This is day 2 of the “How to Feel Human Again as a Mom” series, coming daily this week.
Most of us are walking around in survival mode, giving our everything to our children, putting out fires and feeling crushed with responsibility. And most of us think it has to be this way to survive and get it all done, to sacrifice our own needs for the greater good of not drowning.
But we have it all backwards.
I totally understand the feeling of drowning as a mom. But what if I told you that just by intentionally focusing on a few key actions and prioritizing them, it would be like handing you a life-preserver that allows you to float?
Everything you do on a minute-to-minute basis either gives you energy or drains it.
And while of course some things that drain you are 100% necessary, if you’re not balancing those with some energy-producing actions, you’re going to feel exhausted and burnt out the majority of the time.
When we begin to prioritize the things that make us feel our best physically, emotionally, and spiritually, suddenly we are bringing our A-game to the table. Not only do we begin to feel more like ourselves and a complete whole person, which is AWESOME, but we have the energy we need to be MORE effective at all the things we need to get done.
When my older three kids were small, I thought that a good mom sacrificed all of her own human needs – it was just what we did. So that was how I lived. If they cried when I left to go to the gym, I stopped exercising. I ate the leftovers of their lunches rather than take the time to make food for myself. I worked until 2 or 3am so I could be around for them during the day.
And I was miserable and angry all the time, spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.
Once my youngest was born, I had come around to the idea of practicing self-care. It had become easier as the oldest three had gotten older, and I was determined not to let it completely slide with the new baby.
That experience could not have been more different. I was tired, like any new mom. But I felt HUMAN. I made my big energy-producers my top priority each day, even if that meant getting it done with him in a wrap on my back, and it paid off big. My only regret was that I didn’t realize how much easier everything would be sooner, and give that same caregiver to my older three during their younger years, too.
Think about all the things you do on a daily basis. Write EVERYTHING down – driving, working, checking Instagram, folding laundry, giving baths, feeding children, feeding yourself, cleaning, preparing food, etc.
Next to each item, rate it on a scale of 1-10 (1=total energy drain, 10=major energy producer). Also, take a note of how long this activity usually takes you to finish.
Now on the same list, add in anything that you think might be missing that would produce energy for you – exercise (is a temporary energy drain but produces MAJOR energy the rest of the day for most), getting to bed early, healthy food, hobbies, or any activities that bring you joy or connection. This is going to vary from person to person, so make sure you’re going by how it affects YOU and not your neighbor.
Rate these items in the same way, taking note of how long the activity takes.
This gives you a list of your Energy Return on Time Invested for everything in your day, so you can see clearly what to focus on.
Finally, find the top 5 energy producers with the highest ranking and that take the LEAST amount of time. Circle these, and write them down because this is your new priority list.
These 5 items are the main things to start focusing on in your day and week, and they absolutely take precedence over anything that drains your energy. For example, if exercise is one of your new priorities, don’t spend your time with energy-draining activities (example, folding laundry or checking social media) until the exercise is done.
Once you maximize your energy levels to the best of your ability in your current situation, you’ll find yourself becoming more efficient at all the stuff that is normally so draining but necessary. It will be so much easier to tackle because your tank will be full.
This is probably going to require you to ask for help (this is coming up in the series, so watch for that), set some boundaries, or be innovative on how to get these things done. But don’t think in terms of all or nothing – think in terms of a spectrum. A little bit is better than nothing, always.
Maybe all you’re adding is a sun salutation when you wake up, but that will be SOMETHING, and you can build on it as time allows.
I’d love to hear what you come up with! Comment below and let me know!
See you tomorrow for Day 2 – all about MOM GUILT.