical body.
2. Are we making healthy food choices?
I didn’t drink in college. I didn’t do drugs, either. And I went to “the party school” of the UC, so doing neither made me Odd Woman Out. I just wasn’t interested.
However, my vice has always been food. And believe me, I have lived it up. From early childhood well into motherhood, I was able to eat whatever, and I do mean, WHATEVER, I wanted and not gain any weight. I never climbed on the scale because I didn’t need to.
(I don’t think my friends liked me very much.)
Once perimenopause and cookbook writing collided on my body, watching my weight has become a thing. Unfortunately for me, my excess baggage is all around my middle, visceral fat, which is the worst kind of fat you don’t want.
My sedentary preferences no longer agree with my appetite. I can no longer eat whatever I want.
I’m actually thankful for that because it has prompted me to take a good look at our family’s diet, to do some nutrition research, and to make some healthy changes for the better of all of us.
Are you eating well? Are you eating at all? Spend some time today to make yourself some snacks and a Mom Lunch. Make the choices you know are good for you.
3. Are you moving your body?
In addition to cutting out the two Big Macs at a sitting — yes, really — I’ve had to learn to exercise. Two years ago I started lifting weights and walking the treadmill at the Y. Last year I started taking yoga classes.
While I’ve still got a little spare tire around my waist, I’m doing better than I was. In fact, last summer and fall’s yoga regimen knocked out my chronic hip pain.
Use it or lose it, my friend. Get moving.
4. Are you giving yourself enough time?
Do you have time to plan and reflect? Time to get dressed in the morning? Time to get to your appointments without freaking out?
How packed are your days? How are you managing your time? Do you need to think about a daily time budget? Do you need to say no to some more things? Do you need to exert yourself when it comes to household chores?
That’s a whole lot of questions and not too many answers, but I’m averse to telling you how you should spend your time. There are plenty of voices out there dictating what a good mom does with her day.
Only YOU can decide what the best YOU does in your day. But, think about how you can make it better. Be honest with yourself.
5. Are you making space for something fun?
All work and no play, makes Mom really hard to live with. Make sure that you’re making space for fun with your kids as well as things that you enjoy by yourself, with your husband, or with girlfriends.
After six years of almost nonstop writing work, I took a month off when we went to France. I hired help to keep track of the website workings while I completely unplugged and slowed down my life. Turns out it was pretty fun!
France was fun, obviously, but so was life at a slower pace. Sometimes just slowing the speed of life can help you in your every day.
Make fun time a priority — and let things happen as they will.
6. Are you dreaming a big dream?
When we became moms, our priorities shifted. We found that some things weren’t as important or as easy as they once were. But we’re still us. And we can still dream.
I remember hearing a woman speak about motherhood once and she said, “Include your children in your dreams. Let them see what you can accomplish. Make them part of the experience. Do it together.”
I’ve held onto this advice as I wrote cookbooks or saved for our France trip. My kids were every much a part of those experiences as I was. It affected them and our whole household. At the end, they had ownership in those accomplishments, as well as I.
Maybe you have something you’d love to do: go back to school, quit your job, start running, go back to work, start a hobby. It’s good to dream! Go for it!
Don’t feel bad about having dreams, either. Just include your family in them. Then they’ll know that you’re not growing away from them, you’re just growing. They’ll be your biggest cheerleaders.
Dream that big dream. And don’t be afraid.
Will there be days when you still only survive?
Why yes, yes, there will. Last week I felt like a total loser. But, I know that’s not who I really am.
Some days will be harder than others, but you can thrive. You can grow. You can do more than just survive.