Chill... Girl, You Got This

I got an email yesterday from a dear friend of mine asking me to give her some advice on how to manage it all.  I am not the best at time management, but, I have had to get used to juggling a lot of different aspects of my life.
Balancing being a wife, working mom, professional, and being involved in the community can be a challenge.  Throw in making time for workouts, helping kids with homework, cooking healthy dinners, etc., it can be darn right overwhelming at moments.

Recently, I had what I call a “Moment.”  I was completely overwhelmed.  My husband of twelve years (not the first time he has witnessed this) calmly looked at me and said, “Honey all the things you are stressed about, you brought on yourself.  We have a great life, now get up and deal with it.  Put a plan together.”  And just like that, he was gone.  I remember laying there, the tears stopped and it was like those words were the reality I needed to hear.  That was it, I needed to put my big girl pants on and get a plan together.
From an accumulation of articles, blogs, advice from friends and my own project management skills, I have come up with some useful strategies for making it all work without going crazy (well for the most part). So… here it is.

Get Sleep, this is easier said than done but I have found that if I don’t get at least six hours of sleep, I am a wreck.  Eight hours is preferred but let’s get real, it’s not always possible. I have found that drinking tea before I go to bed helps calm my mind.
Workout Regularly- this is also easier in theory but it can actually work.  I use a monthly calendar and plan out my workouts in advance for the week.  I post that calendar on my desk at work and also on my refrigerator at home.  In addition, I sink it with my Outlook calendar so my schedule (my commitment) cannot escape me.  Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, I run with my girlfriend. We have a standing plan to meet at 5am at a particular corner in our neighborhood.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, I use my lunch hour to lift weights.  Tuesday’s I do arms and chest, Wednesday’s I do shoulders and back, and Friday’s I do legs.  Sometimes I will change it up but for the most part, that’s my routine.  I have also found that by having a buddy to workout with I am less likely to skip he workout.

For me, exercising can be the first thing I let go when I am stressed.  This is terrible because it is so self-defeating. I know a lot of moms in particular feel  guilty about putting themselves first, but, you absolutely need to because if “mama ain’t happy, no one is.”  That’s a funny saying but it is so true.  If you take care of yourself and feel good about “you” it will overflow into everything else that you do.
Plan Ahead- this one is huge.  First, plan your meals. This is part of keeping a healthy diet and I have found that if I don’t plan ahead, I am at the vending machines. I have gotten in the habit of using a couple of hours on Sunday to prepare meals for the week.  I also prepare my food for the week by putting meals into little containers and label them Monday thru Friday.  This makes it easy because your meals are ready to just grab.

Second, get the kids ready.  The night before school, I go through my kids backpacks and make sure they are ready for the next school day. This includes making sure their homework is in their backpack, water bottles and snacks are in place, etc. This really helps to avoid chaos in the morning.
Third, back your gym bag. I mentioned earlier that I try to work out over my lunch break.  I pack my gym bag for the week and just leave it at work. This includes clothes, a towel to shower off, toiletries, etc.

Fourth, lay out my outfit for the morning. The one thing that can be really frustrating is not knowing what to wear in the morning. Or knowing what you want to wear only to find that it was not sent to the dry cleaners or is in a wrinkly mess on the bottom of your closet floor.  Planning ahead makes all of this go so much smoother.

Create a Vision Board- some people may roll their eyes at this one, but, I love having a bigger vision of my life. I put all kinds of things on my board and keep it in a place that I can see every day. I have things on their like my dream house, a picture of a place I have always wanted to visit, etc.   This is a wonderful family exercise because it teaches children to focus on the positive. When I walk by this board, it makes me smile.

Have fun- a few months ago, I was sitting on the floor in our office with piles of paper, bills, etc. I was on a mission to get things done and didn’t have a lot of time to do it. My six year old son came into the room with his tool belt on holding his hammer and said, “Mommy, please come outside and play with me.”  Immediately I said, “No, I have too much work to get done and besides that I have already taken a shower and have my pajamas on” and kept on sorting through the piles of paper. He started crying, sat down and said, “You can come out in your pj’s.  Mommy, I just want to be with you.”  His words hit my heart like a ton of bricks. My eyes filled with tears and I thought this is not the way I want him to remember me.  I put down the paper I was holding, gave him a hug and heading to the backyard to play.  All this is to say, at the end of our life, we are not going to be laying there on our death bed wishing we could file that one last bill or work another day at that company.  Instead, we are going to wish for one more moment with the people we love. From that moment on, I have made a conscious decision to have fun at least one time every day. And yes, sometimes that means scheduling it in the calendar.

Finally... CHILL...Because You Got This
It's important to remember that everything might not work smoothly at first and not everything will go as planned. Don't be hard on yourself, we are only one person. I love the saying at the top of this post because it is so realistic and so true. Nothing will happen over night, however, with a lot of planning, dedication, thought and faith it will all come together. Just remember, nothing great comes without a few obstacles and most importantly...You Got This!