Busy Mom? 3 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care

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Being a mother is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is filled with joy and immeasurable love. However, let’s be honest here: it’s also exhausting, overwhelming and sometimes more frustrating and difficult than we imagined it would be. The kids are fighting, dinner needs to be made, the laundry hasn’t been folded in days, the baby needs a diaper change, the bills need to be paid, the dog needs to go out, you have a toddler pulling at your leg, and the list of things to do just keeps on getting bigger. Oh yeah, and then there’s you. Who, you might ask? You, the mom. You, the professional. You the entrepreneur. You, the wife. You, the friend. You. The one who regularly gets left off the to-do list.

Being a good mother requires us to be loving, nurturing, giving, kind and patient. These are traits, that despite the frenzy of daily life, we somehow manage to pull from our depths to offer our children. The question is, can we as moms offer those same traits to ourselves? As a mother and solo-preneur, I’ve learned the importance of self-care. And I also know how difficult it is to make it happen given the reality of life.

Why is it so difficult to make time for ourselves when we somehow manage to make time for everyone and everything else?

Probably because there are only 24 hours in the day and many of life’s other demands tend to scream much louder for your attention. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” If we stop and listen, we might notice that there’s another squeaky wheel that’s been begging for our attention: our own.

When we begin to talk about self-care for moms, the issue of guilt often arises. So let’s call it out, like the big elephant in the room: as women, we tend to have an easier time sacrificing ourselves than taking care of ourselves. Most of us would rather drop from exhaustion than face the guilt of caring for our own needs. However, when Mom is depleted, the whole household suffers. And when you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others.

For many women, we hear and understand the importance of self-care. The issue isn’t knowing what we should do; the issue is the logistics of it all. How do you fit self-care into an already overflowing schedule? Who has the time, energy or money for spa days, date nights, yoga classes, gym memberships, meditation or new hobbies?

So what’s a busy mom to do? How do we make time for ourselves while caring for our families, careers and communities?

Here are some practical solutions for putting your self-care back on your to-do list without having to drastically alter your life. These wellness practices have had an amazing impact on my own health and well-being, as well as that of my family. They’re simple, practical and easy to implement into any busy mom’s lifestyle.

Morning Affirmations

Begin your day when the world around you begins to awaken. Early morning is a special time of day, when you can best tune in to subtle energies. How we begin our day sets the tone for the rest of it. Waking up early allows for more time, more productivity and more leisure, making our days less stressful. Add a little TLC to your morning as you awaken and before you rise by practicing the following routine:

Lie on your back and place one hand on your heart and one hand on your low belly. Exhale deeply and sink into your body. Inhale the light of the day and imagine that light of love shining within you. Breathe in the words I am loved, supported and cared for and breathe out the words I love. Think of your spouse, partner, children and loved ones, and let that light of love expand within you and fill you.

Before you get out of bed, say to yourself, It’s going to be a good day! Starting your day like this will add intention and a sense direction to your day. We all struggle with the simple idea of loving ourselves as much as we love our children. When you take a moment to fill yourself with love and support first thing in the morning, you lower your stress levels and begin to tap into your own self-compassion.

Just Breathe

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

This quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds me to move through my days with more ease and more joy. As you move through your days, notice when you are feeling tense, tired, stressed, tight or contracted. At that moment, exhale deeply and soften into the moment. Allow your body and your mind to soften and release their grip. Smile gently at yourself, at the moment, at the word. Take a deep inhale through the nose to the count of five, and exhale deeply for a count of five, allowing your shoulders to drop, your jaw to loosen in a soft smile, and your body and mind to relax.

Regular breathing practices help to calm the body and still the mind. This simple breathing technique will center and ground you, helping you feel less stressed and more energized. Cultivate the habit of breathing intentionally and notice a sense of calm and ease begin to weave itself into the fabric of your days.

Secure Your Oxygen Mask First

In Ayurveda, oxygen in your blood is called “Jivana,” meaning life-giving. Oxygen in your cells is literally the fuel behind your goals and intentions. Securing your oxygen mask first means we make time for ourselves first thing in the morning. Depending on your current routine, this might mean taking a few conscious deep breaths in the morning. Or it might be a brisk walk around the block. For some, it might be stepping onto your yoga mat as a cue to start moving and breathing with intention. The important thing is to build a sense of wholeness and a lightness in your body as a practice into your daily routine.

So take your oxygen mask first thing in the morning. Commit to moving your breath intentionally and clearing your channels before breakfast, before the day can get away from you. Practicing in the morning will affect your entire day, allowing you to make better, more conscious choices.



Eliminate Trash From Your Life By Going Zero Waste

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We live in a wasteful society that solves every inconvenience with a disposable product. Plastic bags, cutlery, Tupperware, packaging; all of these conveniences add up, don’t easily biodegrade, and are often unable to be recycled. Not to mention, all of these products are traditionally made from oil, creating an incredibly unsustainable, dirty, and environmentally devastating cycle. But there are people working to solve this crisis by eliminating trash from their lives and showing the world how to go zero waste.

The Zero Waste Lifestyle

One of the icons of the zero-waste home movement, Bea Johnson, implemented a minimalist mindset within her family, that cut her household’s annual waste down to about a 12-oz. jar of a random assortment of plastics. She has inspired her family to commit to this goal and in so doing, saved money, created a healthy lifestyle, and drastically reduced their carbon footprint.

Her first and foremost rule is to refuse anything you do not need. By saying no to disposable plastics and paper, you are doing your part in eliminating the demand for those products.

Johnson says zero waste doesn’t mean more, but rather less recycling, by preventing waste in the first place. The majority of plastics that can be recycled can only go through that process one time before they end up in landfill.

When it comes to household plastics, glass jars, bowls and bottles make convenient, reusable replacements. And when you go to the grocery store, buying non-perishable foods in bulk to fill those glass jars saves time, money, and the environment.

 

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Zero waste home enthusiasts are thrifty when it comes to toiletries and beauty products. Without sacrificing hygiene, it’s possible to make homemade versions of toothpaste, make-up and facial lotions. Buying castile soap in bulk is their secret to replacing household cleaners, which can double as soap for the shower. And baking soda is another multi-faceted product that has endless applications for cleanliness.

After implementing these zero waste lifestyle changes in her family’s routine, Johnson found they were healthier due to a lack of chemicals in the household and more mindful eating habits.

She also found her family saved about 40 percent of their income compared to prior habits. This allowed them to save money to invest in renewable energy through solar panels, contributing to future conservation and savings. It also allows her family to take vacations more often, cultivating a conscious lifestyle that values experience over material goods.

 

Cities Implementing Zero Waste Living

A number of cities passed, or are in the process of passing, legislation that aims to target zero waste living goals within the coming years. Some cities, including San Francisco and Portland, are leading the charge, making most municipalities look downright wasteful.

True to its nickname, the Golden City has already achieved 80-percent waste diversion, while Portlandia barely trails behind at 70 percent. But when it comes to urban refuse terminology, zero waste implies only 85-percent waste diversion, not entirely trash-free.

In comparison, that percentile is lightyears ahead of most cities that size, as well as what most cities are even striving for in the coming decades. Dallas, Texas sluggishly plans to hit 60 percent over the next 12 years.

 

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Even in cities with a reputation for being progressive, such as Boulder, CO, waste diversion isn’t where one might expect it to be. While the city is actively working to implement a bullish zero waste program, Boulder’s current system only diverts 34 percent of its rubbish. Although, with its latest plan, involving upgrades for its recycling center, financial incentives for businesses, regulations and advisory programs, Boulder hopes to reach 80 percent diversion by 2025.

The city says 90 percent of the trash that ends up in its landfill is either recyclable or compostable, meaning the zero waste goal is mostly a matter of policy and logistics. In the past Boulder implemented policies with reduced waste intention, including a 10 cent tax on all plastic bags, but some cities took that a step further, banning them entirely.

 

Zero Waste Girl 

Another luminary for those seeking an example in the zero waste movement is Lauren Singer, a.k.a. the zero waste girl, who has become Johnson’s disciple, spreading the good word about the zero waste lifestyle. Just like Johnson, Singer can fit her past few years’ waste inside a mason jar and has become somewhat of an internet celebrity for her refuse-free savoir faire.

While studying at university, Singer found herself internally passing judgment on a classmate for her callous use of plastic bags and disposable goods. As an environmental science major, she imagined herself on a moral high ground, appalled by what she saw.

Then she went home and realized her fridge was packed with plastic wraps, Tupperware, and disposable products. She immediately realized the hypocrisy and dismounted her high horse to join the radical green revolution.

 

Zero waste lifestyle

 

Singer’s youth appeals to the millennial generation that asks, “How can I do this when I live in a city, imbibe, and lead a busy lifestyle?” Her simplistic solutions proved anybody, no matter where you live or what you do, can significantly, if not entirely, reduce waste.

With the craft brewing (and distilling) movement becoming almost omnipresent, you can buy a glass growler and fill it up at the brewery down the street, and this is precisely what Singer does. This is almost always cheaper than buying beer at the store, as is everything that doesn’t have to be packaged. Johnson noted 15 percent of the cost every time you buy something goes toward packaging, so if you eliminate that element, you’ll save at least that much every time.

One brewery is also working on recreating the plastic six-pack rings that are so damaging to the eco-system by producing edible rings. Even when you cut up the rings and feel like you’re doing your part to save the turtles from suffocating, they eat them anyway. For so long, this has been such a destructive issue, that was solved with a relatively simple, zero waste solution that just required conscious effort.

You’ll find numerous organizations these days championing this mindful sentiment by spreading awareness and petitioning governments to implement these policies. This is a systemic problem, as we were brought up in a society of waste. Though most of us are unaware that we even do it; it’s ingrained in our culture. Once we start making and demanding change we can reverse some of the damage we’ve done and create a better future.

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