Parenthood is many things. It's rewarding, exhausting, inspiring, frustrating, and full of surprises. Being a parent also means that you have to constantly manage the balancing act of meeting your own needs while simultaneously caring for your kids. It's hard to do, and it's easy to fall into the habit of waking up each day just to check off the to-do list, crawl into bed, and get up to hit the grindstone again.
I know I'm oversimplifying. Along your parenting journey there are amazing, priceless moments, but life as a parent can be monotonous and underwhelming. Are there things you look forward to? Sure. Would it be fantastic to have something all your own that you to look forward to and enjoy every day? Absolutely!
I found myself in this boat recently with days seeming a bit lackluster, and I came up with a plan to turn things around. I set out to complete a 21-Day Challenge. It's been awesome, so I wanted to share it with you.
Here's the deal:
Choose one thing you enjoy to do and that you know will make you feel better, not worse.
Make sure the focus of your challenge hits both of these criteria because, let's be honest, even if you know running five miles a day will make you feel better, it's not a great way to add inspiration to your daily life if you hate running. Likewise, if you love to buy expensive shoes but know that spending more money than you can afford will make you feel badly, ditch that idea and go back to the drawing board. Here are some ideas:
Commit to doing that one thing each day for 21 days straight.
Why 21 days? I wish it were a magical number, but it's not. It's long enough to give yourself a real shot at experiencing your chosen activity, but not so long that you'll be tempted to throw in the towel and give up. Current research suggests that it takes an average of 66 days to really shift habits, but I'm easily bored and 66 days seems like an incredibly long time so three weeks it is.
My challenge has been to take a walk outside every day. I don't necessarily have time to add this to my routine, so I swap out my morning workout or wake up early to fit it in. Without this challenge, I would have easily opted out on many days and found one, if not many, ways to spend my time. It's not that I would waste my time, but those moments would be absorbed by my daily routine and fly by without feeling significant or particularly special.
The fact that I do something for myself with that time is meaningful.
Plus, following through on the commitment to myself feels just as good as the walk does. See, the challenge is less about what you actually do every day for three weeks, and more about the fact that you practice meeting your needs without judgement or guilt.
What happens when the 21-days is up? It's your call. You can call it a wrap, continue with your challenge, or start a new one. Personally, I'm hooked on the idea of committing to something I enjoy every day so I imagine that I'll move on to something new once my 21-days is up.
What's the net result? You feel better. When you feel better, your kids notice that you're more patient, respectful, and consistent. Win-win!
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