5 Self-Destructive Habits I Dropped to Be a Happier Mom

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Typically, January is the time of year when we all start getting introspective and reflective about ourselves and our habits and all the routine things that make our lives what they are. But this year, I’m hopping on that train early. Instead of examining all the things I’ve done wrong this year, I thought it’d be a nice change to acknowledge everything I did right. Or rather, all the wrong things I didn’t do – the things I stopped doing because I didn’t like how they made me feel last January during the whole resolution-phase.

I didn’t resolve to start doing a million new things or embark on a journey to start doing things perfectly. Instead, I decided to stop getting in my own way. To put an end to the self-destructive habits I’d gathered over the year and put them to rest. To put a more positive spin on things by dropping the tiny negative things that didn’t matter all that much in the first place.

Easier said than done, but here are the destructive habits I’ve dropped this year and how they’ve made my daily life a happier place.

1. Saying, “I’ll do it later”

I’m the world’s worst procrastinator. (Or would that be best procrastinator? If there was an award for putting things off, I’d definitely be the recipient.) I have a gift for procrastinating and while some things about that will never change, this year I stopped giving myself carte blanche when it came to doing things later. No matter how long you wait to do something, it takes just as much time and is just as hard (or easy). The only difference is that when you keep putting it off, you’re adding a distinct level of stress to the task. Instead of getting lost in simple joyful moments with my son, I’d have that nagging task floating around in the back of my head. Now I just do it, no matter how much I’d rather not. It’s nice to lose that sense of impending doom that would so often settle in the pit of my chest.

2. Worrying

I still wonder about things — it’s impossible not to think about certain things — but I no longer waste time worrying. Instead I focus on the fact that obsessing over something isn’t going to change its outcome. I consider what would happen if what I’m concerned about really happened, and more often than not, that “bad” outcome isn’t really so bad at all. I’ve traded in worrying for accepting whatever happens and just rolling with the punches as I’m handed them. Now I don’t have to waste mental energy or imagined negativity on things that aren’t happening in the now. Sweating the small stuff never got anybody anywhere.

3. Putting toxic things in my body

Certain foods or too much alcohol just make me feel like crap. I could obsess over how much I miss eating those foods or keep letting them get the best of me by eating them anyways, but feeling like crap doesn’t help anybody in any way. By simply putting an end to it, I’ve allowed all the positive cliché’s to come true: I’m better rested, I have more energy, and my mood is uplifted.

4. Putting others’ needs first

As a mom, I know it’s my job to take care of my son’s needs. But he’s not an infant anymore and he doesn’t need 100 percent of me 100 percent of the time. I can still make sure he’s taken care of well while I’m also taking care of myself. And surprise, surprise, it’s exactly as “they” say — when I take care of myself, I’m able to do a better job with my son. Instead of feeling bad about putting my son in childcare for an hour so I can fit in a workout, I feel good about how engaged and energized I can be with the rest of our day together. Instead of feeling guilty about going to bed at 9:30pm instead of spending more time with my husband or finishing household chores I haven’t gotten to yet, I feel refreshed and ready to attack a new day in the morning.

5. Saying, “I don’t have time”

Oh man was I broken record. My response to everything the first year or so of my son’s life was, “I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I. Don’t. Have. Tiiiime.” But guess what? I do have time. I just wasn’t using it well. Now, even if that’s the response I want to give, I admit to myself that whatever it is isn’t what I’m choosing to spend my time on right now. Making it a choice instead of something forced upon me gives me back control, making me feel better about the choices I make and the priorities I do give my time to. And honestly? Everything always gets done eventually anyways. Now I’m just nicer about it.

What habits are you putting an end to this year?

Image credit: Heather Neal

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