I recently heard that the mom sets the tone for the home. This means that my cranky attitude in the morning and my impatient mood in the afternoon impacts the attitudes and moods of those I share this life with.
As I reflected on the tone I was setting, and more importantly the tone I WANTED to set (a peaceful, joyful, holy and playful tone), I came up with these 5 things to get me moving in the right direction.
1. Get enough sleep
This means going to bed and waking up nearly the same time every day. I am really bad at this, but can't help but acknowledge the benefits. For the lenten season this year I made an effort to go to bed by 10:30pm every night and set my alarm for 6am every morning (please note that I didn't get up every morning at 6am, I am not a morning person, but I at least I woke up and began thinking about my day). I noticed the following: I was less tired during my day, I was in a better mood most of the time, and I spent more time with my husband (since he goes to bed by 10:30pm every night) - which meant a more cohesive feel to our home.
2. Spend time enjoying your family.
It is a healthy habit to pause and take a mental (if not actual) photograph of the sparkly moments each day. Better yet, get in the photograph! Kids playing a fun board game? Hubby wrestling with kids on the living room floor? Daughter playing Barbies or dress-up in her bedroom? Son building with Legos or writing a story in his room? Take 5 or even 20 minutes and get involved! Laugh, play, talk and create memories! So many moms (this one included) tend to glance at those moments and think they have more time to go do something like laundry or clean the bathroom or sit down to read a book, since everyone is occupied. It may be true, but sometimes we spend so much time doing FOR other people, we fail to spend time doing WITH them.
3. Be a maid for 60-90 minutes every day
For some of you, you might read this and think "is that ALL?", and others might think "that's a lot!" It is the opinion of this mama that spending 2-3 hours cleaning every day is sick. All joking aside, I think that everything in moderation should be the rule of thumb. In 60 minutes each day, you can declutter the public areas of your home, start a load of laundry and clean one room. For example, because I am constantly retraining my kids and myself to put things away after we are done with them, it takes 15 minutes to have my home company ready (most days), it takes 15 minutes total to start a load of laundry, transfer that load to the dryer and pull it out and fold them. 30 minutes to clean the living room (dusting and vacuuming) is realistic, while the bathroom will take more time. Now if you add the chef duties (cooking and cleaning the kitchen) daily... you have to add more time... but moderation in caring for your home is a healthy habit (and it doesn't have to take 5 hours on a Saturday to clean)...
4. Become a more interesting person - more than just a mama.
There is nothing more depressing than realizing that you have nothing new to talk about. Develop a new skill or habit every month. Read the news, read blogs, volunteer your time, cultivate hobbies, read popular novels, stay current on trends (clothing and otherwise!). It's simple to add this one habit to your week. By doing all or some of these, you make yourself someone who has things to talk about (other than your super cute, amazingly intelligent and talented child).
5. Take time to cultivate friendship with other women.
This is one area that many women I know don't value as much as they should. Friends are good for our health! They provide comfort, support, humor and companionship. Friends help make us more interesting (for example, you can take a class with a friend), and they help us learn about who we are (they are also great mirrors, pointing out strengths, weaknesses and the occasional cilantro in your teeth). Friends can take some of the pressure off our hubbies for meeting all of our needs. Friendships are a healthy habit that help you become the best version of yourself. For more help with making friends, read this series of articles.
There you go friends! 5 habits that are guaranteed to make you more effective as a mama, or your money back! ;)