How to find the joy, mama

Spend some time, every single day, gifting yourself quality time. Not at the expense of your children or family, but to recharge + value your wellbeing. 

How to find the joy, mama

If you look back at yesterday, what is it that you remember?

For every single one of us busy mamas of tiny humans, there is a daily dance of repetitive selfless actions: wipe bottoms, roll up socks, cut off crusts, refill water bottles, tidy the toys, dry tears, make dinner, strap seat belts, search for the special cuddly friend, read bedtime stories and explain in simple terms why some of us have blue eyes and some brown, but actually we are all the same.

There might be brief moments of pure happiness and joy. Those seconds when time stands still, and you finally soak into one tiny detail, marveling at its beauty.


Those are very rare to find and can easily slip away if we are too distracted by the mundane, or if our own worries and inner dialogue are playing on repeat.

Like that time the kid finally climbed to the top of the slide and victoriously signaled his accomplishment to the mom, but she didn’t see him because she was too busy talking to the other mom friends in the park about how important it is to steam veggies rather than boil them.

Or the time our kid tried so hard to get our attention, “Mom, mama, mummy, mommy, look at me look at me LOOK-AT-ME!” while we said, “Wait for one second honey, I’ll be right with you!” because we were hiding in the kitchen, deep into the postpartum pictures our high school nemesis posted on Facebook.

We’ve seen other mothers doing it, we judged them. We did it ourselves, hoping nobody saw us or judged us. Either way, we judged ourselves.

And so we end the day feeling guilty, unable to marinate our expectations with the reality.

I’ve been there, and I know every single one of us has felt it. It is yet again a reminder that any version of multitasking is just an unachievable tool of success in life, whether you are pursuing motherhood or business.

The moment I shifted my perspective into taking care of my own needs first, with intention and daily frequency, I observed a complete change in the quality of my presence.

When I was with my children, I could gift them my undivided attention and participation. When I was with my partner, I could truly be with him, listening and connecting.
 When I was with my friends, I could focus on the dialogue we needed to have.

But it only happened in the days when I was by myself, I was unapologetically doing what made me happy. I was offering myself the quality time I needed to soothe my soul, body, and mind. Every single day.

I started a practice one day I was walking home from dropping off my daughter. Usually, my brain was busy with planning, analyzing, thinking of the next step. This day, however, I was really tired. So tired that I could not formulate proper thoughts. So I just walked. Noticed the trees. Looked up in the sky and observed the clouds. Then I stopped in front of a beautiful flower bush and just stretched my arms above my head. My tired body cracked. I wasn’t running my lunch menu shopping list or writing my emails. I was just observing.

Only 10 minutes from school to home, I had the most amazing quality time. And when I returned home, I was able to distinguish the essential from the noise. I had a beautiful day, even though I was feeling so exhausted.

From that day on, the walk from school is a sacred practice. I walk purposefully, feeling the ground under my feet. I breathe deeply, tasting the morning air. I look up and notice the sky, marveling at the clarity of its blue or the depth of the chunky clouds. It is the empty walk when I don’t honor anything my busy brain has to say. None of those thoughts are important or relevant during this time.

By doing this, I am offering myself purposeful blank space.
 But I’m an introvert fueled by solitude.
 For you, this time can look and feel completely different: seeing a friend and deeply connecting with shared stories. Drinking a coffee and feeling the taste and the temperature on your lips. Cooking and noticing every single vegetable you cut, the sound of sizzle and smell of the ingredients.

Whichever form or manifestation it takes, spend some time every single day gifting yourself quality time. Not at the expense of your children or family, but to recharge and value your wellbeing. Ideally, first.

This is an excerpt from the book, Manual for Motherhood, by Talida Van Boxstael.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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