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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

six things to a happier more productive me (you)

Its the end of January.


This is how I feel the end of January.


So, this title. Huh? Does it make you laugh? Its very ambitious of me, right? And, according to my protestant Midwestern upbringing shall I put it? very self centered of me?

But, lets face it. The old saying is true. Ain't mama happy....Ain't nobody happy.

Because we set the tone.

Because emotionally, we hold these little hearts in our hands.

Because the world, as it were, rests on our shoulders.




(Ha. That just fit so nice I had to say it.)

And when the grey skies prompt the EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH kind of days and we are holding on by a thread as the kids pile all the blankets and cushions on the floor of the living and start jumping OVER and OVER and OVER again and your other kid keeps asking how to spell EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. of his book report.

And you try.

But that ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

And then you take on some perspective. A step back. And the Daunting, Difficult, Dammit, becomes Daring, Death-defying, Dreamy, even. Because its a challenge. And you rise up. Somehow. Over and over, we moms do.

And, I was talking to dada about this the other night, in one of those rare conversations after the kids are asleep and the house is quiet, about what I have realized, in my walk as a mother, that I need to stay sane, happier, more productive.

And, I share it with you here now, not as a list of what might be true for you, but to think about your own ingredients for a happier more productive you, to find them, whatever they are, and BUILD THEM INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE.

This is so crucial. Make them part of your daily in and out breathing, what you do, to turn the Daunting Difficult Dammit into Daring Death-defying Dreamy, your mommying life. YOUR life.

1) ATMOSPHERE- I am a very visual person, I see the scene as I write. I picture books as I read. So for me, that also means that my surroundings directly feed into my mood. I need tidy. I need beauty. I need (somewhat) organized. A folder for my homeschool files. A shelf for my art supplies. Not that my toilets have to be scrubbed daily, mind you, but, that when I am feeling overwhelmed a sure fire way to feel more on top of things is to sweep the kitchen floor and clear the clutter of the counter. This also means beauty. To rotate pictures, to have something new to look at. To burn candles as  wash dishes. To yes, have the kids toys arranged attractively in the living room on the shelves. It is not neurotic, I have come to realize, it is just what my visual oriented self needs.

2)  ACTIVITY - My level of daily activity needs to be varied, but not too crazy. Finding the level of activity that is enough (sitting at home day after day makes me become an introverted wreck) but not TOO much (I need yoga-pants time daily....HA) is a balancing act. But, I tend toward less activity than more. Its funny I was more extroverted as a younger adult. Now that I'm heading into the, gulp, 40s I need more down time. Actually though I think parenthood did that to me. HA. This also includes getting outside and being physical - gardening - or even just doing yoga for a bit with the kids.

3) ARTISTIC RELEASE - This is super important to my personality, something that I am just realizing really about me in the past few years. I need that release. I didn't write for many years, but good grief, I need to write. It's so helpful. And artistic creation in other ways too. Drawing, painting, but also crafting or sewing. Something. Frivolous, seemingly. Soul-filling, in reality.

4) RELATIONSHIPS - Motherhood is an island, in so many ways, in the early years especially. Tied down to nap schedules and feedings and just as you get it worked out (Maybe I could get out of the house to a playgroup!) Another kid comes along. Now, veteran moms will tell you, hey stick that kid in an ergo and go to the playgroup anyhow! But, for new moms, in my experience anyhow, this is so challenging to balance. And so, we stake out our space on Facebook, and dream of the day when we will do more than chat to the grocery store clerk for our weekly adult interaction. It took me several years, being a new mom in a town new to me, and now in a new town again, but I think I am figuring this one out. Its still a work in progress though. New friendships as adults are HARD. But, luckily I have lots of siblings, a text away, and several are mommies too. (Thank you God for them!)

5) PURSUITS OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD - It took me several years of mommying to realize this was okay to need. Oh sure, I worked, consulting work from home. But really that was to pay the bills, and mostly that was it. Although being able to go to a meeting with a client leaving kiddies at home was great. Now, without that, I have realized I need to spend time, daily, weekly at least, pursuing career/work ambitions OUTSIDE of mommying. For me, lately, this has been writing pursuits (about to send my first book to agents! Meeting with a potential writing partner/group person soon!) and my international "teaching/advocacy" type efforts (Hawaii connections, Mexico, and etc.)

I have to confess not getting this in my early years. I would never again work. Never again travel. My life, my own pursuits, were over. And then somehow I started seeing the need for it, craving it. Something that was mine, just for me. And it took awhile, but then I became okay with WANTING IT. Now, its totally  part of my "happier-me" list. And it happens, weekly, if not daily. Even giving yourself ten minutes of space to write an email, work on a troublesome paragraph, something SOMETHING to further your dreams.

YOU ARE WORTH IT. I try to tell myself. Give yourself that time.

6) STABILITY - This one is harder to control, but it has to be recognized as a stressor for me. Its basically financial at this point. Launching dada's new business has made it a hard thrifty sort of year for us. Necessarily so, but still. Not knowing how this or that bill is going to get paid becomes SO HEAVY it clouds my seeing of everything. Little man's attitude over his math assignment is suddenly SO IRRITATING. The dishes in the sink SO OVERWHELMING. The girls sing-song play SO GRATING. And then, I am learning, take a step back. Life does not suck. This ONE THING is challenging right now. But that is all. Everything else is quite good.

Perspective. You know?

This has also been, in the past, things such as - moving, school choices for the kids, those large life decisions that loom up ahead, daunting, difficult, dammit. And, it may not change them - the bill still is there, staring at you - but realizing how that instability impacts your day to day mood, well, it is huge. Because once you see it, you can see past it, to all the goodness around, trying to hug you, little sticky fingers, beautiful sing-song voices, thoughtful minds.

I don't know. I just felt compelled to write all this, for myself, but any other mamas out there wrestling through this time of year. Sit with a cup of coffee. Think it through. What are your things that impact your days, your perspective?


The year we take Daunting Difficult Dammit to DARING DEATH-DEFYING DREAMING.

Onward, ever upward.

awwww baby green


me in teaching mode, way back when

writing coffee me time. with the princess and her ipad cartoons. ;)


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