This year, for the first time EVER, I planned out my goals for the year, and then decided to assign mini-goals for each month. It has kept me moving in the right direction, kept me trying the things I’ve been putting off for a long time, and kept things fresh by adding a little bit each month. And of course, blogging about it gives me the accountability I need for motivation and perseverance.
At the beginning of each month, I have 3 new habits to implement as best I can. It usually takes me about 2 weeks to get the hang of the new habits, while still trying to remember the habits started in previous months.
The resources I’m using for each month are:
1) 12 Steps to Gentle Parenting
2) Goodbye Chaos, Hello Peace 12 Essential Habits
3) 10 Gifts of Wisdom (affiliate link) (doing the first gift: Faith: creating hearts deeply centered on loving God and a life formed by habits of Faith)
So, what’s in store for April?
1) Breathe: consciously focus on enjoying your children
After starting the habits of slowing down, listening to my children when they speak to me, and trying to speak with a more gentle tone, now it’s just natural that I can enjoy my children more. I’ve already seen this in moments when I could have been stressed out about something (usually a huge mess), but I chose to ignore it, and just sat with the boys and was available to them.
I found a list of 200 Ways to Bless Your Children With a Happy Childhood, and I plan on trying a few of these this month in an effort to have more FUN! I’ll let you know which ones we end up doing! (Of course, Easter will provide lots of fun and joy!)
2) Go to bed at a decent hour and get up early
I have been dreading this one. Ever since I typed it back in December. How can I possibly go to bed early? What’s a decent hour? Will I still be able to get my blogging and music done, or have some ME time?
To help me put this into perspective, I need to remind myself why sleep (starting before midnight) is important! I struggle with anger and impatience…could this be partly because I go to bed too late?? This question alone warrants an experiment this month to see if regular sleep helps me to be more patient.
How about overall physical health? Does going to bed earlier help? Dr. Mercola says:
Get to bed as early as possible. Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health.
In the same article, “Want a Good Night’s Sleep?”, he also recommends not watching any TV (and I’m assume no staring at smartphones, either) for an hour before bed. This is a huge lifestyle change for me. As of the past year, my bedtime routine looked like this:
- Put boys to bed
- Computer/iPhone/Kindle time
- Sugary snack
- More media
- Brush teeth, etc. around 11:30
- Get in bed, check emails one more time, prayers, asleep by 12/12:30.
- Kids wake up anywhere from 6:30-8.
Ok, how embarrassing, but that is what every night looks like around here. There is more to life than media!! But, what could my new bedtime routine be, then? The following are just thoughts; I will be experimenting all month with a combination of:
- Start my bedtime routine right after I put the boys to bed (I’m always tired when I put them to bed…why not try to go to sleep?) I don’t know, that sounds boring!
- Relaxing shower
- Read magazines, hard-cover or Kindle books, not blogs, tweets, status updates, etc.
- More prayer time
- Needle felting, cross-stitching, or practicing piano
- Visiting the local Adoration Chapel
- Go to the gym
Now, hand in hand with going to bed early will have to be getting UP early so I can have some quiet time before the boys wake up. (Another dream of mine!) Plus, the gym down the street from us is opening in April, so that’s another motivation to get up in the morning; however, in order for that to happen, I will need to go to bed at a decent hour!
Ok, I’m starting to believe this is going to be a good change. I’m sure you’re curious how this is going to pan out…believe me, I wish I could look at my life in 30 days and see myself more happy and healthy because I’m getting enough rest!
3) Bedtime Prayer: Bless each child individually
This used to be a habit, but this is another tradition that we started with our first-born, got irregular with the second, and almost forgot about it with the third. Well, it looks like it will be part of our life again with the fourth!
All of our boys (well, not the baby yet) all sleep in the same bedroom. I sit in a rocking chair, usually nursing, and we say prayers, and I sing songs until everyone is asleep, or until the baby needs to be moved to his crib (haha, I mean, our bed!) Thinking about this, I wonder if I should do the blessings right after prayers. Some nights, the baby is already asleep in the other room. Maybe I can use that opportunity to let the boys talk to me about whatever is on their hearts, and then give a blessing.
I do want their last moments to be as comforting and loving as possible. I want them to feel secure, knowing that we love them, God loves them, and that they are each a special boy with a future of unknown possibilities and potential!
I wish you a happy and holy Easter! God bless you and your family!