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Modern Missionary Mamas

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self care

Wednesday Wisdom

I’m reading through John 2 as part of this month’s Inscribe the Word study from A Symphony of Praise. (Yes, I’ve already started August…not because I’m ahead, but because if I don’t get a head start, I won’t even finish half of it. #momlife) And I was struck how we don’t find out exactly when the water turns into wine…is it when they draw it from the jars? When they take it to him? When he goes to put the cup to his lips? We don’t know. And that’s the thing about faith, right? Sometimes it doesn’t “work” like we want it to. But long obedience in the right direction showed God’s power and goodness based on the strength of their faith.

And it will for you, too. Don’t lose heart.

Also. God likes good wine, so if you do too, that may count as godliness. Do yourself a favor and be godly tonight once the kids are in bed. You totally deserve it.

You’ve got this, mamas.

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Self-care: Stress Breathing

So I’m stuck in Miami. I was flying back to the field, when craziness broke out and now I’m…stuck. It’s a good stuck, overall, except I have been with my kids almost every minute of every day for about three hundred days. Or maybe it’s only three, I can’t remember. The point is we’re super stressed around here, and I majorly lost my cool with my kids tonight when they wouldn’t go to sleep in our shared hotel room.

So.

Thankfully, I was watching a video unrelated to my parenting failures, and it reminded me about 4-7-8 breathing.

Mamas, this is my secret weapon, except I totally forgot about it until now. This helps me keep my cool 100% of the time, and I will totally be using it in the days ahead. So if summer’s got your hair falling out (or perhaps being actively ripped out of your head), let’s give this a try, shall we?

Breathe in for a count of four.

Hold your breath for a count of seven.

Breathe out for a count of eight.

Start over and do it again a few times until you feel calm.

That’s it.

Need a video? Probably not, but just in case, here you go: https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/

The science behind it is simple. When we’re stressed, we breathe IN a lot, but not OUT a lot. Breathing more out than in triggers your brain to feel calm. So if you can’t do a count of eight, just try for more than five.

4-7-8 breathing iphone

4-7-8. Repeat. You can save the above picture as a backdrop for your phone.

And the real beauty is that you’ll confuse the heck out of your kids, who will expect you to yell or storm off or do something. Standing there just breathing, they’ll probably make sure you’re not having a stroke. Have some fun with it.

Love you, mamas. You are doing a good job. Keep it up.

Come on and work it on out!

Last week, I set this year’s real-olution.

Oh, what’s a “real-olution,” you ask? Well, mamas, that’s simple. It’s a resolution that you suddenly realize you have done n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to achieve since January 21st, and you decide to get real about it, since the year’s half over.

And the biggest one that most people have?

Exercise.

Well, losing weight, but for most of us, it’s the same, n’est-ce pas? But as we all know, working out got ten times more complicated when you acquired that first kid. So since I’m just getting back into working out, here’s what’s helping me:

*Reject that this is a tedious burden. Yeah, I know, it’s hot. But your body in motion glorifies the One who made it, because you are made to move. So stop with the attitude and commit to it as an act of gratitude for a body that works as it (mostly) should. I realized on my run yesterday morning that the only promises I break are the ones I make to myself. Mamas, this should not be. 

*Pray for self-control. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, right? You’re not in this alone.

*Accept that you will be interrupted. As with your Bible reading, this is no longer a solo, spa-like, stress-reducing activity. It’s sometimes helpful to give them a snack just before you start to give yourself a head start. Let them know that you would rather not pause it unless it’s really important. (Clarify that fixing the bike bell that broke six months ago is not really important.)

*Involve your kids. If your kids are small, try a babywearing workout like this one. If your kids are medium-sized like mine, I put out a second yoga mat for them to fight over  share. They dance along and make up their own “workouts” to the music, and it all works okay, so long as they stay off MY mat. We use canned food for weights, and they get their own water bottles. If your kids are a little bigger, try something like a coin-flip workout, an alphabet workout where you can spell their names, or a playground workout while they play. They love making Mom work! Give them the stopwatch and see how fast you can lap the house.

*Start small. No, I mean, small. When I first started working out a few years ago, I did not plan to run three miles or do a thirty-minute workout. You know how long my first run was? Five minutes. Then I stopped and walked home. Then the next time, I went for six minutes. Then seven. Forget baby steps–for some of us, that’s too big, even. Think insect steps. Ants get it done, mamas–observe their ways and be wise, especially when it comes to building a new habit.

*Think about what’s preventing you from enjoying it. I run with a hat on because I realized a year ago that I hated sweat in my eyes. No more sweat now! You may need to change something small to make it more fun. Get a better yoga mat. Some new shoes. You’ll save money on health costs in the future.

*Get some structure. Here’s a few that I’ve encountered at different points in mommyhood:

  1. Moms into Fitness. Her Pretty Fierce Weight Loss videos are ones I keep going back to. You can get a taste of it here. 
  2. Sworkit. This is a no-equipment required workout app with premade workouts as well as the option to customize a workout for strength, yoga, cardio or stretching. You can choose the length of the workout in five minute increments and it builds in a warmup as well as thirty-second breaks. It’s also easy to pause (that’s a Mom Essential). And it’s free! You don’t even need a smartphone.
  3. Wii Fit. We’re blessed with the electricity to make this work; I realize not everyone is. But the Wii does use less power than most gaming units–just make sure it gets unplugged from the wall when you’re done. But I did find it motivating to play games!
  4. Couch to 5K. This is a popular plan for true beginners. A 5K is a little over three miles; you can TOTALLY achieve that. And they’re addictive.
  5. Zombie app. My sister-in-law uses this one, and it cracks me up. If you don’t run fast enough, you can hear the zombies getting closer. I’m laughing even now. Whatever motivates you, mamas!
  6. Start a Pinterest board. TONS of ideas here! If you need inspiration, you can follow mine. (No judgment, okay? I know you want perkier breasts, too. Don’t pretend.)

*Schedule it. The night before, I lay out my workout clothes next to my regular clothes. Yeah, it’s nerdy, but it reminds me. I also put it into my schedule: what time, exactly, am I going to do this? It’s working for me to do it right after homeschool, while kids are killing their brain cells via Netflix and snacking.

More thoughts:

The Art of Simple Podcast: Exercise

Your thoughts: Anything to share with us? How have you found success with this?

To-do’s and ta-da’s

Attainable goals, mamas! Self care counts!

Heard a great thing this week: we’ve all got “to-do” lists, but what about “ta-da” lists? Can you make a list of all the meaningful stuff you did, all the times you played megablocks, the times you let yourself be interrupted to have a conversation with a neighbor, the nights you spend working for the family instead of goofing off…I look at all that and say, “Ta-da! Look what I did!” Cheer yourself on! Give yourself a little pat on the back for those small choices; they add up to glory.

Happy weekend. 🙂

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