What's the real reason you're procrastinating?

procrastinationblogsizeLast week, I took an annual leave day to just concentrate on this here blog. It was the neighbouring day to the ANZAC day public holiday, so I thought it was an opportune time to tick off a few things on the blog to do list and plan a few exciting projects. The day started off well, I took myself to breakfast with my notebook and planned next month’s posts. I was excited about being so organised and was loving the content of the posts, which I hoped could make a real difference to many other mothers. High on my ideas and plans, I headed for home ready to get started on it all.

By the time I got home I started to worry about what I’d planned. Would I be able to do it? Will it make the difference I hoped? Would it be worth the effort? With these questions came a restlessness that stopped me from getting started. I busied myself with mindless tasks. I stood staring at the fridge, despite not being hungry. Even vacuuming looked like a tempting activity. The fear had taken hold and it’s result was procrastination.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I used to think my tendency towards procrastination was just a form of laziness, that I just couldn’t be bothered getting around to tasks I didn’t like. Which is true for some things, but when I started to look more deeply at my procrastination patterns I realised I often avoided things that could bring me great reward. It makes no sense when you say it like that, but fear was creeping up on me and taking me away from things that I would actually enjoy doing.

So, I decided to take my procrastination by the horns and tackle my fear head on. I logged off facebook (my procrastination sink-hole) and got to work on a small part of my plan. I started pinning inspiration on Pinterest related to my planned posts for next month. In doing so, my brain was tricked by the procrastination-friendliness of Pinterest, which then kicked me in the butt to move onto my next small goal, which was writing this post. Once I gained some momentum doing the things I actually planned to do, it felt like my day was kick-started again.

So, what can you do if you’re procrastinating and you think fear could be the cause?

1. Start small: Trick yourself into action by doing one small activity in the direction of your goal. It may be something that seems procrastination friendly, like a Pinterest board.

2. Gain momentum: Once you’ve done that one small thing, move to the next small thing and so on. Things won’t seem so big and scary if they’re broken into small chunks.

3. Set a timer: If you think you might start wandering off again, set a timer. Start at 20 minutes and go from there. If you tell yourself you just have to sit and work for that length of time, it may just be enough to get in a groove and once you’re there, there’s no stopping you!

4. Give yourself a pat on the back: Set a reward for when you’ve achieved your plan for the day. I like to take a time out and enjoy a cuppa and something sweet, or perhaps enjoy a meditation or have a short nap.

Are you a procrastinator? Do you think fear is the cause, or is there something else going on there for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Feel free to share this post if it resonates with you. x

A conversation on being different

what's wrong with being differentAs Jarvis gets older, I look for ways to inject references to being different into our conversations. He doesn’t know he’s different yet, or if he does he hasn’t mentioned it to me. However, I’m adamant that I don’t want the first mention of his smile being different coming from a kid in the playground who is either innocently inquiring about it or, even worse, teasing him about it. I tell him that he has facial palsy, and that this gives him a unique smile and that being different is a good thing. As he also has a motor speech disorder, he hasn’t given me any indication that he understands this but I think if I repeat it often enough, along with a message of total acceptance and love, that he will come to accept and own it and hopefully be proud of who he is.

However, in navigating this space of difference for the last four-and-a-half years, and trying to form our family plan of attack, I started to think that talking about difference is important for every child and parent, even those not living with a difference. I can attempt to arm my son with ways to respond, to help him build his self worth and inner confidence, but my fear is that he’ll get into the big wide world of school and find a place where being visibly different is something that isn’t received as well as I’ve been telling him.

So, how can we make being different more acceptable? I truly believe it starts with us!

Be truly yourself

To arm our children with the strength to be themselves, however that is for them, is to gather the strength to be our own true selves. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt through parenting Jarvis – my words have to match my actions and by accepting myself unconditionally with all my flaws, I’m showing him how to do it too. In all areas of parenting, our words mean nothing if we’re not living by them, so I try and accept myself for who I am and I aim to live my life to the best of my ability. We can’t control the world we live in and what people will say about us, but we can control what we say about ourselves and I choose to change my negative self-talk into positive (or at least neutral!). The best advice I’ve heard on this is to start treating yourself as tenderly as you would your child or a good friend, and watch how your self-talk changes.

Be open and shameless

I try and be as open as I can about things both here on my blog and in real life. Again, hopefully I’m modelling a way for my boys to be open with me if they’re having difficulties in life. I want them to know that life isn’t always perfect, but within imperfection are incredible lessons to move you forward towards a happier time.

Talk about differences in a positive way

I’ve become hyper aware of how people talk about anything that’s different (particularly appearance-wise) since Jarvis was born, and it’s truly shocked me how often people comment about differences in other people – be that in the way they dress, act, or their beliefs. I know most of the time this is only to make conversation, but often times it sounds really ugly. ‘That old adage of if you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all’ still applies! We are all different, which is something that should be celebrated rather than condemned.

Talk about feelings

I come from a long line of feeling bottlers, so talking about feelings is not something that comes naturally to me and something I really have to work on. So, instead of bottling all my feelings up like I once did I try and name them and then deal with them accordingly. I tell my kids if I’m feeling a bit sad or frustrated and angry and why I’m feeling that way and encourage them to do the same. Feelings don’t have to be big scary things we feel we have no control over (which is how I once felt). My friend Kate bought the boys Tracey Moroney‘s ‘When I’m Feeling’ box set of books and they’re just terrific. Talking about that it’s OK to feel a certain way is a great way to build resilience and hopefully give them a way to communicate difficult feelings, rather than bottling them up, as they grow.

Do what you can to change the culture

While it’s true we can’t control the world we live in, we can do our little bit to change it. There’s always a lot of hand-wringing about bullying in the press, but then we have magazines that pinpoint people’s flaws for entertainment and endless dissecting of people’s choices and actions. So, I do my little bit by saying no to negative, sexist and trashy media. I say no to products that I feel are being advertised in a way that’s sexist, demeaning or just plain homogenised. I say no to unnecessary gender-stereotyping of children. I say yes to letting my sons be themselves. I say yes to supporting each other rather than cutting each other down. I say yes to more diversity in our world. I say yes to more music, more crazy dancing and more joy. I want to model that for my children. I want to tell them that there’s no one way to be successful. I want my beautiful eldest child to accept himself, crooked smile and all and have the world do the same. Oh, if the world could do the same.

Please share if you agree with me and add your thoughts below in the comments! 

5 tips to bring that holiday feeling to everyday

holidayshomeI write this on the second last night of our Easter weekend away with a glass of bubbles by the laptop, a head of beach hair and a fond memories of the last few sun-soaked days turning at the corners of my lips. Nothing beats that holiday feeling, of nowhere especially important to be, of living in the moment, going with the flow and even doing nothing when the mood so demands.

But with that holiday high comes the eventual crash back to Earth when it’s back to work, school drop offs and the domestic drudgery. But I’ve been thinking. Does it have to be that way? Is there some way to bottle that holiday feeling and bring it back with me to inject some relaxation into routine and fun into the familiar?

I’d like to give it a go. The best thing I find about being on holiday is the chance to really connect with my family and myself. I love having the time and space to be spontaneous and just kick back and do nothing. We scoured the beach for the best shells, sat in the park as dusk approached listening to the birds and swam in the sea giggling together over nothing much at all. As I think about those precious memories, I feel certain with a few small changes that we can bring some of this feeling home with us tomorrow.

1.       Leave some time to ‘just be’

Jarvis has started to regularly ask to ‘go home and do nothing’. Sometimes when I hear it, the ‘to do list’ looms large in my mind and I wonder ‘how can I do nothing when I have so much to do?’. But he’s so right, we all need time just to ‘do nothing’. So even if I have to schedule ‘do nothing’ time once a day, every day … I will.

2.       Don’t always plan ahead

I have a tendency to plan ahead so we know what’s coming up, but holidays are a good reminder that not everything has to be planned completely. Sometimes, all that’s needed is some free time left on a weekend for spontaneous choices to go where the mood or day takes you.

3.       Look for the fun

Yes, everyday life can tend towards the mundane and at times down right frustrating. There’s stuff that needs to be done that you don’t necessarily want to do, but sometimes there’s little gems of joy in those chores. I vow to ‘let go’ a bit and let the boys help me with the stuff that needs to be done around the house – even if it takes longer and might seem like we’re getting nowhere. I’ll also focus on the fun I can have AFTER the mundane jobs are taken care of to motivate myself to get stuck in and finish them and go and enjoy my day.

4.       Forget about the chores

And sometimes I am going to flat out forget about the chores for a few hours (or even a day) and focus on time with the family or time for myself. I will remind myself that it’s OK to put my feet up for a little while, holiday-style, and feel the better for it!

5.       Do something new

Holidays are often a time you get to try something new or visit somewhere you’ve never been before. There’s plenty of stuff around our area that’s in my ‘I’d love to check out’ list that are cheap to visit and would be a nice day out for the family, so I’ll be making sure I actually plan to visit them!

What are your tips for bringing the holiday feeling home? Let me know what ones you’re going to try to keep the relaxation going until the next holiday!

100 happy days – will you join me?

100happydaysBlogsizeIn my Year 12 Year Book I answered the question ‘What’s your dream for the future?’ with the simple statement ‘to live a happy life’. Then, somewhere in the layout/editing process it was changed to ‘live the happy life’, which really (probably irrationally) pissed me off. I thought it made me look like an idiot that wanted to ‘live the good life’ or that I thought there was only one way to live a happy life. Yes, I was a 17-year-old overthinker who worried too much about what people thought of me.

Now, 18 years later, the dream of my 17-year-old self still stands. Experience has since shown me that happy really is a fleeting, rather than a constant state, however, which I guess makes it even more delicious when you stop in the moment and truly taste it.

On Friday, my lovely friend Kate mentioned that she was going to take part in the #100happydays project, where you pledge to document one thing that makes you happy every day for 100 days. When I checked it out, I decided I’d join in too. It looks like it actually started in January, but I say it’s never too late to get happy and get snapping!

I’d love it if you joined me. I’m going to be posting mine on Instagram, as well as doing regular updates in Save Mum’s Sanity Weekly. As well as the project hashtag #100happydays, I’ll be adding #SMS100happy to keep track of my posts. If you’re planning on joining me, I’d love it if you could tag @savemumsanity and #SMS100happy so I can easily see all your beautiful happy moments too!

I really believe that happiness, and it’s close friend gratefulness, has the power to transform your mindset and way you feel about your life, so I’m looking forward to sharing this with you!

So, c’mon let’s get happy! Let me know if you’ll be joining me in the comments below …

How to make the most of early mornings

Make the most of early mornings

It’s a popular productivity tip to get up an hour before the rest of your household and get stuck into those things you need uninterrupted time to do – like partaking in exercise, studying, writing and planning world domination. It’s a good tip and one I have employed at various points of my life. I like the early dawn when the birds begin to chirp and the neighbourhood seems to unravel from its collective doona.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about when instead of a gentle unravelling with a couple of snooze button hits, the wake up is a 4.30am stomp of feet on floorboards by a two or four-year-old, or in extreme cases both, yelling MAAAAMMMAAA at the top of their lungs. Times this happening by seven and you end up with one tired and cranky ‘mama’ by the end of the week. I’m sure dadda is tired too, but his ability to snore right through some of these occurrences is truly startling.

So what are my options? Option number one is to get more sleep and that’s a work in progress at the moment. The four-year-old is coming around to the idea through some gentle bribery and he managed to sleep until 5.15am this morning (small wins and baby steps, people!) and his little bro managed to get to 5.30am without his brother screaming the house down. Option 2 is to wrestle some sanity out of my mornings from such an early awakening. I’ve quickly found that yelling out ‘it’s too early, go back to bed’ to no avail is a fast track to a grumpy, frustrated mum before the sun is even up, which is no way to live. So, how can you turn an early wake up call into a productive start to the day?

Don’t lose your cool: Look, I’ve done it. It never achieves anything other than leaving me tired, cranky and frazzled instead of just tired. Take a couple of deep breaths and see if you can get them involved in a quiet activity while you try and simulate a more dignified awakening, or try and catch a few more Zs.

Put a positive spin on it: Breathe in, breathe out and tell yourself that ‘this too shall pass’. This is advice that can apply to all aspects of parenting that sucks. ‘This too shall pass’. This morning is a snippet of time, that although ridiculously annoying, will eventually fade into the haze of early motherhood to be replaced with staying up late at night for teenagers to return home. Gah!

Get up: If the Zs elude you (which they often do for me), get up and start your day. I find the more I lay around trying to get more rest, the more agitated I become. By getting up I signal my intention to make the most of the day, however it began.

Remain detached: Try not to get involved in internal finger pointing about possible reasons they’re waking up early. If you’re anything like me, you’ll start to blame yourself for this. Which is just wasted energy. By keeping emotions out of it, you can keep a calm head that will allow you to brainstorm any possible changes you can make to move your children gently towards more sleep.

Hatch a plan: Take your brainstorming and start to implement small changes to encourage more sleep or if that’s not possible – more independent play in the morning. This is still a work in progress in my household as many tried and true methods have proven unsuccessful so far, but I’m working on consistency and patience and hopefully we’ll get there at some point!

Coffee: No explanation required!

So, there’s my tips for early morning sanity! I’d love to hear yours… Bel xx