The One Thing Every New Mom Should Know

The One Thing Every New Mom Should Know

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

 

The One Thing Every New Mom Should Know

 

When you are a new mom, absolutely EVERYONE is full of advice. From the lady checking you at at the grocery store to your friend who had her first baby a few months before, people are bombarding you with what you should be reading, or doing to care for your bundle of joy. And though it is mostly well meaning, it can be incredibly overwhelming. You are reading everything you can and listening to all the advice and you are wondering if you are even capable of all this. So who do you listen to? What do you do? Answer: You do what’s best for you and your baby.

 

Revolutionary, right? It certainly can feel that way when several voices claim to have “the right answer” for everyone. And then “the right answer” doesn’t really work for you. You can feel like a failure. But you are not! Truth is: there is no one right answer.

 

But think about it: your baby is unique. You are unique. Your situation is unique. When you add it all up together, it makes sense that there is absolutely no way there is a one size fits all approach to raising babies. What works like a dream for one person, may be your personal nightmare. Research and ask for advice. But then trust yourself to make the best choice for your baby. The only thing you have to do is keep you and your baby happy and healthy. So whatever path that takes just so happens to be the best thing.

 

It's easy to get overwhelmed as a first times mom. Cut through the overwhelm with one simple tip.

 

“I can’t believe they are letting us take her home.”

 

Trust me. I understand feeling completely clueless as a parent. As a parent of 4 little ones, it’s hard to imagine life before them. But before I gave birth to my first, I was afraid to hold babies because they seemed so delicate.

 

But trust me–babies are made to withstand clueless parents.

 

When my husband and I were leaving the hospital with our first, I just couldn’t believe they were letting us take our baby home. As I hobbled out of the door, recovering from over 24 hours of labor and an emergency c-section, I did not feel very confident about much of anything. Waving goodbye in the lobby, the nurses noticing the looks of terror in our eyes cheerfully waved us on exclaiming: “Remember, there’s no return policy!

 

You will become the expert on your baby.

 

From the moment your child is born, you are learning everything about your baby. You are around your baby 24/7–which is why by about week 2 you are pretty delirious. As your baby communicates through his body and cries, you learn to speak his language. You know what he is saying. From “I’m hungry” to “put me to bed now,” you really do become the expert on your baby because you learn his patterns.

 

However, you’re most likely not the expert on raising babies. That’s where research and getting trusted advice comes in. Get a solid base of information, and try things out. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!

 

For example, Dr. Ferber’s book How to Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems pretty much saved my life. Sleep deprived and pregnant with my second child, I picked the book up at the recommendation of my pediatrician. Within the first chapter, my mind was blown. I devoured the book, and instituted his method and within a week, my husband and I felt human again and our baby was a happy little delight. But I know other moms who don’t feel comfortable with sleep training of any sort. That’s great! You have to do what works for you, your philosophy, and your life.

 

Super Simple Parenting Formula:

 

  1. Research everything you can. Read the books people recommend. Talk to moms you admire and get their best tips and tricks.
  2. Then, you do you. No one person has the same set of circumstances or personality as you do. Couple that with your unique and wonderful, never-before-seen baby, and you have a 100% new and unique situation that YOU are the expert at. So you do what’s best for you.

 

Where to Start: My 3 Favorite Books For New Moms

 

If you are looking for a place to start gathering information, there are a few books that I found really helpful and general enough that they can be useful to pretty much everyone. They all were extremely helpful books as I was adjusting to being a new mom and helped me figure out what was best for me and my baby.

 

  • The Happiest Baby On the Block: This was a lifesaving book. The biggest question many new parent have (at about 2:00am) is “How do I make my baby stop crying?” This book answers that question with 5 basic strategies to soothe a crying infant. This book is seriously golden. The strategies really work.
  • Heading Home With Your Newborn: This is a resource book written by 2 pediatricians who both happen to be mothers. It’s a great guide to things like the first fever, giving baths, and most of the questions that pop up in your first weeks home with your baby.
  • The Baby Whisperer: I felt like I learned a lot from this book about how to actually care for my baby throughout the day. I didn’t quite follow everything she said, but it was extremely helpful information in helping me find my own groove with my baby.

 

Have confidence in yourself, mama.

 

As a mom, you truly are the expert on your baby. You may feel overwhelmed and inadequate. In fact, I don’t think there is a new mom who doesn’t experience those emotions! But, trust me, you are the expert on your child. You know when he’s hungry, or tired, or uncomfortable because you have been around him 24/7 his entire life. You are inherently the expert on your baby because you’ve been learning from the moment he was born. So, with some great information, you are most capable of figuring out what is best for your little family.

 

You’ve got this!

 

–Erin

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11 Tips to Surviving and Thriving With 4 Kids 5 and Under

11 Tips to Surviving and Thriving With 4 Kids 5 and Under

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Surviving and Thriving With 4 Kids Five and Under (and a Job)

Let’s be honest: it’s easy to feel overwhlemed as a mom of 1 kid, let alone 4 kids 5 and under. Mommin’ is hard. Some of the hardest work around. We rarely even get to go to the bathroom alone, let alone get an actual break from our daily labor. Even if we start the day like a rock star, by 5:00pm we start to lose our marbles.

I get it. I’ve been there more times than I can count. But having 4 kids in under 5 years and managing a job on top of it has taught me a thing or two about trying to keep mom overwhlem at bay. The principles of avoiding overwhelm while raising kids is pretty much the same no matter how many kids you have.
11 Tips to Survive Motherhood of Small Kids and Avoid Overwhelm

Being a mom of 4 kids 5 and under can be REALLY tough. These tips for moms on not only surviving, but THRIVING with small kids can help make you days happier, healthier and more balanced!

 

11 TIPS FOR MANAGING MOM OVERHWHELM

(SURVIVING & THRIVING WITH 4 KIDS 5 AND UNDER)

 

1) Make your health a priority.

When you get on an airplane, the flight attendant always goes through that spiel where they remind you that in case of an air pressure emergency to put on your own mask before helping anyone else.

This absolutely applies to motherhood. So many moms put their needs last, afraid to take care of themselves thinking it will take away from their kids. But it’s not a zero-sum game where if you are focusing on yourself, your kids are missing out. It’s actually the opposite: The better care you give yourself, the better equipped you are to take care of your family.

Just like you can’t put on your kid’s masks on an airplane if you’ve passed out due to lack of oxygen, you can’t give your kids everything if you are running on empty. You are probably already a pretty dang awesome mom. I mean, seriously: if you are reading this, you are probably trying to get tips to be a better mom. Crummy moms don’t do that. You’re a good mom. So take care of yourself mentally and physically and you can become even better. Check out my post of getting started with self-care here.

 

2) Get enough sleep.

Okay, stop laughing. It actually is possible. But it’s not going to happen naturally–it’s gonna take some effort. But even with 4 kids 5 and under, I almost always get at least 7 hours of sleep a night (here’s some strategies to get better sleep).

Have you ever been so exhausted after you put the kids to bed that you can’t do anything but sit and stare? So you sit in front of the TV and binge a show for 3 hours because you can’t muster the energy to actually go to bed. Then the kids wake you up the next day and you are totally crabby because you are exhausted.

Oh boy, been there and done that. While it’s nice to do sometimes, I realized that it does not fit with my goals. I can’t do that regularly and be the mom I want to be.

Sleep is 100% linked to basically every part of your health  (weight, energy, level, skin etc) not to mention directly correlated to the amount of patience one has. And you are going to need that as a mom. I’m not saying you have to stop watching The Bachelor or doing something else that brings you joy. But you’ve got to be smarter about it to get enough sleep. Even cleaning your house may be unproductive if you are sleep deprived. Think about it: if you were bleeding profusely, you wouldn’t be like “Oh, let me just finish these dishes and then I’ll go get something to take care of this bleeding.” You would take care of the bleeding immediately. If you are seriously sleep deprived, sleep is way more important than cleaning.

 

3) Wake up before the kids.

Call me crazy, but I wake up at 4:00am most mornings. I am NOT a natural morning person, but once I started doing this, it changed my whole life.

This gives me my “Me Time” in the morning when I am fresh and can make the most of it. I find that waking up early, exercising, and getting a few thing done before my kids are awake honestly makes me feel like there are more hours in the day.

Without a doubt, days when I wake up before my kids are far more productive than when I wake up to a child staring at me and asking for breakfast. Once my 4 kids 5 and under are awake, I have to hit the ground running and I have zero time for myself. If I have my “Me Time” after the kids are in bed, chances are it’s going to be spent in front of the TV or computer doing something completely unproductive. Which means time wasted and crummy sleep.

 

4) Write a comprehensive “To Do” list every single morning, first thing.

Organization is key when balancing all the mom tasks that we have. Writing down all that you need to get done can help take the stress off your mind and focus your energy during the day.

I’ll usually begin my list the night before so I wake up knowing where my daily focus should be. I’m old school and write most of my daily lists on legal pads (there are no fewer than 5 strewn across my house at any particular time–my husband just loves it!). Pretty much every major task I need to accomplish from exercising, showering, taking kids to school, making dinner, or calling a plumber is on my list.

Apps like Wunderlist or Evernote can also be super helpful in organizing your day and consolidating your lists.

 

5) Exercise.

Exercising boosts energy, promotes bone and muscle function, aids in weight loss, and helps mental health. And you don’t need to spend hours doig it to reap the benefits. Just 2-30 minutes of solid exercise can make a huge difference.

For me, working out a key element of most all of my “good mom days”. All these benefits are like gold when it comes to taking care of 4 kids 5 and under and maintaining a home all day. My average day is like an olympic event, so working out is like conditioning to mentally and physically handle my long busy days. For ideas on exercising, check out my post 6 Gym-Free Ways For Busy Moms to Fit in a Quick Workout.

 

6) Pick your battles wisely.

This has been a very key strategy to how I am able to manage all I have on my plate. You can’t do it all, but you can do what is important and valuable to YOU. For example, I do not battle over my kids clothes and hair. It does not affect my happiness one bit. Instead, the fact that they dress themselves from about age 2 and on makes my life considerably easier.

As an added bonus, they love having some control and autonomy over their lives. Plus they learn to make their own choices. We do “brush our hair for Jesus” so they look presentable at church. And they have to be appropriately covered (no panties showing and pants & jackets if it’s cold). Peplum tops pose serious confusion as my girls cannot understand that they are not actually dresses.

On the other hand, I am really concerned about my kids eating healthy food. Therefore, I put a lot more energy and effort into preparing healthy foods and encouraging them to like things that are good for their bodies.

You can’t fight every battle and have sanity left over. Pick your battles and let go of the rest.

 

7) Shower & get dressed everyday.

It may seem silly, but I am more productive and efficient when I am showered and dressed for the day. Being dressed and presentable allows me to focus more clearly on the tasks I have to get done. Mind you, “dressed for the day” does not mean I’m ready for the Oscars or even to go to work. It means I am clean, clothed, and have brushed my teeth. This whole process takes me about 15 minutes. I shower, use this dry shampoo, put my hair in a ponytail, and if I’m feeling fancy I use a little mascara and lip moisturizer.

 

8) Give individual attention and snuggles to each child daily.

Having 4 kids 5 and under means that this takes some forethought. But lot’s of snuggles make happier kids. And crabby kids make for a crabby and frustrated mama. But most crabby kids don’t need a lecture, they need a good long hug. The more snuggles in a day, usually translates into a smoother, happier day.

 

9) Live by 1 minute rule

If a task will take only 1 minute or less to complete, do it right away. This gives you 2 boosts: you get the satisfaction of getting something done plus it creates momentum to accomplish more tasks.

This is how I manage my long to-do list. Attack the quick and easy stuff right when I think of it. Otherwise, I get massive overwhelm with all I have to do. If you have a bunch of small tasks do them back to back. It takes a couple minutes and you get a great energy and happiness boost.

 

10) Use the “10 minute clean” philosophy.

It’s pretty amazing what kinds of messes 4 kids 5 and under can make in just a few minutes. When I have huge messes to clean and no time (i.e. every moment of my life), this strategy perfect. I muster whatever strength I have for just 10 minutes and I do a whirlwind clean. It’s amazing what I can accomplish in 10 minutes when I am focused and working quickly. It’s usually enough to get areas of my house in good enough shape to feel fine moving on to an essential task or going to bed.

 

11) Declutter, declutter, declutter.

The more things you have, the more messes you have to clean up. So the more clutter you have, the more time it takes to manage it. A couple of years ago, I was so very frustrated by all the messes in our home and a friend recommended Marie Kondo’s The Magical Art of Tidying Up. I devoured the book. Then I immediately started to do her program of massive purging. I did it all–even talking to my possessions. It was therapeutic and energizing. I was able to part with stuff I’d held on to for years without a second glance. And best of all: it made keeping my house clean so much easier. Not to mention I enjoyed my home so much more. I completely reorganized my home and kitchen to be more functional. As an added bonus, we made several hundred dollars selling stuff on Craigslist and at a garage sale.

The Minimalists are also a great decluttering resource if you are looking for motivation. This is one of their strategies to declutter your home and life.

 

These “Rules” Make 4 Kids 5 and Under Totally Doable

So there you have it! These are some key tactics to managing my life with kids and work. As our family has quickly grown over the last few years, these tips have been nothing short of lifesaving. No matter how mant kids you have, these tips can help manage the overwhelm.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

Happy Mama Hack: Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary

Happy Mama Hack: Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Messy homes are natural byproducts of having children.

When I became a mother, I realized why my parents had brown carpet growing up. Small kids are whizzes at creating spectacular messes in miraculously short times. While I was vacumming the other day, my child had snuck some chips from the pantry and was silently trailing me so when I was finished, I looked upon my work and the carpet was actually dirtier than when I had begun. While messy homes are normal for homes with small kids, it’s very hard for some moms to find peace while in the midst of dirty dishes and messes to clean. So how can a mom get some true peace and relaxation without staying up all night cleaning? One fantastic way to find peace and relaxation at the end of the day (or in the middle!) is to make your bedroom a sanctuary, free from clutter, toys and the like.

You don’t have to light incense and meditate (though this are actually awesome things) to create a room where you can relax, clear your mind, and unwind at the end of a long busy day. Just taking some simple steps can transform your bedroom (or another room in the house) into a place of refuge from stress and an oasis of peace in your home.

 Create apeaceful bedroom for moms

I Can’t Relax in Clutter

I am most definitely someone who cannot sit down to relax until my house is clean. Four small kids, a job, and a husband who doesn’t have the same needs for cleanliness make keeping my house clean and trying to relax at the end of the day incredibly difficult. Despite running around all day picking up and helping kids to pick up after themselves, I rarely had the house up to my standard by bedtime. Instead, I would look around after the kids went to bed, my eyes heavy with sleep, and my house would be a complete disaster. Often I would stay up for hours cleaning then stagger into bed at 1 or 2am only to have the messes begin again a few hours later.

However, a while ago I decided to make my sleep a top priority for overall health. Because my mind goes about a million miles an hour at all times, I tend to have a hard time falling asleep at night. After reading a lot about improving sleep, I decided that I needed to make my bedroom a place where it is easier for me to relax. I instituted several rules for my bedroom and it absolutely changed my mood at the end of the day. Not only is it easy to relax and unwind in my peaceful room, but my sleep is exponentially better. Even if other parts of my house are messy.

Making My Bedroom a Sanctuary

Turning my bedroom into a sanctuary was actually quite simple, yet yielded incredible results. After changing a few things in my bedroom, the end product was an oasis from the chaos and mess of my everyday. Not everyone likes the same things, so everyone’s idea of creating a sanctuary will be a little different.

But here’s what I did:

1) I banned toys from my bedroom

This was a major source of annoyance for me. My girls love to play in our bedroom, but stepping on small toys while getting ready for be of while getting up at night to pee does not inspire positive emotions. I basically told my girls that if toys end up in my room, they were going to disappear forever. They didn’t believe me and proceeded to leave a bunch of toys in my room the next day so I gathered them all up. Instead of throwing them away, I made them do chores to earn them back. They started to get the picture. With constant enforcing (and a few disappearing toys), I rarely find toys in my bedroom now.

2) I moved my alarm clock across the room

This had served multiple purposes. Firstly, the lights and the electronic buzz coming from my alarm clock made it hard to fall asleep. It did not promote relaxation while I was in bed. Also, if I was tossing and turning, having the time staring at me in big red letters wasn’t exactly helpful in relaxing me. As an added bonus, having my alarm clock across the room helps me avoid the snooze button so I an achieve my morning goals easier.

3) I avoid any clutter like the plague

Clutter makes me cranky. While I can’t keep on top of my entire house no matter how I try (and get enough sleep) I can keep on top of my bedroom clutter. Discarded clothes, shoes, and other items can usually all be put away in a few minutes if you are doing it regularly.

4) I make my bed every day

I admit that I used to find making my bed entirely pointless. But I have totally changed my tune. I make my bed first thing every morning and I get a rush of happiness when I’m done. Then, every time I see it during the day, I get small little jolts of happiness. And sliding into a crisply make bed at the end of the day feels so luxurious. Making my bed brings me joy and peace throughout me day. And it really makes my bedroom feel like an oasis.

5) I put in a reading chair

Reading is one of my favorite things. I’ll do it in the bath and in my special reading chair. This chair from Ikea is amazing and I am completely in love with it. My husband thinks it’s hideous, but it makes me so happy. I was surprised how comfortable it is and it’s made the perfect reading chair in the corner of my room. Creating a space where I can relax and read has been such a delight. Instead of just taking away annoyances in my bedroom, it actually adds something that brings me a lot of joy and fulfillment.

Create Your Own Sanctuary

Everyone’s idea of a relaxing sanctuary is going to be different. Mine is perfect for me. Maybe your bedroom isn’t even the ideal place–maybe you have another room in mind. Regardless of your situation, creating a space where you can relax and find peace daily will significantly increase your happiness.

What is your perfect bedroom sanctuary? Let me know in the comments!

-Erin

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Create apeaceful bedroom for momsCreate apeaceful bedroom for momsCreate apeaceful bedroom for moms

Loving My Post-Pregnancy Body

Loving My Post-Pregnancy Body

Loving My Post-Pregnancy Body

 

I was right in the middle of running a 10K turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day 2015 when it happened—when the way I looked at my body completely changed and I truly loved my post-pregnancy body for what it was. I had just given birth via c-section a few months earlier to my third child in just 3 years. While I had a full marathon and about 7 half-marathons under my belt, I hadn’t raced since before having children. I was just trying to finish without walking or having a major medical event. My body was easily carrying 30+ extra pounds from the last few years of perpetual pregnancy.

And like many with the postpartum “mom bod,” I was not particularly thrilled with what I saw when I looked in the mirror. And like many women, I put qualifications on when I could love my body. I would say and think things like: I’ll be happy with my body when I lose 30 lbs. Or 40 lbs. Or when I fit into a size 6 again.

loving my post preg body

The Race

 

When I began the race that crisp Thanksgiving morning, just praying that I could finish, I did not feel comfortable in my skin. But there I was, lumbering along at about mile 3 when to my surprise, I realized that I was actually passing people—people who looked far more fit than me. People who were not carrying around all this extra baggage.

That shocking realization sent a flurry of thoughts racing through my mind and I began contemplating this body of mine. My body had gone through 3 pregnancies and 3 c-sections in 3 years. It miraculously provided food and comfort for my babies and kept up with 3 small kids. My body could pump milk while making dinner and keeping a 2 year old occupied. It could (and often did) snuggle 3 kids at once.

 

A New Light

 

With these thoughts, I began to see my body in a new light. My body was not terrible. My body was amazing. It was incredibly resiliant and capable. It was strong and more useful than a Swiss army knife.

I was 4 months post partum and running a 10k, for Pete’s sake! Like a jolt, I was filled with an overwhelming gratitude for this body of mine that was doing so much for me. I was immensely proud of my body for what it was doing for me.

That’s when it REALLY hit me:

How could I have anything but love for my body that did so much for me and for my family? I was immediately ashamed of the past feelings of discontent with my body and I was struck by how unfair and short-sighted  I had been. Running alongside others in the Turkey Trot, I was fighting back tears of both gratitude for my amazing machine of a body and regret for not loving my body in every state as I should have.

 

So why don’t we love our bodies in every state they are in?

 

There’s a growing movement to accept our bodies in every state. I’ll admit, I used to think those in the fat-acceptance movement were delusional at best and dangerous at worst. But you are morbidly obese, I’d think. You are not healthy. How can you be happy with yourselves? You should want to change. Perhaps it was jealousy that these people could love their bodies when I couldn’t love mine. (An interesting read by Lindy West about fat-acceptance and her experience that I recommend.)

But now, I am so ashamed of that line of thinking.

Because no one is saying that fat = healthy. What they are saying is fat/skinny/whatever = deserve to be loved by myself and others. Having a body that is not idolized by the media does not mean one is deserving of public ridicule and self loathing. No matter what unrealistic expectations for society says, our body size and our worth have literally nothing to do with one another. 

And why shouldn’t everyone love themselves? What good does hating your body serve anyway? When I see people fighting back against fat-acceptance, I get so frustrated. Think about it: how does hating our bodies help us in any way?

Hating your body will not be a gateway to greater health. But loving your body as it is, I can attest, is certainly a gateway to better health, both mental and physical.

 

Why We Should Love Our Bodies, No Matter What

 

But what can loving our bodies do? It can improve our mental health and happiness. I love my post-pregnancy body, stretch marks and all. And folks, that’s 4 whole pregnancies in 4 years which did not leave this body unscathed.

To be honest, before when I would hear or read about mothers who “loved their stretch marks” after their pregnancies I thought they were absolutely full of it. How can a person love stretch marks? But there I was, in a street full of panting runners, and I finally got it: my body bears scars of love. My c-section scar, my stretch marks, my loose soft skin, all bear the signs of carrying the greatest joys in my life: my children. I would never want to erase the signs my body bears from such beautiful experiences.

Sure, I want to be healthier. I want to be trim and run faster and have firm shapely muscles. But I love myself as I am now. I love and respect the miracle that is my body.

 

3 Steps to Loving Our Bodies as They Are

If you struggle with this, here are just a few ways that you can start to see your postpartum body in a new light.

 

1) Recognize all your body does for you

Get a piece of paper, a pen, and somnversation to be depressie mental juices and start listing. Don’t focus on what it looks like, focus on what it does. Think about all your daily tasks over a 24 hours period. Think of what your body means to and does for the different members of your family. When one truly considers how amazing our bodies are and all they do, it’s hard not to be grateful for them.

 

2) Stop Negative Thoughts About Your Body

When negative thoughts creep into you head about your body, dismiss them and instead think about something from your list of all your body does for you. We can’t always keep thoughts from popping in our heads, but do not lay our the welcome mat and invite them for coffee. Send them packing and focus on positive thoughts.

 

3) Change How You Talk About Your Body

How you talk about your body effects how you feel about yourself and how others feel about themselves. If you start complaining about your body in a group of people, you are inviting the conversation to go down Depression Avenue. You may even invite others to subconsciously start being more del-critical of themselves. It’s not an uplifting subject. Instead, change that discussion into discussing something you are excited about for improving your healthy. As always, be very careful how you talk about your body around kids.

National Eating Disorders Association has an extensive guide of more ways to love your body.

 

We All Deserve to Love Ourselves

 

Remember, our bodies are complex and amazing miracles and we do ourselves a great disservice when we don’t love and respect them. Your body, literal warts and all, is a gift. Learning to truly love my body has not only brought me so much peace and gratitude, but it’s also helped me to make better health decisions. Instead of a blight I want to change, my body is a miracle I want to honor and respect by taking care of it.

What has your body acceptance journey looked like? What does your body do for you? Let me know in the comments!

-Erin

 

Happy Mama Hack: Daily Top 10 List

Happy Mama Hack: Daily Top 10 List

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Happy Mama Hack: Daily “Top 10” List

As moms, we all have bad days. Days when a trip to the store ends up with epic meltdowns, rude strangers, and everyone in tears (including mom) in the parking lot. Or when a child’s scientific toilet experiment ends with a very costly plumber’s visit. Or when mom runs ragged all day long accomplishing things left and right, but at the end of the day there are mounds of laundry, a filthy house, and cranky kids. Strangers we encounter lovingly tell us to “enjoy every second,” but we wonder sometimes how exactly we are supposed to do that amidst the chaos and the messes. While I am convinced not all moments are meant to be joyful (I’m talking to you potty training), I am convinced that every day can end with a little bit of joy. One simple way to find daily joy is through a nightly top 10 list.

Top 10 List for Daily Joy

The Birth of the “Top 10” List

Each night, my husband and I would crawl into bed completely worn out from our respective days, minds reeling with the events of the day and the stresses of tomorrow looming. We tended to go over the events of the day anyway, often focusing on the challenges of both parenthood and our careers. Remembering a gratitude journal I kept in high school, one night early into our parenting days, I proposed that we instead list the top 10 things that happened that day. In order to keep our conversations upbeat, we would take turns sharing 10 of the best moments or successes of our day. What happened was amazing! Instead of focusing on and sharing the difficulties, we shared the successes, the silver linings, and the tender moments.

 

choose to see the good

What Goes on the Top 10 List?

Whatever you want! The whole purpose of this exercise is to see the good things all around you. It could be:

  • a particularly sweet snuggle you got from a child
  • getting to school/appointments on time
  • that the weather was pleasant
  • your children didn’t break anything
  • you were able to finally get to some laundry
  • that your child is improving at a skill
  • you got to have an adult conversation
  • your children shared toys
  • you didn’t have a major emergency

 

When days are particularly tough and moods particularly crabby, it can be as tough to get through the 10. But that’s when we need them most! Once you start the practice, you’ll start to see all the WONDERFUL and sweet things that happen everyday. The top 10 list will help turn crabby moods around, fill you with gratitude, and send you peacefully to sleep.

Let Me Know How it Goes!

So tonight, as you crawl into bed, go over the top 10 moments or miracles of your day. Let me know how it goes in the comments or contact me at the incrementalmama at gmail dot com.

–Erin

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