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.