good life with laura m.
Part of cultivating a good life is making your own sunshine.
Whew. Just made it. February is my least favorite month every year. Every. Year. I am just begging for spring to come by the end! We made it through the joy and excitement and craziness of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a January birthday. We enjoyed every moment spent with family and friends. But this season in particular is filled with colds, cloudy skies, cabin fever, and struggling to stay in a good daily routine. I get tired of gray skies and chilly temps. Even a week of 70s in Nebraska can only break the funk for a moment because I know it’s not really spring yet. For many years I just resigned myself to dragging through this month feeling depressed.
But I finally realized it was time for a change! And I had to make it. I have 3 little kids plus we’re a homeschool family, so I’m the one setting the tone in our house every day. I realized that my attitude is rubbing off on my kids. “Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work. They started to bicker more and wear jammies for days on end and struggled to be motivated in both school work and play time. So here are a few of the things I’m doing to create sunshine in our lives:
Spread kindness. It’s so easy and I too often forget to just say something kind. A compliment on a job well done or a smile over a sweet face go a long way to make anyone happier. Turning up the volume on our favorite positive tunes puts a little extra pep in our step too.
Plan playdates. There’s nothing like a good playdate to brighten any week! We love getting together with friends whether it’s hosting or meeting for lunch or enjoying a field trip. And a visit from grandparents puts a smile on every face.
Keep a regular workout schedule. We are blessed to have a YMCA nearby and I look forward to spending a quick hour kickboxing or stretching in yoga or dancing in zumba. It renews my energy and jumpstarts my day! And when the kids are too sniffly for child watch, I pull up my favorite workout videos on YouTube and dance with them in the basement.
Enjoy dates nights. We don’t go out that often so I’m committed to enjoying our evenings at home. A snack and Netflix in the family room can still be quality time!
Meet up with friends. This one’s for me and just as important for our family health. I take advantage of dear friends who are willing to watch my kids nap so I can get a little me time, even if it’s just running errands for an hour. Errands alone is a dream at this stage of life! I also keep a scrapbooking crop on the calendar so I can look forward to that adult time with friends every other month.
Set deadlines or goals. I make cleaning lists and school lists and crafting lists for myself. I try not to be too rigid because life does happen and sometimes this week’s goals turn into next week’s goals. For example, I look forward to stepping away from the couch and having a crafty night once a week. I plan to clean something outside of my normal list. I try to read a book not just for my kids but for me instead of browsing my phone a couple nights before bed.
Use my gifts and talents. This has been one of my biggest spots of sunshine this year! I am team teaching my women’s Sunday school class this year. The prep time and the actual teaching time are something I look forward to immensely. Last year I helped plan a women’s retreat. I also spend this time of year looking ahead and laying the groundwork for upcoming activities like Vacation Bible School. Being involved at church is definitely the biggest way to create sunshine in my life!
Seek beauty. Spending time outdoors even if it’s just a short walk to the mailbox helps me take a deep breath on a long day. I love Nebraska, particularly the miles around my childhood home. Driving down cornfield-lined roads under a huge, open sky or breathing in that dusty smell while walking through tall prairie grasses refreshes my soul. I also find beauty in music. Dancing and singing along to the radio or worshipping in church ministers to me so much!
So I’ve only scratched the surface and I know that my list of ideas for making my own sunshine is just going to grow. In 2017, we can take advantage of how connected we are to get ideas from others. Anytime I hear or read about something that I think would brighten our dreary days, I make a mental note.
Another big way of brightening our days is asking for help. Too often when I’m having a bad day, I get stuck trying to fix it myself when really a two minute phone call to a friend would help better my perspective. I’m sure if you take a step back and count your blessings, you can find ways to create sunshine on your cloudy days too!
Laura is a member of our Creative Team using the physical product. She currently resides in Nebraska with her husband and three young kids.