You’re listening to parenting. In the first three years, the place where we explore the strategies and soul of parenting from pregnancy through the first three years of life. I’m your host, Ann McKittrick. Thank you so much for joining me. 3s Hey there and welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you’re here. You know, at the time of this recording, it is the very first weekend of fall. Those long, lazy days of summer are over and the fall schedule has kicked in.

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed already by the fall schedule? Do you come into your house at the end of the day, emptying your arms and your car and your reusable totes and your diaper bag and all of those things, but you just never quite empty your mind. You know, If so, you’re probably struggling with that infamous mental load that moms just carry. You know, unfortunately, we have an ability to hold many, many tabs open in our mind. At the same time, it’s like your computer screen at the end of the day when you look up and you’ve got 48 tabs open. You are thinking about things while you’re doing other things, when you’re making breakfast, when you’re, you know, everything that you do, you’re going through this mental list of all of the things that you can’t forget to do. You need to do this. You need to do this. You need to call that person. And you know what? You need a mental break before you break down. Experts tell us that the first and last 20 minutes of the day have a really powerful impact on our overall mental health. And when we have predictable routines, that really does make it even better. Does this sound familiar?

Because, you know, you know that your kids function so much better when they have a predictable schedule and predictable and even ritualistic routines. And so that helps with us too, as grown ups. So in this podcast, I’m going to give you some ideas for building your own morning and evening routines with things that will create some mental space and some inner peace. And you can book in your days with intentionality and take control of your stress before it takes control of you, especially as the holiday season is getting close.

So I’m going to give you three things that you can do in the morning and three things in the evening that are free. They don’t take much time and they will really give you that little mental break that you need to clear your mind and just, you know, find a moment for yourself, because I know that that’s so, so helpful. The first thing that you can do is to get up before the kids. Now I know how hard it is to wake up before those little roosters. And literally, I know that they are up before the sun comes up most mornings. But if you want to have a surefire way to get a little bit of space for yourself, just set your alarm to get up about 15 minutes before they do and just have a little bit of breathing room before the day starts. If your kids are in a really tough sleeping stage in your mornings are just brutal and unpredictable. Consider talking with your partner or your spouse to alternate the morning duties so that you can at least do this half of the week.

I remember when I go to visit our grandkids, I usually go for a pretty long stretch at a time, and there’s there’s three of them and they’re very young and they really do get up early in the morning. And what I tell them is when they get up, when the green light comes on in their room and they’re you’re allowed to come out the door, that they can come find me as soon as the timer goes off. And so one of my favorite things to do is to wake up about 15 minutes before I know that green light comes on and have a cup of coffee before they come out so that I’m in a good frame of mind because they wake up with so much energy. And I bet your kids do too.

For you. One idea that I’ve got to share is just that if you’re going to try to incorporate this daily habit of getting up a little bit earlier, that maybe you could also try to go to bed a little bit earlier the night before so you don’t feel like you’re cheating yourself out of sleep. The second thing that you can do in the early mornings is delay technology. You know, you’ve heard all the experts say it now. You just we just really got to do it. You got to give your mind time to wake up naturally without reading texts, without seeing all the requests or even getting caught in Facebook and Insta and all of those places where we just can really get sucked in. It’s a very easy to way to get a little bit of time back every day.

I just went to a conference this past week and the speaker said that we Americans spend an average of two hours a day just scrolling on our phone and that if we could just put our phones down and use that two hours for something else, or maybe just one of those hours for something else, that we would be so much further ahead in just managing the demands of our life. I just would encourage you to just say, Yep, I’m going to do it. I’m just not even going to pick up my phone until after I’ve had my coffee and I’ve got the kids eating breakfast. Then I’ll check my messages and see what’s what people are saying. And then the last thing that you might want to consider doing in the morning is just to do one thing that brings you peace. Maybe it’s reading something. Maybe it’s a walk around the neighborhood. Maybe it’s something that you listen to that gives you a healthy perspective. Maybe it’s just doing a few yoga stretches.

I remember whenever we our kids were little, a neighborhood friend and I, we made an agreement that we were going to go running every morning. Well, not every morning, a few mornings a week, but on those running days, I knew that she was going to be at this certain corner waiting for me and we’d go early. It was still dark outside. I think we went at 530 and we ran for 30 minutes, but it was the only time of day that we could get away. We each had three kids. It was the only time that we knew that we could get that exercise in. And not only was it really good way to wake up and get the workout in before the kids woke up, it was also a good way for us to connect. And when you see somebody regularly like that, you can have an ongoing conversation. You can pick up and and drop off topics that you, you know, are both interested in. And it was just a really healthy thing to do for for quite a long time. We did that for years, actually.

For you. You might try to do the same thing. Can you arrange with a friend or a neighbor, somebody that would just like to do something that y’all are both interested in? Maybe that’s getting together for a walk. Maybe it’s getting together for whatever whatever floats your boat. But if that’s not a possibility, if it’s not possible for you to get out with a, you know, get away from the house and have a little bit of kid free time, there’s a world of possibilities online.

A YouTube channel that is very popular is called Yoga by Adrian. Adrian actually lives, you know, near me in Austin. She’s got hundreds of yoga classes to choose from, from really short, you know, 10 minutes to 30 minutes, 45 minutes. And they go from just beginning. Yoga poses for beginners all the way to more advanced yoga classes. But that’s just one of thousands of possibilities for you. Maybe exercise is not your favorite thing in the morning, especially if you’ve been awakened during the night. In that case, just take in 10 or 15 minutes to just have a cup of coffee or a hot tea or something like that. You know, one thing I like to do in the early mornings is do something kind of ritualistic in a pour over coffee takes about, I don’t know, 3 or 4 or five minutes to make a cup of coffee versus just putting the pot in and making the coffee happen. And sometimes I like to just take those moments and do that thing of pouring that coffee and watching it drip and just staring at it while I wake up. That’s just one thing I like to do.

So those are three ideas for the morning. Now let’s look at the evening. Here are three things that the experts suggest are good ways for us to kind of unplug in the evening. The first is to make a dump list. Write out all the things that are swimming around in your head, keeping you from being present with your family and maybe with your partner after the kids are in bed. It might be some time to do some quiet quitting where you take that to do list. The list of things that you were supposed to get done during the day you cross off the ones you did, you circle the ones that you want to actually do tomorrow and then just x out the ones that you can not do. Just decide, I’m going to quit on that one. I’m not going to do that one if it’s not worth your time, if it’s not something that you have to do and you can not do it, go ahead and scratch it off and just let it go. I try to do this every day because most days I have a pretty long to do list and most days I get through about half of it.

So what I do at the end of the day is I just take a minute to first of all, affirm myself for what I did get done. And I express gratitude for my to myself for the good things that came my way. I have a I do an exercise called the Three G’s, and I write down three things. What? Something that was a gift. What’s something that I was grateful for and what is something that I gained throughout the day. And I just find that this reminder is is really helpful. Sometimes when I get kind of discouraged, I’ll go back and read those for the last few weeks. And and it is really helpful to look back and see what I’ve been thankful for and what I have considered gifts throughout the day. 2s An idea for you is maybe this is something that you could do while your kids play in the bathtub for an extra five minutes or maybe while your partner is doing bedtime reading the bedtime story. Maybe you could just take 3 to 4 minutes to just take a look at your list and kind of make your priorities for the next day. When you do this kind of brain dump, it frees your mind up to not be just playing those tapes over and over and over of all of the things that you need to remember tomorrow because you’ve got it written down. Another thing that you can do in the evening is do something for the morning that will make it the morning a little easier. This could be making lunches, hanging out clothes for the next day, putting out your own workout clothes so that you will remember to work out. Or just as a reminder to yourself, whatever would help you wake up feeling more prepared for the day.

I remember when I was when our kids were little, I was always reading blogs and books about being more efficient. It’s just something I’m kind of interested in. And there was this one lady I followed and she said, Always clear out the kitchen sink of all the dirty dishes, rinse the sink, clean it with Clorox. And she even said, wipe it dry. I don’t do that. But when you do this, when you just clean the sink, get those dishes out of the way, wipe down the counters. Then you don’t wake up to that in the morning. And for me, that’s just something that really brightens my morning to not wake up to last night’s dinner dishes or last night’s midnight snack dishes. And so what I’ve done now is I’ve extended that routine to include setting the timer on our dishwasher so that it runs right before I wake up in the mornings. And that way my mug is super hot in the coffee is already brewed. I got that on a timer too. I just love having my coffee in a warm mug. And that’s one way that I’ve made my my mornings really pleasant. I do get up really early, like around five every morning.

A solution for you is you might get your backpacks ready for childcare. You know, if they’ve used the extra clothes, then go ahead and take those out, wash them and put some new fresh clothes in, take out all the trash from lunch, all of the things from the lunchbox. Get your bottles made, take your breast milk out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator so it’ll be thawed out in the morning. Put your breakfast items out on the counter. All of these things will help the morning go smoother and it only takes a couple of minutes. Our kids used to even sleep in their school clothes, sometimes to cut down in the morning to dos. All they had to do was wash up, brush their teeth and hair, grab some breakfast, and they were ready to get out the door.

And then the last suggestion for the evening for really creating some mental space in your brain is to power down. And it’s the same thing as the morning to just turn the phones off, turn off the iPads, turn it all off about 30 minutes before you’re going to try to go to sleep. It’s just not good for our brains to have the blue light. And also, I think the speed of what we’re seeing on the screen, I don’t think that that’s good for our brains for resting. And it’s when we’re most tired and most susceptible to this kind of disruption in our brain.

We really need to have some true rest. And by creating this definitive ending to our day, it allows our brains to just power off and allows you to get some better sleep. This one’s hard. I know my nightly zone out is to do the New York Times crossword puzzle at least Monday through Thursday, when it’s not quite so hard. But I have noticed that when I will make myself put it away in plenty of time before I’m trying to go to sleep, it really does help me to relax and get to sleep more easily. A good alternative for you might be just to read a book or magazine instead. It’s the same idea. It’s just not a screen. It’s not a phone. And you can go to the library. I go and get what I call go to sleep books. They’re not all that interesting, but they’re interesting enough to read and put me to sleep. Another great idea is a book of feel-good short stories to put you to sleep. That’s a nice way to fall asleep.

So that’s it. Six Pretty simple, easy ways to create just a little bit of space in your head. Here’s a quick recap just to remind you in the morning, get up a few minutes before your kids just to have a little bit of space before they’re up in need. You delay technology in the mornings. Just give it a little while before you start checking your phone for messages and stuff like that. And then do one thing that can bring you some peace in the morning before your day get started. And in the evening when you are wrapping up your day, one thing you can do is create a dump list. Just write down all of the things that are swimming around in your head and make a short list of the things that you can do tomorrow and cross off the things that you got done today. Another thing is to do something for the morning that will make things a little bit easier and more pleasant for you, and then wrap it up by powering down at least a half an hour before you go to sleep.

So there you go. I hope that this helps. You know, taking care of yourself is really, really important. It’s really important and it requires a little bit of discipline. So I encourage you to ask for the help that you need to make these simple things a part of your day and to help you remember, check out the show notes I’ve got to download for you with these things that you can do, plus some more and some helpful links. So that is it. Thanks so much for joining me and we’ll see you next time. Bye bye. If you love today’s episode, take a minute and subscribe to our podcast. And one last thing I’d love to pray for you and your baby if you’d like for me to. You can email me at Ask At Nurtured noggins, Your request can be as simple as just one word, or it can include an explanation. Either way, you can trust that I will pray for you. It’s a quiet, simple way that I can connect with you and your family and support you in your parenting journey. Bye.