Welcome back, UBC bloggers, to the Ultimate Blog Challenge, July edition! It's always so good to see you guys again. And I love getting to steep myself in the camaraderie we experience and the warm and friendly way we support each other's blogs.
Welcome to Meet Jeanine!
The Ultimate Blog Challenge
The Ultimate Blog Challenge, led fearlessly by Paul Taubman, happens several times a year, in January, April, July and October. The challenge is to write a blog post every day of the month and post it in the Facebook group so the other bloggers can love on it.
I love getting to meet new bloggers and see old friends each time. I've been participating off and on for about 10 years now.
Join us! It really helps with traffic, which is one of the things I love most about it, in addition to the experience, itself.
This month's blog posts, here at Meet Jeanine, will be brought to you by the letters M and A, for Morning Aromatherapy. What is morning aromatherapy? I'm glad you asked.
Morning aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to transform your experience of mornings.
And I like the idea of making mornings cozy, so here, I'll be talking about cozy morning aromatherapy, which does the main job of making mornings easier, but also has a side hustle - it adds coziness and comfort to the mix.
I invite you back this month to learn more about it, especially if you struggle with mornings.
By the way, in the middle of the month, we'll be doing a 7-day morning yoga challenge, for beginners (like me) who aren't sure they could add a sequence to their morning routine, but are willing to try one pose a day. And each day, there will be a recommended essential oil blend to deepen & support your experience.
See you tomorrow!
Slow parenting is basically about learning how to stop the rush and prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to family time. In other words, it’s about making an effort to slow down versus always hurrying kids along from one activity to the next. - Rachel Bowie, PureWow.com
Slow parenting cherishes quality over quantity, being in the moment, and making meaningful connections with your family.
As moms, we all talk about how quickly life moves when our children are young. We don't want to miss a moment, because we know we won't get it back.
But sometimes, it's what some have called the glorification of busy that makes us miss quality time with our kids. In a rush to get things done, and give our children all the things, we over schedule both ourselves and them. And miss the moments we say we want to cherish.
The solution is slow parenting. It's about shifting our focus from what still needs to be done to how we can spend more quality time with our families and create meaningful moments with our children in the time we have.
As a concept, slow parenting has been a silent companion in our discussions of creating a slower lifestyle, being more present to and with your family, and creating morning and routines that give you time for what matters most. But I wanted to create this short and sweet post just to give it its own focus.
We'll return to it, in the days and weeks and months to come. But in a nutshell, slow parenting is the best motivation for slowing life down as a mom.
Slow parents give their children plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms. They keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together. Slow parenting means allowing our children to work out who they are rather than what we want them to be. -Carl Honore, NYTimes interview
Slow parenting is organic, it’s ever-evolving — the only essential is that families carve out time to connect. - Jaci Conry, Boston Globe
See you next time!
What Every Cozy Book Nook Needs
Welcoming comfort. Your cozy reading room or nook needs to become a haven of comfort so that you find yourself wanting to stay a while.
As sat at home moms, we so rarely large pockets of time to ourselves. So the scene needs to be set already, waiting for you to step right in, pick up where you left off and get right back to reading time.
Slowing life down, or creating a slower lifestyle in the larger sense, happens in moments. And you can empower them by making your home a place that invites you and your family to stop and rest. To pause for a moment.
Silent support for the slow living lifestyle you want to create.
Each member of your family deserves that feeling of welcome, and a cozy space - in addition to the bedroom - that feels like a haven made just for him or her. The cozy reading room can be one of those spaces, and can be furnished in such a way that it serves the whole family, if all of you love to read.
Be sure to personalize it in ways that reflect each family member.
But start with the basics to create a foundation of coziness everyone can enjoy. These basics are an essential way to get started and then, anything else you add will be icing on the cake.
Here are the 9 essentials...
(1) The ultimate in comfy seating: a chair and a half or a sink-deep comfy sofa.
(2) Great lighting: a floor lamp right next to the reading spot, and additional lighting in an overhead lamp, or table lamp somewhere else in the room.
(3) Big windows and a lovely view: for letting in light, but also maintaining a connection to nature during those moments when you lift your gaze from whatever you're reading. No view? Add art.
(4) A bookcase with plenty of room for your collection of reading material. But I suggest creating some spaces on the bookcase so that it's not just a wall of books, so your room feels more spacious.
(5) And end table next to your chair or sofa, with enough room for your latest stack of books to rest right next to you.
(6) Space for a cuppa, on your end table, for reading with your favorite beverage within easy reach.
(7) A comfy throw to snuggle under for warmth, nearby whenever you need it.
(8) A fluffy, fat, comfy pillow to lean against while you're reading.
(9) Your favorite candle to add warmth, scent and just the right mood.
The Cozy Reading Room Checklist
See you next time!
As a stay at home mom, finding time for yourself can be a challenge. In fact, whole days can easily go by in a blink, unplanned, if we let them.
Choose a few that appeal to you, that you and your family can try. Use them to create more time for yourself, and more time to spend with those who matter most to you.
10-Minute Ideas for a Slow Morning Routine
(1) Linger over a cup of your favorite tea each morning.
(2) Add ten minutes of meditation to your morning routine.
(3) Do a yoga or stretching sequence each morning.
(4) Take ten minutes each morning to write in your self-care journal.
5 Slow Living Routine Ideas for Evenings
(5) Spend time connecting with your kids after school, instead of chauffering them each day to one activity after another.
(6) Let go of one commitment that doesn't serve you & replace it with a daily or weekly activity that matches your values, like spending time with friends or family.
(7) At least once a week, eat dinner as a family without any electronic guests.
(8) Create time to read each night as part of your wind-down routine.
(9) Make a cup of lavender or chamomile tea each night to help yourself relax and unwind.
(10) Before getting up in the morning, identify your top 3 priorities.
(11) Take five minutes between one activity and the next each day to breathe deeply and slowly.
(12) Create a wind-down time each evening that helps you let go of daily stress & become sleepy enough for bedtime.
9 Weekend Ideas for a Slow Living Routine
(13) Bake cookies with your kids each Saturday afternoon for a slow living Saturday.
(14) Eat a slow cooker meal once a weekend with your family.
(15) Take the kids to see their grandparents each Friday night & have a weekly date night with your spouse.
(16) Each week, get together with your friends for a weekly game night.
(17) Have a weekly weekend movie night with your family.
(18) During your Self Care Sundays, set intentions for the following week.
(19) Create a brief letting go ritual & do that at the end of each day and at the end of each week.
(20) Create a capsule wardrobe, so each Sunday, it will be easy to plan next week's outfits.
(21) Bonus idea: set intentions for the week each Sunday and write them in your journal.
Which ones appeal to you most? Tell me in a comment below.
See you next time!
Get more ideas about how to create a slower
lifestyle for yourself & your family by
downloading my free Slow Living eBook.
Are mornings difficult for you? Are you a night owl (and tired mama) whose kids wake up bright-eyed long before you’re ready to admit it's morning again?
I've put together the ultimate guide to creating your perfect morning routine and you can read it right here. It's a morning routine guide for moms who want happier mornings not just for themselves, but also, for their families.
Ready? Let's get started…
Lifelong Night Owl Tales of Woe
On the one hand, morning 'larks' prefer getting up and going to bed early, and are at their peak performance early in the day. On the other hand, night 'owls' like sleeping in and staying up late, and don’t perform well until afternoon or evening. - Psychology Today
A night owl is someone who not only prefers to be up later at night, but functions better later in the day or evening, and does not do so well early in the morning. Sleeping in works better for them.
A typical preferred schedule for a night owl might be going to sleep around 2 or 3 in the morning and waking up around 11 a.m. or noon. Is that similar to the schedule you would choose, if you could?
For night owls, going to bed at what seems like the right time, often leaves them lying awake, wishing they could fall asleep.
And then they frequently glance at the clock, still awake, and recalculate how much sleep they’ll get if they fall asleep soon. But they don’t fall asleep soon, because they can't.
I am all too familiar with this struggle.
I was born just before midnight, and I suspect I have struggled to go to sleep on time ever since. I remember lots of childhood nights, lying awake well past the time I went to bed, bored, and wishing I could be in the family room, watching TV with my parents. I could hear the faint sounds of whatever they were watching, and those sounds called to me.
My mother seemed surprised and annoyed each time she came to check on me, and found with my eyes open, still wide awake. She didn’t know what to do to fix it, and neither did I.
I know I did not get enough sleep during my childhood. Did you?
Children who are wide awake at bedtime and sleepy the next morning, often grow up to be adults who struggle to conform to the cultural norms of going to bed at a reasonable hour, and then getting up in time to go to work, or begin the day with their own wide-awake children.
Has that been your experience? It certainly was mine.
When my work days began at 8:30 or 9:00, I struggled nearly every day to make it work. I’d fall asleep right after David Letterman said, “wake the kids and call the neighbors.”
And the next morning would find me struggling to wake up, feeling like I was moving through molasses as I tried to get ready as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t be late. Eventually, I was eating in the car, and putting on my makeup, during the half hour drive to work just to try to give myself a better chance of getting there a minute before I’d be late.
Once my son became my personal alarm clock, the struggle continued, just in a different way. He was bright-eyed and bushy tailed, eager to hang out with his mommy, and I could barely open my eyes.
What is the solution for those of us who struggle with an early-morning wake-up call? Many night owls try to become a morning person.
Become a Morning Person?
There is lots of advice out there about how to become a morning person, but is that really possible? You can wake up earlier, start your day earlier, and decide to go to bed earlier at night, but can you become a morning person?
Based on what the experts say, I think not.
Most people can’t simply switch wake up and bed times, because their bodies won’t allow them to. Our circadian rhythm is controlled by a tiny area in our brains, the suprachiasmatic nucleus. -Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Centre, incoming president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. -BBC
But it is possible to get to the point where you are waking up in the morning, naturally, without an alarm, at your ideal wake-up time.
Your Ideal Wake-Up Time
Do you know what your ideal wake-up time is? Though it is less likely to be an exact time on the dot than a general range of time, it provides for the amount of time you need each morning.
That sounds simple, but for those who struggle with getting up on time, or with getting ready as quickly as we need to in order to be ready for our obligations, it may not be simple at all.
And I’m not saying that your ideal morning time is your preferred wake-up time. But it is the time that would make your morning life, and your mom life, run the most smoothly.
What’s your ideal? It may be affected by the time you go to bed, because functioning your best, on any given morning, is likely to depend on sleeping enough and sleeping well the night before.
Do you struggle to get to bed or to sleep on time? That would push your ideal wake-up time forward in a flexible schedule. But if it’s not as flexible, then we need to get you a better night's sleep.
Your Best Night's Sleep
For night owls, what constitutes getting to bed or to sleep on time may be different than it is for morning larks, those who love mornings. And if you don’t work outside the home, getting up early enough to go to work on time is not an issue.
Plus, there’s no universally agreed upon best time for going to bed and falling asleep. But whatever late turns out to be, for you, it will deny you the sleep you need.
What is Your Ideal Bedtime?
Experts suggest that we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep in order to function optimally and be at our most healthy. So, in order to find your ideal sleep time, you need to know when your ideal wake-up time is.
If it takes you a while to “yawn and stretch and try to come to life,” (Dolly Parton, Nine to Five theme song) then your wake-up time probably needs to happen before your kids get going in the morning. How long does it take you to wake up properly and be ready to roll?
And what time do your children wake up? If it takes you an hour or two to be functional, then you’ll need to get up an hour or two before your children do, and be asleep 7 to 9 hours before then. That hour is your ideal bedtime.
It may take some experimenting to find those numbers. And you may need more time in the morning than you think.
Does it need to work out perfectly? Perfection may not be possible.
I find that I need to be awake and out of bed at least 3 hours before my son wakes up – probably because I am also an introvert – and now that he’s a teenager, and we start our homeschool day later in the morning, that works out well.
But when he was younger, I couldn’t make that work, and had to settle for 2 hours when I really needed three.
So aim for the best combination of sleep time and waking up, and then make the very best of whatever way it shakes out in practice.
And once you have your ideal bedtime and wake-up times in mind, the problem becomes getting yourself to sleep at that time, if you’re a night owl. What’s the best way to get to sleep at that time?
Well, you may have heard or read that getting to sleep on time will become much easier if you back away from your devices an hour or more before you want to go to sleep.
Ninety percent of people in the U.S. admit to using a technological device during the hour before turning in, and children often use electronic media to help them relax at night. If you’re among these nighttime technology-users, you may not realize the extent to which this can make it harder to settle down to sleep. But it can. The truth is, using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep. -National Sleep Foundation
I found this to be true in my own life. I had just moved, and had to wait a week before my cable appointment. Plus, no one came at the scheduled time, which added another 2 weeks of being without my favorite TV shows!
But here’s what happened that surprised me.
I found that without having the TV on all night, it was easy to go to bed a couple of hours earlier than I normally did. And not only that, I would go to bed, thinking I’d probably read for an hour or so, and find myself getting sleepy in 20 minutes or less.
It was so easy. I got more sleep, and woke up earlier than I had been getting up before the move. So, to be honest, I felt ambivalent about finally getting everything set up with cable.
Would I be able to stick to my new schedule once those late night shows were available? I knew the answer was probably going to be no, and I was right.
TV can be irresistibly tempting. But it also, apparently, throws off your sleep biology and will make it harder to go to sleep at the time you have chosen.
Unless you are able to talk yourself into turning it off ahead of time.
But once you’ve turned off the TV, stepped away from the computer, and put your phone aside, what do you do then?
Do you like to read? Or listen to music? Have another hobby, like knitting?
This is where creating an ideal evening routine comes in.
How to Create an Ideal Evening Routine