This week, like almost all weeks in my house, has been a little anxiety inducing. That’s because I have two littles home with me all day. Plus, I got a message on Monday from my daughter’s pre-school teacher that she wanted to talk to me privately. Man! I felt like I was being called into the principal’s office for the first time. (Yes, I am a complete geek who never got in trouble at school. I’m willing to bet money that my daughter will make up for me in that regard.) Anyhoo, I’ve been doing a lot of sanity-boosting exercises (the only kind I do) to keep me from losing my mind completely. Here are the top 10 ways I keep myself sane (in no particular order):
1. I read. A lot. I’m not kidding here. I’m a total bibliophile. And before you get all riled up and start thinking about how you’ve always wanted to find time to read Moby Dick, I’m not spending my time reading the classics (not usually, anyway). I’m more of a sci-fi/fantasy, romance, paranormal, urban fantasy, dystopian young adult fiction kind of book nerd. I like to get out of my own head. And reading about stuff that absolutely doesn’t exist is the best way for me to do that.
2. I make the kids play outside. This may sound kind of old-school, but I kick the kids outside on a regular basis. And I’m not helicopter-momming it out there with them either. I live in a semi-rural suburban neighborhood in Maine and if they stay put in the backyard, I can sit in my office, watch them play from the windows and do one of the other things on my sanity list. The quiet in the house helps out a whole lot with the sanity thing too.
3. I daydream. As a writer, I find this particularly important. It’s nice to spend time thinking about something other than the things in your life that you worry about, or about all the things you have to get done. Sometimes, just daydreaming for 10 minutes gets me out of my head enough to help me feel a little bit more collected when I have to deal with my real life.
4. I write. Obviously, you know this since you’re reading my blog. But blogging isn’t the only writing I’m doing. Hence the few and sometimes far between blog posts I’ve been not-quite cranking out. Writing can be cathartic and very sanity-saving. (I just love hyphenated made up words!) Sometimes I write personal journal entries. And most of the time, as of late, I have been working on writing my first novel. This is a lifelong dream of mine and I am determined to accomplish it. Even if everyone who reads it hates it. Even if literary agents laugh at me and send me horribly insulting letters of rejection, I will complete this novel. And if it sits on my computer for the rest of my life with no one ever reading it but me and my ever-supportive husband, I will still feel kick-ass because I accomplished my biggest dream.
5. I have a hobby. I love to cook. And I love to troll Pinterest for new recipes to try out on my family. My reading and writing are also hobbies, they are also pretty much necessities in my life. Cooking however… well, everyone has to eat, but no one needs to cook the endlessly heathy/budget conscious meals that I pride myself on. It doesn’t hurt that my husband is constantly gushing about how good everything is while he’s shoveling food into his mouth!
6. I challenge myself. Personally, and I may take a lot of flak on this one, I sometimes find being a stay at home mom boring. I love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but being with them all day… well, it can be tedious. I’m either cooking for the littles, cleaning up after them, washing them or their clothes/bedding/jackets, brushing teeth/hair/doll hair, or driving them to school/doctor’s appointments/play dates/playground/library… I think you get the picture. These tasks aren’t very mind-bending on a daily basis. So it’s nice to have something to challenge myself with. Earlier this year, I challenged myself to try to cook for a family of four on a $100/week food budget. Then I signed up for a book challenge and challenged myself to read 100 books this year. I’ve read 56 books since January 1st, so I think next time I need to pick a higher number. For my next challenge, I’m thinking about doing the Whole 30. Don’t know what that is? Well, if you don’t want to Google it, I’ll blog about it if I do it.
7. I’m medicated. There. I said it. Yes, I am medicated. Not because I’m a mom, but because I suffer from depression and anxiety. I also know that I am not alone in this reality. It’s my dirty little secret and I’m airing it out right here for all of you. Depression and/or anxiety can really mess with a woman’s coping abilities. And when you are a mom, you really, really need all the coping ability you can lay your hands on.
8. I have some awesomely awesome girlfriends. I can’t tell you how important this is. My friends are the bomb. They truly are. If you can’t say that about yours, you need to find some new ones! I’d be happy to share mine. My girlfriends don’t all live in Maine with me, but they are still 100% there for me when I need them. Friendships change as you get older, get married, start your own families or build your careers up to where you want them to be, but they are still super important for a woman’s sanity. You will always need your girlfriends. Mine have lifted me up, supported me, laughed with me, kept it real, been my sounding board, prayed for me, cried with me, encouraged me, given me advice and 100 other things that I haven’t thought of as I’m typing this.
9. I try to always stay positive. Notice the word try in that sentence. Because I really do have to work at it. It’s easy to get bogged down in the mire of stay-at-home momness. The monotony of housework and cooking, laundry, school drop-offs and kids’ sports could make even the most well-balanced woman lose it occasionally. So sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I have to take a step back in my mind and try to look at the good things. Like, hey my house has enough cobwebs to become a legitimate haunted house over here and I wouldn’t recommend eating off the floors since I have 2 pair of dirty little feet running all over the place all the time, but it’s clean and uncluttered enough that if someone pulled a pop-over-without-calling dealio, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to welcome them in.
10. I have a wonderfully amazing marriage that I put time into every day. I hate when people say that a good marriage is hard work because I don’t feel like investing time in my marriage is hard. You can’t just live your life alongside your spouse without engaging him or her and expect everything to be hunky dory. Marriage requires respect, trust and communication. My husband is my best friend. He is loving and supportive and understands that he married a crazy person. And sometimes we irritate the crap out of each other. But we enjoy being together. We take time to talk to each other, share our feelings or ideas, and laugh together. My husband is my rock. He gets me, insanity and all, and still wants to wake up next to me every morning. I trust him completely and know that I can always count on him. And if that isn’t a stress-buster, I don’t know what is!