Regardless of whether we stay home, work outside or inside the home, homeschool our kids or send them to school, moms are busy with lots of stress. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find some pockets of serenity and peace in our lives?
Good news, Mom, you don’t have to try to find them! You can create serenity in your life with just a few simple habits. Some may be a little harder to implement than others, but I promise the effort is worth it. And it’s not an all or nothing situation – if you can manage to use these habits more often than you don’t, call it a win!
Creating a calming/soothing morning ritual
I don’t know about you, but my morning sets the mood for my entire day. If my morning doesn’t go well, the rest of the day is pretty much lost. Especially if you have small kids, a rough start to the day can make the rest of the day feel like you’re trying to catch up, even if things are going well.
That’s why I recommend creating a calming or soothing morning ritual. This doesn’t have to be some 2-hour ritual that you are willing to kill someone in order to stick to it. It should, however, be a sacred time that allows you to feel like you’re easing into your day gently. It should also be something that you can stick with more often than not.
My morning ritual looks like this: I get up and use the bathroom and wash my face. Then I meditate for 5-20 minutes (depending on my schedule for the day), practice yoga for 10-30 minutes (again, schedule-dependent), take a shower and get dressed. The last step is having breakfast (usually a yogurt, some cereal or a protein shake) and some tea, and then I start my day.
Yours might look different. It might include coffee, reading, watching the sun come up, going for a walk or a run, or maybe even snuggling in bed with your spouse or kids. Your routine should be what feels good to you and allows you to gently move into your day without feeling rushed or agitated.
Some of you may be thinking, “I’d have to get up earlier to do this.”
You might, that’s true. But consider this: if your mornings are feeling rushed and out of control, maybe you should be getting up earlier anyway? Again, let’s remember too that this doesn’t need to be a long routine. As little as 15-30 minutes can be enough, so don’t feel like you have to create something elaborate.
Do only one thing at a time
I know, I know. Moms have to multitask or we’ll never get enough done. But if serenity is what you seek, you have to make big changes.
How many times have you had to go back and do something again because you did two things at once and ended up making a mistake? How many times have you been multitasking and ended up forgetting to do other things because you were concentrating so hard on what you were doing?
Though it may seem like doing one thing at a time might make you less productive, it actually has the potential to make you more productive. By focusing on the single task at hand, you’ll be less likely to make mistakes, forget to get things done, and get each task done more quickly because it’s your sole focus.
While you’re doing one thing at a time, consider delegating, too. Despite all the sources that tell you you have to do it all, you really don’t. Ask your spouse to pick up milk or the dry cleaning. Assign chores to kids based on their age and abilities. Even if things aren’t done exactly the way you would have done them, they’ll still be done.
Take a few minutes each day, perhaps even as part of your morning ritual, to be thankful. Gratitude has many benefits, including increasing our happiness in our lives regardless of what is happening.
You don’t need to be grateful for enormous things, either. You can be grateful for not running into traffic, for today being the day your favorite TV show is on, or even for soft toilet paper.
I suggest finding at least three things each day to be grateful for. Try to find different things each day, even if some days it feels like there’s not much to be grateful for.
If you really want to build on this, write down the things you’re grateful for so that you can revisit them on days when you feel like you’re really struggling to find reasons for gratitude.
Minimize the noise in your life
Minimizing the noise in your life will go a long way toward creating serenity in your life.
What do I mean by noise?
What do you do that you don’t want to do? Do you read books or watch TV shows or movies you don’t enjoy? Do you spend time with people who annoy you, are toxic or otherwise unhealthy for you, or that you just don’t really have anything in common with?
Those are all noise. They’re extra things in your life that you really don’t need and that you don’t enjoy. They offer little to no value, so they’re just noise. They’re just timewasters.
Get rid of what you can.
Of course, we all know that sometimes the thing you don’t want to do is your job, or the person who annoys you is a relative that you can’t avoid, or the book or TV show is your child’s favorite. But most of the noise is stuff that you can easily eliminate – if you want to. You have to be ready to set some boundaries and say no, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Recognize that it’s not all about you
One of the biggest ways to create serenity is to realize that most of the time, negative things aren’t about you. Someone’s bad mood (even if it’s your spouse, child, or boss) most likely has nothing to do with you. The attitude from the cashier or the person behind you in line – also not your fault. If your child does poorly in a class, it’s not a failure on your part.
As moms, we like to take the blame for just about everything. It’s ingrained in us, not only as moms but as women in general to say, “I’m sorry” and accept responsibility for anything that’s negative or goes wrong. But most of the time, it’s not about us. It’s not our fault.
More importantly, it’s not personal. It might seem like it, when our spouse isn’t talking or the person at the store snaps at us, but that’s usually more about proximity than about us – we just happen to be the closest person they can treat this way.
By learning to take a step back and remember that it’s not personal, we can avoid taking it personally and feeling bad when we shouldn’t. And that will do wonders for your peace of mind.
Notice how you respond to stress
When stress happens, what do you do? Do you push up your sleeves and see it a as a challenge you can master? Stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away? Get anxious and worry before getting down to business and dealing with it?
Stress is unavoidable. We all face it. Even if we were all alone on a deserted island and enjoying it, eventually we’d face stress because we’d be sunburned, run out of coconuts, or see a ship and be unable to light our signal fire. You’re going to face stress no matter what you do.
So start paying attention to how you respond to stress. Once you know how you respond to stress, then you can…
Develop healthy responses to stress
Most of us have at least one unhealthy response to stress. Whether it’s emotional eating, avoidance, procrastination or something else, once we’re aware of it, we can change it.
I admit, this one is a tough one. For many of us, the way we respond to stress is a deeply ingrained habit that has been with us for years – maybe even as far back as childhood. These responses have often become instinctive, something we do before we even have a chance to think.
But now that you’ve taken the time to notice the unhealthy response, you can start looking out for it and taking the time to develop a healthy response in its place. You can catch yourself mid-response and change it.
When you respond to stress in healthy ways, you reduce your levels of stress. And lower stress contributes to more serenity.
Serenity is up to you
No one is going to drop serenity into your lap and make it happen for you. If you want it, you have to create it for yourself. You need to make the changes in your life to allow serenity to exist. Do they have to be the changes listed here? Of course not!
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Play around with things and see what really works for you. And always remember: you have to take care of yourself in order to truly take care of others. Don’t feel guilty for taking steps to create more serenity in your life. The rest of your family will benefit from it.