31 Days of Self-Care - Wrap Up!

Here we are, at the end of October, and the end of my 31 Days of Self-Care series.  I hope that you enjoyed it!

It was certainly interesting to write.  I wasn’t entirely sure how the series would end up.  Actually, in the middle of the month I wondered if I would be able to complete it at all!

I realize there were several days this month that I ended up not posting about self-care, but that was OK.  Writing about self-care gave me the ability to say “no” when I needed to.  And there were plenty of times this month where I had to say no to my blog!

At the beginning of October, I wrote about how this wasn't going to be a "how-to" but more of telling my own journey to self-care.  I hope that I was able to give you all some good tips that you can use in your own life.  

My biggest takeaways were to be present with everything going on in my life, but also I need to make the time to take care of myself.  If I don't take that time, I will not be happy, and I won't be the best person I can be for my family and my community.  

I also finally accepted that it is definitely OK to splurge once in a while - something I have trouble doing.  There always seems to be something more important to spend my money on rather than myself (like my kids).  

Have you been able to create a habit out of self-care this month?  Have you changed your morning routine to allow you a little time for self-care, or perhaps a less harried morning?

31 Days - Self-Care Baskets

I absolutely love baskets.  I use them all over my home for various purposes.  They are in my entryway holding mittens and hats in the winter, they hold my yarn, they hold journals and notebooks, and my kids have good-morning baskets for when they wake up earlier than I would prefer them to.  Baskets add beauty to my home.

When I started to write about morning routines, I remembered about the good-morning baskets I made for my kids.  These are full of little items for the kids to use only in the morning, to help occupy them while I finish up my own quiet time.

It made me realize that I could have my own “self-care basket” for those moments when I know that I need some down time.

I know that when I have a free minute to myself, I end up taking the entire time figuring out what I am going to do, or setting something up for me to do, instead of being able to sit and relax, or have an idea of what I can do in that moment. 

Then the moment is gone and I am more frazzled than when I initially started.

What if I had a basket of a few of my favorite things, sitting, available to me, so that when I have those moments, I can immediately accomplish some self-care and relaxation?

This basket is something that I have placed in my bedroom, away from the kids, so that they don’t also explore it.

Some ideas for items to place in your self-care basket:

  • your favorite candle
  • an ipod with some great playlists (I still have my old one!)
  • a pre-packaged nuts and dried fruit snack
  • a piece of dark chocolate
  • a journal and favorite pen
  • essential oils
  • a stress ball
  • a rice pack that you can warm and put on your shoulders

These are a few things that I am putting in my own self-care basket.  You can certainly adjust it for what you prefer.

Do you have a basket in your home that you can use for self-care?  What one item would you include in your basket?

31 Days - knitting and reading

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of my links I will get a small commission.  This is at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

I have to admit, this whole self-care thing has been a bit of a struggle this month, but one thing that I seem to be doing better at is knitting!

I have been in such a knitting funk for so long, there was never any time, it seemed, where I could knit more than two rows at once.  But, the stars have been aligning at least a couple times a week, and I have had some dedicated time to do my knitting.  It has been really nice to have the needles going again, especially since I am knitting something for myself, also something that doesn't happen often!

Even with more time to knit, the speed of my actual knitting has not increased, so it doesn't appear that I have made much progress in the past week on this runner, but I am still enjoying the pattern, and I think it is turning out really nicely.

As far as reading goes, last week I got my second official POPSUGAR Must Have subscription box.  The POPSUGAR box is a monthly subscription that contains 5-7 lifestyle geared items, and it is a real treat for me.  This month, Mindy Kaling's new book Why Not Me?  It is a collection of short stories, so perfect for when I don't have a huge amount of time to sit and read a novel.  I have heard several people say that her audio books are really great to listen to, and so I think I might see if I can get it on audio.

If you are interested in seeing the rest of what was included  in my October POPSUGAR Must Have box, you can watch the video below.

What are you working on this week?  

31 Days - Create a Habit

At the beginning of this series I talked about makingtime for self-care, I also talked about figuring out how you are currently using your time so that you are able to make time for self-care.  Now that we are nearing the end of the month, I want to talk about creating habits.

I think that habit often has a negative connotation.  You want to get rid of the too much chocolate habit, the sitting down and watching TV habit; but habits can be good as well.

I want to make sure that I wake up at least 30 minutes before my kids every day so that I am fresh and prepared when they come down the stairs full of energy.

I want to make sure that I am exercising and eating well, so that I have energy to take care of the above children throughout the day.

What if you could make self-care into a habit?

Conventional wisdom has always said that it takes 21 days to make a new habit.  I find that to be a little on the short side – of course I am sure that there are some habits that take a short amount of time (the aforementioned chocolate), but I feel like self-care might take a little longer.

I actually found an interesting article that said it would be closer to 66 days in order to make a habit, and I think that is probably pretty accurate.

It certainly took me longer than 21 days to realize that waking up early was a good thing, and that I wanted to continue doing it!

Could you choose one aspect of self-care to work on throughout the end of the year?  This, the busiest time of year for most people with all the holidays, and general craziness of school activities, sports, etc.?

I think the key to forming these good and healthy habits is to start small.

Dave Ramsey talks about the debt snowball when you are trying to pay off debt, start with the smallest debt, pay that off, feel good, and then move to the next larger.

I think that can also apply to habits.

If you start with something small, and really make it a habit, the next habit will be a little easier.  You will remember that the first habit, while small, was easily accomplished, so you have a little more confidence with the next habit.

What is one small change you can start working on today to become a habit in relation to self-care?

31 Days - The Struggle is Real!

Here we are, going into the final week of the Write 31 Days challenge.  I find it interesting that I have struggled writing this series.  Here I am writing about self-care, but then I am stressed out when I am unable to publish a post!

I think that every person is going to have ebbs and flows when it comes to self-care.

There are going to be amazing seasons, where you are able to carve out time to make sure you feel fulfilled, that you have the energy you need to keep up with your family, and other obligations; then there will be other times where you are barely hanging on and you end up just trying to stay afloat until you can catch your breath again!

The past couple weeks have been like that for me.

Being out of the house, going on field trips, homeschool co-op, car issues, doctor appointments, celebrating first birthdays; all of it can become overwhelming.

I think this is the main reason that I decided to write about self-care.

It is easy to get caught up in it all, and not have a chance to breathe, or feel like you are doing anything specifically for you.

This month has taught me that it is OK to say no, to sit back and relax a little more. 

Obviously, your children need to get to doctor appointments (and you do as well!), but when something else is put on the back burner, that is OK.

Finding the ability to let you not feel guilty is probably the biggest takeaway that I have had this month so far.

Of course, having the time for a spa day, or pampering, or reading a great book is important, but when you need to push ahead through a season, a small time period, you will still get through.

And once you are through to the other side, that is the time to take a minute for yourself.  Remember what energizes you, remember what makes you feel good and relaxed.  Remember what gives you the ability to be the best mother, the best wife, the best woman that you can be.

While I haven’t been completely successful this month in writing my 31 Days of Self-Care series every.single.day., I have been able to know when I need to take a step back and spend the extra time with my family, take the time for sitting in quiet.

I realize that it is all about priorities.  If you have your priorities in order, you will be able to know when you can drop things that are becoming more stressful than helpful.

Granted, it won’t always be the easiest time, the most fulfilling time, but you will know that when you come out on the other side, you will be better for it.

Have there been times when you have needed to drop something important to you in order to keep up with everything else in your day?

6 Tips for a Safe Halloween #BetterMoments

This is a post sponsored by U.S. Cellular.  I am part of the #BetterMoments Blogger Brigade and was compensated for this review.  All opinions are, as always, my own.

I can’t believe that Halloween is just around the corner!  This year we will have three little ones trick or treating.  I absolutely love all the holidays, and having Halloween be the first one, with decorations and costumes, it is an exciting time.  I think my kids have been preparing for this since August – they absolutely love all the costumes, not to mention the candy.

With kids that are still little, they will obviously be with us trick or treating, but I know that there will be lots of older kids out on their own.  This is a perfect time to talk about cell phone rules with your child utilizing the U.S. Cellular Parent Child Agreement.

I am thinking about going over this agreement with my kids, even though they are still so young.  It seems like every other day my oldest (7) is asking when she can get her own iPhone.  I was really happy to see that the average age for a child receiving a cell phone is 12.  Although, I think that the average age is definitely going down.

Halloween is a night that parents want to stay connected with their kids.  And with *47% of parents having a child with a cellphone, technology is paving the way on how we stay connected to our kids.

Safety is a huge concern anytime kids are going out alone at night.

Most smart phones have some simple tools you can use to help keep your child safe and connected.
·       Use the alarm function to serve as a reminder to check in
·       Always program your phone numbers as the ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact
·       Also take advantage of the flashlight capability – my iPhone 6 has an amazingly bright flashlight!

There are also an amazing amount of apps out there that can help keep your children (and you!) safe while you are out.  Here are my top three.

Family Locator – This app does just what it says, locates your family.  It keeps you updated on your child’s location in real time.  You can receive notifications when they arrive at their destination and get alerts when they are going somewhere unsafe.

Red Panic Button – In case of an emergency, this app brings a lot of peace of mind.  With the push of a button, an SMS and e-mail that contains a link to Google Maps and the person’s GPS coordinates is sent to everyone on their panic contact list.

FBI Child ID – This is a free app that provides an amazing array of tools in case a child goes missing.  Convenient electronic storage of photos and other vital information about your child enables parents to show pictures and provide physical identifiers to first responders, as well as easily e-mail the information to authorities.

What is your favorite part about Halloween?  Do you have rules for your kids when they go out trick-or-treating?

*According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey.

31 Days - Splurge!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  This is at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

On Monday I talked about how even if you are on a budget, you can still practice self-care.  However, once in a while, it is definitely OK to splurge on yourself!

For me, I have a hard time splurging on myself.  It seems like whenever there is an opportunity, I always choose to spend my money on my kids or husband, or someone else.  I love to buy and make for others.  Now, I don’t think that this is a bad thing; in fact it brings me a lot of joy.  But, like I said above, once in a while, it is nice to do for me as well.

There are a lot of different ways that you can splurge on yourself, and since every person is different, I would imagine that what is a splurge for me may not be for you, and vice versa.

You can go get your nails done, get a massage, buy a few new books, get a stack of magazines, buy some luxurious yarn or other crafting supplies, buy some amazing extra virgin olive oil for bread dipping (that sounds really good to me!), get a pound of your favorite coffee.

This past August, I decided to do something to splurge on myself.  I subscribed to the POPSUGARMust Have subscription box.

This is not a huge cost splurge, but it definitely is a splurge nonetheless.

The box is $39.95 and comes once a month.  It contains everything from beauty, to fitness, to home items.  It is definitely a lifestyle box.

My first box came in September, and I was incredibly happy with what I received.  I think that a subscription box is a wonderful splurge because it isn’t incredibly expensive, but also because what is contained in the box are items that I most likely would not go out and purchase myself – because of the whole “splurging” thing!

I just received my October box yesterday, and was incredibly excited to get into it.  I filmed an un-boxing video which you can watch below.

If you would like more information about the POPSUGAR Must Have subscription box, or to sign up for your own subscription, you can find that information here.  And you can get $5 off your first box by using the code MUSTHAVE5

What would be your splurge?  Do you have any monthly subscription boxes?

31 Days - knitting and reading

It is ironic that in a month that I am writing about self-care, I am having trouble making the time for that self-care!

Take this morning for instance, I have been up since 3am with Lucy, who has decided to forego sleeping in the middle of the night in favor of playing and giggling.  While I am happy that she is happy, I am also exhausted!

However, after the 19th time of trying to get her back to sleep (nurse, rock, repeat), I decided I would just get up and let her play and tire herself out.  

This gave me the opportunity to get a little knitting in!

I am actually surprised I haven't messed up the pattern with my sleepy stupor!

I am still working on this runner, and I really like how it is turning out.  The pattern is so pretty, and the green is such a nice color.  It is cotton, so it is relatively easy to knit with, although sometimes I wish it had a tad more stretch to it.

I am also still reading the new Twilight book, and enjoying it.  I think the names are the hardest part for me.  I know that Stephanie Meyer wanted to reverse everyone's gender, and using the first letter of their original names is helpful in identifying who is who, but the names are horrid, i'm sorry.  Royal?  Archie?  Jessamine?  What the heck!?  But, other than the names being not that readable, the rest is good!

Now, I am going to try and figure out a way to make my brain work today so we can do school!  I'm not sure math will be on the agenda, but lots of reading, and perhaps some Bill Nye the Science Guy.

What are you working on this week?

Playdate for Everyone!

I participated in an Ambassador Activation on behalf of Influence Central for WaterWipes. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Playdates are an integral part of being a mom; at least it seems like it these days!  Whether you want to have social interaction for your kids, or you just need another adult to talk to during the day, playdates seem to fit the bill.

Last week I had the opportunity to have some friends over.  It was great because we took the morning off from formal homeschool activities for the older kids, and they were able to get messy playing with paint – that is called art class in my homeschool!

While the older kids were playing dress up, painting, and running around like crazy people, the littles were all sitting on the living room floor staring at one another, not entirely sure what to make of each one.  The babies were 6 months, 11 months, and 18 months.  It was really cute to see them at their different stages!

One of the main reasons I love playdates is that it allows me the opportunity to talk to other adults during the day.  I absolutely love my children, but having someone else to bounce ideas off of is also important.

I’m not sure if all parents in the history of parenting have felt this way, but it seems like parenting is a lot harder today than it used to be.  There are a million different things that we need to be concerned with.  What we eat, how many activities our kids are involved in, different parenting strategies, chemicals in the environment.  It is enough to make my head spin.

One place I don’t need to worry is in my use of WaterWipes.  My friends and I were all happy to know they are chemical free.  And they work amazingly well! 

We all bemoaned how some wipes can rip when you use them to clean your baby, and these do not do that.  They are strong, and they clean well.  One of my friends went to use the wipes to change her baby, and proclaimed them to be awesome, it was nice to hear others echo my sentiments!

Cleaning up the paint hands was also a breeze with these wipes.

My older kids know that when they make a mess, they can go get the package of WaterWipes and clean up any mess they may have made.  I am happy that the wipes are chemical free, being made up of 99.9% water and .1% grapefruit seed extract.

We had a great time, and I was happy to spend some time sitting and talking to friends.  Having a support system in place as a mom is incredibly important.  The fact that I was able to set out some yummy treats (Danish, yum!) and drink coffee, I was a happy mama!

Do you still organize playdates?  How do you connect with other moms in your area?

The Peanuts Movie Theme Night

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Safeway. The opinions and text are all mine.

I absolutely love the Peanuts movies – all of them!  I was really excited to hear that they are coming out with a new one on November 6th.

My love of Charlie Brown started many years ago when my brother played Charlie Brown in the play “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”  I remember driving back up to our hometown from college in Massachusetts in my 1990 Toyota Camry, in a snow storm, to see him play Charlie Brown.  It was definitely a memorable experience!

After my kids were born, I wanted to start some new traditions, and watching all of The Peanuts movies was part of those traditions!

It starts around Halloween with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, followed by A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and finally A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I thought it would be fun to re-create Snoopy’s Thanksgiving meal from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to get us ready for the new movie coming out.

Off I went to Shaw’s to pick up some Pop Secret Popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans and bread for toast.  I was excited to see that they are currently giving out FREE re-usable bags with a qualified purchase.  Who doesn’t love free while also helping the environment?

I also had the idea to make a pumpkin cheese ball to help with our party. 

Peanuts Great Pumpkin Cheese Ball

16 oz Horizon Organic Cream Cheese
2 6 oz bags of Horizon Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Stem from one head of broccoli

Mix softened cream cheese, one bag of cheddar cheese (1 1/2 cups), garlic powder and jalapenos in a mixer with a paddle attachment until mixed well.  Using gloves (or Ziploc bags on your hands like I did!) form the cheese mixture into a ball.  Use the remaining bag of cheddar cheese to put around the outside of the cheese ball (you won't need the whole bag).  Use a butter knife to make indents around the cheese ball like a pumpkin.  Top with an upside down broccoli stem.

I served mine with pretzels, of course, but we also had the broccoli that the kids liked to dip in the cheese ball, as well as some crackers.  Delicious!

I had to change up the pretzels a bit too, I melted some Nestle chocolate chips for the kids to dip their pretzels in, and then rolled them in mini-chocolate chips.

We had a great movie night!  I can’t wait until the new movie comes out on November 6th.

Don’t forget to swing by Shaw’s to get your free Halloween bags!  Also, The Peanuts Movie is having an awesome giveaway right now for a trip to Snoopy’s home in California, or a Peanuts Movie themed Xbox console and game – enter here.

Do you love Charlie Brown and the gang?  I would love to hear your stories below!

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Safeway. The opinions and text are all mine.

31 Days - Self-Care on a Budget

Now that you have found the time for self-care, how do you actually do self-care on a budget? 

I have mentioned before that my idea of self-care at the beginning of this project was essentially a spa day, and I also mentioned that said spa day is most definitely not in my budget. 

I think that we often will tell ourselves that we can’t take care of ourselves because of the cost involved – at least I did that.

We are on a very tight budget, and making room for something that I honestly viewed as frivolous was never at the forefront of my mind.  And even when we have the money to spend, I often will choose to spend it on my children instead of on myself.

However, I decided that self-care is not something that needs to be an expensive pursuit.  In fact, I think it is entirely doable on a budget.

There are so many free options available for hobbies and activities; I just had to think about it for a little bit.

I mentioned last week my love for knitting and reading.  Well, yarn, of course, is not free.  However, did you know that my Goodwill actually sells yarn and other textiles?  And often it is good quality wool that is sold for only $1 per skein.  Obviously I can’t decide on a pattern and then go to Goodwill and hope that they have what I want available; but, I can certainly pick up a skein here and there, and use it for other projects. 

Some examples are knitted toys for the kids, scarves, washcloths, coasters.  Any small project, really.

I also love reading, and while I do enjoy purchasing books to read, we also have a library that is connected to the entire state library system, which means I can request just about any book that I might possibly want to read, and it will be delivered to my local library for pick up.  I can also check out e-books and audio books with my library account.

“Reading isn’t really my thing.”  OK, well my library also has tons of magazines that are fun to look through, and you can check out back issues.  Often you can even get back issues for free when they are getting rid of them, then you can make a bunch of crafts with the old magazines.

If crafting isn’t your thing, perhaps you like to have time for some actual physical pampering.  A spa day might not be in the budget, but Epsom salts are quite inexpensive, and a nice soak in a bath of Epsom salts is amazingly relaxing.  Light a candle, and you are set!  Or even if you don’t have time for a full bath (or if you don’t like them!) soaking your feet in Epsom salts is also amazing.

Did you know that Epsom salts are an amazing source of magnesium – which is difficult for the body to digest and then use, but is amazingly easy to absorb through our skin?  Some of the benefits of magnesium are improved heart health and circulation, as well as stress relief.

Honestly, there are a host of inexpensive activities that you can do for self-care.  For me the hardest part was starting, but now I make sure to work self-care into my schedule – remember your 168 hours time assessment? – use it!

What is one small activity you can do in order to bring about some self-care in your life?  Is it becoming easier to find that time?

31 Days - taking a break when you need it

This week I have spent a lot of time talking about saying no and saying yes.  I even took my own advice and made some time for knitting and reading this week, which was definitely much needed, and was incredibly rewarding.

In the background though, it has been an incredibly full week.  Between play dates and work obligations, to the homeschool co-op, field trips, and purchasing a new-to-us minivan (we joined the club, what can I say?!), I haven’t said a “no” enough.

In light of all of that, I am saying no to writing a long blog post today, and I am saying yes to spending some much needed time with my kids, playing and reading.

Today, please take some time to do something that you love, even if it means saying no to some other commitments.  Spend some time with your family, read a great novel (or even a mediocre one!) plan a game night with your family and make a big pot of vegetable soup to enjoy during the cool weekend ahead!

What are your plans for the weekend?

31 Days - Tea for Comfort and Relaxation

When I was growing up, my mom always drank tea.  Of course she always drank coffee as well (I’m convinced that is why I love coffee so much), but I remember a lot of tea drinking. 

We would go to visit family friends most Sundays after church, and I remember the kids all playing and the adults all sitting around the table drinking tea. 

Is my mom the only one who carried tea around in her purse?  Actually, this is something else I have inherited from my mom, I always have tea in my purse…

As we move to the colder months, I think more about tea.  Like I said above, I am a coffee drinker, but during the winter I start to drink tea all day long. 

Tea is such a comforting drink.  There are so many different kinds and flavors, and I especially love the herbal teas and their health benefits.

One simple pleasure is to sit in the evenings and have a cup of chamomile tea with a splash of whole milk.  It helps me to relax in the evening.

After a long day at the office, or with your kids, having some time to unwind is important, and incorporating tea into that evening routine can be a treat.

There are so many different teas available, and you can find something for pretty much any mood.  I love peppermint, and chamomile, like I said before.  I also love Rooibos tea.  A little milk and honey makes it taste amazing, and even my kids will get into drinking tea in the winter.

How does this translate to self-care?

I have always thought that drinking tea makes you slow down a bit.  You have to wait for the kettle to boil the water, and then wait for the tea to steep and be ready for drinking.  It can be a wonderfully relaxing time at the end of the day.

Even if I am completely frazzled, drinking some hot tea typically calms my nerves and lets me center myself again.

It is perfect to have tea and meditate, write in a gratitude journal, sit in quiet (after the kids go to bed), and reflect on your day.

Are you a tea drinker?  What is your favorite tea?

31 Days - knitting and reading

Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading.  There is something comforting about curling up on the couch with a good book, or to work with wool.  I love it!

I thought it only appropriate, being that I am talking about self-care this month, to also talk about these two activities which bring me so much joy.

If you have been reading my blog much this past year, you will know that I haven’t made much time for knitting or for reading.

It seems like there is always “something else” that comes up and takes my attention away from these two activities that I use to calm and center me.

I know that part of it is having a new little one in the house.  But, seeing as how she is almost one now, I think I can give myself permission to get back on the wagon of knitting and reading.  What a perfect time, too, right before the holidays!

This week I am currently working on a little runner that I plan to put on a bookshelf in my bedroom.  I started this runner several weeks ago, knit about 10 rows, and then put it down.  Not because I didn’t enjoy knitting it, but because homeschooling was taking over my life!  I realized that with me talking so much about making time for your passions, I really needed to take my own advice.  So, I am back at it.  I would like to finish this soon because I am attempting to make a little reading/knitting nook in my bedroom as a place I can go to have some peace and work on things I love.

As far as reading goes, I started out the year really well.  I had my goal of reading 100 books, and was getting through 10-15 books per month during the first three months of the year; then I lost my reading mojo.  I think part of it is because I didn’t know what to read next, and no books I found were really holding my interest.  Then last week I posted an Instagram picture of an old mindless favorite of mine – Twilight.  Now, you may love or hate the series, I happen to love them even though the writing isn't stellar.  So, I was incredibly pleased to find out the next day that there was a tenth anniversary edition released which included an all new writing of the first Twilight book.  I of course immediately bought it for kindle, and started reading.  It is kind of strange to read the same story from a different perspective, but I am enjoying it!

That is where I am at today!  If you are interested in reading any of my 31 Days posts, you can click the picture at the top of this post to bring you to an index of all the posts I have written this month.

Have you lost your mojo lately?  What are you working on?

31 Days - Saying Yes

Yesterday I talked about saying no.  I wanted you to really evaluate all of your commitments and find what is not energizing you.  What drains you?  And why do you continue to keep that commitment if it isn’t something that you love?

Today I want to talk about saying yes. 

An amazing thing happens when you say no; you have more time to say yes.

What would you do with more time?

I am always bemoaning the time.  Time seems to slip through my fingers often, and at the end of every month I wonder where the previous month went.  Part of this is because I have 3 kids.  I think when you have kids, time seems to move so fast – you never have a day when you are so bored and go to the mall for the hundredth time because you don’t know what else to do; at least I don’t anymore!

But, when I started to remove the excess from my life, I realized that I had a little more time for myself. 

It isn’t just outside commitments that I said no to. 

One thing that is really important to me is cooking from scratch.  That gets to be an awful lot of cooking when you are at home with kids all day.  And it creates an awful lot of dishes daily.  I don’t know about you, but I can easily run my dishwasher 2-3 times each day.  We run out of dishes to use frequently, so I started buying paper plates to use.  It isn’t the fanciest way to eat, but it saves me a lot of time on clean up.

It may seem like something really small, but it was an incredibly difficult decision for me.  I am also passionate about green living – and paper plates really do not fall into the green living realm. 

Saying no to this one aspect of green living was a hard choice, but it allowed me more time to spend with my kids, and less stress at the end of the day.

Even if it seems like something incredibly small, it plays a part in overall self-care.

Stress is obviously bad for your health and happiness, so removing things that cause stress will benefit you in the long run.

When you say no to activities that do not have a positive impact on your life, you are able to say yes to the activities that do energize you.

What are some things that you want to say yes to?

I want to say yes to low stress, to board games with my kids, to knitting on a Wednesday evening.  I want a peaceful environment where we are not running off to the next activity without taking a breath.  I want to say yes to family dinners, and yes to quiet mornings.

These are all things that will energize me, that will help me continue to live my life well with and for my children. 

Less stress means a happier home life.  It also means that your health is better.  High stress can cause so many health issues, so we want to avoid it at all costs!

Have you looked at your time assessment that you did at the beginning of this month?  Can you cross off some more of those items today? 

What can you say no to in order to say yes to something else?  

31 Days - Saying No

It seems like such an easy thing, saying no.  However, I think that saying no is probably one of the hardest things to say today.

There is always someone that needs help, help baking for an activity at your child’s school, a party to go to, a committee that needs more members; but when you are saying yes to these activities, you have to say no to something.

What is that something?

I think that often we can get caught up in the trap of saying yes to everything but ourselves. 

For me, and I think this is true for a lot of moms, we put ourselves last.  We want to make sure that our children have a parent that is reliable for all those extra activities, but it can sometimes come at the expense of our own personal self-care.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that you should always say no.  Instead I want you to evaluate what you are really saying no to.

Do you ever feel like if you don’t step in and volunteer, it will all fall apart?

I realized at a young age that it is better to “just do it myself” rather than let someone else take control.  There is less disappointment that way, at least in my experience.  A group project that always seemed to fall completely on my shoulders, or something set up in not the way I would want it done – it was easier to do it myself.

However, when we take all that responsibility, our self-care and overall health can suffer.

At some point you have to say no to something, and do you want it to be your health, or to another fundraiser at work or school? 

I want to reiterate, I am not saying “say no to everything,” but perhaps it would be good to write down everything that you are involved in, and see which are your passions and which you feel are obligations.

I would challenge you to really think about the obligations.  Are there some things that perhaps someone else could do? 

I think a lot of us feel like if we say no, we are letting someone down, or they will never be able to find someone else to do whatever it is that needs to be done.  But, in my experience, saying no is quite freeing.  It allows you to then be more passionate about the things you are saying yes to.

What if we stripped all of the stuff that isn’t necessary from our lives?  How freeing would that be?  Would you have more time for self-care, more time for family?  Would this allow you to say yes to something that you have really wanted to do, but couldn’t manage to “find the time?”

Saying no is hard.

You don’t want to let people down; I don’t want to let people down.  But, sometimes, when we say yes because we don’t want to offend or make someone else’s life a little more complicated, we end up negatively affecting our own life. 

I would suggest making a list of all your commitments.  Obviously there are some that are non-negotiable (you are still going to bring your kids to school, you are still going to work, and you are still going to do the dishes), but perhaps there are some commitments that you really could remove. 

Are you passionate about healthy food in your child’s classroom?  Then don’t give up making healthy snacks to bring in!  But, if you don’t have a lot of time, perhaps try buying something healthy instead of making it from scratch.  What about baking for a bake sale?  Do you love baking, and does it bring you joy?  Great, do it.  If you really do not like baking and it stresses you out, pass on that task and someone else will do it.

I think that we often feel if we say no, no one else will do it.  But, that isn’t true at all.  We need to start speaking up and saying no to what does not energize us, and letting someone else handle some of that.

Trust me, it is hard to say no, but it is also incredibly freeing.

If you can let go of some of that self-made guilt for saying no, you will be happier.  It will be hard at first, but taking that first step to saying no is going to help your self-care so much more than a massage!

Is there one activity that you could say no to today?  What is stopping you?