Intentional Living

Don’t Aim for Perfection

5 reasons you shouldn't aim for perfection - thumbnailDo you aim for perfection only to find yourself failing every single time? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. While we might not all label ourselves “perfectionists,” many of us have perfectionist tendencies in one or more areas, like our home, our parenting abilities or our weight.

Let me tell you, aiming for perfection is a losing battle. In this article, we will discuss reasons you shouldn’t aim for perfection and what you can do instead. (more…)

Creating a Vision for Your Life

Creating a vision for your life - thumbnail.Do you feel like life is passing you by with no vision for the future? I feel ya. Until I started being seriously intentional about my life, I felt like every month was two weeks short. As soon as I was getting in the groove for the new month, that “new” month would be nearly over. I was spending half my life in a constant state of catch up and not actually moving forward toward any real goals.

I don’t want you to live life in catch up mode, and I’m sure you don’t want that for yourself. So today we’re going to work on an exercise that helps you think big. I mean really big. So often we create ho hum goals that aren’t inspiring or motivating. When it comes time to make a sacrifice to advance towards that goal, we choose to do something else with our time. (more…)

50 Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms

As busy moms, it can be a struggle to find time for self-care. We’re so busy wiping noses, washing hands, making lunches, and kissing boo boos that we struggle to even find a few minutes for ourselves.

Before you can fill your children’s cups, you must first fill your own. Think of the routine airplane safety message advising you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. How can you expect to be fully present and helpful if your brain is running out of oxygen?

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Are you ready to find some much needed “me time”? The best part about this list is that these activities don’t require a lot of extra time or money.

50 Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms

Personal Self-Care Ideas

  1. Sleep.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Shave your legs.
  4. Buy special soap from the grocery store and take a luxurious bath with it.
  5. Rub your feet with lotion at the end of the day.
  6. Paint your nails.
  7. Go to a salon just to get your hair washed.
  8. Try out a new makeup look.
  9. Put on a favorite outfit that you rarely get to wear.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

– Anna Quindlen

Active Self-Care Ideas

  1. Go for a walk.
  2. Find a fitness class on Youtube. (My favorites are the Fitness Marshall and Yoga with Adriene)
  3. Learn a new yoga pose.
  4. Drink more water.
  5. Stretch.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

– Maya Angelou

Quiet Self-Care Ideas

  1. Meditate.
  2. Pray.
  3. Read a book.
  4. Flip through a magazine.
  5. Follow a guided meditation.
  6. Daydream.
  7. Think of three things you’re grateful for.
  8. Drink some tea or hot chocolate and take a moment to sit and think.
  9. Bird watch.
  10. Write down three things you love about yourself.
  11. Find an uplifting quote.
  12. Watch the sun set.
  13. Put on some relaxing music and take deep breaths. (I search “spa music” on YouTube.)

“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you.”

– Karl Lagerfeld

Social Self-Care Ideas

  1. Grab a coffee with friends.
  2. Ask friends for recommendations of new music.
  3. Call or text a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
  4. Play a board game.
  5. Write a thank you note (or e-mail or text).
  6. If you have a pet, spend time with them.
  7. Volunteer.
  8. When shopping, ask your sales associate how their day has been. You might be surprised how this little bit of time can bring joy to both of you.
  9. Eat by candlelight.
  10. Organize a potluck dinner with friends.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”

– Deborah Day

Creative Self-Care Ideas

  1. Do something you loved as a kid. (Watching clouds, anyone?)
  2. Listen to your favorite song(s).
  3. Start a journal. Write whatever you’re thinking. Don’t censor; just write.
  4. Learn a new skill. (Search YouTube and Pinterest for tutorials).
  5. Do a creative art project, like finger painting. (Why should your kids have all the fun?)
  6. Turn on some music from your teenage years.
  7. Lay on the floor. It gives you a different perspective.

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.”

– Dalai Lama

Silly Self-Care Ideas

  1. Watch a funny movie.
  2. Follow a funny mom. (Check out I Mom So Hard and Kristina Kuzmic)
  3. Hide $5 in your winter coat or summer shorts, depending on whichever you are NOT wearing currently.
  4. Doodle. Not because of the product, but because of the process. It’s fun.
  5. Search “funny mom” or “funny mom quotes” on Pinterest.
  6. Put your jammies in the dryer for a few minutes before putting them on.

“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

– Christopher Germer

You are worth it!

You are worth it, mama! You will be a better mom, wife, friend and person when you take time to restore your spirit and body. Self-care doesn’t take long or take much money. Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself so you can keep going for the long haul. You are worth it!

Tell me in the comments below, what is your favorite thing to do for self-care?

How to achieve happiness in five minutes flat

Are you ready to achieve happiness and live a more fulfilling life?

When is the last time you were present in the moment? I mean, really fully present. Not playing with your kids while checking your phone or running through a mental check list. Not going for a walk while thinking about a comment your friend said. But actually being 100% in that moment, with all your thoughts and attention focused on what was right in front of you?

I can tell you that for me this doesn’t happen often. However, when I make the intention to live 100% in the moment, it’s magic. I see my life in a completely new way, and everything looks more meaningful, more colorful. I notice individual leaves as they sway in the trees. I notice how the wind feels as it ruffles my hair.

Happiness is found in the present.

The other day, I was rocking my toddler to sleep for nap. I don’t rock him because I have to, but honestly because he falls asleep so quickly, I barely get through one song before he’s fast asleep (not so with bedtime, oohboy!) Usually, I rock him until I notice he’s asleep, then I transfer him to his bed.

But on this particular afternoon, I decided to stay. Just for a few minutes. I teared up when I realized I have to commit this moment to memory, because all too soon, it will be purely in the past.

When he is grown and out of the house, will I remember how it felt to have a sleeping child in my arms? Will I remember his warm little body, breathing softly on my belly? Or the fan swirling air through my frizzy hair, the whir of the sound machine, or the afternoon sunlight spilling through the blinds? Will I remember how these quiet moments, in between the tantrums and struggles, were pure bliss?

I went to set him down in his bed and then looked at the clock. Six minutes had passed. In the time it takes me to boot up Youtube on my TV, I had created a lifelong memory.

How to achieve happiness in five minutes flat

There are many ways we can work towards a better life, but by far the easiest way is to be grateful for what you have. Here is a quick exercise for creating happiness with a little amount of time and absolutely no money:

  1. Pick a time when you’re doing something you love, preferably with your kids. (The value of this exercise is easy to see when we direct it towards our precious children.)
  2. Take a moment and breathe. Survey the scene around you. Look at the various people, animals and items. Give them each some time, as if you’re looking at them for the first time.
  3. Listen to the sounds. Do you hear cars traveling or birds chirping? Do you hear your child talking or the crunch of sticks under the toy car?
  4. Find the little things you’re grateful for and savor them. I’ll let my mind simmer over the image of sunlight filtering through my son’s hair, or how he’s using a stick to “fill up” the gas in his toy car. I watch the leaves blow in the wind, and squirrels circling the tree trunk.
  5. Spend at least five minutes in this aware state. Sometimes it’s easy for me to keep going; other times more than 30 seconds is a drag. The important thing is to try to shoot for that five minute mark. Five minutes of being fully immersed in the moment is enough that I will likely view it as the highlight of my day at bedtime.
  6. Repeat.

I do this often when I’m playing outside with my son. I love my son, but being outside when it’s 100 degrees and sunny or 30 degrees and windy…that I do not like. Doing this exercise makes me forget (or at least turns my focus away from) the things that I hate about being outside. It helps me to commit these moments to memory instead of spending the whole time being impatient.

A note about repeating

Number 6 in the exercise says to repeat. You will find more value out of this exercise the more you do it. Like any muscle, if you want to achieve happiness, you have to work at it. Practicing this, you can even start to find value in mundane situations.

Take for example the time I was standing in my garage waiting for contractors to measure and look at a beam that needs repair. I was bored, thought about going to grab my phone or my planner, but instead decided to take the time to be in the moment. So, standing in my garage, the mundane and cluttered place that I walk through every days, I started to look at it with new eyes. I noticed how we still had old lights that we had pulled down but never gotten rid of. I noticed how the yard tools hung on the wall, three of which were parallel, but the fourth ran across it. It almost looked like pop art.

By living in the moment, I turned a boring situation into one of happiness and patience.

Action Step

In the next few days, find a time to put down your cell phone, block out the barrage of incoming thoughts, and take a few minutes. Survey the scene, and take note of what you see, hear, smell, feel, etc. Look for moments that you’re grateful for and focus on them to commit them to memory.

Tell me in the comments below, how did this exercise of living in the moment help you to achieve happiness? What were you doing? What did you experience?

How to show gratitude for a miserable day

I see you, Mama. You had a rough day, the kind where nothing went right. Your baby projectile vomited all over the living room carpet. While cleaning that up, your toddler managed to get into the linen closet and pull out every single sheet, pillow case and towel. Dinner burnt, bedtime was chaos, and now you’re sitting on the couch, completely spent, staring aimlessly at your phone.

At this point, gratitude is probably the farthest thing from your mind. You’d like to complain, drink wine, or stress eat, not put a smile on and be thankful for the day you just had. “How can I be thankful? Today was so horrible, I can’t even…”

How to show gratitude after a lousy day

 

Take 5

Take five minutes to sit and think back through the day. Remember that goofy face your toddler made? What about that cute little messy face after eating lunch?

Pick 3

Find three things that you are grateful for. Often, you will get on a roll and find more. I try to find one thing I’m grateful for that my son did that day, one thing I’m grateful for about my husband and one thing I’m grateful for about myself.

Be specific

Why are you grateful for this person or thing? I’m grateful for how my son called me up on his pretend phone (his hand) and said “Boop boop boop boop” (that’s him dialing) “Hello, Mommy?” I’m grateful for the way my sheets feel on my feet at the end of a long day.

It can be easy to get into a routine of saying things we’re obviously grateful for: our kids, our spouse, our home, etc. What specifically do you appreciate about that person? What was something they did today that made your life a little better?

Remember the basics

Ok, so there are some days when even coming up with three things is nearly impossible. Your child was screaming all day and you got in a big fight with your husband. On those days, think about the foundational things you can be grateful for, that people around the world go without. These could include:

  • A bed to sleep in
  • Four walls and a roof to keep out the weather
  • Living in a safe area
  • Having clean water to drink
  • Having food to eat
  • Being healthy
  • Having air to breathe
  • Having the gift of life for one more day

These are basic things that we take for granted. Just remember that for each of these things, someone somewhere on this earth was not so lucky. I know it’s grim, but it’s the reality. You have been given so many amazing gifts and all it takes is five minutes to appreciate them and realize that they are actually gifts.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

I love this quote because it reminds me how fleeting and temporary life is. Babies grow up and move out of the house. They stop thinking mom is the coolest person alive.

This season of your life might be incredibly tough and you’re doing all you can to survive. But it doesn’t take any money or much time to be grateful for what you have.

What are you grateful for?

If you have a chance, I’d love to hear in the comments below what you’re grateful for.

Action Item

When you’re laying in bed tonight, rather than worrying about how much you have to do, take five minutes to think of three things that happened today that you’re grateful for.