Things I've been doing pretty consistently that help me keep stress and hurrying under control and that make me feel like a pretty good mom. Keep doing these things:
- Set out kids' clothes and check backpacks the night before.
- Keep a spray bottle, hair brush, hair clips and elastics by the breakfast table so I can do hair while the kids eat.
- Be ready with some sort of snack after school and ask kids two questions while they enjoy their snack "what did you learn today?" and "what did you do for someone else today?"
- Take one kid on a special "date" each week.
- Take care of emails and little tasks that will likely take 2 minutes or less immediately rather than putting it on a "to do" list (in my mind or on paper). Especially do the things that I really don't feel like doing - just do them quickly and they're not so bad.
Things that really work for me when I remember to do them; things I know I need to do so I can be more of the mom and person I want and need to be; things that I mostly DON'T do very well right now:
- Pad all time estimates for how long things will take by at least 10 minutes (saying "hurry" and "we're late" to the kids so much isn't good for anyone and trying to quickly finish one more "little" thing on the computer before putting kids to bed just doesn't work)
- Say "I'll have to think about that" or "no" more often to other people.
- Say "yes" more often to my kids and husband.
- Stop trying to make everyone happy all the time. Accept that sometimes a "win-win" isn't going to happen. Learn to prioritize better. I was SO stressed out all day on Saturday because I was trying to figure out how to cram in a visit in SLC with the family of one of Isaac's best friends from St George. They don't speak a lot of English and I don't speak any Spanish and trying to figure out how and when to meet up via phone calls proved to be a big mess. Rather than enjoying the beautiful weather and our first bike ride together as a family this year, I was stopping on my bike to try to call these people on the cell phone again and again and while it was good for Isaac to see that I really tried, it kept me from being present and put us on a tight timeline for the bike ride and in the end we never did figure out how to meet up with them. I need to recognize losing battles quicker and leave them aside.
- Don't try to get anything done on the computer while the kids are needing help with homework and when dinner needs to be made. It might seem like they'll be fine working on homework once I get them started and that it's a good time to get a few emails taken care of. But they always need help and I keep saying "just a minute while I finish this quick email" and that minute gets stretched out and then they ask again and I'm mad they're bugging me and they're mad I'm not helping them and the dumb thing I'm working on really could wait.
- Make a short list of the most important things that need to be done the next day each day before going to bed (then I sleep better and can be way more targeted and feel more accomplished the next day). Include things on that list that I want to do for family members (i.e. work with Isaac on his book report or take Oliver on a little one-on-one bike ride around the block or really listen to all that Eliza wants to say about her day)
- Read scriptures every day - at least a verse or two. Pray before reading and ask the Lord to teach me what He wants to teach me as I focus on the scriptures for at least a few minutes a day.
- Write a nice email to someone I've been thinking of at least a couple times a week (something I've noticed, something I'm grateful for that they've done, etc.). It makes me feel so happy when I press "send" and anticipate someone else's little boost from my email!
- Don't eat after 8 o'clock (I have weird dreams and wake up the next morning feeling bad about myself. I gave up eating after 8 for Lent this year and felt so much better - but then when Lent was over, that resolution dissipated...).
- Don't eat so much chocolate - it makes me anxious and on edge and it's not good for me (even if it's in my favorite trail mix full of healthy sunflower and pumpkin seeds).
- Get outside every day - even if it's just a walk around the block or eating lunch in the back yard - even if it's cold - even if it's a big pain to get kids out the door. Just do it (it's OK if kids are in pj's, wearing random shoes and don't have their hair brushed!)
- Buy more socks. The kids are always out of socks and doing laundry just for the sake of the socks is a frustrating time-sucker.
- Go to bed on time.
- Get up when the alarm goes off. Seriously - that extra 10 minutes of laying there doesn't help anyone. Mind over mattress!
What's on your list? What do you know you need to do to be the mom and person you want and need to be? Can you make yourself do it? I'll report back on how I do this week. I'm sure I won't do everything but I'm picking a few things I will do this week, no matter what. And when I decide to make a change and do it successfully, I feel so good about myself. Which is an end in and of itself!