Savouring Family, Food, and the Earth

4 Ways to be a Happy Mama

We seem to be in a new age of consciousness when it comes to raising our kids.  We read books on the subject of parenting.  We try to prepare the most nutritious foods. We comfort, play, and teach. We schedule activities. We put aside money in RESPs.

We endlessly discuss choices, ideas, and ways to improve the lives of our children.We keep ourselves up at night wondering if we’re doing a good enough job.

When you think about it, our children are really lucky! This just might be the best time in the history of humankind to be a child.

But let’s not forget, that as parents, and people, we need that same care.  It’s a gift that you have to give to yourself over and over, in order to be the best possible version of  that incomparable you.

In my experience, these 4 things have made the most positive and lasting contribution to my happiness. They take time and consistent effort, but without them, I become irritable, exhausted, and impatient.  With them, I am a source of energy, compassion, and creativity.  Even though I often have to talk myself into making these things a priority, I am always, always, so glad I did!

1) MEDITATION:

Did you know the average person has approximately 40,000 thoughts per day? Our minds are constantly racing; attempting to arrange the pieces of this never-ending puzzle of life. We need relief from this deluge.

Meditation can be as simple as reading a book intently, weeding your garden, or repeating a Sanskrit phrase for 3 minutes. Whatever form you choose, allow yourself a small space each day where you are more than just a series of thoughts. Allow yourself to just be in the moment.

If you’re unsure where to start, I found  The Chopra Center’s 21 Day Meditation challenge to be a pretty life altering introduction to meditation. After a few days, I began to crave that time where I could be free from my meandering, repetitive thoughts, and feel profoundly grounded.

2) SLEEP

Yes Sleep. Sorry it’s boring, but it’s a biggie. A chronic lack of sufficient sleep has been associated with: high blood pressure, diabetes, decrease in sex drive, decrease in long-term memory, increase in obesity, increase in depression and anxiety, and much, much more. (1)

We may not be able to get our perfect 8 hours a night every night, because let’s face it, occasionally our children need us during those precious sleeping hours. But, we can avoid staying up late trying to catch up on things we think we should do. Laundry. Dishes. Your latest netflix obesesion. Whatever it is, ask yourself if it can wait until tomorrow. Or better yet, ask for help!

3) PERSONAL CARE:

Now, I have a fairly relaxed approach to style and fashion. I rarely wear makeup. But I very much admire a well-put together woman. I read once that you should wash your hair the day before you really need to, and that has seriously (and sadly) stuck with me. I always feel kind of amazing after I put in the effort to wash and style my hair. But, the prospect of doing so always makes me put it off for another day when I have more time.

But time, my friends, is very elusive.  So, I urge you to seize the day and take that extra time to do whatever it is that makes you feel kind of amazing. Isn’t it so much nicer to look in the mirror and say “Wow!” instead of “Whoa!”  Think about it.

4) EXERCISE:

This one is a win-win. When you exercise, you, a) feel more energetic and b) are healthier, and therefore, c) look and feel better!

I know the list of reasons why you don’t have time to work out is long…but, the benefits are so extraordinary that you’ve got to dismiss the list. The list will be there literally every day of your life until you die, so put yourself on the list too.

A recent study has proposed that exercising for as little as 15 minutes a day can increase your life expectancy by three years! (2)  Exercising has also proven to improve your mood, sex drive, and sleep, as well as prevent and manage a vast range of health problems.(3)

As parents, we need our energy levels to be at maximum, and the ONLY way to do that is to be active (and of course, sleep remember?). My cousin once said, “the hardest part of working out is putting on your shoes.” And it’s true. Once you get those shoes on and commit to your workout, it’s all downhill! The energy you receive is its own reward.

You may have to experiment a little to find out what kind of a schedule and practice work for you. But just start with something that feels good. Maybe you like to sweat it out on the treadmill or shake your butt in Zumba. Whatever works for you is what works! I know I often get too caught up in what the RIGHT form of exercise is when really any type of movement will do just fine. It has to fit into your regular life or you won’t do it.  And you must do it!

If you read all of this and still feel like you don’t have time, either you’re not being honest with yourself or you’re expectations are way too high- Meditation can be as simple as 3 slow breaths before you get out of bed. Exercise can be  a 15 minute walk around your neighbourhood.

It’s a lot easier to give to your family when you have a reserve to draw from. So make sure your inner well is always full. Your children will thank you for it!

Sources:

(1) http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss

(2) /lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2811%2960749-6/abstract

(3)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676

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