Your messes, illuminated

I wish you loneliness… 

This line appeared in a poem for my baby, written by my sister in law. She shared it at a Blessingway ceremony held in August – a gathering with a small circle of dear women to honor the transition in my life as I prepared to give birth to my second child. 

The women brought blessings, poems, and prayers to share, written on sheets of origami paper. I planned to fold the papers into birds and place them around the house; I would be surrounded by their blessings while giving birth. My son arrived 12 days early, a little too soon to complete folding all of the birds, but some were scattered around and I have the gift of sitting with them as I fold them now, weeks later. But back to the poem…  in its fullness, it quietly reads: 

“I cannot wish you safety, because we learn through risk.

I cannot wish you peace because discomfort makes us radically creative.

I cannot wish you pure health, because the body contains multitudes, and strength comes from wrestling what seeks to unbalance you.

I can wish you love. I can wish you loneliness.

Mostly, I wish for you to live in the fullness of your humanity, whatever that may be, with as much curiosity about the messes as the miracles.” 

Written by Kitt Healy

How to accept life’s messes

Ultimately, these origami blessings are destined for a picture box to hang on the wall, surrounding a photo of my newborn son. I’ve deliberated over leaving this one in the frame unfolded, it’s love and honesty open for reading and rereading. Part of me wants to fold it, to hide the words because my mother’s heart wants no sadness or hardship for this child. And while for me it will always be this way, I know, deeply, that a life of pure ease is not what he came for. He came to forget; forget that he is made of love and forget that he is one with everything. He came to relearn and remember these things as he ages. He came for the messes.

This is a good reminder for me, too. I’ve spent long hours feeling sad over pains in my life. Friendships and loves lost. Being hard on myself for those sadnesses, as if doing things a little bit different, a little bit better or more perfect could have protected me from painful moments. I sometimes get intensely anxious about making a decision, afraid that if I make the wrong one I will be hurt in the future.

But pain free living was never going to be possible, was it? Over these past months, during the loneliness invoked by COVID-19, I’ve started using a method for releasing old emotions called emotional frequency technique, or “tapping.” Events that I wish hadn’t happened – they’re transforming into old memories without painful associations. I’m learning to love my messy life, just as it is.

Our messes, illuminated

I can’t protect my children from the messes any more than I can protect myself. But I can show them a mother who loves her life, all the bumps and bruises and how they’ve shaped her, a mother who has learned to let go and forgive and love herself. Maybe that example can be a beacon of light that helps guide them back to themselves when their messes make them forget the way. These are my messes, illuminated.

I wish that for you, too. That you see your messes as part of your becoming. Becoming something brighter and more full and more in line with the heart of you. You are made of love and are part of everything. Even with the messes. Remember that.

***If this post speaks to you in any way, please share it with your friends on social media. This is a fairly new blog and I’m grateful for everyone helping get the word out! <3

Ice cream with sprinkles. Who says adults don't know how to play or have fun?!

Big smiles served here: how to amp up your play

Today my daughter (she’s 2 now) spent some time playing with stickers. One sticker was a pair of eyeglasses. She carefully sticks it on her eyelid and smiles at me. I smile back, especially with my eyes but I make no declarations about the situation. After a few moments she laughs out loud and says “I silly!” I join her laughter. There are a thousand reasons I love being a mom, but the steady stream of laughter and play ranks high on the list. 

Play is something I’ve been pondering…adults are just kids in aging bodies. We love play, but it can sometimes feel elusive. How do we tap back into that fun side of ourselves? Read on for some ideas on how to amp up your play at home and work.

What is play?

In a sweet article with 37 reader-driven ideas for play, Sandra Pawua describes play as, “a purposeless activity that brings about joy and pleasure […]  You’re simply immersed in the moment-to-moment experience of play with a child-like abandon.” Isn’t that such a nice summary? Play is this thing that brings lightness to our hearts, but it can be forgotten in the mental train track of the day (unless of course we’re in the thick of playing with our kids). One of the play suggestions in the post is to build a snowman, which brings back a fond memory. 

One night, while living in the coastal city of Olympia, Washington, it snowed buckets. At around midnight, my husband and I decided to do something about our rain-free fortune and built the parts for a massive snowman. With hushed giggles, we assembled it outside our neighbor’s front door, eager to share in some smiles the next day upon its discovery.

Sometimes all you need to spark play is curiosity. Ask yourself: What is the most fun thing I could do right now? 

How to strengthen your Play Muscles

Funnily, the things I found entertaining as a kid are often still the case today. It’s fun to skip rocks at the beach, to draw, to play games that require looking or acting silly. But ya know, it’s sort of like a muscle – if you don’t use it, the skill becomes a little rusty. How do you amp up your play if it’s been a while?

In her post on 10 Ways to Have More Fun and Play More as Adults, Marelisa Fabrega offers a number of ways to strengthen our play muscles. These range from planning minimum play time (similar to minimum daily exercise time) and scheduling specific time blocks for fun activities. She also recommends going on a play date with your partner instead of your standard date night activity. Sign me up! 

Play at Work


Play at work…now here’s a realm where the idea of play can feel a little far fetched. But some people have figured it out! 99designs has a nice article that covers the spectrum of what play is, describes play’s ability to maximize team creativity, and offers some ideas to get us going. Ever tried writing your to-do list as a limerick? Have you invented a fun tradition that you do before starting a difficult task?  Check out the 99designs link for more inspiration.

Amp up your play!

I hope this week brings you laughter, and play, and moments of delight. And wherever this finds you, be it nursing a sick family or eagerly anticipating the next phase of life, give yourself a big dose of appreciation and gratitude for all that you are and all that you’ve become. It’s breathtaking.

Aw, why not sweeten the deal. Go on and treat yo’self to some sprinkles on that next scoop of ice cream. Just for fun.

****Know anyone who would love more play in their life? Share this post with them! Extra points for anyone who leaves a comment telling about something playful they did recently.

Fall leaves - something I list to calm my mind

The easy way to calm your beautiful mind

Those moments where your mind is spinning out of control and you just wish something could make you feel calmer? A gratitude practice, my friend, is it. The easy way to calm your beautiful mind.

My husband and I did a gratitude practice the morning of our wedding day. We spent a half hour just feeling grateful for our lives and all the love in it. We did that before anything else on our to-do list. And what could have been a very stressful day… started off just right. We rode a giant wave of love from start to finish, and I attribute the positive momentum to that gratitude practice. 

This week, gratitude made a difference

I’m soaking in the beautiful fall weather from a rocker on my front porch as I write. Enjoying the warm fall air and the beautiful trees, the soft bellows of my baby’s breathing, his body curled up snug against me. Even enjoying the sense of not knowing as we head towards presidential election results later tonight.

Yesterday didn’t feel so pristine and easy. I was exhausted after a sleepless night, and my mind spun out of control with anxious thoughts about affording daycare for two children. Not knowing what else to do, I wrapped baby up and off we went on a gratitude walk around the neighborhood. 

There’s the saying that love and fear can’t exist together. It’s the same with gratitude and anxiety. During the walk, I listed all the things I’m grateful for that I could think of. Pinecones, sunshine, people who inspire me, people who joined our meal train, the spot that opened up for my daughter in a coveted daycare nearby, red leaves, red doors. Twenty minutes later, I can’t say I was flying high on life, but I was much calmer. I’d stopped the mental train tracks. 

All good things

Try a gratitude practice next time you find yourself in a negative mental state. It’s the easy way to calm your beautiful mind, and you can do it anywhere. Try it before a big day, or before any normal day. Gets you set up in a positive place – ready for all good things to come to you. And they will. You are enough. <3

*******

Tell me – I’d love to hear! – what are five things you’re grateful for in this moment? Please share in the comments below. May our lovin’ energy inspire and lift each other up. Go mama love.

Woman surrounded by spring flowers. You can boost your mood, even with spring fever!

How to feel joyful when you’ve got spring fever

A flush of weather in the high 40s hit Wisconsin over the weekend, turning my mind to spring and the tulip and dwarf iris bulbs I planted last fall. They’re somewhere under the frozen layer of earth, brimming with bottled energy. I can feel it. Soon I’ll turn around and there they’ll be – a rainbow of colors gracing my yard, hopefully giving passers-by a reason to smile. What about you? Has spring fever hit? Today I’d like to offer you some easy-to-do tips that will spark feelings of well being, even as we wait for sunshine and flowers. 

Create joyful spaces

In a thoughtful and uplifting blog post called “7 emotional lessons for a more joyful life,” Ingrid Fettel Lee writes, “Because joy is small, it’s accessible. I might not know how to be happy on a particular day, but I know that I can find one or two moments of joy that I might not have had otherwise.” I love this idea. Some days, I’m not sure how to pull myself out of a funk but I do know that I can hold gratitude for a flash of color or a pretty bake brought to the office by a co-worker. Small moments that spark joy are everywhere, and they can be intentionally created. 

Ingrid’s words speak to the concept of joy-making that I recently stumbled upon in my own life. I never realized it before, but by the small act of placing something that evokes loving and joyful emotions, I can completely transform how I feel about a space.  Slowly, oh so slowly, I’ve been bringing me-things into my office. Plants and artwork and most recently, a framed photo of my daughter wearing a sweet, knit fox hat. That picture was the missing piece; it turned my office into a place I like spending time. Every time I look at her face, positive feelings fill my mind and body.

You can spark joy in any of your spaces, too. That all-black outfit could have some bright earrings or a scarf. A bright layer of paint or art could make the bathroom a space where you feel energized. Maybe scents or musical sounds from special pieces of your past could be brought into your present, ready to help you transform your mood. 

Make New Beliefs About Yourself

Here’s another inspiring bit of writing that can make the best of spring fever. It’s so full of love and hope for all of us – wisdom on how to follow our hearts to our joy. “How to Create Joy Today: 7 tips for a Happy Life,” by Sarah Maude over on the Tiny Buddha blog. It’s hard to pull just one quote from this, but I will say that the section on spring cleaning your belief system resonates. Sarah writes, “Many people believe they have to live with the cards they have been dealt, that life is tough, or if you want something you have to fight for it. Yet beliefs are only thoughts that we keep thinking. No belief is set in stone.” 

Isn’t that on point? We build beliefs because they seem to fit circumstances. Years later, those beliefs still whisper to us even if our spirits and lives are calling us to do and be and believe something totally different.

Personally, I straddle two worlds – a researcher by day, and a creative writer and singer by night, slowly forming community. I dream of more time to bake and play with new art forms; discovering parts of me that are waiting to be born. Through it all, I have started to wonder, what limiting beliefs are holding me back? What limiting beliefs might be preventing me from the fullness of who I could be and the experiences I could have?

Sarah challenges us to ask ourselves: “Where has this belief come from?” “What does this belief cost me on a daily basis?” “What would happen if I let go of this old belief?”

Sarah Maude on Tiny Buddha

Good thoughts to ponder as we wait for spring. I know that the longer days ahead will bring with them a boost in energy. Perhaps you and I will be prepared to use that energy to rewrite those limiting beliefs into something powerful and true. 

Love that body of yours

It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? How we consider our bodies separate from our selves, like a thing we own instead of the thing we are. The body is entwined with our moods and thoughts and beliefs. A healthy body can overcome a lot of spring fever blues. It becomes easier to think thoughts, create joy, and re-frame limiting beliefs. 

This Forbes article has some spot-on suggestions for beating the winter blues. Among them are exercising, eating healthy, sleeping well, making meaningful connections, and engaging in healthy activities like mediation. Also, don’t forget that supplements can make a difference. Vitamin D sits at the top of the list in this Mindbodygreen article. It’s key in supporting our immune systems and boosting our moods.

For all you post-partum mamas out there, keep in mind that a blood panel can help you figure out if your body needs extra support. Pregnancy takes a toll and a personal blood-panel can be the thing that kick-starts a path to wellness. Even women who had their babies years ago might still carry an imbalance from their pregnancy.  

Here comes the sun

Spring is coming, I promise! In the meantime, I hope the resources provided today give you some mood-boosting inspiration as you move through spring fever. And wherever you are, whatever you’re up to this week – know that I’m cheering for you. We are all blessed because you’re here on this planet, loving and living and shining light into the world as only you can. Stand tall, sister.

***If you liked this post, please share it to social media! The Love Your Mom Life 101 online course is about to launch. I’m grateful to all who help spread the word by sharing links to the blog or website! The course will teach moms how to quickly free up 2 hours per day so that they can enjoy their beautiful lives without stressing over their to-do lists. So thrilled to be launching this amazing resource!

Picture of a happy sheep - sweet image of moving less and smiling more!

How to move less to smile more (& save 15 minutes!)

Hello, my friends! I hope this moment finds you enjoying yourself. Perhaps worrying less, just for today. For a little fun, I have a pop quiz to kick things off. Based on the title “How to move less to smile more,” what do you think today’s post is about?!

Is it:

  1. Someone finally telling you that you can be happy without exercising, 
  2. A silly game where you freeze and your kids try to do anything they can to get you to smile! or 
  3. A method to less stress when knocking out your to-do list at home

If you guessed 3, then you’re right. Giving you strategies to save time at home is my jam and today’s topic could help you free up at least 15 minutes a day. That said, I do think the freeze game would be a lot of fun and produce loads of smiles. Kid antics are the best. But I digress…

Let’s talk about movement

Movement (or motion) is one of the “eight wastes” commonly cited in companies that do lean process improvement. It happens at work, and it happens at home. It’s an action that could be completely erased if things were set up differently from the start of an activity. And its existence as a “waste” is largely hidden. What we do notice is the stress we feel from things not flowing smooth as we’d like. 

Take me for example. There are numerous times a day when I move across the house more times than would be needed if I organized the space a little differently, or perhaps dedicated myself to forming a new habit. (New habits are super hard to create, though, and worth a post all on their own)! Some examples might include:

-Looking all over the kitchen for a utensil that is not where I think it’s supposed to be.

-Running back and forth across the house to find the right scarf or shoes

-Opening and closing a cupboard 20 times in a night to get to the trash can while cooking or cleaning

-Looking through my closet hangers for a particular shirt over and over until I find it

Wasted movement, time, and stress

I swear to you, if you ever time yourself when doing an activity, you’d be surprised at how fast time disappeared due to wasted movement. That back-and-forth I sometimes do looking for the right shoes easily wastes 3 minutes if not more. Looking for the missing kitchen gadget can take 4-5 minutes until I find it or give up and look for a plan B. Those minutes are precious if it’s the difference between being late for work or having dinner on the table before your hungry kids lose their marbles. 

I know that timing yourself is pretty unlikely to happen. Heck, we moms are just trying to get through to the next thing! But if some part of your mind turns on and even starts a slow “one one thousand, two one thousand” count… consider it a success. It means you have officially noticed a sore spot in a new way. You’re noticing that this is something you don’t have to keep doing.

That’s huge! Noticing is half the battle…next is the fun part: you get to be creative and solve the problem. Maybe something gets reorganized. Perhaps the trash comes out of the cupboard for the whole time you’re cooking. Or maybe outfits get paired together and set aside at the beginning of the week. The options are really endless!

You are a natural problem solver. Identify the pain point and go for a fix. If it doesn’t work as well as you’d like, try something else later. Keep at it, mama bear!

Shoot for 15 minutes

Remember, it’s a mama who moves less and smiles more that we’re after. There are probably at least 15 minutes a day that could be freed up by making small shifts that use less movement. I know that’s a big promise, but try it and see. All the tiny movement issues you solve will add up. 15 minutes! Why, that’s enough time to read a chapter of that book you’ve been dying to finish. Mmmm, sweet down time.  

****I’m curious – what would you do with 15 more minutes in your day?! Have a little fun with this prompt and tell me in the comments! 

Woman shining a light at night, like seeing the real monster in the dark

The Real Monster from a Thump in the Night

My husband and daughter are sick with the flu. The last thing I needed was a monster in the dark! Fortunately, it turned into a laugh-at-myself moment that I don’t mind sharing

My husband’s been sleeping in the spare room in the basement in an attempt to keep me healthy. Good plan…but last night at 1 a.m. I let my sick daughter into bed to snuggle. Figure I’m more likely to stay healthy if I sleep longer, and her getting some snuggle time was the key to sleep. We do what we gotta do. Anyway… I get up to use the bathroom and tell her I”ll be right back. It’s about 3:30 at this point and I don’t bother turning the light on. I hear a thud, thump thump thump. I know it’s my sweet toddler coming to join me…but it’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m in the dark and my fully adult brain thinks “Oh God! Monster!” 

How to Face a Monster in the Dark


This week I happened to speak with two people on the front end of their careers. We teach what we most need to learn and it’s a funny thing, but what I taught them is something I have learned, but am also still learning. I shared that it’s hard to see the success stories of peers who make big news and not feel like you’re floundering – that because things haven’t lined up perfectly you’re making a mistake. There’s so much anxiety and self-doubt wrapped up in thoughts like that. So much of our own light diminished by these phantoms. They’re like my toddler monster in the dark – something wonderful is coming your way but because you can’t see it yet, you hear thumps and your brain thinks, “Oh God, Monster!” 

Even from this vantage point, with a budget and policy career I could follow as long as I desire… that urge to look around and compare myself to others is still present. Funnily, I don’t compare myself to other moms. I love that you’re out there making home for your sweet children, uniquely and beautifully as only you can. My comparisons are more to do with people who (on the outside) appear to have careers that light them on fire. The ones who wake up every day and love what they do from top to bottom. My dreams are turning toward something like that. I think it involves having a purple streak in my hair. Whatever and whenever that may be. 

Carry On, Sister

In the meantime – my work – our work – is to realize that those monsters in the dark are possibly something wonderful headed our way. We have to be brave enough to step out into the hall where the monster is and take a look for ourselves. Could be she’s the best thing that ever happened to you and you’ll get a lifetime of hugs and smiles and great big “Hooooo-RAHs! because of it. Could be there’s purple hair streaks and maybe more creativity and baking and flowers and gardening and kindred spirits. More sunshine-filled moments that carry us along these beautiful days.

**** What about you? What big or small dream is growing in your heart? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section. My our lovin’ energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama! 

Woman running...just like busy moms run all the time. Let's prioritize!

3 Mom-Approved Ways to Prioritize

“Prioritize!” It’s one of those hot button phrases out there, whether you’re a busy mom or a busy business person. Speaking as a mom, I also know that it can be tough to prioritize a to-do list when all of it is necessary for one reason or another. In the end, though, prioritizing is a form of self care. It keeps you calm and confident. That’s why today I offer you 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize, used by myself and other mothers.

Method 1: The Urgent vs. Important Grid

This is my favorite tool that I’ve come across that helps prioritize. I use it at work and home. I don’t even know if it has an official title, but it looks like the below picture. As you can see, the most urgent, most important to-dos go in the upper left box. Next are the top right and bottom left (not urgent but important) and (less important but urgent). These get done after your most urgent/most important stuff is done. The bottom right is for everything else…stuff that would be nice to get to. I often find myself chipping away at that one when I only have a minute or two and can’t get into a bigger project.

The beauty of this is that it 1) forces you to define what is urgent and what is important, and 2) it captures everything in your brain so that you’re not doing a mental juggling act all the time. It really makes it easy to decide what to do next. Pro tip: use a post-it note inside each quadrant so that you can fill it up and replace it instead of re-drawing the grid each time it fills up.

Remember to throw self care activities in the mix!

Method 2: Ask 3 Key Questions

In this short video, Dr. Kate Northrup discusses the three questions that help her prioritize. She shares examples from her own life. Importantly, the stuff she keeps on her “to do list” become part of a weekly to-do list. Such a great concept because the reality is that life throws curve balls all the time, so take the pressure off of a daily list and make a weekly one! 

The questions that Dr. Northrup uses to prioritize are:

-Does this need to be done?

-Does this need to be done by me?

-Does this need to be done right now? 

I’ve already taken a page from her book this week and started asking myself, “does this need to be done by me?” Without even thinking about it, I tend to add stuff to my own to-do list without taking into account that my husband is probably up for helping if I just ask. Those birthday party invitations for our soon-to-be 2 year old are about to become a joint project!

Method 3: Order Your Life Priorities

The last of the 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize involves writing down your life priorities in order of importance. Then, as possible activities present themselves, say yes or no based on how well they accomplish your priorities. The Confident Mom has a post that gives an example of how one mom used this approach in her busy life so that she says yes to only what’s most important. Surprisingly, this mom ranked her kids #4, but if you look at her higher priorities (God, Husband, Home) you see that all of it combines to create a loving home for her kids.

The lesson here? You can prioritize areas of your life and you have every right to order them how you please. You’re the best mom your kids could have and everyone who loves you knows it. <3

Wolah! There you have it: 3 mom-approved ways to prioritize, offered by mothers who want the very best for your happy home and life. Sending all life’s brightest blessings to you this week. May you find yourself reveling in small moments that are only yours to cherish. Life is good. 

***If you found any of these ideas useful, be sure to share the blog link on Facebook and other social media. Sharing is caring!

Woman hiking on mountain. Live with no regrets.

The No. 1 Question to Make Sure You Live with No Regrets

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m all about helping you to shrink the time it takes to do housework and general life routines. My goal is to help you enjoy your beautiful life to its fullest. But I also think it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Do you prioritize the things that will fill your heart? The things you’ll remember? I know it can be easy to forget this in the business of mom life. So today I offer you a key question that will help you live with no regrets. 

The No. 1 Question Is….

“Will I regret missing this?”

That’s it. Simple question. Pivotal answer. 

This message keeps crossing my path, and I’m grateful for it.

Flashback: I’m 18 years old and listening to a speech during Freshman orientation. Obviously I’m very cool because I now have a dorm room and a roommate and my parents are in another state. The speaker says: “You’ll never remember the time you spent studying. You’ll never wish you studied more.” He was speaking to a room full of high achievers. Many were about to disappear into books for four years. We would occasionally spot them at the late-night coffee shop in the library basement or on a quick run for the Walla Walla-famous taco truck. Because of that speech, I spent my college years asking, “Will I regret missing this?” If the answer was yes, I opted for the adventure over studying. Those were good times. 🙂

Flash forward 14 years: I’m now a mom and there is no orientation for a thing like this. The dorm is now a house, the roommate a husband. Obviously I’m less cool but also more real and solid in myself. Half my brain is devoted to a tiny human at all times, and some days the to-do list goes on and on. But there is a world full of voices that sing the same song as that speaker. The ones that say, “live with no regrets. Remember your beautiful life.” These are good times.

One of these voices appeared in a great article on NBC News about the mental load of motherhood. One woman shared: “I always thought forward and asked myself the question, “Will I feel bad if I miss this [family event]?” If the answer was yes, I didn’t go. No one will remember the business meetings I missed, but my family will remember the precious moments I was there for! That no-regret policy became my North Star.” 

You can have fun AND keep your clean-house standards

Now, let me be clear that prioritizing memory-making over a spotless house isn’t about lowering your standards. “Lowering your standards” is darn hard to do and it doesn’t make anyone feel good! I believe there are ways to keep your standards while having as much fun as possible.

You can check out these 33 Ways to Spark More Free Time for some easy-to-implement ideas. Another recommended post is 3 Magical Time Saving Techniques, which will help you nail down the exact things that waste time in your unique home and life (the stuff that no one can figure out for you). All told, if you can shrink the time it takes to get the less-fun stuff done, you amplify play time. 

There’s always the nose scrunch…

I do sometimes wish that I could do that famous nose wiggle from I Dream of Jeannie. Cute little nose scrunch and BAM! The house is clean. If I ever figure it out, I promise I’ll share! In the meantime, give yourself a big “Hell yeah” for all that you do accomplish. You are strong and brave and creative. A force to be reckoned with! And because you deserve the very best life has to offer, I hope you look toward these next days and weeks with an eye toward what will be most fun. May you live with no regrets. The dishes will be there when you’re good and ready.  

***Brag time! Tell me about a time when you chose fun and family over the work calling at you. What memory did you make? I’d love to hear, so be sure to share a comment. Go mama!

Koala bear with her baby. You're a mama bear, too - here are some apps to help you amplify self care.

Hey mama bear – it’s time to care for *YOU* with these 7 free apps

I love the idea of beginning anywhere. Anything that feels overwhelming or impossible is taken down to itty bitty bite size pieces. What’s your dream? Begin anywhere. How will you heal? Begin anywhere. How will you decide between all the options in front of you? Begin anywhere.  So whether it’s your mind, body, spirit, or relationship that you want to take to new levels, here is a list of 7 free apps that can support you as you unfurl your beautiful life. 

Apps for Body Health

-Avoid computer eye strain using a desktop app to remind (or force) you to take a break. I’m going to try one called “Awareness” because it uses tibetan bowls as the “time’s up” tone. Sounds nice. This article from Lifehack covers other apps that also do the trick.

-Are you drinking enough water? There are at least five apps out there that can help on this front, though the one called Aloe Bud is cute and includes tracks lots of self care elements besides water intake (like exercise, sleep, and eating). 

-Does waking up from a deep sleep ever make you feel groggy or out-of-it for the rest of the day? The Sleepcycle app solves that problem. It tracks your sleep and gently wakes you as close to your alarm as possible, but during the lightest part of your sleep cycle. This can help start the day on the right foot!   

Apps for Mind & Spirit

Insight Timer is a free app with over 25,000 guided meditations for topics that include sleep, anxiety, and stress. You’ll also find conversations from leading spiritual leaders. As a bonus, you get to feel connected with a huge community because the app lets you know how many people are meditating at the same time as you. 

Smiling Mind is a great one for people looking for guided meditations on the shorter end – such as the 5-15 minute range. Plus, this one has content that the whole family can use. 

365 Gratitude. This one is intriguing and I’m going to give it a try, myself. This app turns gratitude into a game you can win. Brains love games and success, so it seems like a faster way to rewire a mind toward grateful thinking. 

An App for your Relationship

Love Nudge for Couples. “It’s like a fitness app for relationships,” declares the website for this free app. The company has been around for a looong time, famous for helping couples understand the 5 Love Languages. Never heard of it?! Basically, each human has one primary way that they interpret information as “love.” For some people, gifts express love, others feel love through acts of service, others through affirmations, etc. This app helps you express love in a way that your partner considers most loving. Worth a try if you miss the quality time you shared with your partner before the first baby arrived. 

Begin Anywhere

Writing this post has been kinda fun. It feels good to know that there are so many people out there trying to build a world of people who love their lives. Some of these people even make apps! I feel like the older I get, the more I understand how much intention it takes to live healthy, happy, and whole. I think it would be overwhelming to try all these 7 free apps at once, but I will likely pick one or two that could make a difference and see what happens. 

My friend, whatever you most want to draw into your life these days, I hope you succeed. Remember that you are an unstoppable force once you make a decision. Your dream will come true, clarity will come. You are in the perfect place to make the next thing happen. Begin anywhere. 

***Tell me, because I would love to hear… what dream have you already made happen for yourself? Your story may just inspire someone else, so be sure to click on the comment button to share! Go mama! 

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.