Woman and baby in stroller, enjoying the day

How I made free time during 6 months as a single mom

It’s been a journey, writing weekly blog posts and incorporating what I’m learning into my life. What made this fall extra trying was that our second floor became a full-out renovation zone. My husband disappeared into our upstairs for days on end while I kept the wheels rolling for home life. This meant I had to learn how to make my own free time during 6 months as a single mom.

I’m not saying this to complain. Acting as a solo parent was how I contributed to our renovation. But I can say, holy cow do I have all the respect in the world for single mamas. Massive respect, also, for all you mamas out there who have a partner but carry the lionshare of the house tasks and child rearing. It’s never ending and thankless. You deserve standing ovations every. single. day.

Lessons from 6 months as a single mom

Without further ado, here are the top things that I learned in my “single mama” months as I sought to spend less time on house stuff so that I could squeeze in time for myself. 

  • Quitting time: 9:30ish became the time when I allowed myself to stop moving for the day and do something for me before bed. It is a boundary that continues to feel important.
  • Edge time: If I find I have a few minutes between things, I’ve started chipping away at a chore I know I’ll have to do later. Something as simple as unloading half the dishwasher before work means that I’ll have a faster time getting the kitchen cleaned that night. 
  • Batch cooking: I’ll say this one a thousand times, I’m sure. Batch cooking on Sundays has saved an hour or more of cooking and cleaning every night of the week. 
  • Your ONE thing: I decide what the most important task is. The thing that makes everything feel easier or better once it’s done. This helps keep smaller “task” distractions from eating up your time. It also helps me redifine “success” in this crazy life…I wrote a post on it that you can check out here
  • Bedtime schedule: Creating a routine that gets sweet child to bed on time is key. For us, getting dinner on the table by 6 practically guarantees lights out by 7:30. Ah, sweet silence! 
  • Schedule time to make time: Now that I look for invisible systems in my home that waste time, I see them everywhere. I quickly learned that unless I schedule time to actually make the changes, they don’t happen. If they don’t happen, then I miss out on time that I could be having more fun with my family or doing my own thing. 
  • Habits are killer: It is super hard to break habits, especially ones that started way before kids. To help stop myself in the middle of something that doesn’t serve a purpose, I’ve started trying to ask “does this serve me?” If the answer is no, it’s easier to drop it and move on. 
  • Online time: We all know the internet is a rabbit hole. By shifting my internet habits in small ways, I have managed to spend less time online. For instance, I don’t bargain hunt if I’ve found a company I trust and know my way around their website. I have unsubscribed from listservs so there are fewer emails in my inbox. Sometimes I set a timer to limit the time I spend online, including for activities like blogging or facebook. All this keeps me plugged in, but on my own terms. 
  • Savoring time: Over these last months, I have developed a gratitude for mindset for the time I do have with my husband and daughter. I have choir once a week and instead of Oh crap, I’ve got only seven minutes for dinner! It has shifted to Ah! I have seven minutes to enjoy myself. That simple and genuine shift allows me to be more present and really enjoy myself, even in small bursts. 
  • The sanity clause: Elbows up, mama! Don’t overbook. Trust your gut. Say no graciously and firmly. Ask your partner to say no or back out of things if the sanity clause means that your relationship will be in a better place or his/her presence will allow you to get more alone time. 
  • Loving the life I’ve got: This is a perspective on time in the larger sense.You probably get it when I say that I often feel like I need to have, do, and be more in order to feel successful. Having kids puts a huge speed bump in that race…maybe for the better, if I let my heart do the talking. I know I’m going to miss these days. I’m going to want them back. So maybe my rhythm is slower for a while. Maybe I don’t travel much or go out much. Loving this life just as it is right now is the brand of “success” that I’m learning to run with.

There you have it! The quick-hits list of how I’ve learned to save time and appreciate time over the past months – my keys to making free time during 6 months as a single mom. All of these bullets cover (like I said) a very intense time for my family. Renovations, my husband’s band and shows, my choir, full time work, raising a child… it hasn’t been all roses. It’s been messy and beautiful and a journey. 

Thank you for the enormous love you give your family <3

The way I see it, if you have time to love yourself, then your children have a real good head start in becoming adults who love their lives. I hope the lessons learned in my “single mom” months can somehow help you shift into a place where you have more space for your own beautiful self care.

In case anyone hasn’t said it yet today, thank you for all you do. Thank you for keeping the wheels on the tracks in your house, day in and day out. Thank you for the massive care and energy you put into your family. This world hums and thrives because of you and all the souls who cook and clean and watch over, making home for us all. Namaste.

***Go Mama Love is off and running! If this article spoke to you, please share it on Facebook and “like” my Facebook page “Moms with Time.” Your support in this way means the world to me.

Use the sanity clause to make space for things you love, like this family sitting outside!

The life changing “sanity clause” for busy families

Have you had periods of time where the sheer number of things you’re juggling leaves you completely zapped? From the depths of a pile of blankets and potato chips on the couch and about to binge watch your favorite TV show, you announce you are never having a schedule this crazy again. From now on, things will be different! …months later you’re buried in potato chips again. If this is you, then you might like to know about the sanity clause. It can be life changing for busy families.

“The sanity clause” is a phrase my husband and I use to remind ourselves to look at the big picture before we say yes to things. We often find ourselves in a cycle of taking on too much and running thin. But when we remember to use the sanity clause, we end up a much happier family. 

The Sanity Clause

It’s a simple concept, so I’ll get right to it. The sanity clause is basically a question: will my family and I feel calm and stable if I say yes to this new thing? If the answer is no, then we adjust:

  • Perhaps we modify, slow down, or push off the activity for another time
  • Perhaps we say yes, but change or let go of stuff we’re already doing
  • Perhaps we say no, and that’s the end of it 

The sanity clause works really well in our house because we are the sort of people that go nonstop. When we don’t use it, we regret it. For instance, we did not use the sanity clause when we decided to move across the country with a baby, go on a trip to Europe days later, and then return to a fix-er-upper house with the idea that we could be living in it within a month. It’s hard to admit even to ourselves, but we struggled along for the better part of a year because of that too-intense summer. But the times when we look at all the things we could do and then ask: will we feel sane if we do all this? We get some perspective and make choices that are better for our family.

This is Key: Prioritize Your Well Being

So let’s say you know you need to use the sanity clause, but all the options in front of you look exciting for one reason or another. How do you choose what to say yes or no to? There is a huge body of articles that give guidance on the topic, but my favorite ones get at the topic from a holistic approach. In other words, they help you decide based on what’s most important to your physical, mental, and emotional well being. Your self care needs can change from week to week, which means that how you use the sanity clause might look different from week to week. 

In a blog post on prioritizing, Dr. Kate Northrup writes, “A life filled with what matters is a life well lived. And the only way to make sure you have a life like this is to do it on purpose.” She recommends that we intentionally figure out what matters most to us, schedule those activities first, and then fill in everything else that needs to happen. By doing this, you end up prioritizing your heart first. You get clear on what needs to fall off the plate and approach life on offense toward your goals.

Another nice article from Plenty Consulting talks about a healthy approach to prioritizing well being – it’s an intentional act made without guilt or apologies. I love that idea. I love that women are learning to speak and act in without apologizing or feeling guilty about it. It takes practice and it’s hard at first. I know, because I’m right there with you moving towards this space of unapologetic living. Fortunately, we’re surrounded by the voices of others who are doing the same and are encouraging us on this path.

2020: Best Year Ever <3

My wish for you in 2020 is that it becomes easy to hear the quiet stirrings in your heart. The whisper that says “this way” toward a life you love and experiences that keep you in awe of this beautiful world. May tools like the sanity clause and new ways of prioritizing help guide you on this path. You are an inspiring, powerful human being and I’m glad we’re in this together. 

***Tell me in the comments – because I’d love to hear! – what are you planning to do this year that you’re excited about? How can the sanity clause help you let go of things that don’t feel right anymore? Make sure to write it in the comments. You never know who you’ll inspire. Go mama! 

Dresses on a clothesline - Moms can get it all done with a little guilt-free help :)

A happier way to “get it all done.”

I joined a couple of online mom groups last month. Through other mom posts, I realized how common it is to feel like it’s a personal failing if we can’t get it all done. Today I explore that idea – I consider why we shouldn’t feel that way. Second, I explore how to release that sense of guilt around getting help. (P.s. if you’re on a budget, we’re in the same boat and I’ve got you covered!). 

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t “get it all done”

Congratulations, mama bear! A fabulous, holy, heart-filling, hugely time-intensive human being has landed in your life. For the perhaps the first time ever, you can take a big breath and revel in the fact that you get to move through your days without the “perfection” mindset that you maybe used to have. After all, something done is better than nothing done. You have every reason not to be hard on yourself for an unfinished to-do list. 

An article in Verywell Family points to data that moms with toddlers can be interrupted 210 times a day to attend their toddler’s needs. According to researcher Gloria Mark, who studies digitial distraction at the University of California, Irvine, it takes just over 23 minutes to regain your focus after a distraction. However, unlike the workplace, attending to a child can lead all over the place and easily go beyond 23 minutes.

No wonder moms struggle to do it all! You are losing time and focus because a child needs you. There is no shame in that. In the end, I hope this knowledge gives you some peace and a reason to be easier on yourself. No one can “get it all done” in a home full of interruptions. 

A new way to “get it all done”

If I have convinced you that you don’t need to carry the load of“getting it all done” on your own personal power, allow me to convince you of one more thing: that there are areas in your life where you can and should consider calling in help. 

Elizabeth Dunn, author of Happy Money, introduced me to this idea of intentionally buying time. She finds that people who spend money to buy themselves time or experiences are often happier than those who spend money on things. If you’re a parent, odds are that buying yourself time is what will allow you to have space for fulfilling experiences. 

Fortunately, even budget-strapped people can find ways to creatively buy time. Consider: regardless if what the going rate is, there are probably neighborhood kids who would babysit, mow the lawn, or weed the garden at a price that works for both of you. There are of course professional companies that can also come in and do yard, cooking, or housework, for a higher price and expert service. And if you really want to get creative, perhaps you could barter with a friendly neighbor: one hour with your kids gets them a jar of your blueberry kombucha. You get the idea…there are ways to buy yourself time on any budget. 

As a child, my husband’s family lived off one salary; his dad was in the early years of building a name for himself as a Milwaukee historian, and his mom stayed home with the kids. You can imagine how tight their finances must have been, and how his mom probably needed more breaks than she was getting. Cash strapped as they were, they managed to hire house cleaners once or twice a month. It gave his mom a little less to do, and helped keep the peace in their home. 

How to Not feel Guilty about buying time

When it comes down to it, buying time takes intention. First, you have to decide that the status quo in your house has to go: it’s time to buy time. Second, choose to feel good about this choice. This is a case where money (or maybe a little creative bartering) really can buy happiness. 

In a great article called “Why You Feel Guilty When You Spend Money and How to Stop,” Dani Pascarella writes, “A big reason why people feel guilty about spending money is they fear that it could be going towards something better or more important.” She says the solution to this problem is creating a budget where some of your money is set aside to spend on whatever the heck you want. This is guilt-free spending with your happy self waiting on the other side, so get on it! 

When it comes down to it, just about everything you do at home could be outsourced in some way. So consider what you like doing least – maybe that’s a good place to start buying time. Or consider the tasks you don’t mind, but do most often… that could be a great place to bring in help and free some time.

You are incredible

I’m not sure how any of us comes to the conclusion that we have to do it all, and do it alone. But if you find yourself in that boat, take a step back and congratulate yourself for all you’ve done. You are incredible. Then, take a moment to acknowledge that your heart and happiness are worth letting some of that stress and responsibility go. Start looking forward to that breathing room you’re about to buy. 

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I’m curious – which household activity are you most excited to hand off in some way? Write it down here in the comments! Your comment is a commitment to making this change, and it may just inspire another mom to do the same for herself. May our lovin’ energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama!

A winter bird - a pretty image to say "thank you for who you are"

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for who you are

I went to a women’s circle for a solstice gathering a couple days ago. It was a profound reminder to be grateful for who I am and my life, just as I am grateful for you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for who you are.

During the women’s circle, as we celebrated the wisdom that may be found in darkness, and our expectation for the return of the sun, we also held space for each other.  It was deeply powerful, to sit and share my story for a few minutes and to be witness to others. As I sat there, everything that I struggle with somehow seemed to feel better, lighter. I regained perspective that I am exactly where I should be, that we all are. 

The Path is the Goal

Gandhi once said, “The path is the goal.” Powerful words, right? But perhaps not enough on their own?

“Ah, but Gandhi,” you might be thinking, “How do I remember that in the middle of everything I’m going through right now?”

Not knowing Gandhi personally, I cannot tell you what he would respond. What I can tell you is that from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful for you. So is everyone else whose lives you have touched. I suppose that’s what Gandhi might tell us – to remember to be grateful for where we are and who we are, and to remind each other of the profound beauty of our lives when we forget.

With that in mind, this is my gift to you: a reminder that you are a gift. You have not made no mistakes. In fact, you chose exactly the right people at exactly the right time. You are being of light and love and we all need you. Just as you are.

Thank you for who you are

Merry Christmas, my friends. (merry everything!) Thank you for reading this blog and allowing me to connect with you. It’s an honor to be in your life. I hope that this Christmas, or whatever holiday you may be celebrating, you find rest within all that’s going on around you. May you experience the deep peace that is always present inside your heart – a gift to you, just as you are a gift to all of us. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for who you are.

Woman gazing at a meadow - free from mom guilt

How to free yourself from mom guilt

Mom guilt…it doesn’t matter how short or long you’ve been a mom, we all know the phrase. We all know the feeling. And it’s alarming how often it creeps in. There seem to be endless opportunities to feel guilty over moments where there is no actual breach of trust or ethics or boundaries. It’s a real thing, this strange, uncomfortable emotion that rears its head over so many choices we make. Today, let’s set some new music to dance to, because guilt has no place in a happy heart and home. Loving, brave woman that you are – guilt deserves no place in you. It’s time to free yourself from mom guilt.

First: The Bigger Picture

In a post that’s mostly a rant, but a well-articulated one at that, Momsanity blogger Dawn Yanek runs down a whole range of things moms feel guilty about. Then, she lands on this – which I didn’t expect: “We call it mom guilt, and that’s cute. It’s not. It’s woman guilt. And it’s so culturally ingrained in us, we don’t even know it’s happening until it’s crushing us and we can’t breathe – and then we’re apologizing because we can’t breathe.” 

The bolded lettering is mine for emphasis. I know that I (and most women) go around feeling apologetic about tons of things. Often, I wonder how to hold space for myself without feeling bad about it or the need to apologize. I wonder how to stop feeling like I’m responsible for the feelings of others. It’s an ongoing process. Dawn’s article made me realize that mom guilt is sort of like holding a picture frame over a panoramic view – the phrase “mom guilt” turns the broader idea of guilt into a bite sized nugget, easy to shove aside and ignore. But it doesn’t go away, does it.

Will you join me in looking now at the big picture and how to heal from it? We had mom guilt long before we ever became moms. Guilt is part of our psyche, and healing from it is hugely important. It matters for our own mental health. It matters because releasing our own guilt will give other women permission to do the same. Most importantly, our daughters will learn how to be women moving unapologetically in the world by watching us. That is a vision with power. I will do anything for my daughter. I’m all in. 

How to Free Yourself from Mom Guilt

Psychologist Nick Wignall has this fabulous article about how he helps clients who suffer from what he calls Fake Guilt (we call it Mom Guilt). He says it’s a surprisingly common but rarely diagnosed condition wherein we end up making decisions based on incomplete evidence, even though we have done nothing wrong. His hypothesis is that fake guilt comes from a fear of sadness, helplessness, and/or a lack of control. In other words, guilt is a mask for deeper emotions that are scary to face.

Facing those deeper emotions and allowing them to be is the ticket to our freedom. Wignall also suggests scheduling sessions to sit with those uncomfortable feelings (yes, actually schedule it so that you gently face them. In doing so, they become less scary). He says we should think about those hard emotions like helplessness or sadness as normal, and not something to be hard on yourself about or to avoid. He also has this awesome concept called functional analysis, which means that you actually analyze the guilt and how it is serving you in the moment that it’s happening. By being curious about your guilt instead of judgmental toward it and yourself, you allow movement. 

Mindfulness techniques are another powerful way to help return a mind from guilty thoughts to the beauty of the present moment. Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha is someone I recently came across who has wonderful resources on the topic. A mom herself, she offers kindness and a sense of humor when it comes to mindfulness practices. 

Mom Guilt During the Holidays

It’s no coincidence that I am writing about guilt as we head into the holidays. Family time, gifts, expectations… this special time of year offers a ton of opportunity to feel guilty about things both small and large. Fortunately, this also means that the holidays hold a ton of opportunity to love yourself, just as you are. 

Bright spirit, I wish for you a sense of presence in your life. I wish for you space to notice your guilt and gently allow it to reveal and heal the raw emotions happening beneath. It’s time to free yourself from mom guilt. You are a light in this world, and every single person you have met is better for knowing you. You are enough. 

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Thank you for being part of this go mama community! It’s an honor to share this motherhood journey with you. If today’s article spoke to you in some way, please share it on Facebook or whichever social media landscape you hang out on. May our loving energy inspire and lift each other up! Go mama!

Have it your way: 33 ideas to spark more free time

Recently, I had the privilege of getting to know the mother of a dear friend. We talked about the trials and stresses of new home ownership and tight finances when you’re starting out in family life. For instance, when she was a new mother (with four children) and they moved into their home, she said it was 100 small things that got them through, like the move from brand name Cheerios to knock off bags of cereal. Finding ways to free more time in your schedule is like that, too. To jump start your own path of 100 small things, today I offer you 33 ideas to spark more free time. 

33 Ideas to Spark More Free Time

  1. Mix your favorite go-to spices (cinnamon and sugar counts!)
  2. Use Youtube to learn how to slice weird shaped fruit or veggies
  3. Download an app so you can capture your mental to-do list on the fly
  4. Put your keys in the right hand pocket every time
  5. Use Amazon auto-ship for toiletries that you buy every month (works for diapers, too!)
  6. Create a family habit of 10-minute cleanup before the bedtime routine starts
  7. Have multiple laundry baskets so that you can sort clothes as you take them off
  8. Make your kids and spouse responsible for packing their own lunches
  9. Set out your outfits for the entire week (no more rushing around to find the right shirt!)
  10. Put only the utensils you most often use in your kitchen utensil drawer
  11. Use see-through food storage containers so your food doesn’t go to waste
  12. Set your email account to automatically file e-receipts in a separate folder
  13. Get yourself on the federal do-not-mail (or call) lists
  14. When you’re online shopping, commit to purchasing from a company you trust and avoid wasting time on bargain hunting
  15. Unsubscribe from listservs whose emails you never open
  16. Use your lunch break to squeeze in a workout or a trip to the gas station
  17. Elbows up! Learn to gracefully say “no” to activities you would rather not do
  18. Plan for activities you *do* want to do, so that they are sure to happen
  19. Ask yourself, “does this serve me?” when you’re doing something that’s not productive. (Sometimes the answer is yes, in which case you should absolutely continue!)
  20. Set a timer for things you know could accidentally make you lose track of time, like online shopping, Facebook, or reading a book.
  21. Chop extra veggies while you’re in the kitchen and freeze what you don’t use
  22. Batch cook
  23. Don’t set a snooze alarm (you won’t hit snooze too many times, plus you’ll sleep longer)
  24. Stack your folded laundry in a way that lets you see everything, so you’re not digging for what you want.
  25. Give away jewelry you don’t use anymore
  26. Organize your grocery list by section of the store
  27. Set boundaries with what your little ones play with…you should not have to search for things that you actually need.
  28. Get your spouse and kids on board with choosing a home for things that sort of float around (in our house, it’s the salt shaker).
  29. Keep a just-in-case bag that lives in the car (water, diapers, extra clothes, snacks, toys, sunscreen, lotion and earrings for you…). It’s your backup to the bag that goes with you everywhere.
  30. Create a routine that helps you see where your time-saving gaps are. For us, setting 6:00 as dinner time set off a whole chain reaction of choices that help us get to 6:00 without stress. 
  31. Set up auto bill pay for as many things as you can.
  32. Use mini-gaps between activities to start a piece of housework
  33. Throw a pillowcase in with the laundry loads, so you have a backup “basket” to stuff clothes in if the actual basket wanders off.

Commit to Actively Looking for Time Saving Moments

Saving time is a journey that will never end, because our lives constantly change. The kids get older, we get new jobs, sports come and go, we try new hobbies… Along the way, you’ll figure out some time saving tricks that you keep around, but there are others that will only be discovered when life calls you to new rhythms and routines. 

Your challenge is to commit to actively looking for those 100 small things you can do to save time. You’ll know you are successful because suddenly you have 10 minutes to read a book, or you’re playing with your kids before dinner when there used to be no time. Maybe you’re getting a little more sleep. Maybe you finish the dishes and look around and think, “Now what do I do?” (Yes, this can be you!)

Whatever it is that you long for, its 100 small choices that save time that will get you there. Plus, you’ve got a head start with these 33 ideas to spark more free time. Get going, mama bear! I believe in you. 


***How about you? What are the small things you do that save a tiny bit of time? Please share in the comments! You never know who you might be helping out. May our loving energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama!

A potter wheel to symbolize keeping the idea of a Focus Wheel to keep the kid blues from ruining the day

Keep your “kid blues” from ruining the day with a Focus Wheel

Have you ever been through an intense period of time with soaring highs and hard lows, and over time the hard parts sort of fade away from memory and all you can remember is the laughter and fun you had? Like you, I’m in the thick of the early years of parenting. Even on the worst days, I know I’ll mostly remember the best ones. My husband and I will look at each other and say, “Wasn’t that fun?”. Right now, though, there are some days where I feel anxious or lonely or totally spun. Those are the days when I lean on a Focus Wheel activity to keep the “kid blues” from ruining the day.

To feel better, go general

You know how you would never expect your child to go from very sad to giddy and happy? If you’ve ever watched a grown up tickle a crying child, you know what I mean: it just doesn’t work. The leap is too far. 

The same is true for you. You’re not going to go from flustered to merry and bright. However, you can get yourself to a better space by going general about the situation, and continuing down that thought path until you really do feel better.

For example, let’s say at least one child is fussing and you’re running late and you just spilled something on your clean work shirt. You’re totally frazzled right? First, breathe as deep as you can until you have some distance from the situation (as in, you’ve dropped sweet fussy babe off at day care and are driving alone in the car).  Next, without talking about the specific things bothering you, you can get to a better spot by being general about the problem and your life.

An Example

Here’s an example of a verbal focus wheel (because you’re driving in this scenario and not with a journal). The word flow might sound something like this:

“I do not need everything running smoothly to know that everything is going to be okay. I know that things get easier and easier. I’ve had hard days before and move through them and done it with grace. In fact, I’m really good at moving through hard places and I am a better person for it. This is just a phase and I’m in the right place and I am the right person for this moment. I love where I have been and am certain that I will love where I’m going. Plus, I know that I always figure things out and that I can trust myself. I can trust the future. There’s nothing I can’t have or do or be and all is well. All is well. All is well.” 

Do you get the idea? Before long, you will find that you are calmer and more present. You will feel at least a little better (and maybe a lot better) than you were five minutes ago. You’ll keep the “kid blues” from ruining the day. I promise.

The FOCUS Wheel, Explained by Experts

Gabby Bernstein, an author considered a thought leader for the next generation by Oprah, has taken this concept mainstream. You can hear her talk about it in this Marie TV episode, called “How to Reclaim your Joy When You Feel Like Giving Up.” I love that she’s broadcasting this idea, but she would be the first to tell you that it is not originally hers. It comes from another thought leader named Abraham Hicks, someone that’s a little more in the land of “woo”  and less mainstream. That said, if you can accept the idea of using what resonates and leaving the rest behind, then this link for the original thinker behind this concept is a good listen.

I have been using this focus wheel practice for years and it is one of the best tools I’ve come across to get into a better emotional state. I’ve used it to get from a state of worried to expecting amazing experiences. I’ve gone from self-doubt to confidence, from feeling deeply negative to feeling easier about situations. 

Once, I used it on a stopped bus in Ecuador at 3 o’clock in the morning. I journaled myself into an expectant state that yes, my new husband and I would get past a landslide and make it to our connecting flight to our Galapagos Island honeymoon. 

We did. (And that’s a story for another day!).

Your Turn

I hope you give this a try sometime. You are an amazing, hard working, brave mother and a focus wheel might be just the re-set you need to get your mood in a better-feeling place. Why not? Your life is calling.


***Tell me, what do you do to keep the “kid blues” from ruining the day? Share in the comment section, and be sure to share this post on Facebook or Twitter! go mama!

Feel-good image of mint flowers in mortar and pestle

Why I Know You Will Heal

Tis the season for intentional gratitude, so before I dive into today’s post on why I know you will heal, I want to start with a great big, heartfelt thank you to you. Thank you for following these posts, and for telling me in person or on social media that they’re making a difference. You’re the reason I write. If I can help you draw space, and peace, and happiness into your life in any way, I will have succeeded. Your support keeps me going. Thank you. 

There is also a lot to be thankful for outside of this blog. I’m grateful for my sister’s happiness with her new husband and farm. I’m grateful for the huge, loving community that showed up to support us in our renovation (the end is in sight, and we could not have done it without you). I’m grateful for friends and family far and near – you’re the reason I showed up on this planet, and I love you so much. Finally, I’m grateful for the fact that our bodies have infinite capacity to heal, which brings me to the topic of today’s post. 

Self Care to Feel Better than Ever

Sometimes self care really is about focusing on the basics. I’ve spent time in a number of recent posts sharing self-care strategies like mirror work and self talk (and how to practice self care at family gatherings). These are super important. But in the mind-body-spirit continuum, the body piece is important and can have a huge impact on your thoughts and feelings. In fact, research is increasingly linking things like anxiety and depression to gut health. 

If you feel like there was a time when you had more energy and brightness to meet the day – when you felt less worried, anxious, down, or zombielike – felt more you, then read on my friend. There is so much hope for feeling more like yourself. In fact, I don’t just hope you feel better – I know you will feel better. The reason why I know you will heal is because you are a powerful force when you make up your mind to do something.

What I share here is a mix of articles and books found through my own efforts to get back to a happy, “normal” state (i.e., none of this is professional medical advice). After having my daughter, the physical toll left me with a degree of anxiety that I didn’t want to just “live with” forever. I had some other non-urgent but not-going-away things that I finally decided to do something about. The results from this path have been amazing. With that, here are some tools that I hope will help you launch your own journey to well being. 

The quick hits

You are your own best healer. Fortunately, some of the cheapest and easiest things to do are already at your fingertips. The trick is to be conscious about following through. Try to:

  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day
  • Up the veggie intake. Half your plate should be veggies. 
  • Lower your sugar intake. (You might even give yourself a three-day, no-sugar challenge to help re-set).
  • Get your heart going. A five-minute dance party with your kids counts. Or try a ten minute walk-jog-stop to pet a cat… that counts too! No one’s watching. You can build up. 
  • Take your vitamins and fish oil
  • Laugh often
  • Nap
  • Send gratitude as often as you can remember

A little more effort, but every bit worth it

Pregnancy takes its toll on a body, and small imbalances can make your whole system feel off-kilter. Whether you recently had a baby, or your sweet chilli bean was born years ago, it’s never too late to ask a doctor to order tests to check out how you’re doing with things like vitamins, folate, and iron. A thyroid test can also provide clarity. Your doctor can help you decide the best tests. Afterward, if you feel like something is still missing, keep researching. Do your own homework so that you go to the doctor armed with good questions. 

A find at the library got me started on this track, called The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Oscar Serrallach. Check it out or find something like it – you’ll realize how not alone you are, and that this is not your new normal. In fact, it may just be a window that gets you feeling even better than before your pregnancy.

Why I Know You Will Heal

I came across a quote recently that really resonated: “The path to healing is not linear.” Some days you may feel totally energized by the changes you want to make in your body and life. Some days you may feel down and wonder if all this work is getting you anywhere. For me, this roller coaster has been very much a part of my journey over the last eight months. Some days, when results are not obvious, the only thing that keeps my spirits from sinking too far is choosing to believe the thought: “I have decided to heal, so I will heal.” (Because decisions send incredibly powerful messages to our brains and the universe to line it all up and take action). I know you will heal, too, if you so choose.

Sometimes healing takes time. Begin anywhere.

Sometimes you may try the wrong thing. Clarity comes through action.

Sometimes you may get overwhelmed. It’s normal. Keep going.

Inevitably, you will succeed or transcend, or both. Because you decided to.

Dear woman, you are more powerful than you realize. You created a family who you surround with love every day. You make your dreams come true. There is a light in your eyes that is only yours. 

It’s really up to you, this healing you seek. I hope you get there. And even though we may never meet, I like to think that you and I are part of a vast river of women whose spirits are cheering each other on. You are not alone. I am grateful for you. Go mama.

Woman in striped dress walking down beach path

Clear out your closet for new dreams, more time, & self care

The funny thing about letting go of stuff is that you give a gift to yourself. Not only does the absence of something unwanted feel like a relief, but you create space for life to draw in more of what you do want. It’s a physical and spiritual act, this letting go. In the dance of motherhood, and career, and heart, and life, the spiritual side of me needs to be heard and honored more than ever. So this month, as the snow starts to fall in Milwaukee and as light dims earlier each day, I have decided to clear out my closet. It’s a deliberate act of making space for new dreams, and one of self care. The icing on the cake is that it will put more time in the day.   

Use your Closet to Make Space for New Dreams

Recently, I listened to a podcast by Ingrid Fetell Lee where her interviewee shared a story about clearing out unwanted clothes from her closet and not only did they she feel like she had more to wear, but she suddenly felt free enough to quit their job and try something new. That story totally resonates with me. There’s something freeing about removing the physical proof of our past – who we were and what was working for us then – in order to move into a space of who we are now and who we want to be. 

Who is it you want to be? This slice of life has caused new dreams to form in you. So why not send your signal into the universe (and to yourself) that you’re ready for them. Clean out that closet…then the dresser…then the forgotten boxes in the basement. Finally, release whatever else that’s filling your space and making you feel stuck. You are so free, if only you allow yourself to see it

Use Your Closet to Boost Self Care

You are a beautiful human being, you know that? Every inch of you. And getting dressed should be a fun way of celebrating yourself on the daily. However, if you’re like me, you have clothes you keep around because they’re functional, not because they make you feel beautiful or brighten the day. We all do it –  we keep things that look nice, but they show too much cleavage or don’t fit quite right or we convinced ourselves in the store that we can make it work, but never got around to actually making it work. Sometimes we keep stuff because a relative bought it. There are clothes kept for reasons we’ve long forgotten. 

Now imagine – how would it feel to have and wear only clothes that fit right and feel good? How would it feel to spend less time worrying about or adjusting what you’re wearing? Pretty good, right?!?

You deserve the kind of self care that comes without having to think about it. You deserve to wake up to a closet of only outfit options that you are excited to wear. 

Clear out your closet to save time

If drawing in new dreams and self care aren’t enough of a reason to clear out your closet, then perhaps this info will seal the deal: when you make repetitive motion by choosing or finding clothes, you are wasting your time. Think about it – how much time do you spend when you search through a drawer for a shirt two or three times before finding it? How much time do you spend just deciding what to wear? 

In the end, clothes can create a waste of time that really adds up. We blow by the fact that the problem could be fixed in the rush of getting ready to leave the house. And because it’s not addressed, it comes up day after day after day. You’re losing minutes without even realizing it.  I’m tellin’ ya – solving this problem will make mornings run a little faster.

Action Challenge

This month, I invite you to join me in a very loving and intentional act of letting go of clothes that no longer serve us. To help, Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up recommends that you:

  • Thank your “get rid of” clothes out loud. Thanking is a way to honor how they served you and send them on their journey with gratitude. 
  • Get rid of anything you keep out of a sense of obligation, functionality, or guilt. You have permission.
  • Keep what sparks joy (I love this one!)

I also came across this Apartment Therapy blog post by Arlyn Hernandez, which has a quick-hits list of stuff to toss like those shoes that always hurt, old bridesmaid dresses, and things that you kept last time you cleaned out your closet but haven’t worn.

I hope you enjoy yourself as you clear out your closet to make space for new dreams, more time, and self care. Turn on some tunes. Sip some wine. Enjoy the memories your clothes bring up, even as you thank them and say “yes!” to whatever’s ahead. 


***I’m curious, what dream are you ready to draw into your life? Let me know in the comments! May our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up. Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, thanks for being you. go mama!

Silly photo of a dead potato - could've saved it with these food tips!

Your fridge is a time-sucking black hole (& what to do about it)

How many times a month do you find yourself throwing out food past its prime? It’s embarrassing, but I’ll admit that my family tosses food weekly, and there’s usually a monthly deep dive into the fridge for lost and forgotten food gone bad. It’s like a time-sucking black hole for food that we shopped for, cooked, packaged away…and then let spoil. For me, the worst part is the time spent cleaning up and feeling guilty about all the wasted food. If only there were easy ways to avoid this waste, right? As it turns out, the interwebs have a lot to say on the subject! This post is full of suggestions that will help our fridges no longer feel like a time-sucking black hole.

Six ways to keep food out of the trash

Be creative before tossing. Stale bread can be croutons or breadcrumbs. Freeze veggies for before they’ve gone completely bad – they’re perfect for soup or stew. This Huffpost article has some other suggestions on this front.

Make sure fridge temp is correct. Fridges that are too warm or too cold can cause food to go bad, and might also be a safety hazard. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the refrigerator temperature should be kept at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).

Invest in some produce saver sheets. Amazon has a bunch of options, like these FreshPapers. Throw these in the fridge drawer with your fruits and veggies to prolong their freshness. The reviews speak for themselves.

Store food in a way that’s easy to see, or at least labeled. Try to use clear containers to store food, so you have a constant visual reminder that it needs eating when you open your fridge. And if it’s not in a clear container, label the container with its contents and the date cooked.  

Shop for only what you need. This National Geographic article talks about how we shop with this psychological need to store and save, which means we buy more than we need. Queue the dark music for food gone bad (and time wasted cooking it!). Over the next couple weeks, spend some time noticing how much your family eats compared to how much you buy. Watch how much of your leftovers go to the fridge when perhaps they’d be better preserved in the freezer. And if you want that mental security of knowing there’s reserve food, stock your pantry with dry goods. 

Think of your freezer as short-term storage. Laura Moreno, a food waste expert featured in the above National Geographic article, suggests using the freezer as short-term storage. Those frozen leftovers can be a big time saver during a busy week. They are also just one stop away from the trash can if they develop freezer burn, which is extra incentive for using them within a couple weeks (which is probably the window you’ve got before forgetting they exist). 

Our turn – no more time-sucking black hole fridges

Over the next month or so, I’m going to start implementing these tips in my fridge and kitchen. I don’t want a time-sucking black hole fridge lurking in my kitchen. I want everything we cook to go into our bellies. I hope you’ll join me in this effort, for the sake of your own time and tasty cooking! 

***Find any of these ideas useful? If you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, this could definitely help in my kitchen” – please share this post on Facebook or other social media. This is a growing community and every share makes a difference! With gratitude, -Ashley