11 Habits That Make a Difference For Me

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I sure love my routines. Are you like that, too? I get such comfort out of having predictable, cozy rhythms in my day. While I can’t control everything, of course, I do get some security (and joy!) out of the little things I can determine for myself. After learning last fall that I’m going to have to control anxiety in my life, I think these habits and routines have brought me even more comfort! Additionally, routines like these help me to stay productive and not get overwhelmed!

11 Habits That Make a Difference For Me:

Getting up and ready for my day before Sophie wakes. // It’s hard to remember exactly, but I don’t think I started doing this until late last summer or early last fall (when Sophie was around 10 or 11 months old). I kept hearing other moms at MOPS say that it makes a huge difference when you get up before your kids. Since I love my sleep, I never wanted to be intentionally getting less sleep as a mom, especially after a rough night. 😀 (I’d sleep until I heard her wake.) But honestly, Sophie’s always been a great sleeper – we’ve just gone through the expected growth spurts, teething, etc. – and I finally decided it was time to try getting up before her.

It made such a big difference for me! Now I’m basically hooked, haha. If I get up about an hour or so before Sophie wakes, it allows me time to chat with Bjorn in the morning but also time to wash my face, get dressed, and do my makeup and hair. Sometimes I even find myself with an extra half hour to start eating breakfast and work on the computer. It’s totally worth it to me to set an alarm and to get myself out of bed, because this way, I’m more settled and prepared for whatever the day brings….instead of my day beginning abruptly when I hear Sophie stirring.

Getting truly ready every day really matters to me. My personality just likes to feel like I’m ready for any errands, people stopping by, an outing to the post office, etc. I like wearing makeup because I feel myself be more friendly and honestly, I worry about myself less. When I feel ready for the day, I’m better able to focus on others (instead of wondering when I’ll get a few minutes to pull myself together).

I don’t know what this will look like when/if we have a second child, but that’s okay. There are seasons when I think the whole “getting ready” thing can be set aside as other things are most important. When Sophie was a newborn, I wore sweatpants all day and didn’t worry about my hair or makeup, unless we had a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping to do. So it’ll be interesting to see how I’m able to approach it with two kids someday…but for now, I’m really loving the feeling of calmly getting ready for my day while the house is still peaceful and quiet. 🙂 I’m naturally a morning person, so I really soak up a bit of this alone time during the morning.

Planning out my week’s to-do lists in advance. // I’ve been following along with Blair Lamb on YouTube for a long time and I totally loved her planning method she shared a while back! So I currently utilize a similar method, since my brain works in a similar way! I have an Erin Condren notebook that I use to plan out my week. We have a wall calendar here at home, where we record important dates and commitments, but I like to break down my weeks day by day with specific to-do lists. I write the date at the top of the page and then list several tasks to accomplish that day. I also include a bullet point on the side for any scheduled commitments we have that day.

This is actually a favorite task of mine! (I love writing to-do lists, haha.) I like to sit down on Sundays and look ahead at my week, determining which tasks need to fall on which day. This helps me SO much with my productivity and even stress-relief, because planning this way allows me to spread out all of my tasks in a more manageable way. Long ago, I used to operate with one massive to-do list, and each day I’d scroll through it and try to pick a couple items to accomplish. Needless to say, that always left me feeling overwhelmed. This method of planning is perfect for me because I am mapping out important (or fun) tasks throughout the week, and spreading things across different days is so much less stressful. It always helps to put things into baby steps, too.

RELATED: Get a whopping $10 off your Erin Condren purchase! These customizable notebooks are such high quality – cover-wise AND paper-wise – and they are so gorgeous!

Showering in the evening. // Sophie used to have a few minutes of independent playtime in the morning while I showered and blow-dried my hair. That was many months ago! Although I took fast showers, and a bit of independent playtime was so good for Sophie, I still wanted to be using my time differently. I started showering in the evenings before bed and I love how it helps me to relax and wind down after the day. I actually French-braid my hair and let it air dry overnight. It’s so much easier to shake it out and style it (or not style it!) in the morning this way. 🙂 Plus, it’s a lot better for my hair’s health now that I’m not blow-drying it each morning. I can’t remember the last time I blow-dried my hair! So, for me, showering in the evening is worth it, and it’s a habit I’ll be keeping!

Setting aside dedicated blogging/computer work time. // I go through phases and seasons with wanting to run for my computer to work on blogging tasks the second I put Sophie down for a nap. It’s hard to tear myself away when I’m feeling extra motivated or inspired. But Bjorn has always told me that I can head to McDonalds to blog for a chunk or time, or even work on things upstairs as he hangs out with Sophie – he’s so thoughtful! I’ve only more recently begun to take him up on that, and it’s been really rewarding. (Mom guilt is a real thing: I often feel a twinge of it when I leave Sophie! But this is good for everyone involved.) So, I’ve really enjoyed taking a couple hours to sit at McDonalds and type away. I wouldn’t say that I do this weekly, but I’m trying to do it more often, because I work really well in places like coffee shops, and I can get a lot done when I have that kind of focus! I love having a larger chunk of time to work on my projects, so I hope to do this even more in the future.

Smaller laundry loads, more frequently. // This totally beats one giant pile by the end of the week, in my opinion. I don’t mind laundry, but I’ve found that I need to stay more on top of it after becoming a mom. I don’t like leaving any clothes of Sophie’s all week if they’ve gotten stained. I’ve also gotten into using microfiber cleaning clothes in the past couple months, so I like to get those washed fairly frequently, even though we have a good number of them. I like to make sure Bjorn always has clean clothes for work and working out, as well. I’m also not the most adept person at getting stains out (even though I pretreat stained items with a stain scrubby), so the way I manage laundry best and keep our clothes their best is by doing a load or two about every other day.

RELATED: My January 2019 Favorites

Don’t leave dishes unwashed overnight. // I used to have a more casual attitude about dishes, a few years ago. But I finally tightened up in that department and I’m so glad I’m in the habit of getting our dishes done every day now! We don’t own a dishwasher so I’ve been doing all dishes by hand for the past 5 years. While I often find it relaxing and I don’t mind it all that much, the dishes can REALLY add up if I don’t stay on top of them. And we all know how fun it is to be scrubbing a pan or scraping a plate that has dried food on it from the night before. It’s hardly ever worth it! I make sure that every single dish is washed and in the drying rack by the time I slow down to relax for the evening. (If we do have water glasses that emerge from other rooms of the house later on that night, I don’t worry as much about those…but dishes with anything but water on them, I like to get done.) Plus, I’m convinced there’s nothing as calming as a sparkly clean kitchen at the end of a long day. That way, it’s all set for the next morning! I’m all about clean slates! 🙂

Gather trash around the house the evening before trash day. // Our trash gets collected on Tuesday morning, and Bjorn graciously gets it in our giant trash bag and carries it out to the curb each week. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to make things extra streamlined for him by gathering all of the trash throughout the house on Monday night. I load up trash from the bedrooms, bathroom, and living room into grocery bags and set them all by our large kitchen trash can, which is the basic “loading station” on trash day. Bjorn has thanked me for doing that and it makes trash day a quicker task (and I wish I would’ve thought to make things easier for him before!).

Tidy up toys, etc. more than once per day. // I feel calmest when things aren’t chaotic! Of course, I can’t control mess all of the time, because sweet Sophie loves to explore and play with all of her things! But I do like to take some time (literally less than 3 minutes usually) multiple times a day to tidy things up. I put the majority of Sophie’s toys in a big soft basket we got from Target (it’s on sale right now!), which we keep in the living room…and her downstairs books all slide back into place on the shelves under our fish tank. It gives me such peace of mind to glance around the room and see that everything is generally in its place. We definitely have days where this doesn’t happen, and life is busy so that’s okay! …But I still strive to tidy up this way whenever possible because: “outer order, inner calm!” 🙂

A new breathing strategy from Yoga With Adriene. // If you read my January Favorites post, then you heard a little bit about Yoga With Adriene. She has so, so many yoga sessions available all for free on her YouTube channel! My favorite short one is her 7-Minute Bedtime Yoga. However, in another video of hers (I can’t recall which one), she taught a beautiful breathing strategy that stuck with me! I’ll try to describe it as best as I can here. 🙂

Basically, you need to imagine that your rib cage has 4 sides to it, like a rectangle: the front of your torso, the back of your torso, and the left and right sides of your torso. When you breathe in (slowly), visualize yourself expanding ALL 4 sides of that rectangle. (We often think deep breaths just involve sending our stomach out, but this strategy encourages you to expand all 4 sides outward.) Then, as you exhale consciously relax and draw your shoulders down. This helps you settle your shoulders and improve your posture so that you’re not holding a stressed-out posture all day!

I love this strategy so much. It’s super simple, but something that’s totally doable, even when you’re doing the dishes or driving somewhere! To be honest, I’ve found that focusing on better posture and breathing throughout the day helps me lessen my anxiety. Try it and let me know what you think of this breathing technique! Have you heard of this one before?

Run a humidifier overnight. // I’ve been hit or miss with running humidifiers over the years. But this is the first winter where we’ve run a humidifier consistently (almost every night), and it really has made a difference! I think it helps our skin not to feel as dry, and it’s definitely helped my eyes not to feel as dry. Not to mention, running a humidifier in our room overnight helped a lot to battle congestion when we were all battling icky colds last month. This is the humidifier Bjorn and I have in our room, and this is the one Sophie has in her room. (She has a pretty small room so I picked one that would work well in a smaller space.)

Hydrating! // It may sound like a silly habit because of course we all need water every day…but I’m generally pretty terrible about remembering to drink water. Thankfully, I’ve been doing a lot better these past couple months, partly because I’ve learned it helps my body not to feel anxious…so I use hydration as a means to make sure I’m feeling well! (That’s a pretty good motivator.) I LOVE my Munchkin Parent Water Bottles (I own two) and I’ve found that they help me chug water a lot faster, instead of sipping all day.

What are some of your favorite or most important routines? I’d love to hear which ones you’ve built into your day!