Stop Worrying About Getting Chores Done and Snap Your Way Out Of Mommy Guilt

Moms, let face it. How much does the guilt of not getting things done linger in your mind? Almost all of my mommy friends feel guilty for not being able to get simple chores done, let alone do more. Many of them move from one task to another and feel incredibly shameful just to sit down.

I will not lie. I have been ridden with this guilt too.

I have been exponentially researching self-care and meditation/mindfulness and how to easily incorporate these into Mom’s busy lifestyle.

On the other hand, I have also been spending a lot more time with my demanding  2.5-year-old  son. I was working full-time since he was six months old, so with the recent change in my job life, I am just keeping him to myself for some time and enjoying before he goes to preschool.

All this time, though, the thoughts of not getting laundry done or not being able to cook daily and the house being messier than it really should be, are bothering me a lot more than usual.

Is Putting A Checkmark To Your To-Do List That Important?

Earlier this week I picked up a book on self-care called The Self Care Solution by Julie Burton. Julie Burton is a mother of four children ( a couple of those are past their teenage years), a yoga teacher and a journalist. She writes about self-care on her blog.

There is one small paragraph in this book that she has quoted from Anna Quindlen that I am copy-pasting here which has been very helpful for me to get over my guilt.

Anna says, “ The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life.”

This sentence speaks volumes. How eager I usually am just to get chores out of the way that I sometimes miss the fun part of being around with the kids and enjoying them. Most mornings when I see their cute little faces waking up from a good night’s sleep, all I think of is my plan to get them ready and out of the door. “Have breakfast, now let’s have a bath. Here are your clothes, your tiffin. Please tie your shoes. Let’s hurry.”

Getting Laundry Out Of The Way To Make Room For More Fun Is Not The Answer

We want to make room for fun. We all want to be happy. But our mental dialogue tells us differently. “Only if this laundry was done, I could spend some more time doing what I love. Only if this dishwasher is empty, I can play with you. This is time for cooking; I actually cannot play superheroes right now.”

Guess what? The laundry cycle never gets done forever. We always have to cook. We always have to get our children ready. Our mind tricks us into thinking that there is a full-stop somewhere.

We have to learn the tricks of our mind and get over them.  The mind thinks that to be happy we have to be clear of our mental clutter. We have to put a check mark on our to-do list. But happiness lies in the process of being present in the task of whatever that we choose to do. It is not in the result.

Just like Anna wishes she had treasured the doing more, we have to start working on slowing things down and savoring these moments more.

But you don’t have to take my or Anna’s word for it.

Find a time when you are usually in this dark “mental shit” status. For me, it is my morning routine when I want just to get everyone out of the house. For you, it could be your dinner time or bed time routine.

For example:

  • Look at your beautiful children’s faces when they wake up.
  • Snap your fingers when you think about the clock and the running time.
  • Now look at them again and feel the love.
  • Admire their fresh energy. Listen to them talk about their silly dreams.
  • Snap your fingers again when you start thinking you have no time for this.
  • Go live at the moment again when they are eating their breakfast that you so thoughtfully made (or when they are throwing tantrums really)
  • Remember that this time will pass soon. All that will be left is memories. Do you want a whole bunch of hurry in your memories? Think about it.

Snap your fingers every time you feel hurried and slow the time down mindfully. When you have tried and tested it out, please come back to this post and comment about your learnings.

  • Were you feeling less guilty?
  • Did you feel your happiness levels rise than usual?
  • How did the family react to the new “you”?
  • Which another routine could you apply this to?

I am eager to hear more about your experiments in the comments below this post. 

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Epilogue :

When I shared this post with Julie, she wanted to tell all moms of younger children about something she feels strongly about. Here it goes:

“ Now that two of my kids are in college, and one is a teen, and one is a tween, I find myself feeling very nostalgic about their early years. I was often so stressed, overwhelmed, and worried about everything that I was doing “wrong” that I missed out on some of the magic and the joy of their childhood years. I sometimes yearn to go back there and play with them more, cuddle with them a little longer and soak up the smell of them and the feel of their skin next to mine. While kids become more self-sufficient and independent, which is what most mothers of young children yearn for, motherhood gets easier in some ways but harder in others, as the “small kids, small problems, big kids, big problems” saying starts to make more sense. I miss my big kids. I miss the way my now 19-year-old son’s eyes would light up when he saw me walk in a room and the way he always wanted to hold my hand. Now, he is across the country, and I can barely keep him on the phone for five minutes a few times a week. I miss the six of us together around the dinner table even though most nights one kid, usually the youngest would run off crying.

I would tell parents of young kids that it is okay to be overwhelmed because taking care of young children is overwhelming at times. But the two key components to getting through these years without spending every day trying to hurry things along and secretly wishing your young kids would just grow up already are the following:

1) Every day, try to acknowledge at least a few moments of joy you experience in spending time with your children.

2) Every day, be intentional about doing something for at least 15 minutes just for yourself (taking a bath, talking to a friend on the phone, taking a walk around the block, or reading a book).

These two things will help you feel a little more grounded, a little less overwhelmed and most importantly a little more joyful as a mother and as a woman.”

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Self-Care Challenge Day 10-30

I was posting on my social media the whole time but forgot to add posts here. I think I am feeling very lucky today so posting everything in advance here as a big apology!

Here are the posts for Day 10 to Day 20 and then Day 21-30 in advance for anyone who wants to go ahead and do these before hand!

Day 10 : Learn to say no!

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Day 11 : Get enough sleep!

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Day 12 : Ask for help

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Day 13: Take a 10 minute walk

 

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Day 14: Turn your negative self-talk into positive

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Day 15: Mirror Work

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Day 16 and 17 : Lean back, relax and learn more about self-care here

Day 18 : Are you stressed out? Try one of the 21 stress buster strategies here

Day 19: Splurge a little!

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Day 20: Show some gratitude

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Day 21: Meditate

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Day 22: Stay hydrated!

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Day 23: Snap your fingers to come back to present moment

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Day 24: Notice your beautiful surroundings

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Day 25: Avoid saying sorry!

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Day 26: Adult Coloring Book!

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Day 27: Write 5 things that make you happy!

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Day 28: Thank you body!

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Day 29: Eat more vegetables

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Day 30: Take a self-care pledge and learn how I incorporated my daily 10 minute selfcare routine here

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Moms, Are You Stressed Out?

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As a working mother, I know that stress has become a “constant” in our lives. There are a number of reasons for stress; From managing daily routines, getting everyone out of the house to finishing assignments on time while chasing toddlers, the dinnertime -overwhelm and not to mention the daily news and the overwhelm of the unknown, the future.

 

The tension is high and can put a strain on our relationships at home and develop resentment towards each other.

 

While all of us dream to have that one weekend where we can sleep it out and all our stress will melt away, these dreams are seldom possible. Massages, pedicures are all good ideas too. If you have an hour, that is.

 

But what if you are running in and out of meetings, children’s activities, other appointments, work assignments? Sometimes you don’t have longer than 5-10 minutes for yourself. Just 5-10 minutes. That’s all.

 

Then what are you going to do to relax other than stuffing yourself with unhealthy food?  Or putting more strain on your eyes and thumbs and going frantically through one app and another and another looking at what all other people did today that was more fun than what you ended up doing? Or possibly tweeting away your misery?

 

While indulging is sometimes really good and necessary and venting too; very easily all of these become habits that we cling to and then hate ourselves for doing them. Comparing our lives with others puts more stress on us as well.

 

Instead, here are 21 strategies that you can use that will melt your stress away in 5 minutes or less:

1.     Turn your worries into gratitude

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If you worry about putting food on the table, be thankful that you put food on the table today. If you worry about incomplete assignments, be thankful for the extra time you have on hands to complete them or be thankful for all the tasks you accomplished instead. If you worry about your child growing up too quickly be thankful for all the moments and quality time you are spending with them. With few thankfulness notes under the belt, you will start feeling a lot better about your situation. I have a gratitude jar where I put thankfulness notes when I feel thankful about something or when I worry about something. I plan to open them at the end of the year and be thankful for all the wonderful days the year brought for me.

 

If you are not into writing and putting anything in any jar here is a list of gratitude apps: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-awesome-ios-apps-starting-keeping-gratitude-journal/

 

2.     Sweat it Out

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If you have a favorite cardio routine, follow that for 5 minutes or Go to Pinterest and search for HIIT workouts and follow them. If you have 5 minutes on hand and ready to sweat it out a little, follow 1, 2 or three rounds of these exercises. The endorphins released will make you feel happy instantly. According to WebMD, the endorphins trigger a positive feeling in our body similar to morphine that makes us feel euphoric.

 

3.     Take a walk

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There is something about a walk that is very meditative. Since I was young but old enough to walk away on my own, I have always walked out for a few rounds to clear my head off. I think it is a mixture of endorphins as well as the meditative way of focusing on my speed or focusing on surroundings etc. that help eliminate the stress and help think better.

 

4.     Write in a journal

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Take a pen and paper or book and put all your thoughts in there. Once you have thoughts out of your mind and on paper, you will feel lighter up in your brain.

 

 

James Adams, an HP staff writer, writes on SkoolofLife.com about ten ways writing can help you de-stress. Read it here: http://theskooloflife.com/wordpress/10-ways-that-writing-can-help-you-de-stress/

 

 5. Glass of red wine

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Numerous studies are floating on the internet including from Dr. Oz that says 5 oz. of red wine helps you relax. Of course, your health conditions need to be favorable for this, and anything in excess could lead to more stress and sleep problems.

6.A cup of tea

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I have found myself with a cup of tea more often lately. It puts me at ease, and I can take a paper and pen with a cup of tea and just feel open to writing up all my strategies and organize my thoughts very clearly.

While my favorite is a cup of Indian black tea (chai but not the typical chai latte in coffee shops) here is a list of teas that you can use for stress relief

http://www.naturalnews.com/043048_herbal_tea_anxiety_relaxation.html

7. Adult Coloring book

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Colored pencils and a book to color are all you need. Lately, there has been a craze about these adult mandala coloring books. While I was extremely skeptical about these, these help me practice being mindful. I can color these while I let my children color or paint their projects and they put me at ease immediately.

8. Start reading a page of any book

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Reading a book either fiction or nonfiction can put you in a different state of mind. It can prove to be a mini escape from your day to day life. Start reading a book to relax right away.

 

9. Close your eyes and breath for relaxation

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Here are three different Pranayama techniques you can use for breathing to relax:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html

Pranayama or Breathing Exercises help in getting more oxygen to the optimal levels. This help reduces stress, increase concentration and in return problem solve.

 

10. Splash your face with water

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If you are feeling stressed out and tired, a splash of cold water on your face can help your facial muscles relaxed.

 

This site offers more explanation on this: http://www.lesaviezvous.net/science/why-splashing-cold-water-on-your-face-relaxes-you.html

11. Meditate

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There are a number of meditation apps available. Pick any meditation app, close your eyes and turn the app on to take you on a relaxation journey.

 

Here is a list of some amazing free and paid meditation and mindfulness apps to choose from:

http://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps#4

 

 

12. Eat stress busting foods

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We all tend to eat when we are stressed. Next time keep stashes of stress reducing foods on hand in small packets and open one next time you feel anxious.

While chocolate or something sweet is where my mind goes first, I have to worry about not overdoing unhealthy foods.

So here are some stress- busting foods:

  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Avocadoes
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Skim Milk

More listed at http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/best-foods-to-fight-stress

 

13. Call a friend

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The one thing that helps is just to vent sometimes. To make another person that you know will listen to you just hear you out. They may or may not provide you a solution that you like but just venting it out and having a second person nod to our stress levels and understand us makes life ten times better.

You can substitute calling by texting or chat with your friends.

14. Write down five positive things that happened today

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Writing down positive things somewhere will take your mind away from present stress and shift towards something happier. It will immediately help you relax.

15. Stretch

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Stretch your body. Then close your eyes, press your eyebrows with fingers and release tension in your eyes. Rub fingers on your forehead in a circular motion. Stretch neck and shoulder to release all tension.

 

Here is a 6-minute stretch video that you can follow even at your work: https://www.fitnessblender.com/videos/relaxing-stretching-workout-for-stiff-muscles-and-stress-relief-easy-stretches-to-do-at-work

 

16. Drink a glass of water

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Water releases endorphins in your body which create a calming effect. According to WebMD, stress can cause dehydration and dehydration can cause stress. So when in stress drinking a glass of water will never be a bad idea.

http://www.webmd.com/diet/water-stress-reduction?page=1

17. Listen to your favorite song

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Listening and singing to your favorite tune will bring you to a good mood. It will take you away from stress to a relaxed state.

 

Here is more information on why you should listen to music when tensed: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/

 

18. Dance to your favorite song

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Dancing to your favorite tune is also another relaxer. Dancing is a form of exercise that helps produce endorphins. Dancing is also known to be a form of emotional and creative release and very beneficial in times of stress.

 

19. Aroma Oils or Candles

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Aromatherapy is a natural way to stimulate relaxation and sleep. Here is some information on different types of oils that you can use for relaxation:

http://www.naturalhealthontheweb.com/aromatherapy-2011/top-10-scents-that-promote-relaxation

 

20 Foot Relaxation

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Dip your feet in hot water and then rub them with massage cream and then put them in socks. Moms are up all day and a little love to our feet can go a long way to feeling better again.

21. Face Your Issue

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Figure out what is causing stress. Is it in your control? If it is in your control, then list one action that you can take right away to reduce your stress. Now that you have written this action take one step towards this action as immediately as possible. If it is not in your control then write down the fact that this stress is not in your control and all you can do is accept this situation.

 

Today’s challenge : Tell me what is causing you stress today? Which of these activities are you going to try out?

 

 

Self Care Challenge – Day 9

This is my most favorite part of the challenge. Most of us find us telling ourselves we do not even have time to pee. Let alone pursue anything of interest.

Today I want you to think, what makes your heart flutter? What brings you happiness? And then do it. Take a few mins daily, even if it is five mins a day and you can stroke a paintbrush only once, DO IT.

We are born on this earth for creativity. Some can paint, some can write, some can sing, some can help people.

This week my sister started taking painting lessons. Last month I started my music lessons and this month I am joining an adult soccer team (I have never played a sport in my life and am scared about hurting myself, but I love watching soccer and want to try it out). My very close friend and mother of two boys take time out for dance lessons.

If you need more inspiration, I want to tell you about this book I read called BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert (You may know her as the author of “EAT PRAY LOVE.” And in the chapter Permission, she has a section called “MOTIVE” and in that she says that you don’t need to save the world with your creativity. You just have to do it because you like to do it. You can take off the burden of creating something to help others or make it beautiful enough for people to appreciate or anything like that. You just give yourself permission to pursue what you like because of the reasons you care about. Forget about others when it comes to your creativity. I actually love this message and want you to think about it.

Today’s Challenge: Write or Type how you feel good about doing a certain activity (hobby, craft, play, whatever). Now do that thing for some time.

Question : What is holding you back from finding time for yourself? Please let me know in comments.

Self Care Challenge – Day 7

Here is a little confession: Lately I have been feeling out of control when it comes to my 2.5-year-old. My first kid was easy, and now I understand the challenges of strong-willed children. I am not prepared at all to handle this situation. I am fighting daily battles with food issues, milk bottles, sleep issues, struggles at the playground, everything.

And for a long time, I have just been in an inaction mode. I know that I have to be firm and go with it, but I have been having troubles making the kid cry at midnight. He screams so loudly, all neighbors can hear it and am fearful that neighbors will complain of a crying child disturbing their sleep.

It has been hard to face the situation and accept it. It ‘s hard to say that you are not able to control your child in front of an international audience. But by accepting the fact that this is the truth, I am making way for action. Being in denial has taken it’s toll on us. But today when I talked to some moms I know to ask for solutions, I feel better mentally. I know I am ready to read, consult and take concrete measures to set boundaries.

So based on this personal situation, I have a challenge for you today.

Today’s Challenge: If you have a particular situation (does not have to be similar to my example with kids) that you know is out of control, and you are feeling overwhelmed by it. Today take a moment to accept****the situation. Now find one small step that you can take to find a solution for your problem.

Question: Who do you turn to when you find yourself in stressful situations?

 

****But what does it mean to accept the situation? 

Accepting a situation means acknowledging the fact that this particular situation in question exists and you are bothered by it. If you are not accepting a situation, it means that you are desperately trying to make the situation magically disappear by worrying about it, feeling guilty, being restless, etc. Instead, if you acknowledge to yourself or to some person you know or even in writing that “Yes, this situation exists, and I am ready to face it no matter what happens. I am willing to take steps to make this situation better no matter what happens” you are trying to accept the situation. Acceptance leads to concrete actions. Many people wonder if acceptance means inaction, but that is not the case. I hope this explanation above answers the question for those in doubt.

 

 

 

 

Self Care Challenge Day – 4

Moms,

Today is the time to think about why you are interested in self-care. Are you following this challenge because it is an “in” thing to do? Or is there more substance behind your interest?

A year ago, I was nervous to join a gym. I was 25 lbs heavier. I was unhappy, overworked. I would skip breakfasts, eat take-outs, stay awake working all night. But this all changed. My priorities took 180 degree turn. All because of asking myself questions.

I want to help you just like how I helped myself. I understand how being a mother takes a toll on the woman inside. And now I do understand that there is a better way to handle this overwhelm.

For me to be able to help you, you must help yourself. And for this, I hope you sincerely join me in today’s challenge and give me your feedback in the comments below.

Today’s Challenge : Contemplate your reason behind your interest in self-care. This reason will lead you to an interest in a daily routine.

Questions : What do you think self-care means? Why do you want to make it your priority?
What is stopping you from following a routine?

I am waiting for your answers….

Self-Care Challenge – Day 3

 

Moms, you wake up at 4 am and work endlessly. Your brain does not switch off even when you lie down on your bed while everyone else is asleep at night. You have things to take care of, places to reach. You are NON-STOP.

Today’s Challenge : Pause. Take a break. Sit down. Do not hurry for anything or if at all possible. “Do NOTHING”

Question : What goes on in your mind when you decide to pause? Please let me know in comments.