When we visited my family over Christmas, my youngest brother’s Christmas gift to my parents was to get professional family pictures. We were also able to get individual family pictures as well.
Later that day, we all looked through the pictures, and that is when an interesting thought struck me.
Pictures do a great job of showing the physical changes in a person, but they don’t show the emotional, relational, or intellectual changes.
For instance, I can see a big difference in my son’s growth from our Christmas picture in 2014 compared to the picture taken in 2015, and I can tell that my hair has changed, but there is much more behind the faces in those photos.
Behind my smile in the below picture from Christmas Day 2014 is a woman who was simply SURVIVING, barely keeping her head above water.
I was sleep deprived and wondering if I was ever going to be able to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. When I don’t get enough sleep, I go a little nuts! Anyone else?
And like many new moms, I was a little depressed. I often wondered whether or not I was doing the whole “mom thing” right. My post-partum body was discouraging especially since I had lost all of the baby weight, but my clothes still were not fitting me at the time!
It was difficult to find joy and contentment in my new role as a mom and stay-at-home wife. I had gone from working full time to being a stay at home mom which caused a little identity crisis that I had to work through.
I stressed way more than I should have about the budget and was constantly worrying if we were going to be able to make ends meet.
I spent very little time reading God’s Word and praying because I felt like I never had enough time or energy.
Instead of reading a good book, I sat in front of the television or scrolled through social media wondering why all the “other” moms could get themselves put back together so quickly after having a baby, but I couldn’t.
It was a long year of surviving.
Then 2015 came around. When I look at the picture that was taken just a few weeks ago, I see a woman who has gone from surviving to thriving. It took time, hard work, and a lot of faith, but I feel like a much better person.
I feel much more confident as a mom and have realized that there isn’t necessarily one right way to be a mom. Just because someone else mothers differently than me doesn’t make me any less of a good mom. In fact, I realized that I am the perfect mom (and so are you)!
In the past year I’ve come to realize that even though I’m not teaching, my job is still important and I need to take pride in what I do. I started approaching my new role as it was my new job.
Just like I had routines in the classroom to stay on task and keep organized, I needed routines as a stay at home mom. My routines are not rigid or even to the minute, but they make all the difference in my day!
The routines actually allowed for more free time in the day, and I found time to spend with God. When my son turned one, I was finally able to sleep the ENTIRE night and had more energy.
I made it my goal to read one book a month and really put effort into my blog.
Slowly, but surely, these habits, started changing me from surviving to thriving.
If you feel like you are surviving and would like to start thriving, here are some habits that helped me.
1. Follow Routines
When you are surviving, it is easy to feel like you can’t control what is going on around you, but routines give a sense of control. You know what to do from one minute to the next.
Following a morning routine helped me get so much done within the first couple hours of the day and helped motivate me for the rest of the day. I simplified my housework by using a weekly cleaning schedule instead of stressing out by trying to get it all done in one day (which never happened)!
I also started a simple evening routine which helped me get ready for the next day.
2. Challenge Yourself
If you are simply surviving, you are probably taking each day at a time and not focusing on the future. Look to the future and set goals that challenge you. When you complete your goal, you will have more confidence and grow as an individual.
I noticed that I felt much more satisfied when I was reading books and working on my blog because they were challenging me. A great book to read is Say Good-bye to Survival Mode* by Crystal Paine. It helped me focus on the most important things in my life.
*Crystal Paine is now offering an online course called 15 Days to a Healthier You* where she is sharing her best advice for nurturing your body and soul. I have loved all of the online courses that I have taken from her, and no doubt, this one will be filled with all kinds of practical steps to take! You can sign up through January 3, 2017.*
3. Choose Gratitude
Although I wanted to be a mom for many years, it was difficult for me to be content as “just” a stay at home mom. It wasn’t until I purposefully began choosing to be grateful for my new role, that I became content and happy.
Instead of grumbling about dishes that needed done, I started thinking of them as a blessing that I had food to eat. When my living room floor was covered in toys that I had to pick up for the hundredth time, I was grateful for the little boy who played with those toys.
4. Get Dressed
After I had my son, I stayed home a lot and figured there was no use putting effort into my looks. I dressed in elastic waist workout pants and t-shirts. I felt ugly, so I thought I should look ugly. Then one day I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and said, “This has to stop!”
Right then and there I got changed into an actual outfit rather than workout gear. I put on shoes and socks and put my hair up in a “fancy” ponytail. I even put on a little make-up. It was amazing the difference I felt! Ever since that day, I have made it a point to get dressed and ready every day even if I’m staying home.
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