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Whether it is replacing your lunchtime gym routine for holiday lunches, your family movie night for your friend's last minute Christmas party, or your Sunday family routine by holiday errands and commitments, it is easy to have your priorities fall to the bottom of list during the holiday season.
Many of us start the fresh, new year feeling exhausted, burnt out, and stressed from the schedule and commitments that we create for ourselves during December.
How do you create balance during the holidays? It starts with determining who is setting the schedule (likely you), and what is influencing you to try to cram everything in (external pressures perhaps? fear of disappointing others?).
For many of us it is difficult to say no, me included!
Here are some strategies for creating a little bit of balance during the holidays:
What strategies work for you to create balance during the busy holiday season?
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I remember my University days, pulling all-nighters and bouncing back the next day. As I have aged the all-nighter has become less and less appealing. Now, the only all-nighters I pull are 'child-led' - a.k.a. teething, stomach flu, bad dreams... the list goes on.
After a particularly poorly timed all-nighter last night, I decided to turn to the internet to find some tips on how the effectively pull an all-nighter. Everything I found was targeted at University students, but I was able to pull some interesting bits from wikiHow, and thought I would share some of what I found...
1. Drink glasses of cold water every 30 minutes,
2. Instead of trying not to yawn, try laughing,
3. Eat protein rich foods,
4. Nap wherever possible,
5. Open the windows - let in the fresh air, and
6. Think positive thoughts.
What are your tips for managing the day after a child-led all-nighter?
Yesterday was World Gratitude Day, and I was travelling home from a week working in the rural North West region of Bosnia-Herzegovina during some major flooding. As I sat in transit home from the airport I felt surrounded by gratitude. I was grateful for everything I saw around me, everything I heard, everyone I saw, and for the week I just had.
Sometimes life can get in the way, we can allow ourselves to get caught up in the negative, but there truly is, "...always something to be thankful for."
What are you grateful for? How can you channel that when you feel yourself getting pulled in a more negative direction?
When I visualize key moments in my life I often find a soundtrack begins to play. Music for me can be white noise, it can be healing, it can provide answers, and it can be an escape.
Today as I was climbing a rather steep hill on my morning run, ready to give up, Colbie Caillat told me through her lyrics to keep going, and so I did. Often during my runs music is white noise for me, but in that moment, the perfect moment, I tuned in and heard what I needed to. Music was able to push me forward.
I remember a drive from Toronto to Sault Saint Marie to visit a friend. For the entire 8-hour drive I played, on repeat, a CD I had made and I sang along at the top of my lungs. It was a true healing journey.
How does music motivate you? How does it help you heal?
I think of my drives to the office, sometimes I loved the music on the radio, other times I was so frustrated with the stations - flipping through all my presets trying to find what I needed in that moment. Our commute time is important time. It sets us up for how we will feel upon arrival at the office, and upon arrival home.
What if you put together a playlist for your commute to work and a playlist for your drive home. What type of music would get you ready for the workday? What type of music would get you ready to arrive home as your best self? How can music help to bridge those daily transitions?
In the words of Hans Christian Andersen, "Where words fail, music speaks."
Happy Labour Day!
Tomorrow marks the start of another school year. I fondly remember my back to school days. A couple weeks in advance my parents would begin to add more structure, routine and earlier bedtimes. They would take me back to school shopping to get a fresh supply of pens, pencils, binders, and paper, and don't forget a new outfit or two. We would get haircuts, new shoes, and spend extra time together the weekend before as a family.
Back to School time in my house was refresh time. It left me feeling confident upon my return.
As I entered the working world, there was no annual refresh time anymore and so it got neglected. I got a haircut here and there, bought a new top time and again, but I don't remember every having that full refresh feeling I did as a child. I recognize that it gave me the opportunity to start school feeling great about myself, having reassessed my style, having the dead ends of my hair cut off, and feeling rested and ready to go.
For those returning, what if we treated the return as that first day back at school? A structured routine in advance, get the sleep you need, trim off those dead ends, get an outfit for that first day back, and do something extra special on the days leading up with your family...
For those who aren't returning, or have already returned, how can this 'back to school ritual' be inserted once, twice, or three times a year into your family routine?
My husband travels regularly for work. When he is away, my key support person is away. For my family it requires that little bit more planning and communication. I try to take every opportunity while he is gone to show myself some self-love and take 'me' time wherever possible, to recharge.
Yesterday, I was on the commuter train heading out of the city and into the suburbs during the peak commuter rush. The air-con on the train was non-existent, it was hot, and there were a lot of huge frowns sitting around me. Getting on the train was a race, getting off an even bigger one. No one spoke. No one smiled.
As I sat there (feeling very lucky to have a seat), I remembered my last daily commute into the city by car. Everyone around me looking so frustrated sitting in traffic as they headed to work or home from a long day. The funny thing is we know that traffic is going to be there each day or that public transit is going to be busy. Traffic and commuting gives many of us a negative feeling. If we have to do it, why not reframe it and make it positive.
Some ideas for car and/or public transit commuting with a smile:
What is your favourite thing to do to make your commute a happy one?
Today I had a choice. A window of time appeared magically in my calendar, 2-hours of early evening alone time. I picked up my laundry list of errands and headed straight out my office door. I arrived at my first to-do and sat waiting for a customer service agent. As I wait and wait I realized I needed to seize this time and make it my own. Whether I completed 1 or 5 of my to-do's I would not feel like I really used this surprise window. If I dedicated this time to myself, I would feel recharged and motivated, being able to show up as my best self for my family.
So I stood up, handed my numbered ticket to an older gentleman waiting next to me and walked out.
I canvassed the area and found a nail parlour that, after a quick stop at Starbucks, had space for a pedicure. I sat down and picked up a magazine. I committed to myself I would enjoy the magazine and not pick up my phone or start list writing until I had. I walked out excited to return to life with bright pink, summery toes.
Giving that time to myself made me more alive, awake and present. The question is, why was it an afterthought? When presented with a chunk of time, why wasn't my first thought to do something to revitalize myself?
As Mammas we spend so much of our time giving to others that often, when a chunk of time pops up, giving to ourselves doesn't enter the picture.
How can we create a personal red flag that, when a chunk of time opens up says, "Hey, why not use this time to nourish you?!?!"
Perhaps that red flag or reminder is a sticky note on your desk, a posted quote, a background on your phone, a regular weekly or monthly calendar reminder ... as I am a list-maker, I decided to put it first on every list I make for the next while.
How are you going to create a personal red flag so that giving to yourself is on your radar when a window appears?
As we celebrated Father's Day yesterday morning, I took a mental snapshot of my daughter giving my husband the card she had loving made herself.
This morning, on my run, I played that image over and over again in my mind. Her face was one of pure joy, admiration, and love for her father. It was a face I have felt myself wear in interactions with my own father.
Our children are born into this world at first only seeing and knowing us. They are born with unconditional love for us. There is truly no greater gift, in my eyes.
So when things get difficult, busy, overwhelming, stressful etc. I am going to meditate on that image, and remind myself that, in my life, cultivating that joy and love in my family is truly all that matters. Priority #1.
Understanding our priorities, then living them, makes decision making much easier.
What is your Priority #1? How are you going to live like it is #1?
Image Source: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
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The Mamma Returns
The Mamma Returns is a boutique coaching firm for Mammas. We offer executive, life and transition coaching services. In addition, we offer programs for Mammas returning to the workforce post-parental leave, and self-guided programs to explore priorities, boundaries, goal setting to name a few.
Megan is an optimistic, enthusiastic Mamma who strives for a balanced, intentional life. Megan believes in planning for the best case and preparing for the worst.
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