Monday, March 20, 2017

Who Takes Care of Momma???

It's important to take care of you! I recommend setting up a layered defense of your sanity... call it "Layers of Care." Here are a few ideas for setting up your own plan. Try implementing at least one of these from each category and I promise you'll be happier, more patient, and more joyful for it.

Daily (5-10 minutes; can be done with children in house)
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in your garden or yard
  • Read two pages of a book or one devotional
  • Spend time in prayer, even if you already had your "faith time" today. Can you really talk to your Heavenly Father too much? Better yet, just talk to Him. Or sing a song to Him; He loves that!
  • Decide that you are going to color one section of a picture in a coloring book - and do it!
  • Build a blanket fort with your kids & let them leave it up overnight. After they are in bed, go in with a flashlight & paint your toenails or read a book
  • Play with your kids' Legos (or other fun toy) after they go to bed
  • Grab 10 Post-It notes & write 10 different notes of encouragement to yourself. Hide them in places all over your house to find throughout your week
  • Give your kids a box of Sanity Toys* and sneak into the other room for a few minutes to look at a magazine.
  • Go outside & play in the rain (or snow) while you child naps, or after bedtime. Really play - splash in puddles, float leaf-boats, etc. You can play outside after dark dark just as well as during the day!
  • Build a permanent nest of blankets in the floor of your closet; hide here for five minutes and eat a fun size candy bar. See if you can make it last the whole five minutes!
*Sanity Toys - noun; a set (or sets) of toys that have been placed into a box or bin, on the top shelf of a closet or other space out of the child's sight. When brought out, these toys will be new, novel, and exciting. They are guaranteed to keep kids occupied for at least ten minutes. Rotate periodically for best results.

Weekly (1-2 hours; requires dad or other caregiver* to watch kids)
  • Go to the library & wander among the stacks.
  • Pack a snack or light meal and eat it alone in the park. Or your yard. Or your car. Any place but your kitchen/dining room. 
  • Meet a friend for coffee, knitting, book discussion, etc.
  • Go to a museum
  • Load a movie on your iPad & watch it anywhere but your living room
  • Drive around & view the scenery
  • Check out a new store, museum, or community building
  • Go to the library, restaurant, park, mall, or other place you enjoy and decorate your planner or plan your week. 
  • See a movie all by yourself. 
  • Go to a public place. People watch & allow yourself to feel bored (Then let me know how it is, because I don't remember that feeling!)
  • Go to the pet store & look at all the interesting fish, birds & other cute pets they have. Be sure to freak yourself out looking at the giant bugs & other weird pets too!
  • Go to a playground and swing really high. When moms look at you funny, tell them you're caring for yourself & invite them to join you
*Caregiver - noun: Generally a human who knows & loves your kids and is willing to supervise them for short periods of time. In the absence of a human, an electronic device can be substituted, but sparingly. Seriously, you're not going to ruin your kid if you park him/her in front of a movie once a week.

Annually/Biannually (1-2 days; no kids allowed)
  • Spend a night or two at a hotel by yourself.
  • Have a sleepover with a friend. Or at your parents' house.
  •  Attend a short conference centered around something you love. Even if it's a homeschool conference, or an autism symposium, the opportunity to improve your momma-skills without interruption will still feel like a gift.
  • Pitch a tent in your backyard and sleep there. Or have your husband or other responsible party sleep there with the kids while you stay in the house by yourself.
  • Attend a weekend retreat at a Catholic Solitude. These often accept donations instead of charging fees, and most are open to people of all faiths. 
  • Send your kids to stay with relatives or family friends, send you husband on a fishing trip, and enjoy a quiet weekend in your home. Note: You are required to spend this weekend doing only those things that will refresh your spirit.
  •  Go camping by yourself. Can't get away overnight? Go for a day-long hike, or go fishing alone.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I'm sure you can think of some other fun and refreshing ways to love yourself. Got some good ones? Leave them in the comments below!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Breaking Rules

I've been thinking a lot about rules lately.

Rules can be good - they keep us safe; they keep our society working; they give us predictability and guides.

Rules can also be bad - they can restrict our choices; they can ruin our creativity; they can create waste, tension, stress, etc.

Some rules are imposed upon us by our families, cultures, faith, or societies; and some are rules we create for ourselves (often without realizing it).

So, I've been thinking about my family's "rules" and why we follow them.

I'm a person who likes a certain amount of order, and I often realize that I've unintentionally created a rule for myself or my family. After a while, those rules can build up and become walls and barriers that begin to fence me in. Those rules need to be broken. In an effort to free us from some waste, stress, and "fences," we are taking a look at how and why we do some of the things we do. I find myself asking:

1) Where did this rule come from? Is it a societal rule? Is it a family rule that my husband or I learned from our parents? Is it a rule that one of us created?

2) What is the purpose of the rule? Does it keep us safe? Does it provide needed structure or order? Does it benefit us?

3) Why do we follow the rule? Is this something that we do because "that's the way people do it?" Is it a rule we follow because "that's what we've always done?" Do we follow it out of thoughtless habit? Is following this rule something we do intentionally, and with consideration?

If the answers to these questions are not satisfactory, I then ask myself
if there might be any benefit to breaking or changing this rule.

One example is the way I used to organize my kitchen. We bought my grandparents house a few years ago, and when we moved in, I put most things in the same cabinets and places that my grandma kept them. In my mind, that's just where everything went... because it had always gone there. The thing is that we have six people living where two people used to live & that system just wasn't working for us. After I realized this, I completely rearranged the kitchen. I cleaned out the pantry, painted the inside white, and now use it to store the dishes we use daily, as well as snacks for my kids. The cabinet that used to hold the dishes now contains my baking goods & a few pantry items. This works for us because the kids can now set the table without clogging up my very small kitchen.

Speaking of dishes, we also solved another problem by thinking "outside of the box." With five or six of us being home all day (for three meals and at least one snack), we had an overflowing dishwasher at the end of every day. We bought everyone their own dinner plate, smaller plate, and bowl - in their own color. Now, instead of loading up the dishwasher all day, everyone is responsible for cleaning their own dishes after each meal. At the end of the day, I've only got dinner dishes & the few pots/pans/etc. that didn't get hand washed earlier. I even fill one side of the sink with a bit of hot, soapy water before we sit down to eat so everyone can wash their dishes as they finish eating. Because I'm helpful that way.

Do you ever feel fenced in by your own rules? How can you change them to break free from your fences?