Monday Mindset – The one habit that transformed motherhood

If I were to look back and try to pinpoint what set in motion all my mindset and habit changes over the last four years, one thing in particular stands out. Waking up ahead of my kids… This ability to safeguard a little bit of time for myself at the beginning of each day without a doubt transformed my motherhood.

When I started waking up early I was pregnant with Johnathan, Will had dropped down to one nap a day. Suddenly I was scrambling for time to get things done, uninterrupted. My day would start with fussing and crying and I would instantly feel behind. I had started my coaching business, and my to-do lists were long. I was feeling frustrated, short tempered and was quickly realizing I needed to change something. I started small, just 15 minutes ahead of when Wills sound machine would click off. I’d take a few minutes to wake up, maybe jot down a plan for the day, wash my face in silence, sit and pet Juno. This quickly increased to me waking up 30 min early so I could get my workout done first thing. An amazing thing happens when you start giving your body and your mind this space. You begin to CRAVE this silence, this peace. I pretty quickly noticed a shift. Mornings where I didn’t get up early felt tense, I was easily thrown into a bad mood, I was on edge. Mornings where I gave myself a few minutes to wake up allowed for a sense of calm and the ability to handle whatever came at me!

Now I know what you’re thinking “there’s no way I could wake up any earlier than I have to”, stick with me here. I want to be clear, I was never a morning person. I love to sleep in. My former nightshift self relished in getting to sleep until 5pm. However, for the season of life I’m in, with young children, sleeping in is not only unattainable but also not functional or efficient for my life. In this season, when my kids are at home the majority of the day and still need me for many things, I need to front-load my day. When I do this I’m happier, I’m more patient, I’m certainly more productive. I’m able to approach my kids and my family from a place of calm and compassion. Instead of waking to the onslaught of toddler demands, I’m able to exert a little control in how I start my day. If I want to listen to a podcast, if I want to sit in silence and drink coffee, if I want to meditate outside, I can. When I give myself this gift of space and time to wake up, I’m no longer thrown off or upset when I find my two year olds night time diaper malfunctioned or whatever unforeseen event is waiting for me when the rest of the house wakes up. The reality is there are few places throughout your day where you’re able to find some extra time, so giving yourself even a 15 minute cushion of time in the morning allows for you to feel less stressed and more prepared for the day. As mothers we act from a place of servitude, however resentment can rear it’s ugly head when you feel like you’re serving others from the moment your eyes open each day until you fall in bed that night.

** Important caveat here – there are seasons of your life where this is not possible and sleep takes priority, hello newborn bubble. If you are in a season like this, grace. Grace is your biggest friend. Give yourself a big serving of grace, take seconds if you need to, and know that this season will pass **

consider this:

We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic but what it is a profound failure of self respect and of priorities. Then nearly a quarter of us do something else that starts us out on the second wrong foot of the day. We reach for our cell phones within one minute of waking up. Over half of us are checking messages within ten minutes. The majority of people go from out cold to processing mountains of information within minutes every morning. There are only six cars that can go from zero to sixty in under two seconds. Like most cars, humans are not built for that kind of sudden transition, mentally or physically. 

Dan Baker, What Happy People Know

Try this: skip the AM scroll.

Pick a day or two this week to set your alarm 15-20 min early & hold off on immediately scrolling, instead focus on a transition. When we immediately start our days by staring into our prized little rectangles we are giving our energy to other peoples messages, emails, we begin subconsciously comparing and our minds are instantly drawn to things we thing we “should” be doing. When we start our days with high pressure or high stress, we program ourselves to stay in that state the rest of the day and it can be hard to self correct out. By giving ourselves even just a few minutes to transition we can drastically alter the tone of the day.

I’ll share the framework of my morning routine in an upcoming post, but know, it has seen many iterations through the years. And ultimately our needs and circumstances are all different. Some women will want this time to read, to make lists, to workout, to pray or to run their businesses. What works for me in this particular season may not serve you as well. It’s less about how you fill this time and more about creating time that serves YOU. If spending 5 min unloading the dishwasher before everyone is up will make you feel on top of your game do it. If spending 15 min reading while you drink coffee will energize you do it. Consider you pain-points. What is making your morning feel chaotic… is it trying to get ready while little hands grab at you, is it never having time or motivation to workout, is it trying to prep school lunches and make breakfast? Most of our morning tasks can be completed much faster when we’re alone, it’s those tiny people that drag efficiency down… love em’ but it’s true!

I would love to hear if you already do this, or if this is something you’ve tried but struggled with or something you’ve just never considered. For me, waking up 30 – 40 earlier than my kids gives me vastly more energy than staying in bed would for that same amount of time. It sets my day off on the right foot, I dictate the tone and the energy. Try it and see how your motherhood transforms!

Introducing: Monday Mindset Series

Welcome to the Monday Mindset

A series I’m launching where every Monday I’ll share some mindset inspiration to start the week. Our mindset can propel us forward, into a state of gratitude and abundance or it can constrict us, keep us stuck in negativity, paralyzed by anxiety and self limiting beliefs. We’ve all had days where we oversleep, leave our coffee on the counter, hit unexpected traffic, have a rude interaction, and it sets us on this spiral of “everything is going wrong today” and yes objectively things may not have gone the way we expected but only we have the power to guide our minds out of this negativity trap. We all have the opportunity within us to begin again whenever we choose fit. As mothers our mood, our demeanor, our reactions are the unspoken propellent within our households. Our children can easily sense how we feel. If our mindset is chaotic, riddled with anxiety or stress, our children absorb these emotions just as easily as they take on our joy and our calm. Regardless of our efforts to conceal these feelings; the reality is what we feel, our families feel.

It’s no exaggeration when I say the benefits from this mindset work have rippled out into my motherhood, my marriage, my friendships, my nursing career. I feel called to write about this process. And to use this series as a way to share some of the lessons, tips and insights I have learned and adopted over the last few years. Exposing what has helped me move away from a place of stress, anger, negativity and led me to finding joy amidst the chaos, and given me the power of self forgiveness when my old ways resurface. Admittedly I am no expert, but I am extremely passionate about this ever long journey of our mindsets. Everything I share here, is what I work on myself and are the tools that have led me away from simply reacting out of habit to every unpleasant bump or allowing myself to succumb to the weight of modern motherhood. Most mothers will agree, raising humans is the hardest, most challenging yet simultaneously beautiful thing you’ll experience. But if your mindset is stuck in a negativity loop you’ll struggle to be present and feel the joy and love of the beautiful parts. I hope this series enables you to slow down, to feel more present, more grounded and more joyful in your life and in your motherhood. If you’re curious what sparked my personal journey inward, I share a lot about the catalyst that truly started it all for me in the post The Monday in March That Started It All .

Consider This...

Happiness is neither a mood nor an emotion. Mood is a biochemical condition and emotions are just transitory feelings. Happiness is a way of life – an overriding outlook composed of qualities such as optimism, courage, love and fulfillment. It is nothing less than cherishing each day.”Dan Baker (author of What Happy People Know)

Try This: Try a daily gratitude practice. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or in depth. Take 3 min before bed and jot down a few things to be thankful for, the smaller the better!

Why This? It’s easy to be grateful for your health, your kids, your home, but finding gratitude and joy in the little things is where the mindset shift truly happens. Noticing the warm dog curled up at your feet, the close parking spot, the impromptu hug from your kid, the cool breeze, the hot shower, the zoom call that got cancelled; the little things are the big things. We are often racing through our lives on auto pilot, you know the feeling when you drive somewhere and then suddenly have little recollection of the actual drive? So many of us, especially moms are moving from moment to moment like this. Training our brains to find gratitude in daily life brings about mindfulness. At first it might be hard to recall the little things throughout your day that you’re grateful for, but it gets easier the more we use our gratitude muscle! Mindfulness flips this autopilot switch off. It encourages us to be present for our lives and notice all the little things that really do go right. If we are only ever focusing on the negative that is all we will see. So try this gratitude practice & see what happens! Worst case? You’re the new owner of a little notebook or a scrap of paper with a list of good things 🙂