Here we are in mid-January already. If you’re like many divorced moms I know, the good intentions and shining resolutions for a fresh start in the new year have already fallen by the wayside. In the past few days I’ve heard several people talk about getting away, going to a workshop, or going on a retreat to get focused and make the changes they need to make in their lives.
I even read something today that suggested we take a weekend away any time we are looking to make a change so we can clear our minds and prepare ourselves for the old habit, behavior, addiction, or whatever to leave and the new to enter. It’s not a bad idea, but for many divorced moms, getting away for a weekend (or longer) is just not feasible.
Does that mean divorced moms have to wait to make changes until they have the time and money for a getaway?
In my experience, the answer is NO.
I’m not sure a retreat, weekend workshop, spa visit for weight loss or health, or other getaway is really a big help in making lifestyle changes. These activities may be helpful for a rest or mental (and physical) break, and maybe even in learning a new skill or practicing new behaviors. But the problem with all of them, just like setting grand new year’s resolutions, is that they don’t stick in our everyday lives.
So what’s a better approach?
Simple, small changes that work in our everyday routines are best. And for greatest success, make one small change at a time, not a bunch of changes at once.
What that looks like in practice is often very simple. Here are some examples from my own experience and that of other divorced moms I’ve spoken with:
- For a better outlook on life, write down five things you’re thankful for each night before you go to bed.
- To begin a mindfulness practice, take three deep breaths in the morning when you wake up and whenever you think of it throughout the day.
- To improve pelvic floor function, do a few Kegels every time you stop at a red light.
- For a better relationship with a challenging child, picture your love for him or her for a few seconds each morning and before you interact.
- For a better organized home, start in the room you dislike most. Pick one thing that you don’t need or use and clear it out (trash, donate, swap with a friend, etc.). You can do more, but just start with one small action.
- To reduce debt or save more, pick one day (or one week) and only buy things you can pay for with cash (or debit card).
- To find motivation for a new project (home, work, school, or elsewhere), pick one thing that you need to finish at home and do it. For example, if you have pictures you want to frame or put in an album, get the supplies you need and get it done.
- To improve your diet, pick one category of food to cut out for a week (e.g., sugar, white flour) instead of counting calories. Not having to think about limiting quantities of that food makes it easier to eat well.
- To expand your interactions with your kids beyond chores and homework, take five minutes after dinner to share a joke, a story, a funny picture on the Internet or a short YouTube video. No discussion needed, just some lighthearted laughter.
Taking small steps like these that you can work into your day without major changes or overhauling your entire life in one fell swoop are more likely to stick. As you practice one, you may find yourself adding a second one or expanding on your initial efforts without a lot of struggle. Over time you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish by taking small, steady actions each day.