When I think back to the days when it was just bB and me on mat leave, I laugh.
It was all so simple then…
For me, life with two kids is… a challenge… not for the weak and weary.
I’m always grumpy. I wake up grumpy because bB jumps into the bed early in the morning, with both his knees in my back, repeatedly begging to go downstairs and start the day. I go to sleep grumpy because qB (that’s our little girl, queen Boo) wakes up by midnight, like clockwork, urgently requesting my dairy services for the graveyard shift. I’m grumpy throughout the day because the house is dirty, dinner won’t cook itself, and I still haven’t won the lottery.
I’ve noticed recently that my fuse is getting shorter and shorter, with my kids and myself — every little annoyance rockets me straight up to a level 10 adult-meltdown. It only makes things worse because bB is the world champ when it comes to monkey-see-monkey-do. He has picked up on all of my bad habits, which makes me even sadder… and madder… because I want him to be better than me.
One day, I just had it with myself. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I couldn’t even stand to listen to myself talk to myself about myself and my ‘unfair’ life. The pity party had to end… for my own sanity.
After a lot of talks with God for more patience, strength, empathy, and most of all mercy, this little gift landed in my hands.
Cue the Five-Minute Journal. AKA the answer to my prayers.
One word to describe this journal: simple — the design is simple (yet well-thought out), it’s simple to use (three minutes when you wake up and two minutes before you go to sleep), and its main goal is to help you learn to appreciate your life… and all the simple (but very important) things in it.
The point of using it first thing in the morning is to get you in the habit of waking up on the right side of the bed. At the top of each page, there is an inspirational quote — and I’m a sucker for quotes. The morning portion of the journal has three parts:
- Name three things you’re grateful for
- What three things would make today great
- write out your affirmation for the day
So, when it’s hard to be grateful in the morning with two knees in my back, I have to instead shift my mindset — I am grateful to have a son who wants to spend time with me… right at this very second!
Then, before you call it a day, crack open the journal once more and write down:
- What were three amazing things that happened today?
- How could I have made today better?
It’s. That. Simple.
I’ve had this journal for about a month now and I must say I look forward to writing in it every time… even when I’m not feeling very grateful.
From the first day I started using it, I noticed that a lot of the things I was writing down were centered on my kids and being a parent. And that’s what makes the journal work for me.
So now, I consider it my parenting journal. A lot of the things I am grateful for revolve around my kids and my family: my daughter’s laugh, my son’s cool dance moves, cuddles.
A lot of things that would make my day great are geared toward my attitude when my kids and I don’t see eye to eye: no yelling, no tears, no power struggles.
And mostly all of the things that made the day amazing consist of kids’ milestones or accomplishments of being a good mom: no meltdowns at the mall, both kids napped at the same time this afternoon, entire morning spent with the TV off!
The cool thing about putting these thoughts to paper is that now you’re somehow wanting to prove yourself right. If you’re thinking ‘wouldn’t the day be great if I just had some me-time? Just an hour?’, then of course you’re gonna wanna try to git ‘er done so that at the end of the day, you can look back and say ‘yeah, today was actually pretty great!’ When you shift your mindset right in the morning toward that goal, you’ll be motivated to accomplish it, because who wakes up not wanting to have a great day? And before you know it, the kitchen is clean, the dishes are washed, the babes are bathed and tucked in bed… and that leaves you with enough time to watch two episodes of Black Mirror while nomming down leftover Halloween candy.
And because you’re anticipating writing back in your journal at the end of the day, knowing which questions are still to be answered, you’re kind of looking for how you can make those answers the most epic answers of life. You’ll start to see a change in how you approach situations throughout the day. Every little challenge is now viewed as an opportunity for an awesome outcome to brag about in the journal, and it makes you want to make every decision in your day a worthy contender.
I have to admit, though, that writing in this journal isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. And when I am in an ungrateful mood, I make sure to write that down, too. I keep track of my crusty days so I can see how often they’re happening. I’ll note, for example, if the morning was rocky, or if the whole day was a write-off. That way, I can be accountable for it; but, I can also promise myself to make a more conscious effort to recognize and be truly grateful for all that I have… And this is where I see myself grow the most. Because it’s easy to be grateful when you’re in a good mood. But when you’re feeling dark and defeated, like nothing’s going your way, it’s hard to convince yourself to look on the bright side.
That last line I fill out, about what I could’ve done to make today better, is pretty much different variations of the same thing: be a little more patient, set a better example, remember that my kids are… just kids. And because it’s always the same answer I give, I know it’s something that I have to work on…every day. For this reason, I am grateful for second chances.
This journal keeps me focused on my goal: being the best mom I can be. And every day is one step in the right direction. Nowadays, I find myself to be less grumpy and more grateful.
Being that it’s my birthday today, I figured that now is the perfect time to shift my way of thinking. New year, new beginning, new me. A lot has happened to me in the past year. And it makes me want to look forward to the year ahead with an attitude of gratitude — and know that even though life with two kids is certainly a challenge, it’s also a precious gift.
Thank you to Alex Ikonn and Mimi Ikonn and UJ Ramdas from www.intelligentchange.com . I’ve been watching your YouTube videos since I was on mat leave with my son. I’m a proud supporter of a good product (I also have the Productivity Planner, by the way). And supporting fellow Torontonians is the cherry on top. Thank you for helping me start 34 with an awareness of just how lucky I am to have this life.