Choosing Joy

 

 

You must be so overwhelmed; you have so much on your plate. How do you get time to do anything besides work, house and kids? I bet you have no leisure time. How do you get time to read or exercise? Wait, you even get a massage?

I get asked this all the time. I bet I am not alone and most working mothers are asked this, right?

For a long time before I had my own child, I thought my life would be like this – chronically overwhelmed, sleep deprived and exhausted with no time to call my own or do anything outside of work and family.

Yes, there are days when I can barely get through work and we eat out or order food that is unhealthy and I can only get a few thousand steps on my tracker with a few minutes (maybe grumpy) with my husband and a few exhausted minutes with my child but fortunately those days are rare. Lately, most days are rich, bright and joyful. Most days are also often exhausting (after 8 pm as I am an early sleeper) and require a lot of planning to make sure my needs are met.

I have realized work, son, sleep and the basics (food, shower, etc.) somehow fit in but if I don’t schedule the other joyful moments, they can slip by and I can fall into the trap of the common narrative – “My life is boring, overwhelming or exhausting.” I have now learnt to proactively schedule & prioritize joy to keep my soul nourished::-)

Here’s what keeps me happy and how I do it (not in the order of priority)

Exercise –  I know I can’t exercise for an hour a day but I can make it to a 1hr class once or twice a  week often at 6 am or I try to get 10 min Barre3 work outs using my iphone (I LOVE this) or get a few push ups at the park while my son plays in the sand (though lately he exclaims loudly mama “no exers”), a family hike, walking for 20 mins to pick up my son from school or a 10 min walk in the stroller after school. I try to take the stairs at work, walk between meetings and when I have a few spare mins between meetings or while I am waiting for my hot chocolate, I WALK. Having a fitbit with awesome friends to hold me accountable has been working wonder.

Favorite people – I am incredibly blessed to have amazing, amazing friends and family with whom I share a rich relationship. Often times simple text messages will make my day and I also ensure to schedule time on my calendar with them – it may be a 6 am Sunday hike, a spa date 2 months out, a weeknight dinner, lunch at work, a quick phone call on my commute or having my favorite friends and their families home for a Friday night dinner. I also love scheduling time in the park or the zoo with my friends who have kids and while this doesn’t happen every day, I get to see and connect with my favorite people every week if I plan well in advance.

Writing – I rarely dedicate long chunks of time to writing and my blogs are often written in chunks of 15-20 mins sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. I recollect once writing waiting for my husband to finish his bike race before stepping out to cheer for him while my son napped in the car. Sticky notes help and I often carry my journal in my bag. Sometimes, it means waking up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to write and saying no to a social commitment on a Friday nights so I can sleep in time.

Quiet time – I am an introvert at heart and need a lot of quiet time to be in my element. Quiet time helps me reflect and connect to what I truly need. Sometimes it’s a meditation, other times it is a 10 min quiet walk between meetings at work or in the evening while my husband gets my son ready for bed. A relaxing yoga class helps too and I am also intentional about blocking my calendar at work for quiet chunks of time when I can be in silence.

Reading – I love to read, absolutely love to spend time with printed sheets of paper and am so grateful to have access to the public library. I make time to read during car rides and on most nights for a few mins before bed. Vivaan doesn’t like me reading around him as he wants me to read his books to him at that time:-) so bed time reading together can be challenging lately!! I also love audio books and a few minutes every day do add upJ

Nature – There is something about tall mountains, fresh air and the smell of redwood trees that really grounds me. Perhaps, it’s a reminder of how vast and majestic nature is and puts my presence and my life in perspective. We try and go camping a few times a year and hike a few times a month but I have realized that sometimes it means walking in the park for 5 minutes after waking up to hear the lovely chirping of birds and pause for a minute and watch the sunset on my way back from work to remind myself I am not that busy…

Giving – This one has a huge impact on my own well-being and yet can often be something that I can procrastinate… Sometimes it’s the small things – the thank you notes, the baked cookies with loved ones or a box of food for a neighbor that can fill my heart. And right now, I am also feeling incredibly passionate about the 10K project and a fundraiser that I am organizing.

Family – I am incredibly blessed to have a very rich relationship with my parents and siblings. We talk on the phone very often and meet a few times a year. Again, it’s not perfect and I often want to spend more time with them but making sure I squeeze in time with them sometimes a few minutes and on some rare days an hour or so can truly be a treatJ

Husband – And finally, I can’t end this post without a mention to my husband who truly fills my bucket. We eat dinner together most nights and then there are special treats that may include lunches, hikes, journaling, deep & fulfilling conversations, and simply being together and experiencing the big and small parts of life.

How do you prioritize joy in your life?

 

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