On things you simply won’t give up

What is a core component in your life that grounds you?

I’m not looking for a Sunday school moment here (Jesus! God! Or, in my two-year old’s case: Noah!) Instead, I’m talking about, outside of faith, a practice, activity – even an indulgence, that brings restoration. In recent days, I’ve been dolling out advice to both friends and co-workers to define their non negotiables – and to protect them. This non negotiable should usher in true rest, stripping away the demands of the week, the home, the family, and returning you – a restored version of your former self – back to your roles with fresh enthusiasm and perspective. Sleep? A manicure? Running? Reading? Doesn’t matter. And shouldn’t. If the point is restoration, the practice should be naming the need and leaving the justification – and its accompanying guilt – behind.

I don’t know a single mom – regardless of whether she occupies her days at home wrangling kids or in an office wrangling employees and clients – who doesn’t have at least occasional bouts with crushing self-doubt and despair at some life decision. Colloquially, we call this “mom guilt.” I want to blame social media for this crushing pressure, but maybe I’m simply crushing myself under the weight of unreasonable expectations and a desire to be perfect. And so, to combat the pressure, self-doubt, and that often-discussed “loss of self” to motherhood, I determined I didn’t want to live without some sense of thriving. To do this successfully, three things need to happen:

  1. Define your non-negotiable
  2. Make a plan to protect it
  3. Tell your support system so they can help

In my own life, my non-negotiable is feeling like a girl. The first component of this is embarrassing, though I suspect it may resonate with more than a few. I need to get my hair done sometimes. I’m now entering my third decade of hair battles, thanks to the thick, wavy, stubborn locks I was *ahem* blessed with, and let’s be real: nobody in my house is happy if I’m unhappy with my hair. And so, this is non-negotiable. I book an appointment every 4 months (baby year: no judgement), duck out at nap time on Saturday for the salon, and waltz back in, three to four hours later, with smooth shiny hair, confidence, and not an ounce of guilt.

The second component of this is “girl time.” As a work-at-home momma with two littles, this is not happening through play dates with kids or coffee breaks with colleagues. For an extrovert such as myself, this can be excruciating. So, my husband challenged me as I headed back to work this year to get out weekly. I’m not even coming close. But, I’m striving for it, and have taken that first step: giving myself permission to leave – for something other than an errand.

Protecting this practice in restoration is so much easier because of my husband. We’ve never used language, to describe either of us watching the kids, to include “babysitting.” And we don’t keep score. Because really, we both win when one of us comes in the door, refreshed and excited, ready to partner and parent and love well.

Restoration feels indulgent, but it really should be routine practice.

Time management experts tout all the wasted time we have lingering in the margins of that life. (Or, for many of us, all the wasted time we have leaning over the counter, delaying dishes, scrolling Facebook). How would you feel if you shifted your margin to include something that breathes life into you? For just a moment.

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