DEVELOPING ROUTINES

Starting My Day with Making the Bed

For anyone dealing with any sort of mental health challenge (any health challenge really) ((or just feel like there is too much to do in a day)), we struggle with what some may describe as procrastination or laziness.

For example, over the years, I had slid into a habit of reading the news, work email, and/or social media on my phone while trying to get out of bed after the alarm went off. After a while of that, I would jump out of bed and rush around getting ready to start my day. My husband did the same. Our bed was rarely made. I also had a couch that served as a dumping ground for clothes that got tried on, but didn’t make the cut that day. Every few weeks someone would have to go through the pile and hang everything back up.

Our cluttered bedroom was not a relaxing place. Sheepishly, I feel obliged to let it be known that both my parents and my in-laws taught us to make our beds. They always made theirs and I’m sure would have been extremely appalled at how it was NOT happening in our home. Shame, guilt, shame, guilt.

In January, I thought about all the usual new years resolutions, like losing weight, learning to play an instrument, exercising, learning a new language, going vegan, etc. but decided I didn’t want to set myself up for failure yet again. This year I really wanted to be able to accomplish my new years resolution. 2020 was going to be my year. So, I picked Making the Bed.

Reasons why Making the Bed is a great way to start the day:

  • SIMPLICITY: It’s honestly as simple as you want/need it to be. We just take the comforter and cover the bed. Then we line up the pillows. That’s it.
  • PRODUCTIVITY: A 2019 study surveying 1,000 American adults suggested a correlation between making the bed in the morning and being productive.
  • ACCOMPLISHMENT: It’s also something accomplished, done, out of the way, first thing in the morning. It’s a way to create momentum to start checking things off the To Do List. See Productivity.
  • PREVENTION: As my 11-year old pointed out, after making his bed, it was a lot less inviting to crawl back in as you don’t want to undo what you’ve already accomplished.. It kind of gently FORCES you to start your day. See Accomplishment.

It’s weirdly both an easy and difficult resolution to keep. It’s an easy enough task that takes minimal time. But it has an emotional weight to it and it requires a 365-day commitment.

I definitely feel guilty if I can’t even take 1 minute to get it done. (Working on shifting that shame to a self-talk that asks: So! What is the barrier? How can I make this easier on myself?) Plus, different awake times with a partner can also throw this off. I tended to make my side of the bed when I got up, while my husband would leave it for me if he was up first. This annoyed me to no end until I decided to assume that we were both trying to be thoughtful. I was trying to reduce his work while he was not to disturb my sleep. (Confirmed with husband, yes that was it!)

Once I cleared that up, I was able to feel good about this little routine no matter how it happened. It became a routine that just got done.

This is a daily win for me now!

If you are looking to build a daily routine, I highly recommend making your bed as a foundational one.

If you already have that one down, then add something else that brings you closer to your aspirations, like stretching or meditation for your health.

One step at a time.

One day at a time.

FOCUS ON YOU

Not Doin’ Nothin’ This Weekend

According to the World Health Organisation, stress is the health epidemic of the 21st Century. Everywhere you turn, people are stressed. There are many reasons for this, but it mainly boils down to our busy modern lifestyle and the way our reptilian brain is programmed to help us avoid life threatening situations through the fight or flight response. But prolonged exposure to this level of heightened anxiety compromises our immune system and causes inflammatory responses. Chronic stress leads to chronic illnesses and pain. Dude, people are stressed. Not just adults, but youth, little kids, the elderly… like… everyone!

So this has now spawned a billion and one (money making) ways for us to cope with the stress, you know, overcome this challenge, manage our response, because it’s our RESPONSE that’s the problem, not the problem itself. It’s not what happens that matters, it’s how we deal with what happens that matters.

Right?

So we need to work hard everyday on our physical and mental health, eat well (vegetarian? keto?), get enough and good quality sleep (but… insomnia!), exercise (at the gym with weird equipment? rigorously? 30 minutes? 7 minutes?), be positive, be mindful (meditate, do yoga, qigong)… CBT… CBD? THC!? use essential oils, vaccinate, don’t vaccinate, but we have to focus on developing relationships, because relationships are everything, be kind, time flies, the clock is ticking, so we have to seize the day, make every minute count, be a good parent (attachment, authentic, free range, tiger), be a good spouse (thoughtful, organized, do your fair share), be a good employee, manager (get ahead at work, achieve your potential, network, manage up, get along with everyone), learn languages, be good at math, make sure your kids learn languages and are good at math, kids should play competitive sports to develop skills that will help them succeed in the future, travel the world with your kids, if your kids cannot sit still in class, they may have something that requires them to get drugged, be patient, do you have enough money for retirement? make a bucket list, skydive in Paris, eat Wendy’s no antibiotics meat free burger at 11 pm when you’re binge watching all the Must See shows before the Oscars and Emmys, sign up for Oprah’s newly revamped Weight Watchers, while you look at the Must Read Goodreads for your book club piling up by your bed, save your money, make your lunches, but working mothers are happier if they hire someone to clean their houses, every 20 minutes, look up for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away… get fresh air, get sunshine, take your vitamins, blend flaxseeds into your breakfast smoothie, brush your hair and look good, get organized and develop good habits that will make you successful… make a to do list, no don’t make a to do list because it doesn’t work, use a project management approach, break it down into little doable pieces… don’t overshare and don’t forget to keep your kids privacy private because companies make money off of their information… hardwire happiness, make happiness a project, Marie Kondoize your house!

You’ve got this. JUST DO IT!

If you can’t do all this successfully, happily, and through beautiful photos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, Vimeo, Whatsapp, WeChat, you are an utter failure and it’s your own fault that you are stressed.

Because it all boils down to you doing the right thing at the right time…

Now even thinking about things that are supposed to help with stress is stressing people out!

So… I’ve decided… I’m not going to do anything this weekend.

I’m not going to make a list, I’m not going to feel guilty, I’m not going to pressure myself into working on being a better person.

FOCUS ON YOU

Lazy Procrastinating Mama

You know where I’m going with this, right? I’m not that mom who spent a month planning and creating the perfect homemade costume, who is decking out the porch in Halloween decorations, who spent the weekend carving Jack o’Lanterns with my kids and their cousins… Nope. I had to all day work Sunday. I was shuttling kids to their extra curricular programs on Saturday. And most days I have barely enough time to get home, sit down for dinner, check homework, yell (firmly… uh… point… out…?) about why homework didn’t get done, teach them to check their agenda for homework, actually do homework with one or the other or both kids, read a chapter of Harry Potter, brush my teeth, and fall asleep.

So. Halloween is that perfect mix of craziness that triggers my inner critic to berate me about just what a lazy mother I am. I do not make costumes. I do not bake cupcakes with awesome orange and black icing and plastic spiders. I do not decorate the house with amazing fall colours and cotton as spiderwebs. I do not buy boxes of treats to hand out to strangers. I do not dress up in a cool Halloween costume. I am SO NOT festive. Plus, I’m already stressed about the whole should / they shouldn’t they go to the houses of perfect strangers and beg for food that is totally processed and full of poisonous sugar, threatening them that, if they do not comply with providing a treat, they would have a trick played on them by my children. Seriously. The weirdest thing ever. But The Judge likes to take this opportunity to jump on every Instagram photo, Facebook post, family chat, story told by colleague, every decorated neighbour’s house… to pass… well… judgment about how I just don’t measure up to what a mother should be doing, leading up to and during Halloween.

So there I found myself on the Sunday before a Wednesday Halloween (oh why don’t we live in Palo Alto where they all do their activities, like Trunk or Treating on the weekend prior?) driving my 9-year old to Walmart at 6:30 pm, hoping (and pretty sure, but not quite 100%, I-probably-shoulda-googled-this, but-we-just-needed-to-go) that Walmart was still open. Yay. They were. We must have circled the two and half aisles at least 6 times, rummaging through what was left (25% off, as a bonus surprise that I didn’t really notice until we left) and argued over 10 things he refused to consider.

I think we both did okay, considering we were both privately worried that we wouldn’t be able to agree on something. ‘Okay’ meaning he apologized for being so picky and I grumbled a bit but tried to be patient.

And… we did it! We found something that was not overly expensive, that would work with all the logistics (it’s going to be cold, he has to carry his candy bag too, we’re not putting colours in his hair or make up on his face), and that he was happy with!

I’d like to end my story by sharing that after this successful trip, we got home and I happily and joyously confirmed they completed all the homework they were supposed to. But then I would not be telling the truth. And that is for another blog post.

What I can say though, is, I can own it. My little skeleton assassin with the bleeding knife (with black polka dots, no less) was happy. He reassured me, when I started making questioning facial expressions about the idea of such a violent concept, that, no, he isn’t violent in real life, and yes, he agrees that violence is not a good thing, and no, dressing up like this doesn’t make him more violent, and yes, most kids do this sort of thing without becoming violent in real life. So, in the end, we spent some together figuring out something, we are both comfortable with the solution, and we are all going to enjoy Halloween.

Boo to you, Judge. This mama is going to plead Not Guilty! I may not have the skill to be crafty, the energy to be decorative, or the goods to bake cool treats… but this mama can still healthily and joyously enjoy Halloween with my kids doing it my way. So take that!