As we kick off May, I feel the impending doom of everything that has to get done this month. I have 815 things on my calendar: assemblies, field days, teacher’s gifts, graduation ceremonies, Mother’s Day, vacation and summer planning. On top of that, my business is thriving, and I am being pulled in twenty different directions each day there, too.
In the past, I’ve looked at my calendar during this chaotic time and just prayed that I could squeeze in just a bit of me time to stay sane.
But to be completely honest, there is never really a downtime or slow time in parenthood. As a working mom, business owner, wife, mentor, friend -- all on top of being a parent -- my schedule is always jam-packed with one million things. I bet you can relate.
Calendaring your non-negotiables to survive May!
In everyday life, and in particular, seasons that are extremely busy like the one I am entering now, it is really up to me to make my health, happiness, and sanity a priority. This year, I decided to do just that.
To prepare, I sat down with my coach and friend, Michele Cushatt. Michele is filled to the brim with wisdom, and she’s constantly challenging me to be the best version of myself. When I talked through this impending busy season with Michele, she asked a question that has flipped this busy month on its head for me: “What grounds you?” She asked me to think through the everyday things that make me feel my best. “When you are taking care of you, what are you doing?” Michele calls these your non-negotiables -- the things you absolutely must do to be your best self -- the things that make you feel cared for, so you can take care of everyone else.
In the past, I’ve thought of self-care as going to get a manicure or having a spa day -- things I just don’t have time for in May. But hearing the word “ground” and thinking through essential everyday steps for me has really changed the game.
So, here are the five things that I am doing this May to take care of me:
1. Mindful Eating and Drinking: On my best day, I drink 3-5 liters of water (think of it as roughly half your body weight in ounces) and I start each morning with a protein smoothie.
#Fab4Smoothie and 40 oz Hydro Flask that I fill 4-5 times a day
On my worst days -- when I’m rushing out the door with the kids and I skip my smoothie -- I make a lot poorer food choices throughout the day. I noticed a huge difference when I take the time to nourish my body with whole foods. I make much better food choices on those days. I don’t like the word diet at all, but when I am fueling my body with healthy foods, I feel much better. I love to make smoothies from Kelly Leveque’s "Body Love" book. My go to is the blueberry muffin #Fab4Smoothie. But I feel more grounded when I’m not just putting good things in my own mouth. I really feel like I’m winning when I’m also feeding my people well. It’s not realistic for me to cook dinner every single night of the week with our hectic and busy schedules, including LOTS of baseball practices and games this time of year. My goal is to make dinner three nights a week. It makes me feel good to know I am taking care of them well. And, I’m able to accomplish this by planning well in advance and not just grabbing what’s easy and convenient.
I start every day with this blueberry muffin #Fab4Smoothie
2. Garage Barre: It took me a while to find a workout that fit into my schedule and that I truly loved to do. If you forced me to run, lift weights, or do Crossfit, I would hate every second of it and be much less motivated to go. I grew up dancing, so I connected immediately with Garage Barre when I tried it.
Find something that makes you feel strong. Garage Barre is that for me - even if I look ridiculous sometimes!
I see it toning my body, rather than punishing my body to drop weight. And, the culture and tone that founders Kirby and Lacey have created is one where everyone is welcome, regardless of size, shape, exercise level or age. No expensive leggings required.
Garage Barre founders Kirby Dudley and Lacey Garrett cultivate a community where every "body" is welcome
Right now, my goal is to go three times a week (so roughly 12 classes in the month of May). Recently, I looked back over the month of March -- a month in which I was feeling sluggish, worn down, and not myself -- and I found that I only went to Garage Barre five times -- the whole month. Eeek! For me, there is a direct correlation to how good I am feeling with how many times I’ve worked out that month. And, everyone has to find their own thing. Maybe for you, it’s a walk outside with a friend, a sweat sesh on the treadmill, or a hike. Find what makes you feel strong, healthy and motivated. You may be thinking that you don’t have time on this specific non-negotiable. Listen, I was RIGHT THERE too. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to find the time to drive there, do the class and drive home multiple times a week. But when I prioritized it and saw the significant impact on my overall well-being, I knew that the investment of time was one I couldn’t keep denying. A community that embraces and encourages and also makes me feel strong -- that’s a win in my book.
3. Quiet Time: This is probably the most grounding step I take each day. If I start out my mornings stressed, late and in a hurry, my whole day feels out of whack. But, if I take even 15 minutes of quiet, alone time in the morning before the noise of the day gets started, I feel centered, mindful, and ready to take on the challenges of the day with optimism. This 15 minutes can be spent reading something inspiring, in a devotional, praying or meditating. You could even just sit quietly with your cup of coffee before anyone else is awake in your house. And, don’t let the guilt of 15 minutes erase all of the good it does. Just a bit of reflection and restoration in the morning can change your entire day.
Taking quiet time for me before the noise of the day is a definite non-negotiable.
4. Tidying Up My Home: When I feel off balance or out of sorts, I can often see this reflected in my home. I resonate with that saying “physical clutter equals mental clutter.” Not that it is dirty so much as it is out of order. If there is clean laundry folded on the kitchen table waiting to be put away, shoes laying all over the mudroom or school work, magazines and mail from the week (ALL THE PAPER!) scattered about, I feel a sense of unease in my home. Tidying up around the house is absolutely grounding to me. Not making in perfect, mind you (Recovering perfectionist, party of one!). If I am feeling off, I will spend 30 minutes walking from room to room and just picking up and putting away. The peace it brings my home finds its way into other areas of my life, too.
The never-ending clean laundry pile is a total situation in our home. The hardest part? Putting it all away. Can I get an amen?
5. Weekly Planning: Nothing throws my week and my mood off more than being unprepared. On Sunday nights, my husband, Matt, and I sit down in front of our weekly planners to walk through the whole week: Who is traveling? Do we have early or late days? When are important meetings? Do either of us have clients in town? Are there doctors appointments? When do the boys have practice and games? Getting on the same page with Matt helps us both feel prepared to tackle the week. I’ve also begun plugging in those three meals I’m cooking for the family into our week. This allows me to plan ahead to make better, healthier decisions for my family.
Sunday night planning for the week.
Those are the five things that are my non-negotiables for each week. Your five things will likely look different from mine. The important step is to take some time to sit down and think through the tasks that ground you and make you feel like you are taking good care of yourself.
Reading over this list feels like a lot, and I understand it can be overwhelming. When I started this process, I felt that way too. Michele cautioned me that I can’t implement all five of these non-negotiables when I am not doing a single one at the time. Take this one step at a time. choose one or two of your items at a time and make small changes each week.
Then, once you’ve identified your non-negotiables, protect your calendar to make sure they happen. When seasons are crazy -- like the end of school, holidays, or back-to-school -- it is so important that you make this time for yourself.