Before I really dug my heels into 2024, I took some time to reflect on 2023 and what I am walking away with. I spend a lot of time reflecting (sometimes too much!!) – and really found this exercise helpful and fun- and want to share it with you all 🙂
- First take-away: What being overstimulated feels like! Being able to name it, and realizing that what I used to think was a bad mood or irritability, often is being overstimulated. Now that I know this feeling (and can differentiate it from others), honestly – it’s so powerful. I’m still working on my “overstimulation tool box” – but a few things in it are:
- Sharing how I feel with my husband
- Laying or sitting down for a little bit (still working on this!)
- Communicating with my kids how I am feeling and that I need a little space
- Avoiding distracting myself with my phone (a tricky one!!)
- Really trying to just BE for a few minutes, sometimes with a hand on my heart
- Putting on peaceful music (I love the peaceful piano station on Spotify).
- Best tool in my toolbox? Going for a walk in nature. Every single time it’s the thing I need to reconnect to myself.
- Sometimes, intentional bribes for my kids can be a total game changer!! This may sound silly – or you may not agree, and that’s ok – but sometimes we all benefit from some type of reward or positive reinforcement. Full stop. As parents (and people in general), we get really good at making things harder for ourselves. We get good at following random rules (like ‘bribing is always bad’) – but when we sit with it, we may not even really agree with said rule. For example: My daughter goes to an outdoor school, and during the winter she has to wear a lot of gear. Putting it all on is quite the process (for both of us!). A few weeks ago I started giving her a little peanut butter cup after she was done – and it’s truly made such a difference. I know it’s a lot of work for her – and having something to look forward to has really helped immensely with how smooth the process goes. Sometimes a Trader Joe’s peanut butter cup goes a long way ;). If it helps, call it positive reinforcement…because that’s really what it is! What rules are you following that don’t align with what you actually believe? (Important note: I don’t make a big deal about the reward at the end. I don’t call it a treat, hype it up or even use the word special.)
- I need more time around big groups of people (sometimes!). More community, basically! For years I’ve sung the praises of entrepreneurship (and it still has many positives in my mind) – but since the pandemic, my life has become more isolated. Until recently, I thought this was the best ever! I can work from anywhere…from my phone, computer – and be anywhere I want! But I’m just recently noticing how energized I feel when I spend time having small talk and engaging with others in my community. This is SUCH a core need of being human, and of course we all have varying needs – and for me, my extroverted parts were yearning for more connection.
- How good it feels to increase protein intake. This has been an interesting one for me! If you’ve been around here very long at all, you know I am a big fan of eating healthy fats. Butter is my bestie…and when I started eating more of it, my body literally changed before my eyes. I was so much more satiated, my food tasted better, I craved WAY less sugar / carbs, and I am sure I was absorbing my vitamins and minerals so much better. While I’ve been on the “eat more fat!” train for years, it feels like everyone else has been talking about protein. But something struck me a few months ago, and I began to experiment eating more protein (especially at breakfast!). Holy cannoli, all of these protein advocates are right – I could literally feel my blood sugar stabilize! I felt morning energy in a new way. I was so much more full – in a good way. I still struggle many mornings to eat enough (my hunger cues are often slow to build in the morning) but it’s a challenge I’ll continue to take.
- How to wake up “early”. Now THIS is a big one. Like really, really big. I have never been a morning person (my Mom will definitely agree with this one). Honestly, getting out of bed is still a struggle for me (being in bed is just sooooo cozy!!) – however, it’s easier. A whole lot easier. What’s the trick? You’re probably not going to like it. Going to bed earlier. Now it’s February – we’re in deep Winter mode over here in New England – but honestly going to bed earlier is something I’ve been working on for almost a year now.
There are so many things I love about this shift in my sleep, but to name a few:
- We’re hardly watching TV at night now (a big shift) and reading before bed is just so much more relaxing.
- I enjoy my bed in a really different way. Climbing into it just feels more cozy and relaxing when it’s 8:45pm vs 10:30pm.
- Most of all though, having time to myself in the morning before my kids wake up benefits everyone. I know I am not alone in this – starting the day with tiny humans can be really tough! It’s jarring to wake up and immediately go into Mom-mode. By having 10, 20, sometimes even 45 minutes to myself before they’re awake makes for a grounded and happier Mom.
I am slowly working on my morning routine (forming habits can be tricky for me), but after almost a year, I’m brushing my teeth, having tea and stretching most mornings before the kids are awake. We’re calling this a major win!!
Most of these lessons I’ll be learning for a lifetime – and I’m sure will evolve with each new season of life. I hope you find this helpful, fun to read, and motivating to take a ‘big picture’ look at your own year – I am forever fascinated by other people’s systems, routines and habits. What’s something you learned in 2023? Share it in the comments, we’d love to know!