I shared in my last post that I finally feel like I’m gaining momentum and confidence in homeschool planning. The first half of our school year I was in survival mode. Not necessarily a fun place to be. Thanks to lots of prayer, journaling through my challenges, and a swift kick in the pants from Lara Casey’s Making Things Happen encouragement (read her free ebook here!), I’ve been able to land on a plan for exactly what I’m going to teach the rest of the school year. Getting it on paper has really freed me up to work towards finding balance and calm in the everyday.
As freeing as it was to finalize our plan, I know there is a lot of hard work ahead. This requires daily preparation and thinking ahead. Up until now, I’ve flown by the seat of my pants more times than I would care to admit. Things still got done, but at the expense of my confidence and sense of calm. When I’m not prepared going into my day, I am already living in defeat. I may get things done and cover the subjects I need to cover, but it doesn’t feel like I have given my best. I entered 2014 determined to kick those feelings to the curb! Prior preparation prevents poor performance. When I have done simple things to start my day feeling empowered and not behind the 8 ball, I feel like I can give my best and handle the many interruptions that have been dealt to me on an almost daily basis. It takes work to be our best selves.
The first thing to note when trying to find balance in the midst of life’s tasks is that we must make it a priority to take care of ourselves. We all know the airplane emergency adage about putting your own oxygen mask on before assisting anyone else. Same goes for dealing with the pressure changes life hands us. If you are not taking care of yourself, you are no good for anyone else. Preaching to myself here, as my husband well knows!
Here are a few essentials for practicing self-care.
1. Get an appropriate amount of rest. It’s okay to set your timer for a 20-30 minute nap during the day if necessary. Be honest with yourself and be good to your body. You will be so much more productive and focused as a result. I’d love to settle down with this scent.
I was first introduced to LAFCO candles at a local flower shop. Never purchased one for myself as they are rather expensive, but the Chamomile Lavender scent is lovely. Their description? “LAFCO Master Bedroom (Chamomile Lavender) Candle is the slightest suggestion of fresh washed linens added to the scent of healing chamomile blossoms and lavender buds to inspire a restful nights sleep and sweet dreams.” Tempting, no? Could be lovely with a pre-slumber soak in the tub… I’m thinking Valentine’s Day (hint, hint)! ;) Lots of other intriguing scents here.
2. Get your heart rate up to keep your stress level down. I admit to not being the expert on this one as I’m no workout queen, but I recognize the value in getting moving. One of the things Youngest and I do during the school day is take a 15 minute brain break to play a game of Wii Tennis or other active game. It has become an essential to getting and staying focused. In addition, I’ve been working toward being so prepared for our day that I have the freedom to schedule in an actual workout at least twice a week. For some, this statement might bring about a laugh. Twice a week??! Big whoop! But let me ask you this, do you believe that some is better than none? Baby steps are nothing to laugh at. When your baby took their first steps, you celebrated! Soon, one step became two…and then three or four… you get the idea. Small steps lead to great success. Another way to get your heart rate up is to do what I jokingly call Cleaning Calisthenics. We all have chores to do around the house, right? Why not add extra speed and movement to those tasks and burn a few extra calories? Pump up the music and get moving!
3. Create ceremonious moments of focused calm each day. I know of people who choose a favorite chair, blanket, and candle and schedule time to just sit and breathe or read. It’s a well known fact that taking deep, slow breaths through your nose wakes up your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you. I’m all for making the ordinary special, so I’ve gathered a few images of things I would include at my favorite spot.
I sometimes like a warm vanilla candle, and the crackling wick of these candles adds a nice fireplace ambiance. I love the convenience of our gas fireplace and flip it on frequently (especially this year!), but I do miss real wood crackling in the fireplace.
I came across this proper teacup and saucer recently and haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. Adore. I’d fill my cup with my current favorite herbal tea, Tazo Vanilla Rooibos (available at Starbucks).
I’m a blanket addict. They have to have a nice weight to them and be super soft, though. I may not need another one, but if I did, I’d finally purchase this one from Serena and Lily. It’s a classic.
4. Food is for fuel. One of my musts for feeling my best is fueling my body with good food. There is so much hype out there about what we should and should not eat, but when all the food hysteria is stripped away, I find it’s best to take a simple approach to making good choices. As Michael Pollan says, “Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.” I’m simply making it a priority to eat more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and decrease my consumption of gluten, dairy, sweets, and meat. I’m not giving anything up all together, but purposefully making better choices on a moment-by-moment basis. I’ve also been reading about the affect caffeine has on our moods and I have started weaning myself off of fully caffeinated coffee. If you know something is better for you, why wouldn’t you do yourself the favor of making positive changes? It really is a no-brainer.
It’s so important for us to practice self-care. When these foundational needs are being met, we are far more capable of living up to our potential. It took me four months in the trenches of homeschooling to begin to really hit a rhythm and find what works for me. Mothering myself with good habits is quickly becoming an essential part of bringing my “A game” daily. Next up: the steps I am taking to set myself up for success on a daily basis. See you soon!