10 phrases to center yourself when you’re feeling crazy, mama

When I remember that I’ve been here before, I remember that I survived it last time. And I can survive this moment, too.

10 phrases to center yourself when you’re feeling crazy, mama

Being a mom means being surrounded by crazy for at least part of every day. It means needing to be the grown-up in the midst of tantrums, sickness, defiance, and constant needs. I thought I was reasonably grown up until I had children, and then I realized I wasn’t always ready to be the adult in the room!

Over years of practicing mindfulness, I learned to leave myself ‘love notes’ in the form of small phrases or mantras that would remind me of what’s true in the midst of chaos. Sometimes I literally write these phrases down on post-it notes and stick them wherever I am likely to lose my temper. Sometimes they’re mental notes, phrases I repeat to myself often so I can reach for them when I need them.


Here are some of my favorites—

“I was born for times like this.”

My self-talk can wander into pretty negative territory, and I sometimes find myself thinking things like I’ll never be able to do this, or This is impossible. That isn’t so helpful when I’m in the middle of a crisis! I’ve turned toward a positive practice, “I was born for times like this.” When I say it to myself I feel good! I stand a bit straighter and feel empowered as I face what needs to be done.

“Right now, it’s like this.”

This quote from Buddhist teacher Ajahn Sumedho came to me via one of my wonderful teachers, Vinny Ferraro. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself, “Right now, it’s like this” and feel the pressure of worrying about the past and future drop away. It’s me and this moment, and this phrase reminds me that it’s not always gonna be like this. It redirects my mind from blame and brings me into a direct experience of reality as it is.

“How am I feeling right now?”

This is maybe the most powerful tool in my toolkit, because feelings that aren’t taken care of can turn ugly fast, but feelings that are taken care of transform. When the world is going to hell around me it’s easy to freak out. Instead, I ask, “How am I feeling right now?” and connect with my heart.

Honestly, even though I’ve done this hundreds of times, I still resist it. It’s hard to stop and actually feel what I feel. It’s easier when I start with noticing my body, things like My stomach is clenched, and My face feels hot. Then I sense the emotion, noticing anger, fear, helplessness, or whatever shows up. I stop and hold the feelings in a loving way, actually imagining the emotion as a baby. I usually combine this with the next practice.

“Breathing in, breathing out.”

As my students know, I find Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings profoundly helpful. He teaches that each breath can bring us home to ourselves even in the most challenging moments. A simple practice that he teaches is to say inwardly, “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.”

I use this with big feelings that need care, “Breathing in, I notice that I am scared, breathing out it’s okay to be scared.” This isn’t only something that I do in a quiet place, it’s helpful even in the midst of an inner or outer crisis.

“Right now, am I okay?”

Sometimes I am beginning to lose my cool not only because of what’s actually happening, but because of all that might happen. Salvador Dali said, “So little of what could happen, does happen.” This is what I remember when I ask myself, “‘Right now, am I okay?”’

It reminds me to bring my whole attention to what is actually happening right now. Am I safe? Can I handle just what I need to do right now?

“There is no ‘should.’”

Lots of my hardest moments are the ones that I’m mentally contrasting to my image of what should be happening. My kids should be getting along, my family should be having fun, my floors should be clean, my pants should fit. The truth is, ‘should’ is not a helpful word. If you find yourself thinking of how things ‘should’ be, imagine dropping the ‘should.’ How would that feel?

“I am enough.”

In a similar vein, it can feel wonderful to give ourselves a simple reminder, ‘I am enough.’ Yes, maybe things are falling apart, but I am enough.

“What if I’m already good enough?”

When I’m feeling lousy, sometimes thinking ‘I am enough’ actually gets me into an argument with myself as I start a mental list of all the ways that I’m not enough. So my backup is “What if I’m already good enough?” It’s softer and more accessible for me, easier to open up to. I just let myself entertain the idea, ‘Wwhat if,’ and something in my body relaxes a bit.

“I’ve been here before.”

When I get worried or overwhelmed, it’s easy to lose all sense of perspective and fall down the rabbit hole of catastrophization (if that’s a word). The longer I practice mindfulness, the more I recognize that the rough moments are often familiar. I’ve been here before! And when I remember that I’ve been here before, I also remember that I survived it last time. This brings confidence that I can survive this moment, too.

“I love you, keep going.”

Sometimes nothing seems to help. I get disgusted with myself and want to run away from my many imperfections and problems. Saying something as simple as ‘I love you, keep going,’ reminds me that I can still love myself even when I’ve messed up. When I imagine saying this to myself, or a loving friend or teacher saying it to me, I feel warmed and supported.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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