The other day my daughter looked at me and said, "Mommy why do you look sad?" I didn't feel sad. I didn't realized that I might have looked sad. But somehow, she sensed "sad." It worried me at first but then I realized: I must have looked so tired that I actually looked sad.
That's kind of sad. (I tried to reverse my mood later that night in a grand display of lighting up after the kids went to bed.) Nobody's perfect. I know I'm not. Life gets complicated with schedules, spouses, family, kids, parents, friends, school and personal issues and on and on, and it wears on us whether we fight it or not.
As an every-woman mom-friend here, thought I'd share a few quick actions that I try to make life easier, better, smoother and, well, less "sad." It's my 'STOP' list, if you will.
1. Stop showering in morning; shower at night instead
Morning rush gets hairy at my house (especially if I have to wash my hair). When I shower at night it calms me and makes me feel like I can sleep an extra 10 minutes the next morning.
2. Stop driving all over the place on account of "the kids' activities"
Unless you're raising a freak genius of a concert pianist and MUST drive across town in gridlock traffic to the absolute finest piano instructor this side of the Rocky Mountains, find activities for the kids that are CLOSE to your home. Less time in your car, rushing and stressing if you'll get there on time will change your life. (My kids' schools are one block one way, one block the other way. I realize how lucky and spoiled I am, but I also designed it that way on purpose.)
3. Stop waiting for "laundry day" to come around
Wash clothes every other day. If you have kids, I guarantee you will have a full load of some kind every other day. This eliminates you from being stuck folding piles and piles of size 4 Strawberry Shortcake underwear all afternoon on Sunday.
Protect your weekends, folks. Save your down-time for true friends and family.
No, you do not have to go to every single child's birthday party you're invited to just because the kids are in the same class. If the kids are friends (meaning, they actually play together and/or mention the other one's name to you during non-school hours) then yes, they should celebrate birthdays together. If not, politely decline. It's OK. I give you permission. Protect your weekends, folks. Save your down-time for true friends and family rather than people-who-happen-to-be-in-your-class-that-you-don't-really-know-or-hang-out-with.
5. Stop saying yes to things that don't work for you
Next time you feel pressure, try these phrases: No, I'm sorry its not a good week for me to bring cookies to class, maybe next time. No, I'm sorry it's not a good time for a playdate this week, check with me next week. No, I'm sorry I cannot feed your dog next weekend. It's OK to take care of you first.
6. Stop looking at your phone
A few weeks ago I was extra-edgy and couldn't figure out why. Then I put my phone away and didn't look at it for a whole three hours. Aha. Problem solved. Social media and emails were making me crazy as I peeked at what others were doing and I wasn't: I wasn't working hard enough (like them), I wasn't doing anything fun (like them), I wasn't taking care of my kids in the best way (like them). Hide your phone for a bit. It ain't called digital detox for nothin'.
7. Stop thinking about the gym
Bend down and touch your toes instead. It's been weeks since I've been to a gym (which really annoys me but that's another story). I soon realized I could just bend down, right here in my kitchen, and touch my toes for a good, long stretch. Muscles felt, mental attitude better. All it took was two minutes.
If I hear one more mom say "I feel like I'm failing" I might slap her. (It's not very nice of me, but desperate times call for you know what.) As women we must remind ourselves that suggestion can be our best friend and enemy. There's something tangible about positive thinking. There's something tangible about telling yourself you're not doing well enough. Opt for the thing that can make your life better, happier, easier.
So now it's time to stop reading this post. So ... Go! Conquer! (And stop.)