Lately, I’ve really been praying and focusing on changing my attitude and my outlook. I know from past experience that usually the things that we get the most worked up about never happen, and there is no way to get back the time we spend worrying. One of my favorites old adages is that if mommy isn’t happy, then nobody is happy. And sometimes the difference between cranky and content, overwhelmed and overjoyed – sometimes the difference is in the little things. The laundry and the mail and dinner and clutter and the daily onslaught of demands that come with life as a mom. So here are a few of my own strategies for having a good week, of feeling less bogged down and more in control. Most of them are minor tweaks, but I’ve found that they can have a major impact on my mood. I hope they are helpful for you too!
1. Go to church. I was bummed when we had to miss it today because Lola had a slight fever. A good sermon on Sunday, and remembering to stop and pray throughout the week, energizes me and gives me the strength for whatever the week brings.
2. Try something that scares you. For me, there are two things I have always been intimidated by, because I have never been good at either of them: crafts and sports. But lately I feel like tackling small, manageable projects around the house: painting an old picture frame, covering switchplates in vintage fabric. Going outside your comfort zone makes you feel young and alive.
3. Go through your shoes, and toss the ones you loathe, or the ones that make you hobble around from pain. No matter how hot they are. No one looks hot when they hobble. Size up the rest of your collection, and address any wear and tear. Maybe they need a quick polish, or a trip to your local cobbler to be resoled.
4. Call an old friend just to chat. Meet a girlfriend for coffee. Send a funny card to a college friend. Reconnect with the people who are important to you.
5. Toss or use the half-finished bottles of shampoos and lotions in the shower. If you hate them, toss or donate them. If you like them, consolidate and use them up. Clear out the clutter.
6. Mix it up in the kitchen by putting a new spin on an old favorite. Add shredded carrots to the last few minutes of cooking time when boiling pasta for mac and cheese, and boost the nutrition intake of a childhood standby. They’ll still eat it – I (almost) promise. Or make rice pudding out of the leftover brown rice in the refrigerator. Simply add the milk of your choice, honey or maple syrup, and seasonings if you want – like cinnamon or vanilla. Mix milk and rice to combine in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or so. It will thicken as it cools. I made it with organic sweetened condensed milk this morning, and everyone loved it. Except Lola. : )
7. Give yourself the night off from cooking by having a leftover night. Bonus if it’s Sunday, since you will be cleaning out your fridge at the same time and getting a fresh start to the week. Plus you will also get a little extra time to spend with the family. Or alone, if you can manage it.
8. Clear out the clutter in the rooms that you spend the most time in. I find it impossible to relax in the living room in the evenings when there is stuff everywhere, so sometimes, if I don’t have the energy to pick it all up, I just move it. Hey – at least I don’ t have to look at it. Same with the kitchen. I can feel my anxiety rise when I walk into the kitchen and dishes are piled up or the counter is all cluttered.
9. Buy yourself something lovely that you don’t need. Or make that appointment that you do need: for a massage, a bikini wax (yes, it’s almost that time), a facial…
10. One of these nights, as soon as the kids are in bed, go to bed too. You don’t have to sleep. Just spend some time with a good stack of reading material and a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and don’t move for the entire evening. Your mood will be better the next morning, and your family will thank you for it.
“Because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody…” 😉