There have been a few times in my life that I experienced what I refer to as a "light-bulb" moment. It happens when something becomes so crystal clear and illuminated in my mind, it literally feels like a light bulb has been turned on in a dark room.
A while ago, I had a light-bulb moment regarding my self-care routine. It transformed me in a way I couldn't have foreseen, and the change extended to my entire family.
We've all heard flight attendants instruct us to put our oxygen mask on before those that we are caring for. Every single time I fly, I silently thank the airline for the gentle reminder. It never gets old.
As a young mom, I thought that putting everyone else’s needs before my own meant that I was proving my love to my family. Giving up everything I loved in order to give more to everyone else was what good moms did, right? Until I started to fall apart. When I put myself last, my family got the exhausted, depleted, and overwhelmed version of Mommy. Not my best look.
We can't share what we don’t have, right? If we don’t have reserves of energy that keep us balanced and centered, we can’t give our best to our children, our spouses, our extended family, or our jobs.
As I slowly gave myself an inch or two here and there to prioritize my own needs, I became more patient, present, and joyful. I was able to bring the best version of myself to everyone that I cared about.
It didn't take much. You can do it, too. Here are the five tweaks that got me from hot mess to mindful mom:
1. I find gratitude wherever I can.
I taped a small piece of paper that simply says "gratitude" to my bathroom mirror. When I brush my teeth in the morning and evening, I think of a few things that I am grateful for. This way, without even budgeting any extra time, I'm starting and ending each day with appreciation. The more I practice gratitude, the more the universe gives me to be grateful for. Not to mention it is virtually impossible to feel stress and gratitude at the same time, so thinking of things you're grateful for is an amazing way to recalibrate your energy.
2. I start the day with meditation.
I decided I deserved the gift of starting each day from a balanced, centered place so I could take that energy into my entire day. I sit in stillness for just a few minutes each morning and find clarity, peace, and calm. All it takes to make this happen is setting my alarm 10 minutes earlier each night. Doing this consistently makes me feel more present, patient, and connected.
3. I do my best to get enough sleep.
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep, and I was almost never getting that. Sleep helps your body recover from day-to-day stress, and rest should be a priority. I took my bedtime back slowly, by 15 minutes every two weeks, until I reached my desired sleep number.
4. I spend time in nature.
There's something about fresh air that always clears my head, sparks creativity, and helps me chill out. When life starts making me a little nuts, whether it’s work, my kids, or self-doubt, I know that a few minutes outside will help bring me back to center.
5. I give myself transition time.
Whether you're a working mom or new grad just getting your feet wet in the workplace, life sends our concentration in a million directions on a daily basis. We hop from one task to the next without taking so much as a deep breath. Giving myself time to "change hats," so to speak, has made a huge difference in how I fulfill each of my roles. It allows me to bring my best self to each task.
My transitional ritual:
It doesn't have to be some complex, involved thing. I started taking a few deep breaths and doing a one-minute meditation between tasks, and it's been a total game-changer. Getting the kids off to school feels like a job in itself, so before I start my actual workday, I use my ritual to transition from mom mode to work mode. I do this again at the end of the day to help myself prepare to put my "mom hat" back on.
The more love I show myself, the more love I am able to attract and share. All of my relationships have improved. My transformation has shown me that self-care isn’t selfish at all. It’s actually the opposite! The better care I take of myself, the better I can care for everyone I love.