self-care

What do you need to feel like yourself in the mornings?

After finishing the Lazy Genius book, I started binging a few episodes of her podcast. Mostly, I focused on the episodes about back to school, morning or afternoon routines, and kid chores/responsibilities.

On one of the episodes about morning routines, the Lazy Genius (aka Kendra Adachi) posed a question I found interesting: What do you need to feel like yourself in the mornings?

I think about morning routine all the time, but I’d never thought about it in quite that way. That morning time – the hour or two I get to myself before the boys wake up – is such a valuable time to me. Whenever I think of something I really want or need to do, I immediately think of that early morning time as a time when I could get it done.

But – which of these activities makes me feel the most like myself? I like lifting weights and I want to prioritize strength training – but does it make me feel like me? Does it help me to enter my day in a peaceful, playful, and present manner? I don’t know if it does. Lifting weights is decidedly NOT me – I rarely remember to do it.

When I used the Lazy Genius framing – What do I need in the mornings to feel most like myself? – I took some time to reflect and I came up with a few things.

  1. I need quiet time to write in the mornings, preferably with a cup of hot coffee. I also need this quiet time to take place in a relatively tidy living/dining room space, which requires either a quick tidy when I wake up or an evening reset of the house the night before.
  2. I need to go for a run in the morning. If I engage in other exercise – yoga or strength training – that is bonus.
  3. I need to know that I am logistically ready for my day. If I can take care of this the night before so that it takes zero percent of my time in the mornings, that is ideal.

That is it; that’s what I need. I contemplated other activities, like meditation – and maybe someday, that will fit into my morning routine. But as the school year starts and I really try to essentialize what I need during the 4 am to 6 am hours each morning, it comes down to coffee, writing, running, and planning.

Such a great question for anyone to answer. What do YOU need to feel like yourself in the mornings?

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currently

Currently: September 2021

Currently reading:

This month I finished The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi; Falling by T.J. Newman (crazy suspenseful book, could not put it down); 14 Ways To Die by Vincent Ralph; and The Madness Of Crowds by Louise Penny, among others. I also re-read a couple of books recently – No Way To Treat A First Lady and Boomsday, both by Christopher Buckley. I often want to reread my favorite books, but I don’t think to do it; it was so nice to enjoy these two! Currently I’m reading The List Of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead – so good so far.

Currently reading to my kids:

When we read to the boys at bedtime, we usually divide and conquer. They listen to one story on the couch together – usually read by me – and then Tamara takes Jo Jo to his room to read “bed books” and I do the same with Edgar.

Jonas loves reading Curious George books currently. He and Edgar also often enjoy Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Edgar is currently in the middle of James and the Giant Peach. We also have enjoyed the Olive and Beatrix books and the Once Upon A Fairy Tale series.

Currently listening to:

I finally finished I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla on audiobook! I have a bunch of other audiobooks in my Audible library. I’m hoping that the return to my commute will help me with listening to more audiobooks. Currently I’m listening to How To Be Here by Rob Bell.

Currently watching:

Tamara and I started watching Schitt’s Creek some nights after the boys are in bed. We’re not very far into it, but I am finding it hilarious so far – hoping it is worthy of the nine million recommendations we’ve gotten from others insisting we watch this show!

Currently the boys are:

So excited about starting school! Edgar started kindergarten this month and Jonas started nature pre-school. More on that at some point.

Currently grateful for:

My new school! Loving getting to know new co-workers and students.

Currently looking forward to:

It has been so fun already – only a couple of days into the school year – hearing all about Edgar and Jonas’s adventures at school. Can’t wait to settle into our fall routine and hear more about the things they do each day.

Happy September!

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books + reading

Lazy Genius Tips I Love

I recently read the book The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi. I’ve often heard about the author’s popular podcast, which talks about ways to be a genius about the things that matter to you and lazy about the things that don’t.

This isn’t the type of book I typically read cover to cover, but I did enjoy it, with some skimming. Adachi’s Lazy Genius principles are:

  1. Decide once.
  2. Start small.
  3. Ask the magic question.
  4. Live in the season.
  5. Build the right routines.
  6. Set house rules.
  7. Put everything in its place.
  8. Let people in.
  9. Batch it.
  10. Essentialize.
  11. Go in the right order.
  12. Schedule rest.
  13. Be kind to yourself.

Here are the tips that resonated most for me:

Decide once.

LOVE THIS. It’s the tip I heard about that got me curious about the Lazy Genius in the first place. In a nutshell, deciding once means you take a challenging choice and you make it one time – FOREVER. You can “decide once” when it comes to what to eat for breakfast, what to wear on Mondays, or what to cook when you’re having people over.

I love this concept the most when it comes to the kinds of things I agonize over – such as gifts. With the exception of the three humans I live with, I have NO idea what to buy people for presents. What do they have? What do they need? What do they NOT need?!

It’s too much.

With the practice of deciding once, I can decide one time – this Christmas – what our family does for teacher gifts during the holidays. I can decide one time what I buy for nieces and nephews for Christmas. ONE TIME – decided forever. Genius.

Put everything in its place.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this; it’s not new. But it’s huge and it’s important.

Everything should have a place, and in our house, there are many things that don’t. Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a purging/minimizing kick. It feels like a good time for it, at the beginning of the school year, as I clear out my school things and settle into an elementary school setting. (I definitely have items that I was saving for the time I worked with younger kids again!) I am trying to pace myself, since I really don’t have the bandwidth to do a full house purge right now. But as I clean and tidy, I am taking note of when I’m touching an item that’s not currently needed – and I am putting it in our Goodwill bag immediately. I’m also trying to clearly identify the items that are needed, but don’t yet have their specific “place” in our house, so that their place can be identified ASAP.

Ask the magic question.

What can I do now that will make things easier later?

That’s the magic question. This is hugely related to my plans for the fall for evening prep – things like laying out clothes the night before and packing lunches after dinner. Love it.

Essentialize.

Name what matters. Get rid of what’s in the way of what matters. Make sure you have what you need to support what matters.

That is my general understanding of what it means to essentialize a la the Lazy Genius. Simple, easy, and makes a lot of sense to me.

Set house rules.

My two faves of the Lazy Genius principles are decide once and set house rules. A house rule is a decision you make about what your family does. “In our house, we clear our plates after we finish dinner.” “In our family, you can start playing a team sport when you’re five years old or older.” I love a house rule because it fixes a problem – “In our family, we put our bookbags on the shelf as soon as we get home so the floor isn’t cluttered” – and it creates a family culture – “In our house, the birthday boy gets the first piece of cake and gets to choose what we eat for dinner that night.” When I think about childhood memories of my own and family memories I want to create, many of them come back to a house rule – such as, in my family of origin, we took turns opening presents on Christmas morning, and we were expected to pay attention and provide “oohs” and “ahhs” while family members opened their gifts. LOVE a house rule.

Definitely loved these tips and principles and can’t wait to put some of them into practice. Cheers to being a lazy genius!

gratitude

5 Things I’m Grateful For (August 2021)

Such a wonderful summer; so much to be grateful for.

  1. The energy and excitement of a new school year approaching. The last two weeks of summer are usually a bit of an anxious time for me. I get excited for the new school year, but I also feel sad and stressed about the end of summer. I’m really trying to lean into gratitude and the things I love about back-to-school time, like school supply shopping (SO CUTE AND SWEET) and the chance to set up new routines and rituals. Edgar seems really ready for school right now; he sometimes seems bored and in need of increased stimulation on our lazy summer days, which is not typical for him. So the start of kindergarten and all that additional everyday learning is coming at a great time!
  2. Time with family. I travelled with the boys to Staten Island and Avalon to spend time with family and it was wonderful. Edgar learned to boogie board and Jonas made up a song and dance about “poopy store,” which is his favorite nonsensical two-year-old thing to talk about.
  3. Silly days + swimming lessons with the boys at our local pool. They attended swim lessons every day (Monday through Friday) for the first two weeks of August. It was so great to see the boys go from “afraid to put their faces in the water” to “fully swimming underwater” in just a few weeks. (Regular, everyday access to the pool was a big help.)
  4. All the books! More great early chapter books to read with Edgar! We started Tracey West’s Pixie Tricks series and he’s been loving those books. Recently we read The Magic Mirror – the first book in the Once Upon A Fairy Tale series – and that was a big hit, too. We occasionally dip back into picture books, and he really just loves to be read to, no matter the book. But I find myself continually so happy and grateful when we are reading longer titles. The novelty is great for me, and I love how excited he gets and the way he begs for “one more chapter” if the last chapter we read ends on a cliffhanger. (I usually give in – mostly because I also don’t want to wait until morning to find out what happens next!)
  5. A few mornings to myself to write. I didn’t get much writing done this summer because of travelling and adventures, and that was okay. But Tamara took the boys on outings for a few mornings in late August so that I could have time to journal and blog and write, and I’m so grateful to have gotten that time for myself before the craziness of the new school year started.

Happy August, everyone! Cheers to a new school year full of freshly-sharpened pencils and lots of learning for all of us.

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goals

Intentions

When you work in a school setting – or even if you don’t – September is the other New Year. It’s a great time for fresh starts, and I am a huge fan of a fresh start.

I’m sitting in an empty house as I type this; the boys are on a dump run/bike ride with Tamara, and I am contemplating what intentions I’d like to set for myself as the new school year starts.

Work hard and stay present. Ever since becoming a parent, it’s been harder for me to focus at work. It surprised me as much as anyone else to learn that I’d rather be at home with my kids than anywhere else; I’ve always loved being a social worker, and I didn’t expect parenthood to present this particular challenge for me. But it’s true. Before Edgar was born, I attended work every day with my whole head and heart in it; since he was born, it takes focused effort to keep myself present and working hard for every minute of the work day.

With the fresh start of transferring to a new school this year – an elementary school about twenty minutes from home – I want to be re-focus my efforts to be present and work hard during the school days. I don’t mean to imply that I haven’t been working hard previously; I don’t think anyone would notice this change but me. But I can feel it – the moments when I am pulled toward home and am not giving 100% to my paperwork, my phone call, my meeting. I feel it – and then I feel guilty about it later, and it messes with the time I do have at home. I want to work hard and be fully present at work this year, and I’m excited to have a fresh start opportunity to do it.

Create the routines you need. This summer, my goal was to create routines for the boys that we would follow this school year. It didn’t really happen, and that’s okay. Because it was summertime! That’s the whole thing with summers, and weekends, and vacations – they are not regular days with your typical routines. They’re special. A few weeks after our camping trip, I decided I wasn’t going to worry about building our morning and afternoon routines until school started and I’ve stuck to that.

I’m a good mom, but routines are not my strength, personally or as a parent. I forget about teeth brushing and I don’t always remember to have the boys clean up their messes. This is all okay.

Yet as a professional, I know the value of turning a task into a routine, and it’s something I want to make happen for myself and the boys this year. The problem is, until the school year starts, I’m not sure what the specifics of our morning routine should be. Should the boys get dressed as soon as they wake up? Do we have time for a little free play in the morning? I really don’t know yet – and that’s okay, too. I’m excited to explore the specifics of what our mornings will look like – stay tuned for that. For now, I just want to set an intention that when needed, I will create the routines we need for our family.

Slow down and keep things simple. This has been on my mind a lot as I contemplate our commitments, individually and as a family, this fall. We contemplated signing Edgar up for a sport or activity this fall, but ultimately we decided to wait until winter or spring so that we can all ease into the school year and get adjusted to going places and doing things. There’s also my private counseling practice, which I am trying to simplify for the fall; I often have the feeling I should expand and try to take on more, but when I sit back and reflect, I realize that I really don’t want to find myself overcommitted, overwhelmed, and stressed out this fall. There will be time for building up more clientele and earning more income – but Edgar will only start kindergarten once, and I really want to stay centered on what matters this fall by being a peaceful, playful, and present parent for my kids.

That’s all I’ve got for now. So excited for a mindful + intentional start to a new school year.

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