Time is constant.
Each of us gets 24 hours every day, no more or fewer than any other person, and there are not seasons with fewer hours per day—although having young children might feel that way.
This is a time to pay attention to habits (both this season of motherhood generally, and also this season of sheltering-in-place specifically). If we’re going to get through this without tearing our hair out, if we’re going to get anywhere near thriving rather than just surviving, we have to be mindful of our habits.
Every. Single. Day.
I’m going to put out three habits I've observed in effective mamas over the years for you to consider. Three because it’s a good place to start—mamas don’t have time to read about seven habits, much less put them into practice! Also, I put these out with the caveat that no one maintains these habits perfectly. Perfection is not the goal, after all. Encouragement is--that together we would feel inspired to be our strongest selves and meet our kids' needs out of that strength.
1) Start with Quiet
You must have a few minutes in the morning--before the requests start rising up from small voices at your feet--to get your head on straight. Get up early, get a hot drink, and get a journal. Some mamas use the early morning for a gratitude list. You might jot down notes about the previous day, reflect on where life has brought you, let off some steam about someone who is bothering you and put together your thoughts before addressing that person directly. We simply cannot move from one need to the next all day long without a minute to think clearly about where our life is headed.
2) Exercise daily
Whoever recommended exercise 3-5 times per week was just wrong—not for physical reasons but for mental health ones.
After her third baby was born, Kim made the decision to run every morning before her husband left for work—rain or shine, sunlight or darkness because she knew it might be the only time she would get outdoors, alone for a couple of years. She also learned that if she committed to running every day, the battle in her head immediately went away. You know the one: “Well, I don’t really feel like it today, and I already went twice this week. I’ll go tomorrow for sure.” You find yourself negotiating all the time and sort of dreading a workout.
If it’s in your schedule, it’s just a given. There’s no negotiation, no dread, you just do it. And the more you do it, the more you love it. Those endorphins that boost your mood become addictive, and you won’t want to give it up.
Now, this does take some negotiation with your husband and trust that he can take care of the kids/babies while you’re gone. Maybe it means pumping ahead of time so everyone is prepared. It also means having a back-up plan if the weather is icy outside (I learned the hard way on that one). Have an online workout ready or some kind of alternative. Annie Wetherington is a great, local fitness coach who has an online high intensity workout class at 6:30 a.m. that might be perfect if you're looking for something interactive.
3) Develop Mindfulness
“Transforming our everyday mundane tasks into sacred magical moments starts within ourselves, at home, and one moment at a time. It's not a lack of thought or an empty mind, it's a calm mind achieved by truly being. “--Lacey @ naturally_modern
This time with our kids at home is just so short. We’ve all heard it so many times it looses its impact—cherish this time, they’ll be gone before you know it.
You and I both know it's easier said than done. Some days, motherhood feels like a road-trip with a pack of wild monkey loose in your car. But we have to do what we can to stop, hold on to the moments and develop an awareness of the beauty of this amazing opportunity we have.
Notice her soft curls.
Notice the easy way his hand reaches for yours.
Notice the weight of his tiny head resting on your chest.
Consider keeping a journal where you try to describe these details or write down the amazing and hilarious things they say. Maybe set an alarm on your phone and when you hear it, say a prayer of gratitude for these tiny humans entrusted to our care. For me, it has been buying a camera, printing pictures and filling albums with beautiful and precious moments of our everyday life. Find your own way to develop a sense of mindfulness to help lift you out of the mundane existence that motherhood can slip into if we let it.
There are my humble suggestions for effective motherhood, but there are thousands, probably millions more. As my mother-in-law says, “There are a lot of right ways.” What habits have you developed and think other mothers could benefit from hearing? Leave an idea in the comments below.