Monday, March 9, 2015

Motherhood with Vitality! - Part 1 of 2

In this part 1 I will cover practices to encourage being well-rested:
  • Adequate quality and quantity at night
  • A weekly schedule
  • Afternoon naps & "play alone times"
  • No false energy
  • Bedroom ready
  • Regular bed times
  • Exercise 
  • Being in shape
  • Ear plugs
  • Spiritual freedom
In part 2 I will cover additional practices for being energetic, and for looking energetic!  *smile*


I am often asked by people who know me or just see me out and about, how do I have such vitality and joy with my children - and especially with so many children?  I'm happy to share with you what I've learned along my life journey, and I hope it will bless you as well.

I didn't realize how many habits I've gotten in to over the years until I listed them all in parts 1 and 2 together!  *laugh*  Writing out things like this is such a help to me, too.  *smile*  This is a great reminder for me to maintain doing what the Lord has shown me; and each of these things I'll talk about truly has a profound impact on my every day.  Some of the items I'll share take discipline, and some of them are easy little "mom tips".  *smile*  Some things I do enable good, quality sleep which of course effects energy during the day; and some of the things I do in addition to getting enough rest.  Doing life ON PURPOSE in the area of having energy for my day not only helps me feel my best, but energy and joy are also a gift to my husband and children.

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Let's begin with practices that can encourage moms to be well-rested.  There are multiple things we can do intentionally to make this more likely to happen.



Adequate night time sleep

It is absolutely crucial that moms, especially homeschooling moms, receive quality and adequate quantity of sleep most every night.  I know this is no small matter, and believe me that I do not say this flippantly - but it really has to be a top priority if we are going to be able to be energetic, alert, creative, patient, peaceful, have something left at the end of our day to offer our hard-working husbands when they arrive home, and have endurance for not only our days but our entire week.  I need 7 1/2 hours of sleep per night ideally.  I protect this with great care.

I am blessed to have a husband that protects my sleep with me as well.  *smile*  If I'm staying up later than is good for me, after a while he will gently ask me, "Are you watching the clock?"  He encourages me to head to bed on time, and he is always understanding if I need to sacrifice something in order to get enough sleep.  Some times I think I'll be able to do something on an evening, such as work on a post together with him, stay up to talk, or watch our weekly date night movie, but when I an just too tired he is always encourages me to go to bed.  We actually quite frequently have "half a date night" at a time, because we're both too tired at the end of the week to watch a whole movie on Friday night.  *chuckle*

If I am going to be able to rise up early in the morning and be productive and ready for the day, I have to get to bed on time.  I know that it is tempting to stay up late and have quiet time to yourself - but if you're like me, your family will pay for your lack of sleep the next day.  It actually is being responsible to get to bed at a regular time, and it is a gift to yourself, your husband, and your children for you to be well-rested.  I'll talk more about how I get enough sleep in the following points of this post.  I'm a much happier person, and I can generally handle life well when I'm well-rested. 


A weekly schedule

It is absolutely crucial that I have a weekly schedule in place for myself and our children so that I do not expect 27-hour days out of myself, instead of my given 24 (which I used to do - and I failed at it every day *chuckle*).  *smile*  I am responsible for discipling our children (with my husband, under his authority and direction), homeschooling, keeping our home clean and orderly, preparing healthy meals, and maintaining my health physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I can only do this successfully when I am proactive about budgeting our time each week; deciding in advance what should happen, when it should happen, and making sure to get all of the most important things in ~ without sacrificing other important things.  Getting a lot done has to be intentional - it will never just start happening one day if you wait long enough.  *hugs*  When I have a schedule in place I can rest better at night and even during the day time, because I know that there is a time set aside for all of the most important things in my life; I don't have to stress about "getting it all done" (generally *wink*)

If you like, you can read more about scheduling in my posts:  why a schedule is valuable, how I manage my time, how I go about creating a schedule exactly, schedules for varying family sizes, what to do with weekends, and more.  *smile* 


Afternoon naps & "play-alone time" 

Giving our bodies a rest and re-grouping time is so, so good! We teach our children to nap through age 5, and they feel so good after having a rest, and their behavior reflects it in the afternoon for the remainder of the day compared to not having a nap.  Our older children also have an independent quiet activity time during those same 2 hours every day, and when I've been pregnant or have had lots of young children I would usually have a nap for 30-45 minutes as well.  Even if I don't sleep, my body is restful, my feet are up for a while, and I feel so much better.  

During our 2-hour alone time we can have uninterrupted thoughts, and no one disturbing our concentration and activities.  It's a time to work on things that are not practical to work on with toddlers and babies around like during the rest of the day (not that the "littles" are a bother, they're just active and curious and things like sewing needles would be dangerous for them).  The oldest children and I do a whole variety of independent things such as sewing projects or mending, baking, reading or listening to an audio book or message, painting, scrapbooking, drawing, organizational projects, letter writing, photography, or set up the whole play room with Transformers to play with without anyone knocking them down.  *smile*  Everyone is in a separate area.  If an older child is in the family room or kitchen area with me we do not talk to each other during that time.  All is quiet, and we come back together again after this time feeling renewed and refreshed.


No false energy  

I've always been very guarded against drinking caffeine for it's obvious addictive tendencies, but also because it gives a false sense of being healthfully rested.  Caffeinated coffee, tea, and energy drinks - they'll lash back in the end, from my experience, and from what I hear others talk about all the time.  If we live day in and day out with out enough rest (commonly because we desire to "have our cake and eat it, too"; staying up late for our own personal time, but still having energy the next day from caffeine to function in our day) we're likely to bring on sickness from not resting our bodies enough.  With caffeine people also experience irritability, increased appetite, and caffeine is a diuretic which eliminates the precious water I was so intentional to drink all morning.  Many (if not most people I know) have migraine headaches and such when their caffeine wears off.  In my opinion it's far better to simply make sure we have good sleep - quantity and quality.  False energy will never serve me like real, genuine energy does.  

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that caffeine is a sin.  *laugh*  I do love my grande white mocha latte, but I get decaf.  Once in a while, however, I do utilize caffeine, such as needing to get through the Sunday morning church service awake and learn something despite having been up repeatedly Saturday night with a child who has the flu.  I choose to make exceptions when it would benefit me once-in-a-while, but it is not a life style.  I'm actually even very hesitant to have caffeine on any morning because that tends to rob me of my afternoon nap which makes me feel so much better the rest of the day.  When I've had caffeine and then miss my nap as a result (when I've need one), I've tended to get up from lying down scowling, tired, irritable, and not smiling when my husband arrives home for dinner.

I also do not have caffeine at night because then I'm very tempted to stay up and get lots of things done with that false energy, or if I do go to bed I likely cannot fall asleep.  Either way I then begin the next day tired, and often times feeling like I can't do life.  In my opinion, caffeine just doesn't do good things as a general rule.


Bedroom ready 

Having our bedrooms at optimum sleep-enabling readiness can greatly effect both the quality and the quantity of our rest!  I wrote a post called "Sleep Better - How to Make Your Bedroom a Better Place to Re-Charge", which explains how the amount of light, the temperature, the amount of stimulation, and the amount of messiness can hugely effect how well you sleep at night.  I encourage you to read it.  *smile*  And I found the information for that post from a very sweet lady, author and sleep expert, Malia Jacobson, who has a great blog called The Well Rested Family.  It is full of valuable information for adults and children alike - I had never before taken the time to read up on the "science" of sleep, but I am learning so much!  And I highly recommend your checking out her blog!


Regular bed times

I and the children need regular bed times.  I know how much sleep I need for optimum health, and I know how much sleep each child needs for their optimum health - so establishing regular bed times helps make sure we get that amount to help us stay healthy and feel our best.  After all, life is hard enough without adding exhaustion to it!  If I don't get to bed on time, I can't easily get up on time either, which effects everyone in the family.

It's time to be objective.  The facts are, I need 7 1/2 hours of sleep at night for optimum health and energy.  I also need to get up at 5:00 am in order to be ready for my day.  So I simply back up on the clock from there to determine what time I need to, therefore, go to bed, which for me is 9:30 pm.  Now I'm not legalistic about this; sometimes life happens and I have school work I have to finish correcting, or a child needs me and so I get to bed later.  But I strive for, and have self-discipline for getting to bed on time.  I am sometimes tempted to stay up and enjoy that quiet "me time", but if I'm honest, my family pays the price for that when I don't get enough sleep.  I need to be my best to please the Lord, doing my very best with the task He's given me as wife and mother.

The children also need to be in bed on time for their own optimum health and well being!  Their ability to have a great day is effected by their being rested; therefore, my day is also effected by their being rested.  *smile*  I need them to be well-rested!  If I do not do my best to enable them to get enough sleep (to not be  over tired, or under tired), then how can I realistically expect cooperation, obedience, smiles, good attitudes, servant's hearts, and accomplished academics from them?


Exercise

It's no secret that when we exercise, our bodies sleep better at night.  I am very busy at home, and rarely sit down; and I even strive to get as much movement in to my day as possible by making that extra trip up the stairs even if it could be avoided.  I hoist up those toddlers and carry them up the stairs, too, and not laboring under it but getting up strong!  *smile*

I have not been able to get out for exercise walks on a regular basis because of several reasons:  I've had pregnancies and newborn babies back-to-back (10, 11, 12, 13 months apart); during pregnancy exercise would make me extremely nauseous for a few days afterwards; and my husband has never been home during daylight hours of the morning when I could go walking (I don't feel safe walking in the dark alone).  There will be seasons later in life when I'll easily be able to get out for walks during the daylight hours.

In the mean time my husband and I purchased a really nice, used elliptical exercise machine off of Craig's List - and we LOVE it.  It's the best exercise I've ever done, giving a full body work out that makes me pour sweat, plus it's in our garage for access whenever I can get to it!  I've had seasons of working out in the mornings, and seasons of working out during the children's nap time, which I've preferred surprisingly enough.  I really can't get up earlier than 5am because I can't get to bed regularly before 9:30 pm.  So - afternoon time it is.  *smile*  I shoot for 5 days a week, and then if I miss a day or so at least I got in 3-4 times.  I haven't been able to get back in to exercising again quite yet since our last 4 babies all were born within 22 months, but soon I will be back in to it.  I so look forward to my body feeling strong again and being my trim self!  And even if the Lord gives us more babies in the interim (we're praying!), we will not be in baby season forever and then it will be the time for getting aggressive with getting in shape more again.


Being in shape

Just to mention here along with exercise that if a mom is pretty over weight, it's unlikely she'll be able to achieve ample energy and vitality.  Weight really burdens us all down, and we need freedom from it.  I fairly recently learned about, purchased, and read Wendy Jeub's book called, Love in a Diet.  Wendy has 16 kids, and she is trim and energetic!  Her book is small and only costs $7.47, but it's packed full with practical tips for every day moms to enable them to lose weight and find that freedom!  I lost 10 lbs. after I read it...then I quit for a while feeling overwhelmingly busy with babies and kids *chuckle*...but then I got back into losing that baby weight again. *smile* And if you're interested, here's how I recently pursued, Losing the Baby Weight! and lost 65 pounds; and part 2, of Losing the Baby Weight!, including the book, Trim Healthy Mama, and a really important book called, Made to Crave.


Ear plugs

I had become such a light sleeper with so many babies I was listening for, either on baby monitors in their own bedrooms.  And my husband's loud breathing and/or snoring kept me awake for years.  I didn't want to use ear plugs initially because I was afraid that I'd miss a child's call for me.  But eventually I learned to trust the Lord that He would enable me to know when I was needed, or that Bobby would hear the calls for us, and I tried Mac's silicone ear plugs.  Miraculous!  I've used them for years now and I sleep so well!  And, which is truly amazing to me, I still hear our children if they cry or have coughing due to being sick.  God is faithful.  My husband's breathing/snoring no longer keeps me awake, and I sleep soundly.  So, so nice.  These ear plugs can be found at all the grocery stores I've been to, or they can be ordered online.



Spiritual freedom

I struggled for years with insomnia, but I didn't realize it for years.  And I've been free from this struggle since then.  After hearing dozens of personal testimonies about a great ministry called Be In Health, I finally read pastor Henry Wright's book called A More Excellent Way.  He shares strait from scripture about people's health both physically and emotionally and how it is connected with spiritual issues.  I also attended 2 classes on this material.  I've also found freedom from over a dozen other struggles.  It is life changing; I highly recommend it.  *smile*

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So, I hope that having a window in to how I enable myself to be energetic and joyful in life has given you some good ideas for your own life as well!  The Lord is so faithful to teach us how we can best serve Him when we ask him.  Now just so it's said, I haven't always felt vivacious and joyful.  *chuckle*  I have had my very difficult times and days just like anyone else.  But those days aren't a life style; enjoying life is my life style.

This information may seen like a lot to think about, but I want to encourage you to take your parenting seriously and take your vitality seriously.  Parenthood is really a career and should be treated even more seriously.  We need to always be learning, studying, growing, implementing what we learn, and working hard.  We can just "get through it", but that's really torturous; or we can embrace where we are and achieve success and vitality in life!

Blessings on your efforts!


You may also be interested in reading:
Recommended resources:
Malia Jacobson's, The Well Rested Family blog
Love in a Diet, by Wendy Jeub
Trim Healthy Mama,by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison

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