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This is the year I take better care of myself

The truth is, when I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of anyone else.

This is the year I take better care of myself

Last spring, my husband started a new job that includes a hefty dose of travel, and adjusting to a schedule with a lot of solo parenting stretches has taken its toll on me. In my scramble to make sure I'm not overlooking anything and am being all the things to all the people all the time—it's easy to let my own needs fall by the wayside. And when that happens, I end up burned out and grumpy and that's not good for anyone.

The truth is, when I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of anyone else.

To avoid burning the candles at both ends, I came up with 10 resolutions for this year that are me-focused so they can serve as reminders to include myself on the list of people I'm caring for.

My goal is to make sure my tank is full so I'm ready for whatever life (and motherhood) may throw at me.

1. I am going to make time for myself.

And I'm not going to apologize for it.

As moms, it's all too easy to "should" all over ourselves. I should be able to keep going. I should be more intentional during playtime. I should plan more activities. I shouldn't pay a babysitter just to go sit at Starbucks. The problem with all that should-ing is that it leaves us feeling like...well, crap.

This year, I'm giving myself permission to claim my time. I know that I need a few hours away every week to stay sane, and I'm not going to feel bad about that.

2. I am going to be intentional with my time.

There's one small thing I can do every morning that makes the difference between starting off on the right foot or the wrong one—getting up before my kids do.

One of my friends calls this waking up TO your day, rather than being woken up BY your day. I will set my alarm for at least 15 minutes before my kids' typical wake up time.

That gives me time to brew a pot of coffee and do a quick devotional or maybe just watch the sun rise. Waking up to peace and quiet rather than cries of "Mom, Mama, Mommy, Maaaa-mmaaaaa!" will help ease me into my day.

3. I am going to take care of my body.

I'm kicking this year off by running a 15K and I've also committed to my first triathlon in June. I'm not an athlete (not in the slightest)—I will be slow and the training won't be easy—but breaking a sweat and getting my heart rate up a few times a week are critical to my state of mind.

In the famous words of Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don't kill their husbands."

4. I am going to accept help.

I'm not very good at asking for help when I need it. I have a very "I can do it myself" mentality (my 3-year-old daughter shares this trait), but it often leaves me feeling burned out and overwhelmed.

In the name of taking better care of myself, when someone extends a dinner invitation on night three of solo parenting, I'm going to say yes.

5. I am going to take care of my mind.

I'm going to read one book a month. I love to read but, truth be told, haven't done much of it since I became a mom—and I miss it. It doesn't have to be highbrow literature, just a good story I can lose myself in for a few hours.

6. I am going to be kind to myself.

Scrolling through Instagram can make it real easy to feel like I'm not thin enough, fashionable enough or sufficiently well-lit in my photographs. Pinterest can lead to dissatisfaction with my small house and disorganized closets. Facebook can leave me longing for more vacations or a more successful career.

Social media is great for maintaining connections, but not so great for encouraging satisfaction and contentment. I'm going to be kinder to myself and more appreciative of what I have by spending less time on social media.

7. I am going to prioritize friendships.

In this season of raising young children, it's been all too easy to neglect my friendships. "They'll understand," I reason. "They're busy, too." And they do, and they are, but it's so rejuvenating to take the time to reconnect.

So every week, I'm going to reach out to a friend—whether by text, email, or over a cup of coffee. Just a quick check-in, to see how things are and let them know I'm thinking of them.

8. I am going to spend more time being present.

I work part-time from home. It's great because there's no real set schedule and I can get my work done whenever it works for me. Of course, these are also the precise things that make it difficult. If I'm not careful, I spend a lot of time on my laptop or phone when I'm with my kids, because I think I can check just one more thing off the to-do list real quick.

This year, I'm going to do a better job of drawing lines around my time with the kids—the first hour after school and the hour before bedtime will belong solely to them, as will mealtimes. Work can wait.

9. I am going to make space for my passions.

I love to write. It's how I make sense of my emotions and how I capture memories. But it doesn't pay the bills, fold the laundry, keep the house clean or take care of the kids, which means it often ends up at the bottom of my priority list.

I know I can't move it to the top of the list, but I can carve out time every week just for writing. And I will.

10. I am going to give and accept grace.

Some days, my 3-year-old is going to wake up in a bad mood. My 7-year-old is going to spill his milk all over the kitchen floor (again). I'm going to skip my workout.

Typically, these are things that would make me roll my eyes and my temper flare. But what if I met mistakes with grace instead? "That's okay; let's wipe it up together." "No problem; I'll just set my alarm early and workout tomorrow instead."

In my opinion, an unexpected dose of grace never fails to make an impact.

New Year, I'm ready for you.

This story was originally published on Coffee + Crumbs. Check out their book, The Magic of Motherhood, for more heartwarming essays about motherhood, love, and the good kind of heartache.

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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