Happy February! In case you missed last month’s blog posting, I am working on a 52 week resolution challenge. Last month, I worked on doing more to stay healthy! This month, I will be working on being happier!
Have you ever made a new year’s resolution, only to abandon it a short while later. Resolutions can be challenging when they are not clearly defined or when they are set for an infinite amount of time. I recently listened to a book by Shelley Wilson, called How I Changed My Life in a Year. In this book, she took on a new resolution each week for one year, thereby changing her outlook in life and creating healthier lifestyles. I have decided to recreate this process in my own 52 Week Resolution Challenge. Please feel free to follow my progress or join me in your own quest to create better habits and change your own outlook on life.
February – Be Happier
If there is one thing that I would definitely like to change about myself and pass on to my kids, it would be to be a more positive, happier person. I will admit it, I have a tendency to look at things from a “glass half empty” perspective. It sometimes drives me nuts. I look at others who always seem cheerful and upbeat and wonder, “What are they doing that I am not? How can I be more like them?”. So, this is going to be my goal for February…. to be a happier person! It seems fitting for February, with Valentines Day and all! So, here’s to a happier me!
Week 1 – Complain Less and Be More Thankful
No one likes to hear someone complain all of the time! Why do we do it? Maybe it is just our way of dealing with stress. Don’t get me wrong. Getting things off of your chest is sometimes and necessary and is better than bottling things up! Additionally, talking with someone is also a good way to gain some new perspective on a problem. However, complaining relentlessly about little things that perhaps you can deal with on your own or just having a grumpy attitude can be a big turn off and make people not want to hang around.
- My plan – This week, I plan to take things that I would normally complain about and turn them into a positive. I am going to look at the positive side of a situation and find something to be grateful for.
- Day 1 – Today started off beautifully! I slept in just a little, got in a tiny bit of exercise and then woke the kids with a smile! I told them my goal for the week and that even though it was freezing outside, I was grateful to have a nice warm house! As I reminded my son to flush the toilet (Yes, he has to be reminded!), I added that we should be thankful that we have indoor plumbing and don’t have to go out to an outhouse in 11 degree weather! It gave him a whole new perspective as he walked back to the toilet. Then, when my daughter spilled her milk at breakfast, instead of complaining about it, I told her that it was ok. She was learning and growing! A couple of years ago, she couldn’t even pour her own milk! Overall, the morning was much more pleasant and full of a lot more smiles!
- Day 2 – Another happy day! It was most definitely a cold day! With a -5 degree temperature and a wind chill in the -20’s, school was called off. No worries, my kids and I had fun with play dough, games and marble run. If you need some ideas to occupy your little ones during this cold snap, check out my blog post, How To Cure Your Child’s Winter Boredom. Overall, I am thankful that I have heat, a nice house, I didn’t live in the before central heating and that I had a chance to have some quality time with my kids!
- Day 3 – I am still doing ok… despite frigid temperatures, kids being home a second day in a row, hubby being out of town and me coming down with a cold! The house is warm, the kids have been fairly cooperative and hubby comes home tomorrow! I did catch myself in a complaint when I couldn’t e-mail the doctor back and I didn’t really like her treatment plan. I will discuss it with my better half when he gets home and we can proceed from there. Other than that, I am grateful that I got to spend some time playing some board games, sewing and having a tea party (with real tea!) with my kiddos!
- Day 4 – Today, I am grateful that my husband came home safely from his business trip and that we sat down with the kids after supper and taught them how to play chess and Chinese checkers! It was a fun and relaxing evening!
- Day 5 – I can’t say that I actually woke up with a smile. My throat was pretty soar and I was a bit lethargic, but despite not feeling well, I was grateful that it was Saturday, I had a chance to sleep in, my husband was home to help with the kids and the weather was absolutely gorgeous! I had the house fairly clean, so the chores were minimal and we took the kids to the playground and then to the Spiderman movie at the theater! This was a rare treat. We don’t take the kids to the movie theater very often, but they had earned it, so we went! Overall…. a happy day!
- Day 6 – Today, I was grateful for the lady who handed me a couple of cough drops in church when I couldn’t stop coughing. I was also grateful, for the beautiful weather that allowed me to get my kids outside to play! Additionally, I was thankful that my youngest was only scraped up as my daughter accidentally ran over him with the neighbor’s little motorized kid car! It could’ve been worse! Finally, I truly enjoyed having our friends over to watch the Super Bowl… half time show! Yes, we didn’t actually watch the game! We talked, ate good food and enjoyed each other’s company!
- Day 7 – Today, I thankful for all of the teachers and staff at my children’s schools that are understanding and helpful when my kids just don’t want to go to school that day! I am also grateful for the family members that help get my preschooler to school so that I can get my older two back in time to get to their school.
Ok, I will admit it. I have caught myself once or twice in a small complaint throughout the last couple days over my cold, but it is a cold and it’s not much fun! However, since doing this challenge I have been more aware of when I am starting to complain and quickly change my mindset to look on the bright side! It is uplifting really not to complain! One might think that to get something off of your chest, complaining would be the way to do it. However, by doing so, one has a tendency (or at least in my own personal experience) to stew over it and become more upset over the situation. If you look at the positives, you can see both sides of the situation and think about things in a more clear fashion.
Week 2 – Laugh More
It is said that laughter is one of the best medicines! However, it’s not just a saying! There is actually some science to this! Not only can laughter improve your mood, it can reduce stress, improve your immune system, relieve pain and soothe tension! Check out the information I found about laughter at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456.
- My plan – Life can be pretty serious at times, so how does one add more humor to their lives? For starters, I am going to read a few jokes each night at dinner time! I also have a stash of comics from the newspaper that can be read, as well as a few Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts books. Whatever happened to reading the Sunday funny paper anyway? That’s what we always called it. I am also going to try to publish a few of my own comics on here (if time allows). Finally, I may play some silly games with the family and, of course, watch Friends in the evening while folding laundry because that’s just what we do!
- Day 1 – We started off the day by asking Alexa to tell us a few jokes, which led to the kids making up a few of their own. Later in the day, my youngest and I got some giggles out chasing each other around the house!
- Day 2 – Wednesdays are always our busy days! However, I went up to school to eat lunch with my daughter. This totally brightened her day! She just did not want to go to school and has been having a rough time adjusting to a new school. So, I surprised her! Later that afternoon, I drew a comic strip. I have some ideas for a comic strip jotted down in a notebook, so I am going to post this one to get it started!
- Day 3 – Here is a joke that Alexa told us this morning… Q: “What did the Guardians of the Galaxy say after tiling the bathroom?” A: “I am Grout!”. I also had some good laughs with my parents today!
- Day 4 – Today was a pretty busy day getting things done around the house. However, since it was Friday night, we sat down together and watched Daddy Daycare. The kids loved it! Sean and I got some good laughs out of it too!
- Day 5 – Today was busy from the beginning to the end! However, my husband and I sat down to watch Friends before we went to bed! The show is always good for some laughs!
- Day 6 – We got together for some family birthdays and shared a few laughs as we talked around the table!
- Day 7 – Ok, this is funny! So, I was typing an e-mail on the couch while my husband was sitting next to me, looking at the ugliest dog awards on the computer. He came across this one and said, “This one will give you nightmares!”. I turned to look, jumped and somehow sent all of the e-mail from the day to the trash bin! We couldn’t figure out how I managed it and laughed at how this ugly dog and caused such a reaction!
Laughs are an important part of our mental well being. Life is busy, crazy and stressful! Find ways, even simple ones to get a laugh in everyday! Plus, being conscience of it helps you to be aware of the positive things in life!
Week 3 – Spend Time with the Ones I Love
In keeping with Valentine’s Day this week, I decided to focus on my family. If one has a happy family, then generally speaking, one is happy. The opposite also tends to hold true, that if your family life is unhappy and stressful, so are you. So, to help myself be happier, I am helping my family to be happier. The way I am doing this is by spending time with them!
- Day 1 – Today and I spent time with my youngest! There was a lot of work to do! We worked on Valentine’s Day cards, birthday invitations, we made a cat Valentine’s Day box and even ate snack together! When my older two kids came home from school, we finished up any Valentines that needed to be finished and I helped them with their work.
- Day 2 – I got to spend the day with my youngest at preschool for his Valentine’s Day parties! We played on the playground together and ate lunch together!
- Day 3 – The morning started off with my youngest son and I hitting the trail by the lake to feed some ducks! We then went to the grocery store to gather some food for our Valentine’s Day dinner and we grabbed something special for lunch too! After lunch, I was able to join my older two kids for their Valentine’s Day parties! My daughter was particularly thrilled because originally, I didn’t think that I was going to make it. That night, my husband and I cooked pancakes for supper and then, after the kids went to bed, we snuggled up on the couch to watch a movie off of Netflix!
- Day 4 – Since the kids were off of school today, I took them to one of the libraries close by to do some playing! They have a really cool indoor section that has a slide, play house, gears, computers and more! After the library, I took them to Chic-Fil-A for lunch! Later, that day, my daughter and I baked a cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet for scouts. Then in the evening, my son and I decorated it!
- Day 5 – Today, I spent time with the family at the Blue and Gold banquet! They had an animal show, which the kids enjoyed slightly and then were terrified for the rest of it! He was showing snakes and spiders and getting the crowd quite riled up! My daughter, in particular, was terrified when he brought out a scorpion and bolted from the room! Besides that, we enjoyed the banquet, as well as the company of each other and our friends at the table.
- Day 6 – I should preface this entry with the fact that we go to two churches. My husband is Protestant and I am Catholic. Today would have been a day that we would have normally gone to my husband’s church. However, when we got there, we discovered that they had pushed back the start time of the service because of the weather. So, not wanting to waste our time, we decided to go to the Catholic church instead which was starting in the next 15 minutes. Since we knew that we had some shopping to do after church, we enjoyed the pancake and sausage breakfast afterwards. We then hit the mall and bought shoes for the younger two kids. After we returned home, my daughter and I bundled up and delivered Girl Scout cookies together. We then finished up a badge as supper cooked in the oven.
- Day 7 – Since the kids were off of school for President’s Day, we headed to my Mom’s house. She was watching my nephews and so we planned a little Valentine’s Day party! We played a memory game that I had made for my son’s preschool party, let the kids hand out Valentine’s Day cards and fixed them a special lunch! Then, as the kids played, I enjoyed lunch with my parents!
Family time is so important! It fosters relationships, teaches traditions and skills, shares passions and interests and lets our loved ones know that they are important! Not all family time is planned activities. Often times, it is going through the day to day tasks of life that need to be done, such as washing the dishes, helping with homework and supporting extracurricular activities. As long as you are spending time together, that’s what matters!
Week 4 – Meditate and Reflect
To be truly happy, one must be happy from the inside out! If you are unhappy with yourself, are constantly feeling stressed about life, are angry, bitter or depressed or if you never take time for yourself, you cannot be a happy person. If you’re an unhappy person, the negativity that envelopes you often spreads to the people around you. Finding inner peace can help you deal with the stresses of everyday life.
- My plan – Spend at least 5 minutes a day in quiet meditation or reflection.
- Day 1 – This challenge snuck on me, so I missed doing my meditation today. Additionally, I was feeling a bit under the weather, so a day off probably wasn’t a bad thing.
- Day 2 – Tonight, we did a short, two-minute, family meditation. As we were getting the kids ready for bed, their attention spans were so short and they were jittery, that I felt it was necessary to get them calmed down before bed. It helped, but it did only last for about two minutes before they started squirming!
- Day 3 – I totally forgot about this! It was just one of those “Mom days”! My kids needed me! I had promised my four-year-old a trip to the nature center, so that was already on my agenda. Additionally, my daughter had a very rough start to her day. She’s having some trouble adjusting to a new school, so she just didn’t want to go! Therefore, I spent time in the morning, and right before bed, e-mailing teachers and lining up playdates! Then, we had a cub scout meeting at our house and baths to give! My mind was just on being a mom!
- Day 4 – Man… this is not my week! Well, I did have lunch with my older son today and it’s Friday, so we spent the evening cuddled up in front of the tv together as a family. I didn’t meditate, but these things made me happy!
- Day 5 – Before I did anything else, I sat on the floor, closed my eyes and meditated! I had to drag myself out of bed! It was Saturday and I really just felt like sleeping in, particularly since it’s so cloudy out. However, I wanted to exercise too! So, I got up, meditated for a few minutes, exercised and then moved on with the rest of my morning. I probably should’ve meditated around lunch time because I was losing my patience with my kids. I was trying to get them to tidy up their rooms and only my youngest was complying! After lunch, we sent them upstairs and my hubby and I calmed ourselves down. We were planning our Valentine’s Day date for later that evening. So, that afternoon, we went to the Botanical Gardens with the kids for the Orchid Show. It was gorgeous! This was meditation without meditating! The flowers were so fragrant, there was soft music playing and there were stunning flowers everywhere! My daughter practically danced around. She exclaimed, “It’s like Spring time in here!” That just made me happy! She’s been having a rough time since our move and it has been such a long, cold winter! Later, that evening my hubby and I went out to eat and then to a live performance! Having the opportunity to sit down, without any interruptions, and have a conversation with him, was a blessing!
- Day 6 – Our morning started off with church. This is always a great time for doing some reflecting! Before bedtime, my daughter was feeling stressed about the upcoming school day, so I laid down in bed with her and tried to get her to meditate. I was only slightly successful!
- Day 7 – Tonight, in addition to giving all of the kids piano lessons, we had each kid do the Guided Meditation on virtual reality. I did a short meditation as well! This is truly a good way to escape reality! It’s all encompassing! The meditation that I chose was a rainforest scene with a waterfall! I then chose some piano music to accompany the meditation.
Like anything else, reflection and meditation needs to be worked into your schedule. It doesn’t take long, maybe even just a couple of minutes! However, a couple minutes can help to calm your nerves, give you some perspective or gather your thoughts enough to tackle a problem that has been ailing you.
February wasn’t a perfect month, but I did focus on finding ways to be more positive and I put a lot of emphasis on my family this month! After such a stressful time, as we had with our move, my kids really need some extra attention! By leading the way and learning how to handle my own emotions in a healthier manner, I am modeling the way for my children, and giving them the tools necessary to handle their own emotions. It also allows me to be in a calmer state when they may be going through a crisis of their own. Overall, I am feeling pretty positive and happy after this month!