Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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One Way to Beat the Blues

Many years ago during a very dark time in my life, I kept a tiny journal next to my bed.

Each night before sleep, I wrote 5 things I was thankful for.

I attribute that one small habit with bringing light and hope and making the circumstantial depression bearable: a simple daily reflection on God’s goodness.

This week’s challenge: Keep a gratitude journal.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a place where you can jot down what you’re thankful for that day.  Three to five things seems to be a good number.

Help your children do this as well.  Gratitude helps turn their minds away from their own frustrations to a positive direction.

Here is another post where I wrote about this in relation to getting your day started right!

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Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of September is Reflection.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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The Benefits of Journaling for Moms and Kids

When I was 9 years old, I got a little pink journal in my Christmas stocking.

And I’ve been writing ever since.

At first it was very sporadic, but it whetted my appetite for what it was like to write for pleasure.  I chronicled the little boys I had crushes on (in secret code) and wrote about my loathing for chores and described my cousins’ wedding in detail.

It was an amazing way to learn the art of reflection.

Now I write daily, not just journaling but all kinds of writing—letters, articles, blog posts.

It’s how I process things, how I make sense of the world.  If I can’t figure out how to verbalize something, I write it down.

Some of my old journals are so embarrassing that I seriously consider burning them.  Others are enlightening.  They bring to mind God’s faithfulness as I read about things I’ve forgotten.  I notice patterns of struggle (my difficulty with housekeeping has been an ongoing theme for 12 years).  I see growth.  My favorite is the one where I kept a detailed account of my relationship with my husband-to-be, from the day we met until we got married.

This week’s challenge: Journal daily for 7 days. 

It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.  Use an old notebook if you wish, or journal on the computer.  Jot down what happened that day.  Or what you are thinking and feeling.  Or write a prayer.

Here is a great post by Michael Hyatt about the benefits of a daily journal.

Bonus challenge: Help your children journal each day too.

I love this article at Frugal Girl about how she does just that.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have your children’s lives documented in their own words and handwriting?

Do you find it challenging to journal?  If you already journal, how does it benefit you?

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Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of September is Reflection.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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The Gift of Stillness

When was the last time you were still?

We live in a culture that glorifies busyness.

Our minds and bodies were not designed for this.

But we take pride when we can say, “We’ve been busy”—and feel like slackers if we haven’t been.

Of course all moms are busy.

But there’s “regular busy” and an artificial busyness imposed on us from the outside—the busyness that involves tons of activities, driving, and excessive multitasking.

It’s hard on our children. 

We may not even realize it.  But how much time do your kids have for unstructured free play, rest, and just being?  This is the fertile ground where imagination and creativity grow.

Do your kids have dark circles under their eyes?  Are they tired all the time?  Do they beg you to just stay home?  Do they really want to be involved in all the activities they are in?

All of this leads to our Discipline of the Heart for September—Reflection.  For the most part, we’ve lost this ability in our culture.  We are always “on,” never still.

Why?  I’m not sure.  It’s more than the simple fact that we have a lot to do.  Maybe it’s the expectation of our culture.  We feel pressured to accomplish more, more, more.  And sometimes we try to stay busy just to drown out the cries of our hearts.  We don’t want to face the empty places.

This week’s challenge: Spend 15 minutes in stillness.  Not writing, eating, planning, worrying, or even necessarily praying.  Just be.

I know that’s a trick for moms.  This is the hardest challenge yet for me.

But during my quiet writing hour tomorrow, I’m going to spend 15 minutes of that time in stillness.

A bonus challenge:  Help your children spend some time in stillness too.

It may be just one minute.  Or five.  I have a child who has not been still from conception.  This can be a hard skill to learn.

But I believe it’s essential.

So quiet the house, light a candle, set a timer, and go!

Why is stillness so hard for us?  If you tried to be still for a little while, how did it feel?

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Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of September is Reflection.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

*********

Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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Why You Should Take a Day Off

Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of August is Rest.

In the Old Testament, God gave his people the Sabbath—one day of rest out of every seven.

Imagine how hard women must have worked in those days, when they had no choice but to be self-sustaining—they had to grow all their own food and make their own clothing.  I’m sure Sabbath brought welcome refreshment!

After Jesus came, God’s people are no longer bound by Old Testament laws, but there’s wisdom to be found in the idea of Sabbath all the same.

Our culture glorifies busy-ness.  It’s foreign to our way of thinking to set aside an entire day each week just for rest and refreshment.  In fact, it seems impossible!

But if we don’t take some kind of time to recharge, then we’ll eventually crash and burn.  I’ve experienced it, and maybe you have too.

Sunday is a work day for my husband, so it’s usually impossible for us to take Sunday as a Sabbath—but we have made a conscious commitment to pencil in a rest day on our calendar–literally.  We use Cozi for family organization, and “Sabbath” is there right alongside our other appointments.  Sometimes it’s Friday and sometimes it’s Saturday, but at least one day a week we try to have the calendar clear.

It’s not a legalistic rule (some weeks it’s truly impossible), and we are finding our way.  After all, the kids still have to eat and have clean clothes to wear, and we mamas all know that the house doesn’t stay tidy by itself.  But it helps me to anticipate our Sabbath and try to cook ahead a little, catch up the laundry if possible, and just reorient my mind for rest.

It’s a relief to give myself permission to sleep a little later, watch TV or read, let a few of the dailies go, and do fun, relaxing things with the kids.

It goes so against the grain of our culture.  Society is always “on.”  Not only are most businesses open seven days a week, but increasingly we have “cities that never sleep”—and not just NYC.  I can wake up at any time of the night and hear traffic.  We are busy during the week and we feel pressured to cram our weekends full of chores, activities, and social engagements.

We’ve lost the ability to just rest.

And we’re paying for it.

This week’s challenge: Put a Sabbath on your calendar. 

Take a day for some R&R.  Try not to get caught up on all that has to be done around the house—let as much of it go as possible, just this once.  See how you feel.

Was your week more productive?  Do you have more energy?  Check back and let me know!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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More Ways to Tell Your Brain it’s Time for Sleep

Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of August is Rest.

Throughout most of history, darkness told our bodies that it was time for rest. 

When the sun went down, people went to bed because they didn’t have much choice.

In modern times, though, we can extend daytime indefinitely with bright lights.  Often our bodies never get the message that it’s time for sleep.

If you’ve committed to going to bed earlier and turning off screens before bed time, why not take another step?

This week’s challenge:

Dim the lights as bedtime approaches. 

Turn out all the lights in rooms you aren’t using, and use soft lamps and candles only.  Not only will you feel sleepier, but soft light is romantic, right?  It’s a win-win!

I know that so many couples feel they are too exhausted or busy for private time together, but if you are going to bed early, turning off the TV and other screens, and dimming the lights, maybe it won’t seem so impossible after all!

A bonus challenge for those who don’t already do this: create simple, peaceful bedtime rituals for your children. 

Read them a story, sing a lullaby, pray with them.  Tuck them in with soft music or audio Bible stories if they are used to having noise to go to sleep.  Isn’t this better than letting them fall asleep in front of the TV?  I am not very good at bedtime routines, so this will be a challenge for me—but a very necessary one.

What about you?  What soothing bedtime routines do you use to help you and your children feel like it’s time for sleep?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday


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How to Tell Your Brain It’s Time for Sleep

Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of August is Rest.

So how did it go this week?  Did you get to bed earlier?  Do you feel more rested?

Some nights were better than others for me, but I found that making a plan to go to bed earlier made me more intentional about hitting the hay at a decent time.

Here’s this week’s challenge:

Turn off any glowing screens after 7 PM.

The blue light from computers, TV’s, and phones tells our brains that it’s time to be awake.  This interferes with our sleep and makes us feel less rested.

I understand that sometimes we may have husbands who want to watch a movie later in the evening.  Don’t fight it.  If your guy prefers to decompress this way, that is fine.  But for yourself, try to put away the screens and choose a more soothing activity.  Just try it for one week and see if you feel a difference.

I think this is extra-important for our kids.

Older children are losing huge amounts of sleep because they stay up late texting.  They start checking their phones and texting before they are even out of bed in the morning.  This is exhausting!

Our children have to turn in all devices (phones, iPods, kindle) around 7PM.  We have a little lock box that we store them in if we think they will be tempted to retrieve them.

This might seem extreme, but consider removing TV’s from your children’s rooms.  YES, it will probably cause a huge fit, but they will get over it.  Make sure that you offer some kind of alternative—put on some soft music or an audiobook and let them read or draw for a little while before sleep.  Try it for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference in how they sleep.

I used to always check Facebook and my feed reader last thing at night before bed.  I have stopped doing this for the most part.  It will all be there in the morning.  I thought it would be a difficult habit to break, but as I have focused on changing the place these rituals have in my heart, it has actually been very easy.  For this weary mama, remembering how nice it is to feel rested helps me make better choices too.

Lastly, if you don’t do anything else, stop watching or reading the news right before bed.  The world is a negative, scary place.  The media makes it about 100 times more negative and scary.  They notify us (in sensational fashion) about every horrible thing that happens locally and around the world.  This does not make for peaceful sleep.  So stay informed, just not at bedtime.

Instead, read something peaceful.  I love the Bible book of Psalms (which are songs/prayers to God) and the Gospels—the stories of Jesus.

How are you most tempted to use screen time in the evening?  Will you try turning off your screens at night for just one week?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday


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7 Easy Ways to Get More Rest

My kids beg to get online all the time.

Everything in the house is password protected, but they still plead for permission to use electronics.

What’s it like at your house? 

Moms, are you ready to start taming the internet dragon? 

As I mentioned last week, we are going to look at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives to use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.

If you haven’t read the Newsweek article Michael discussed, Is the Web Driving us Mad?, or listened to the podcast, the short version is that new studies show that the internet really is changing our brains, and not for the better.  To some degree virtually everyone is addicted—truly addicted.  The brains of internet addicts look like the brains of alcoholics or compulsive gamblers.

Is this really what we want for our kids?  Ourselves?  Our marriages?

Hyatt’s five positive disciplines of the heart help bring our lives back into balance.

During August, I want to focus on the discipline of rest.

Maybe this seems a silly thing to write on a blog that’s directed to young moms.  We are all exhausted!  I have hardly gotten a full night’s sleep in over 11 years.

But most of us can still make better choices.  Christians believe that rest is even important to God.  After Creation, he rested, and he instituted a day of rest for his people in the Old Testament.

This week, I challenge you to go to bed earlier.

Choose a time.  If you usually go to bed at midnight, maybe 10 is a good goal.  If you normally hit that hay at 10, maybe you could shoot for 9.  I know it seems early, but if you are getting up several times with small children, it’s actually very reasonable.

I know that precious time after everyone is in bed is like gold.  It’s a time to have quiet for a change, to watch a relaxing movie, or to visit with your husband.  I’m not saying you have to give those things up, but maybe you can modify them a little.

Watch a TV episode instead of a full length film, read one chapter instead of ten, or cut everything off and just focus on your husband during that time.  Personally, I have found that on weeknights, there is no way to watch TV and have time with my husband.  It’s either/or—otherwise we’re even more wiped out.

A few other practical suggestions:

Start your bedtime routine during the day.  If you lay out everyone’s clothes the night before, don’t wait till after the kids are in bed.  Think earlier.  You could do it after lunch, or as soon as you get home in the evening (if you work).  Fill the diaper bag during the afternoon.  Don’t wait till the last thing at night to pack your husband’s lunch for the next day.

Get the kids to bed earlier.  Remember, this challenge is for their well-being too.  I have noticed that especially in some homeschooling families, kids sometimes stay up pretty late.  They are growing fast and desperately need their sleep too.  Start getting them ready 15 minutes earlier and work backward from there.

If that is the only time they get to spend with dad, you’ll need to be flexible, but think about the small changes you can make.  Maybe you could bathe them and have them pick up their rooms before dad gets home.  Small things can make a big difference.

Cut off the phones.  If your friends are used to being able to call or text you late in the evening, let them know that you are turning off your ringers after a certain time.  Then follow through!

As tempting as it is to have caffeine to get you through the afternoon, try having it only in the morning so you’ll feel sleepy at bed time.

Good mornings really do start the night before.  I have pooh-poohed the idea of going to bed early at times because it seemed so hard.  But when I do, I am amazed at how much better I feel and what a better wife and mom I am.

So how about it?  What is one change you can make this week to help you get to bed earlier?

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This post is part 1 of the Disciplines of the Heart Challenge.

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Linking to:

WIP Wednesdays

Works for Me Wednesdays

WIWW Linky

Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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