Whether you work away from the home, work at home, (which a lot of us are doing recently) or are a stay at home parent, you’ve got to start the day in a positive way and a good way to do that is with a morning routine. Get up (early if your job allows). When your alarm goes off, you get up – Do NOT push snooze. When you say you are going to get up at 6:00 and then you push snooze 3 times and actually get up at 6:30 – oh my goodness, you have just started the day by breaking a promise to yourself. Get up. Make your bed. Meditate. Journal. Exercise. Drink your cup of coffee. Read. Whatever it is that will help you to get your day started so that you are focused and headed in the right direction, do it. Not sometimes. Every Single Day. Make your morning routine a good habit – remember, a habit takes around 2 months to become solid. So Do NOT SKIP A DAY! Figure out what you need and do it every single day. For me, I get up (and don’t hit snooze – ever), drink my cup of coffee, make my greens drink, write in my journal – usually gratitude, exercise, and plan out my day. I get up before everyone else in my family on purpose because I need this time. Once you start having your own “Me Time” in the morning, you’ll honestly become selfish over it. You’ll want it so badly, that nothing and nobody is going to get in the way of your morning routine if it’s in your control. Granted, sometimes, kids are sick, the toilet is overflowing, you have an early meeting – sometimes, you just aren’t going to be able to do it but when you can do it, do it. And if you work, have a work shut down ritual – especially if you work from home like so many of us are with this Covid 19 pandemic going on. Set a time that you need to be done with work so that you can balance (or at least try to balance) work and home. Figure out what your shut down ritual should entail and how long it will take – stop work that amount of time ahead of your “need to be done” time. Maybe you check emails one last time, make a list of what I got done, what I must do for tomorrow, check in on if you got the 3 most important things you needed to get done, done, connect with teams/staff – whatever it is that needs to get done every day – stop work and give yourself that amount of time to get it done before the end of your work day. Again, don’t break a promise to yourself. If you say you will be done with work at a certain time, then be done – otherwise there is no way that you can even begin to balance home and work.Remember, it takes two months to form a habit.

No matter what you do, you need to move. Every. Single. Day. I know… I don’t like exercise, I don’t have time to exercise, I’m taking time away from something else to exercise. I know. I know. I know. But I’ve talked about this before – those are excuses. I’ll tell you a story. I never used to exercise. Never ever! Then what happens is… you get older. And then you have to exercise so you might as well start now – whatever age you are – start now. I got the notion to start running about ten years ago – I don’t even honestly know where it came from but all of the sudden I started running – had a couple babies and figured, hmm I need to get this body back in shape ( I gained 50 pounds with each of those babies – yep 50). I started with 5K’s and then 10 K’s and then a half marathon, which actually kind of sucked but I still did it. My God… the mom guilt with that. Do you know how much time you have to put in to train for a half marathon? Hours at a time, 3, 4, 5 times a week! I was taking time away from my babies, from my husband – oh no, my husband was going to have to get dinner ready a couple nights a week, which by the way he was happy to do but the guilt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What? You are doing something for yourself that takes you away from your family. YEP I did. But I also carried that mom guilt that goes along with that and I’m here today to tell you that was a mistake. Do you know how much better of a mom I was because I felt balance in doing something for me? Do you know how much better of a wife I was – being supported by my husband in this big goal I had? And ladies, if your husband doesn’t support you in your goals… hmmm that is a discussion you need to be having. Do you know how confident I felt in number one being able to achieve my goal and actually call myself a “runner?” And number two in the fact that I was modeling goal – setting and achieving for my boys – showing them that when you put in the work, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Modeling for my boys that it was OK to do things for myself and that didn’t make me a bad mom, bad  wife, bad anything – it made me better! Let go of the mom guilt right this second. So… this has veered off a bit but still very connected.  The point is to get moving and for me that was by running but I think it needs to be said that doing any kind of movement (or anything else) for your own self care needs to be a priority. Now, ten years later, my knees are a mess so I do Bodypump or walk 3 miles – but I do something most days. I’m not saying that I don’t have days where I’m feeling crappy, sick, tired, whatever. I do. And honestly, sometimes I don’t get that exercise in but when I do, I feel more balanced and able to do the daily grind. Whether you choose to do yoga, walk, run, (or wog like me – walk really fast – I don’t do the arm motions though), you can  do classes, lift weights, whatever – move your body every day as much as you can. Now, I teach 1st grade so let me tell ya, I never even sit down from 7-4 unless I have a meeting or have to enter data at the computer – not even for lunch so I’m moving all day but actually setting time aside each day for me to do some type of exercise self care shows not only myself that I am important enough to hold my health in high regard but models for others a healthy lifestyle. How do I want to show up for my students? For my family? For my co-workers? For my friends? Depleted or full of energy because I took time to get my heart pumping. I’m not gonna lie. I’m not going to be here and tell you I workout every single day – I don’t. But I do make movement a priority for myself. Walk, run, bike, whatever – move – it’s the only time you have to listen to your mind. That is the time, when I’ve been stuck on something and walked away, moved a little, listened to my mind – those are the times when great ideas come – like magic! Huge problems suddenly find answers. I use my note catcher on my Iphone and most often several times on each walk just to capture a thought, idea, solution, whatever, I am note-taking. And most often, for a portion of my walk, I will listen to a podcast and do some personal growth (why not kill two birds with one stone – not literally people) and open a different note catcher to write notes or important quotes so I don’t forget. Why not multi-task? We’ve talked before about time. You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you have to make it. It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s that you are using it differently. So use your time wisely and if the only way you are going to get both exercise and personal growth in for the day is by doing them together – then do them together – simultaneously.

It’s like a little gift to yourself… thus the word “present.” Be present. What does that even mean? I’m here. I’m going through the motions. I’m getting through this thing called life – going to sporting events for children, working, taking care of the kids, cleaning the house/yard, dinner on the table every night. I’m getting it done – what do you mean I’m not present? Well, you’re not. Not if you are doing more than one thing at a time. I know. I know. You are saying, “Life is crazy. If I don’t multi-task, I will never catch up/get done with everything I am expected to do.” And I want you to know that I absolutely understand that. I am the queen of multi-tasking. I can get it all done – eight things at once – after all, I teach a room full of 6 year olds. I have to be able to do more than one thing at a time. It is my life – at work and home. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be multi-tasking. I’m saying that you must find times that you can slow down and be present. Find those times that make you joyful. Find those events that you won’t get back. Find those things that might be “a last time.” Those are the times you need to slow down. A book to remind you: Breakfast With Buddha. So today, RIGHT NOW, be present.

Simplify!!!! I know, easier said than done. But think about it for a moment. What are you doing in life that you don’t HAVE to be doing? What could you say, “no” to? What could you get rid of? Activities, devices, televisions, clutter, toxic people? Are you overbooked? Are you saying yes to things because you feel guilty saying, “no”? Are you spending time with people that don’t make you a better person? Take some time to evaluate what you can or should give up. How can you simplify your life – just a little – so that you have more time to do the things that bring you joy. More time for the things you love. More time for you to do what makes you happy? Another all time favorite book – an oldie but goodie: From The Sea – Amazon, can bring you a little perspective and make you want to simplify your life. Today, RIGHT NOW, push yourself to find something that you don’t need, and get rid of it!

As a mommy… sometimes I want to scream or just leave! As a teacher… my patience is tested (I mean really tested). We all have days, hours, or minutes of stressed out, completely overwhelmed feelings. Breathe. Take a moment and take five breaths. Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Feel your belly move out on the inhale and in on the exhale. Any change in your breathing pattern for just 3-5 breaths will change your state of mind. Allow yourself a moment. Breathe in and breathe out. Practice different kinds of breaths: slower on the inhale and faster on the exhale (or the opposite), try a forceful exhale with your tongue out, three short breaths in and one breath out, etc. Love this children’s book (but for adults, too): Breathe and Be – Amazon. Mix it up and do whatever breath feels right but today, RIGHT NOW, take a moment and just breathe.

I know if I actually use the word “meditation” I might scare some of you off so I won’t! Keep reading… you’ll like it. Just STOP whatever it is you are doing. If you are frustrated or feeling overwhelmed, you obviously need to STOP! Now, I know there are some things you have to do or that need to get done. But just take a moment and stop. Close your eyes – just for a minute or two. Try to push all thoughts away – just think about your breath – only for a minute or so. If thoughts come into your head – just push them away and come back. Just give your mind a break – for a minute. Other 1 minute mindfulness techniques can be found in my new favorite book: Hot Mess Mom to Mindful Mom – Amazon (Can you tell, I love Amazon?). Today, RIGHT NOW, take a moment and just stop.

Life sucks sometimes. Bad things are going to happen. People get sick, people die, arguments happen, accidents happen. That is just life. But… focusing on the negative leaves no room for the happiness. Think of it like a garden. When you pay attention to something in your garden it grows (like giving it sun, water, soil) and visa versa when you don’t pay attention to something it can’t grow. In your brain, when you focus on the negative, it kind of makes WEEDS grow. You know how weeds are – they take over!!!!  Well, if you’re constantly focused on the weeds, they overtake the space in your brain (garden). Then there is just not enough room for the flowers or “positive thoughts.” A habit of being grateful or finding the good will overpower these weeds. Get into a pattern or routine of finding things to be grateful for each day and eventually, it will seem like second nature. I use this book to help me get into the pattern: The Magic (28 days of gratefulness) Amazon. You will be able to pull 3-4 things from your head at any given moment that you are grateful for.  Then, even when things “suck,” you’ll begin to be able to find some good. So today, RIGHT NOW, write down at least 5 things you are grateful for and then… do it every single day!

I know, I know… what does that even mean? I know you might not like it – but here goes. Turn off the TV. Put your phone away. Turn off the computer. Say no to devices… just for a little while (10-15 minutes). Mindfully listen: What do you hear, what do you hear that is a new sound? Mindfully see: What do you see, what do you see that you haven’t seen before or didn’t notice? Mindfully eat: What does it sound like, what does it feel like, what does it taste like? Actually enjoy it! Mindfully move: What does each movement feel like, pay attention to every feeling? For mindfulness courses visit: Mindful Life Today – Dr. Kristen Race Today, RIGHT NOW, whatever you choose to do, do it mindfully.

A simple act of kindness can change your state of mind. As the giver of kindness, you get just as much benefit as the recipient of kindness. In my classroom, we call that “filling a bucket.” When you are kind to someone, you fill your bucket and their bucket. Win, Win! Simply witnessing an act of kindness is enough to change your state of mind. So in this crazy world, when you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, take a moment and think about how you can spread kindness. Pay it forward. Buy someone a Starbucks or their favorite snack. Write an inspirational message to someone or a “thank you for being you’” note. Grab these Kindness Cards from Amazon: Kindness Cards Amazon and pass one along when you’re feeling down. Today, RIGHT NOW, find a way to show kindness to someone.


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