The day after Christmas, in a moment of conviction and vulnerability, I began to share with my husband about my daily routine. I shared with him that every single day I feel like I am living my life 10 steps behind, with no hope of catching up. I feel frustrated, have more stress than I should and feel like I’m investing too much time in things that just don’t really matter. I’m ready for a change.
So what does this day-to-day life look like?
I plan things and don’t prepare well. I give less than my best to the important people in my life, because I have too much on my calendar. My home becomes disorganized (too often) and is filled with too much stuff. I’m exhausted 90% of the time. Unfortunately, caffeine makes me an absolute crazy person, so that isn’t much of an option (maybe I just need to let the crazy take over?) 😉
But in all seriousness, I was tired of feeling like I couldn’t ever keep up.
As a society, aren’t we so guilty of living life this way?
We make plan after plan and become disconnected from our families.
Focusing on the negative and allowing petty things to frustrate and overwhelm us has become the norm.
We fill our closets, cabinets and drawers with things we don’t need – and then we buy extras “just in case.”
We create stress for ourselves (and our spouses) over attending every party and event with fear of missing out or disappointing others.
It becomes a never-ending cycle.
I just don’t want to live that way anymore. I’m ready for a change.
I have been reading, praying and evaluating my own patterns and habits to discern what needs to be adjusted. Since this conversation with my husband, I have been implementing the following habits in my life and I hope that they are helpful to you as well:
1. Set a “bedtime”.
Ever since I had Sutton, I have taken full advantage of my evenings. Let me tell you – I’m paying for it. 7:00 pm is my opportunity to start projects, write posts, read my books, watch TV, cuddle with my husband – and I do it all until I can barely keep my eyes open.
I fall asleep around 1:00 in the morning and wake up tired and grumpy. Now, I am finally realizing how selfish it is of me; everyone else has to pay for it, too. If you’re the same way, set a reasonable bedtime for yourself. Living our lives in perpetual exhaustion causes distress in our marriages, tension with our kids and prevents us from being truly effective.
Practical Tip: There’s a free app called ‘Go to Bed’ that sends reminders when it’s time! Put your phone away, set your bedtime and hold yourself accountable to sticking to it.
2. Wake up early & begin your day with something you love.
Waking up early (even 30 minutes) gives so many opportunities to do things that you love – and that’s exactly what it should be for. Set your alarm to go off before anyone else in the house wakes up.
Use that time to do something you enjoy. Something that will help you to set the tone for the rest of the day. Write a letter to a friend, go for a run, read a book, pray and read your Bible or watch your favorite show. You could even eat an oreo (or three) without being interrupted! Your options are endless.
Remember – if your heart is full of joy early in the morning, you’re likely to pour that over onto your family throughout the day.
3. Listen to encouraging music or teachings as often as you can.
Whether you blast some of your favorite songs while dancing with your kids or have it playing on your computer at work, music is always good for the soul. I also listen to sermons every morning while I’m getting ready (Matt Chandler at The Village Church is always amazing & my father-in-law, David Maestas, from Calvary Chapel New Harvest always brings a solid teaching.) These teachings that I turn on help me to immediately set my heart and eyes on God, rather than on myself, first thing in the morning.
Whatever it is for you – a playlist, an audiobook or a podcast – be intentional about filling your heart with something encouraging throughout the day!
4. Learn how to say no.
I am the Queen of “Yes” and it absolutely takes a toll on me and steals my joy. Beginning this month, I will be blocking off three days each week on my calendar. Those days will be set aside as family and rest days. I’m also going to battle the urge to explain myself or make an excuse if I can’t attend a party or even a coffee date – sometimes it’s okay to just say, “I’m sorry but I can’t make it!”
I believe that the stress that we feel when we say ‘no’ comes from the idea that we’re letting someone down. That’s unnecessary pressure that we place on ourselves and is very much tied in with people-pleasing, which never results in anything positive. Your friends know that you love them – give yourself a break!
5. Take 20 minutes every evening to pick up the house and start the dishwasher.
This one may seem silly, but for me personally, there are few things that make me feel more behind and overwhelmed in the morning than waking up to a messy house and dirty dishes. Even if your home is in desperate need of a cleaning, this quick clean up time will make a larger difference than you think.
Set a timer for twenty minutes, turn on some music and clean as much and as quickly as you can before you finally sit down to rest for the evening. I promise that you will feel just a little bit more refreshed and experience more joy when you wake up in the morning than you would with a messy home!
6. Declutter and Organize – Less time spent on “stuff” means more time with family.
It is incredibly liberating to simplify your life and get rid of unnecessary things. Not only does it make cleaning your home one million times easier, it also makes you feel less tied down to unimportant material items.
Begin by going through each room on a day off and throw everything that you don’t use or need into a large bin. Dump out drawers, cabinets and go through all closets to declutter. Sort through those items to either donate or throw away. Good rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in 6 months or if it’s a duplicate of anything in your home – get rid of it!
7. Make a list of daily frustrations and write solutions next to them (or go and fix them right away!)
One day this week, every time you feel frustrated, write it down. Whether it’s the placement of something in your home (dishes on a high shelf that you use often, for example), a routine that you have that just doesn’t feel “right” or if you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again – take a note of it!
Also, any relationships that are currently in turmoil or are looming over your head, write those down as well.
Then, write down a helpful solution and fix the problem right away. Switch up your shelves, call that friend and work through the discomfort. You may find that you had much more bothering you than you knew, but you will then have the freedom to change it for the better while ridding your life of that stress.
8. Love people more than your own feelings.
In my life, there are few things that bring me more joy than selflessly loving and serving people, but it’s not always easy. Oftentimes, I get caught up in wondering why I wasn’t treated the way that I thought I should have been. Or I feel like I “give and give and give”, yet receive nothing in return.
If I’m not careful, everything becomes all about me and distracts me from doing what I intended in the first place – loving God and others above myself.
This year I want to re-focus and choose to not allow my feelings to get in the way of love – which is, and always will be, my most important goal.