Congrats Mama! You’ve made it through the holiday season, 2020, and you’re into the new year. Last year is behind you, and you’re headed to the next part of your adventure.
Here are 5 ideas to help get us through 2021 with more gratitude, less stress, and more joy.
1. Don’t compete with yourself.
This year is the 4th one that I spent with my boys as a single parent. I’m always asked if it gets any easier. My answer to that is, no – it gets different. As a single mom of three boys, I really try not to look at any one circumstance as easy or hard. I take each event as it comes and treat them all individually. I know that it can be completely hard to do, and I’m honestly the worst, but I’m working on it.
This time of year, the earlier version of my family would always take a vacation. That’s just not a reality for my family in its current incarnation. While that may seem difficult to handle, especially when I see friends on Instagram or Facebook in far-off lands, there is a trade-off. I’m able to take a few 3-day weekends here and there. I also try to make a big deal out of activities that some folks view as ordinary.
For example, before COVID, we did movie weekends. The night before the movie, we make our plan. The day of the movie, we go to a matinee (because it’s cheaper) and pull out many stops, large popcorn, drinks… And then my oldest sits on the end because he wants to get the free refills. After the movie, we listen to the soundtrack of the movie and just have a blast talking about it for the rest of the weekend. Because it isn’t something we always do, it’s a big deal and an overall blast for everyone.
2. Don’t Compare yourself to what you see on Facebook or Instagram.
This one is probably the hardest pieces of advice to follow. Most of our pictures are edited to the hilt and while we know that, we still get bothered by all those happy families with their perfect families and their perfect family pictures. Behind that “perfect” picture is a mom armed with juice boxes and candy and maybe even tears.
For years, our perfect family pictures nearly caused a nervous breakdown, cost hundreds of dollars, and then Ben wouldn’t even look at the camera anyway. YIKES! I personally look at the earliest family portraits and I don’t think of my beautiful children; I think of the anxiety that it took to create the image. The minute I let go of all that perfection, I was able to look on the experience with laughter.
Is that the point? No, of course not. Be you! Wonderful, Messy, Awesome, YOU.
3. Let your village help you.
Sometimes you just need to ask. I see you out there mama, shaking your head, afraid of the disappointment that could come with rejection. But our friends aren’t mind readers. Maybe you just need to go out to lunch or just take a break with a friend. Ask.
It can also be hard (for our friends) to know the right way to help us (especially when we look like we have it all figured out right?). So be specific in your request. I bet you’ll be surprised who is willing to jump right in and help. I know I’ve been surprised a time or two in the past.
4. Don’t over commit yourself.
The week I originally wrote this post, I had clients to meet with, eight Tae Kwon Do classes, two lunches, one saxophone lesson, one business coaching session, four blog posts to write, two business plans to create, and I took a Tae Kwon Do class for busy moms. Whew! It’s too much. Seems like I was guilty of this one myself, right? And even at that rate, there were two birthday parties I had to regret and a New Year’s trip to the beach that I just couldn’t figure out. If I didn’t rely on my village to help with all the running around, I would be a hotter mess than I usually am.
While we have all been given the opportunity in this great pause, I can’t help but see over commitment creeping back into our lives. What activities really are important, which ones fit our lives – it really is OK to regret that “moms night in” zoom call or virtual book club. You gotta take care of you.
5. Be Kind to Yourself.
You deserve it. You’re worth it. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else.
I always start my day off with positive affirmations. I repeat those throughout the day if I need to. They don’t have to be fancy. They just have to be what you need to hear on that day. Do you have a favorite drink or food that you get at a fancy store? Learn how to make it yourself and treat yourself daily.
Even in the simplest of times, it’s easy to give ourselves a hard time. Being kind to ourselves during the messiest of difficulties is one of the easiest ways to get through it with grace and a smile.
This year is going to be amazing.