I’ve had this post rolling around in my head for the last two weeks, ironically. I wanted to share some ideas about making an effort with your life, your children, your partners, your work, your happiness. Yet I was struggling to make an effort to get the post written! Yes, I told you it was ironic! We all have the ability to be a bit lazy don’t we?? You see, relationships and self-care take WORK. We make sure we work to make money so why do we not put the same energy into the most important people in our lives?
It’s so easy these days to just skate through life on autopilot (I know those two metaphors don’t go together but it sounds like fun) thanks to our busy lives. We have several hundred balls up in the air and then have to remember to work at our relationships in order to keep them healthy. It’s a big ask sometimes. And then often, when we finally manage to get all of our responsibilities sorted, friendships and families tended to, we forget about looking after ourselves! It’s no wonder we’re all exhausted at the end of the day (or is that just me?)!
I’ve worked on a little Check List to make life a bit easier and help you out in making an effort.Perhaps you can pick one or two suggestions to try for each category each week? Your family, friends and yourself will thank you!
Children: Thankfully children are easily impressed so even the smallest effort can have a pretty amazing effect!
- Pancakes for breakfast. No, don’t buy those Scotch pancakes or crepes from the supermarket. Get out your flour, sugar, eggs, milk, etc and whip up a super-easy and fun brekkie for the kids. If you feel like you don’t have enough time on school mornings, mix up the batter the night before and store it in a covered container. Then simply give the batter a quick whisk before cooking them. Easy-peasy! The best part about pancakes (whether you go with the fluffy American-style pancakes or French-like crepes) is that you can top them with fun (even nutritious) ingredients which show how much you care. What a great way to start a day! Go one step further and set the same day of each week as Pancakes for Breakfast Day!
- Happy Mail. Who doesn’t love to receive a bit of happy mail? Well, our littlest family members most definitely do! My daughter’s routine is to check the postbox every day when we get home from school. So why not pop a letter in an envelope in the postbox or in their room for them to come home to? it could just be something fun, it could be a game, it could be a photograph. What it definitely has to be is something from your heart, placed in an envelope and sealed with a kiss. Simple. A slightly easier version is to leave happy post-its on your child’s bed, bedroom door or at their place at the kitchen table just letting them know how much you love them.
- Say YES. Do you find yourself saying “No!” or “Not just now sweetheart!” or “Can’t you see that I am busy right now?” more often than you ever say “Yes! Let’s do it!” Well, why not start now? Commit, one after-school time or weekend afternoon/evening to give the choosing over to your child and “Just Say Yes!” They need to know that they can’t ask for the impossible or the expensive but your undivided attention and time could be worth an awful lot to them. Are you game? A slightly easier option here is to pick one weekend night and do a Family Film Night. Let the kids pick the DVD, the snacks and let them set the pace.
Friends & Family: We assume that our friends and family will ALWAYS be there but what happens if we take them for granted one too many times? Don’t waste precious time by waiting for someone else to make the first step.
- Make it happen! Do you wonder why people don’t ring/visit/invite you to lunch? Well, first of all, stop feeling sorry for yourself and secondly, INVITE your friends or family yourself! If you’re feeling like Billy No-Mates, step it up and invite a friend to meet for lunch, ask your in-laws to come over for Sunday Roast Dinner, pop by a neighbour’s house to make sure they are alright. Take it upon yourself to keep your friendships active and positive. Yes, it kind of sucks when people can’t make it or when they cancel on you but keep putting yourself out there. You’ve got to be in it to win it! Do you know that several friends are available on the same day fairly regularly? Organise a weekly (or monthly) coffee morning or walk. You will accomplish socialising with exercise which is good for everyone! And if it’s a regular occurrence, people will begin to schedule it and expect it which makes it harder for people to NOT turn up.
- Send a card/letter/email. We all have friends and family who are further away than an easy drive in the car. Set aside one hour, once a week to connect with these far-flung individuals. If you’re able to write a hand-written letter, do it! If you’re looking for an online solution, download the Inkly app to send “hand written” postcards and cards anywhere in the world. If you’re more into your tech and always have your mobile in your hand, write a lovely email to someone important to you while you are watching rubbish telly. It takes very little time but certainly will brighten someone’s day and will show them that they are still in your thoughts in spite of the distance between you. If you’re ambitious, start a “pen pal” programme with a friend or relative where you send them monthly treats and letters to spread a bit of sunshine. There are loads of inspirational boards on Pinterest for this!
- Fun Night Out! We all need to let our hair down once in a while. Why not suggest a rota for hosting a night out with a group of friends. If it’s hard to get out and about, ask everyone to host one night at their house. Each person can bring a snack to share and a bottle of wine or a soft drink. If you’re really ambitious and flush with cash, pick a local restaurant to have a meal at and then pop to a local club or pub for drinks and dancing after. This is a great way to catch up and relax a bit with your friends. Push the boat out…organise transport for everyone so no one has to drive and everyone is free to enjoy their evening.
Partner/Other Half: No matter how long you have been together, you still need to make an effort to keep your relationship fun and not just about the kids/bills/house/family events.
- I just called to say… We go through a majority of our day, Monday to Friday, apart from our other halves. We’re both working regardless of where that is so it’s fairly common that you won’t see your Other Half for twelve or so hours after they leave in the morning. Why not ring up your OH and just say “Hello”? Or text them something other than a list of groceries to pick up on the way home? Make a regular habit of sending a bit of love along the wire and you’ll find that your OH might just start reciprocating more frequently as well! Skype would be the perfect way to easily stay in touch if you’re both working at computers throughout the day. Use the IM feature and you can communicate easily at the touch of a key!
- Date Night: When was the last time you went out, just the two of you and had no distractions other than what to choose on the menu or which film to see? Get creative if funds and babysitters are hard to find! As the weather warms up, once the children are in bed, retreat to the garden, start a fire or wrap up in a blanket together and chat about your day/week/dreams over a glass of your favourite tipple. It’s amazing how easy it is to reconnect simply by getting back to being PRESENT! Take your outdoor picnic to the next level by watching a film in the garden either on a laptop or get your hands on a projector and a white sheet on which to project it. It’s like being at the Drive-In!
- Couch Potatoes: After you get the kids to bed, tidy the kitchen and finish up little household chores, do you and your OH retreat to opposite couches with mobiles/tablets/laptops in hand and sit mute while half-watching the latest on telly and monitoring your Facebook timeline? Try this instead: ban tech devices, pour a glass of your favourite beverage, sit on the same sofa, share a blanket, lean on each other and choose a movie or television show you both really enjoy. Give ONE or TWO hours exclusively to each other. It’s a rather good feeling! On the weekend, why not delve into one of the awesome series everyone is talking about on Netflix/Amazon Prime/Whatever and binge watch an entire season!
YOU! We put ourselves last FAR too many times. How can our family possibly count on us when we are falling apart? It’s time to treat yourself as well!
- Escape! Take one day/one hour/one morning/one evening and get away. Try to make this more about treating yourself and less about stopping at the supermarket to pick up a few things. Once a month, at minimum, go away from your house and just indulge in a bit of guilt-less pleasure. Go to a cafe, enjoy a pot or three of tea whilst reading a much-needed magazine or book. Pop to the nearest shopping centre and browse the shops to see what everyone is talking about. Try on some “bang on trend” clothes and see what looks good on you. You don’t have to buy to feel inspired and happy! Go for a walk around your village/neighbourhood and take in the sights, smells and beauty. If you don’t feel the weight lifting from your shoulders, stay away just a bit longer! If this is a struggle for you, BOOK IT into your diary and honour it as you would any other important meeting or appointment. We all NEED and deserve time to ourselves regardless of what we do. TAKE THAT TIME!
- Feel good about yourself: One evening a week, pamper yourself! Get the nail equipment out and give yourself a manicure or pedicure. Buy a bath bomb or bubble bath and have a good old soak while listening to some fun/relaxing music. Give yourself a deep conditioning hair treatment. Exfoliate and apply self-tanner to feel a little less pasty white! Sort through your make-up and buy a new product every few months to give yourself something to look forward to every time you put on make-up. Buy a small new accessory and wear it as often as possible. Make a commitment to “dressing” for the school run for an entire week. If you make it a habit, it will become second nature and not something you struggle to do. Plus, it’s kind of fun to feel pretty when you’re on the way to drop off your children. You never know…someone might notice and say so!
- Prettiness: One of the easiest ways to brighten your mood is to surround yourself with pretty things. FLOWERS! Pop to the nearest Aldi and pick up a couple of bouquets of the simplest flowers. Group them into hand-tied posies and place them in vases around the house. Hang bunting, string up fairy lights, add colour to your kitchen table with placemats or a table cloth. All of these things are simple (and fairly cheap) but will provide a much needed pop of sunshine to brighten your day. If you’re particularly ambitious, have a right proper decluttering of all of the bits and bobs around your house. Get rid of things that don’t bring you joy, re-purpose old treasures into new trinkets and eliminate the junk that tends to fill our empty spaces. It’s a wonderful relief to get rid of thing that are just cluttering our space.
So which of these suggestions will you try this week? I want you to make an effort with your children, your friends and family, your partner and with yourself especially. Take these precious moments and make the most of them! #embracehappy