One thing that I struggle with is balance. Sometimes I feel like I’m serving everyone else and that I put myself on the back burner. I accomplish this by skipping meals, running without stopping or reducing the number of hours that I sleep. I’m either with my children and when I’m not directly interacting with them or caring for them, I’m generally doing things to prepare to take care of my children like washing bottles and doing laundry. In the time that is leftover, I’m usually working because I’m self-employed. I also try to help out my family as much as possible. I share this to say that it’s hard to find me-time where I recharge my proverbial batteries without being forced to due to exhaustion. I’ve been trying to find more ways to get more balance in my life. What I’m learning is that I can do a few small things that will have a large impact to help me find time for me.
Here are 7 things that I have learned or are working on implementing in my life.
Get a physical clock
One piece of advice that I keep hearing is to avoid checking your phone first thing in the morning. The idea is to wake up with intention. When I think of this, I think of waking up, thanking God for another day, spending some time in prayer, and then thinking about what I have to do for the day. When you wake up and check your phone, you don’t have the time to set your intentions and you are more likely to get distracted by other people’s energy, problems, or points of comparison. The other issue with checking your phone is you give your power away to control the flow of your morning. If you check your email or social media first thing in the morning then you are more likely to get distracted or even be late. Even if you wake up and see a text, then next thing you are checking your email and popping on Instagram and Facebook. I know I do. Next thing I know, 30-minutes have passed, I’m distracted when I’m supposed to be present for my children, or if my children are sleeping then I totally just wasted time and I have nothing to show for it. One thing that I’m trying now is to use my physical clock. The clock allows me to check the time and use an alarm without needing to reach for a cell phone.
Slow down and take the long route
I received that advice from a fellow single mom of twins recently when I asked her what advice would she give another mom of twins. I thought about it, and initially, it seems counter-intuitive. When you are a single mom, you are responsible for everything and you don’t get more than 24 hours in a day so wouldn’t you want to speed up to maximize time? Wrong! You still need to slow down and appreciate the small things, practice gratitude throughout the day, and enjoy time with your children. My kids are really young, and they change so fast. Each week they learn new skills, grow taller, get chunkier, and transform. I blink and it feels like they have grown so much. Sometimes I look back and think about something they have outgrown or things they used to do. However, I’m happy that I took the time to slow down and be present so I have those memories. Don’t be so busy being busy that you miss your children grow up. I know that bills won’t take care of themselves, but you also can’t get missed time back with your children. The mom of twins told me that she knows that errands take longer with her children, so instead of trying to make the errands shorter she will run the errand and then go to the park or do something fun with the kids. Think about cool things that you can do. About a month ago I started to take 1 day off per week where I don’t work. I spend that time with my children, reading a book, or running a few quick errands. This may look different for you, but whatever you decide, just slow down and appreciate the 18 years that they are with us before they head to college.
Enjoy your meals without distraction
There is something really amazing about sitting down and sharing a meal with family. It’s something that we rarely do outside of Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas dinners. If we do sit at the table together to eat, we oftentimes are on our cell phones or watching TV. I know that some of the time I don’t even bother to sit at the table because I sit on the couch or take a bite and then type on the computer. When we do this, we are letting quality time with our loved ones just pass us by. There was an article in The Atlantic that talked about how eating dinner together as a family was linked to improved school performance, are less likely to be obese, and have better family bonds. One thing that I am working on is not working while I eat. I’m working on taking the time to adequately chew my food without rushing and enjoy the food that I eat. It’s a way to clear my head and get in a little me-time or family time before I jump back into the hustle and bustle of the day.
Throughout this post, there has been a theme of being present; however, I wanted to dedicate some space to talking about it directly. I feel like as a society we have moved to being here, but not really being present. What I mean is that our bodies are here, but our minds are somewhere else. I challenge you the next time you are at a restaurant to look around and see how many people are sitting at a table with a loved one, but either one or both parties are on their phones. I challenge you to notice how many times you check your phone when you are with a loved one. An even more difficult challenge is to try to leave your phone in another room for an extended period of time. It’s so hard because our cell phones have become a tether. It has morphed into something that we crave and sometimes at the expense of relationships with real people. The cell phone brings us together, allows us to maintain relationships, but at times it impacts the quality of those relationships. Have you ever been on the phone with a friend, but you were also texting someone else or checking social media? If the answer is yes, then you weren’t fully present. We convince ourselves that we are multi-tasking, but sometimes we just need to slow down. I will never forget that one day I was taking a walk with my family and my mom asked me if I saw the rose bush. I said no, and then she told me that I walked right past it. That’s when I truly understood the meaning of “take the time to smell the roses.” If you don’t then you will walk past the beautiful moments in life.
Do something for yourself every day
This is super important, especially as moms. We are conditioned to put ourselves last. We serve our kids, jobs, family, etc. and leave nothing for ourselves. If you think about being on an airline, the emergency procedures say to put your oxygen mask on before you help someone else. The reason is that if you don’t put your oxygen mask on first, then you may pass out while you are helping someone else and then neither one of you has a chance. Think of this other analogy. If you have a pitcher and you are constantly pouring water out but never refill the cup, then eventually your pitcher runs dry. When it runs dry you have nothing left to give and you can’t help yourself or your family. As moms, we need to prioritize ourselves. My friend told me after I had a mini health scare (link to mini health scare article) that prioritizing me means prioritizing my children. You don’t have to do anything lavish, fancy, or significantly time-consuming. Just figure out something that allows you to recharge and pour into yourself daily. It could be as simple as going outside and taking a few deep breaths. That seems so simple, and it is so easy to skip; however, doing something for yourself is so important.
Pay your bills on time
Paying your bills on time can help reduce stress. Falling behind on bills and getting in a constant state of catch up is draining. It’s draining to have bill collectors calling and collection notices coming to your home. Getting in a constant state of catch-up also forces you to work harder and spend more time away from your children just to get current. Imagine having a shut-off notice and having to explain to your children why the utilities are off. That’s stressful. Creating or modifying your budget to allow for better financial management habits or even figuring out how to make more income without getting a second job can increase the likelihood that you will have the cash flow to pay your bills on time. That will give you peace of mind.
What you focus on expands, therefore focus on the things that are going well in your life and be grateful. Gratitude helps to give you peace because it reminds you of the good times, and if you are having hard times it lets you know that hard times don’t last forever. Take the time to write down one thing every day that you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude also shows God that you appreciate the blessings that He has given you thus far. It opens your heart to God and invites a closer relationship with God so that He can do more in your life and bless you even more. The peace of God is a true gift and in the midst of a storm, is the blessing that allows you to keep going.
How will you use these tools to help you to find more balance? Pick a tool and then write down how you will apply it and how it will improve your life and circumstances. There is power in the written word, so don’t skip this step. You are worth it, and your children are worth it.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms transform their finances, enjoy life, and stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!
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