Four Ways to Serve Your Family While Prioritizing Yourself
If I’ve learned one thing this summer, it’s this: if I’m not careful, the weight and responsibility of motherhood and keeping house can really drag me down. I’ve wasted so many hours of my motherhood experience feeling helpless and overwhelmed and it’s only recently that I’ve figured out my own little secret that helps me maintain a healthy level of optimism during the hard parts: finding little ways to prioritize myself and give myself some purpose. I know motherhood is not meant to be joyless and stressful, and allowing myself some time to regroup and refocus is so so helpful for me.
When I take time for myself, I have a more productive day and I’m a happier person. But what about the busy weeks or financially rough times when we just can’t afford a nanny or daycare or even find the time for a break? I’ve been there, or am there currently, or will be there in the near future. I’ve put together a list of things I do regularly to feel more purposeful and happy, which is my own secret to feeling more joyful in my motherhood experience. I’m sharing this list today in the hopes that, regardless of your situation or season of life, one of these options is helpful to you and provides you with the opportunity you’ve been looking for to lead a more positive life while caring for your family.
Include your family in your daily worship/meditation rituals
Whether your preferred mode of operation is waking up early to fit in some early morning meditation/alone time or simply working in some prayers or spoken gratitude for blessings throughout the day, these are some of the first things to go when I feel busy or overworked. I set the alarm clock for a little later, or I say “peace out” to journaling and prayers in favor of getting in a few extra chores or work tasks done here and there. Call it laziness or call it a disconnect, but regardless, I’m always suffering as a result of cutting down on these little moments, and I think we’d all do better to prioritize ways to work them into our day-to-day routine.
My all-time favorite relaxation thing (because I’ve never been able to get my brain to fully shut-off for proper meditation) is to listen to uplifting podcasts. I love them, and I always feel so pumped after listening, but for some reason I’m constantly going without because I get it in my head that I don’t have “time”. Why do I need “time” to listen to something when my ears aren’t doing anything sitting around watching my kids play anyway?? I’ve started to take my headphones and my phone around with me to listen to my podcasts when we run errands, or take a walk to the park by our house, or even just while I’m sitting with my kids and playing in the basement. They don’t mind the sound even when my headphones aren’t in, and I get to give my mind a creative, fulfilling purpose without disrupting our schedule.
Some of my favorite podcasts are What the Eff., The Purpose Show, and The Goal Digger Podcast. All of these women are major powerhouses of motivation and information and my emotional, mental, and entrepreneurial cups all runneth over after spending time listening to any of their episodes.
Other ways you can include your family in your daily routine or worship rituals, or at least fit them in for yourself without disrupting your family’s schedule, is to maybe bring your journal with you to a park so your kids can play and get out of the house, staying somewhat confined and out of trouble while you write down your thoughts. You could also include them in your prayer time, meditation, or morning at-home exercising routine. Obviously, these things will all look a lot different and be a lot shorter with your children involved, but it’s a better-than-nothing scenario that still sees you at the end of the day having spent some time on yourself.
Make the most of nap-time
Trust me: I KNOW the real temptation that is taking naps when your kids nap. But whenever I do, I wake up faced with exactly what I was trying to escape when I shut my eyes: screaming children, a messy house, and absolutely zero motivation to do anything about it.
This summer, I stopped napping or binge-watching The Vampire Diaries when my kids slept, and instead I opted for light housework (that wouldn’t wake them up), reading for pleasure, and pulling out my laptop to catch up on work. The benefits I got from spending that time productively were tenfold, and I realized that I don’t actually need that 45 minute catnap to get through my day. In fact, I actually feel better when I don’t interrupt my day in that way, and instead treat the afternoon nap-time as a reset as if I were starting a new day fresh.
That being said, I can already tell that my children’s napping days are coming to a close. What used to be a 2.5 hour nap has recently become a one-hour one, and while I’m going to hang on to these one-hour naps for as long as motherly possible, I’m starting to get creative with the ways I hit that reset button after lunch. I’ve started to introduce afternoon movie-watching into our daily routine in a way that doesn’t interrupt whatever I was working on while they were asleep too much, and lets them stay calm for another hour or so after getting up.
Setting aside this time for me to get things done allows me to continue on with a productive afternoon and evening and keeps my patience from running too thin. It doesn’t always go as smoothly as I outlined here, but this is the goal, and it’s what we shoot for every day. Each day we successfully follow a similar schedule to this, I can really feel the benefit of taking that time for myself to get in a more positive mental state. And my kids love the movie time. So win/win.
Take a night for yourself regularly
Another new tradition we introduced this summer was Wednesday night McDonald’s outings for dinner. We have a whole system where Josh stops by the house on his way home from work at 5:00 and picks up the boys, and they go to McDonald’s to eat dinner, just the boys. They’ll play at the Playplace, then come home to bring me my food, and then take off again on another adventure. Sometimes they go get a treat, sometimes they just go to a park, and other times they go run errands for me like grocery shopping. Josh is seriously the real MVP.
This one night is pretty much what gets me through the week, sanity-wise. I have this night to push off big projects onto that come in at the beginning of the week, or it can be a way that I get ahead on projects for later on so I can spend weekends with my family. And the best part is that I’m getting time ALONE during the kids’ waking hours without having to pay a babysitter. And all the boys (including Josh) genuinely love having this guys night together! Their schedule isn’t interrupted, and I still get to help with bath-time and nightly routines, but I’m totally refreshed from my two-hour stint busting out some work projects here at home while they had their adventure.
My suggestion for anyone not able to accommodate a similar routine into their schedule is to find a buddy feeling the same way and child swap. Or, instead of eating out for dinner, use that money to pay a sitter one night a week so that you can get some things done. You have to remember: you’ll never feel better about your situation unless you PRIORITIZE making a change to your normal routine. And surely $15/week is worth it to get caught up on everything from house work to work work and just have some peace. It definitely is for me.
Find a productive hobby conducive to your situation
As I’ve said before, one of my favorite parts about running my own business is that I control when I work and where. I run 99% of my business from my BED. Usually in pajamas! You can’t get more “free” than that! I’ve prioritized this set-up and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Find a hobby that brings you joy that fits your situation. Rock climbing is probably out if you have young children, but baking sure isn’t. Or what about small crafts that can be quickly and easily shut away in a box and shoved under the bed, ready to be picked up again when you have another spare minute? Or maybe you enjoy writing, and you have an interest in starting a blog? Whatever you choose as your creative outlet, you’re sure to find some internal peace from picking up this new hobby or passion. If you need help thinking through this new outlet, hit me up or visit this page, you dreamer.
While you’re at it, you might as well figure out a way to monetize the time you spend on this new hobby. After all, your time is money, even time spent with your kids. As you find a new routine that works for your entire family that includes this new hobby, consider how you could turn it into a side hustle to bring in a little extra income! Let me help you figure out how to make some money off this new skill.
Whatever season of life you are in, I think it is SO important to prioritize yourself. It’s not selfish to spend time working on something alone; in fact, I 100% believe that it makes you a better person! When you can have the opportunity to come to know yourself, you can be a more whole person and put forth good energy into the world, allowing for a more positive, uplifting environment in your home and in your relationships.
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