I'm going to be real honest. I've been on the struggle bus this week. Coming off of a birthday party and Sunday Supper weekend. A weekend of pretty much zero prep for the week. Our third week into school. My first week of Mini Motions. A holiday week. A child with a fever. Juggling. Course correcting. Changing plans. Being flexible. Getting it done. Some weeks feel really good. It's all clicking. Moods are (mostly) good. Everyone is healthy. I'm prepared. We're rested and ready. This was not that week. We started out tired and moods were touchy and fevers were flaring. Struggle bus. And in the past, when I boarded the struggle bus, I drove it straight into struggle city. I fell into the negative mindset trap that I was failing, that nothing was right, that the world was against me. But these days, I'm much better about accepting my short ride on the struggle bus. Talking myself through it, allowing some grace, and looking forward to how I can reset. Because reality? We just can't avoid the struggle bus. That's life. But we can avoid the negativity by staying mindful and positive. Even when it feels all so out of control.
I almost didn't write this Friday Five because I felt like I just couldn't do it. I felt like I had nothing helpful or positive to share. No favorites from the week. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like this might just be one of the most important Friday Fives I've done so far. We can do hard things, Mamas. We might find ourselves on the struggle bus, but we can steer it towards a place of peace and grace and contentment. We are in charge. Let's go.
1.Positive Self Talk (especially in the morning)
When I was teenager, I went to this gorgeous camp for girls in the mountains of North Carolina, Camp Greystone. The owner of the camp, known as Jim Daddy, used to encourage campers to wake up, put their feet square on the floor, clap their hands, and with a smile on their faces, say out loud, "It's a great day, and I feel terrific." As a teenager, I thought it was nice. Campy. But I wondered if he really did that. If he really expected us to do it. Why? I hated mornings. Struggle bus. It's just the way I was. That's what I thought. I can't control it, I just don't like mornings. But today? As an adult? I finally get it. Hating mornings was a story I told myself because it was hard for me to be happy in the morning. But I can do hard things. So I started being more aware of my inner voice. Correcting myself when I thought about how awful the day was starting out. I stopped letting myself laundry list of everything awful - lunches not made, kids already screaming, can't find my wallet, I'll never catch up. And I started reframing it - I can do this, these are small challenges, not huge hurdles, It's a great day and I feel terrific. Kind of tricking myself into a good mood. And guys. It works. It's not easy, and it takes some practice and self awareness, but this change in self talk can literally change the chemicals our brains are releasing from negative to positive. It's a real thing. So if you find yourself struggling, in the morning, or anytime. Try to catch yourself and reframe your self talk. And if you want to read more, check out this article from Tony Robbins I found this week.
2. A Little Grace
I am competitive. Especially with myself. A perfectionist. Holding myself up to an imaginary measuring stick that no one else can see or understand. I kind of think we all do it. That's one reason my word for the year, my theme, is grace. (And if you've missed those posts, read about how I chose that word and how I still revisit it regularly.) So this week, I really had to go back to grace again and again. I had to to run away from the measuring stick and be ok with things not being just right. When I was exhausted from a full weekend of hosting and celebrating, I decided to give myself a break on meal prep and shift my focus to rest. To be ok with fruit snacks and goldfish in lunch boxes instead of the homemade goodies I'd planned to make for them. Grace. And when Mae woke up with a fever, I decided to let go of my expectations and shift my focus to her. To be a mom first and let go of the housework and to dos on my list that day. Grace. And when I invited a friend over and offered to buy lunch, but then was running late and the baby fell asleep and I couldn't bear to wake her to go pick up lunch. I decided that my friend would understand and love me anyway if I whipped up something "less than" at home instead of picking up a lunch treat. Grace.
So if you need to let go of a few things, just give yourself a little grace. Pack the goldfish and rest if you’re tired. Make your friend a turkey sandwich and know she’s not judging you. Focus on your child and let the laundry slide for one day. It’s a beautiful gift we can give ourselves - to break the measuring stick and cover ourselves with God’s good grace.
3. A Little Help From My Friends
When people want to help. Let them. I can be as stubborn as my two year old here. I can do it myself. I can. But if I don't have to? Then why? This is simple. Last week, I posted a picture on Instagram of myself buried in bags trying to get out of the car. This week, a sweet friend left an amazing care package on my door step with tools to help me get organized. My initial reaction was a little guilt...I didn't mean to elicit help with my post. And I wish I were better at seeing people's needs and helping - like my awesome friend. But nope. Not doing all that. Just a sincere and heartfelt thank you with a lot of love behind it. Because she didn't do it for anything. She did it to help me. And I'm so grateful. Also? When Mae woke up with a fever, Jordan offered to come home early so I could get to my evening activity without exposing her to other kids, and so she could relax and stay home in case she felt worse throughout the day. Could I have handled it on my own? Yes. Did I have to? No. So my answer to him was, "Yes, please."
Maybe you're a little like me and you don't want to put others out. Or you want to appear like you have it more together than you do. Or you are trying to be as good as that other mom you're watching. And you feel like you need to go it alone, never ask for help, never accept help. But, why, friend? Lean on the people who love you. They can help. And you'll feel better. Relieved.
4. A Mantra
I can do hard things. When kids are up and down in the night and I’m so tired when it’s time for that cold shower I committed myself to? I can do hard things. When every baby is screaming and I am cooking dinner and the wheels are falling off way earlier than usual? I can do hard things. When a child wakes up with a fever and sends the day (a birthday) into a tailspin? I can do hard things. When the fish dies and I have to officiate a fish funeral for a broken-hearted birthday girl? I can do hard things. When I sit down to write a blog post on what I loved about the week, and stare blankly at the screen? I can do hard things.
It’s a lot like positive self talk for the tired mama brain. In those moments when it’s just too hard to have an intelligent thought for myself, a blanket mantra can keep me going. This week I said it over and over. You can steal it if you want. I can do hard things. (I felt inspired by Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I just condensed it to tired mom speak.)
5. Fresh Air
Last week in the Friday Five, I confessed that I want to spend at least one morning each week by the ocean with my coffee. Well, sometimes amazing things happen when we speak our goals into existence. This week, I spent one morning strolling two of my babies along the water, feeling the breeze, listening to the waves, filling my heart. No coffee this time, but now I know exactly where my beach time fits into my week, and I'll have coffee in hand next time. Besides the ocean, though, a little fresh air is like medicine for my heart. It's true for all of us. Sunshine literally makes us happy. Vitamin D. Happiness. It's so obvious for my girls. When they can't get along in the playroom, painting on the porch or swinging on their swing set for even 10 minutes can reset them in a big way. And it's true for me too. When tension is high. When the week feels hard. When I need a break. Fresh air can provide perspective and calm. A reset button. Try it. Sit on the back porch while it rains, or listen to the "night time bugs" after the kids go to bed, or take a walk around the block after you drop them off at school or on your lunch break. You'll feel it. The reset. The deep breath. The energy. The calm. It's a good thing.