Adela went bowling as part of a class trip last fall. She loved it. She told me all about all the pins she had knocked down and all the points she earned. I was confused, wondering how a beginner could be an obviously better bowler than her poor mom, but then she told me about the bumpers that had been set to keep her ball in the lane.
Boundaries can be looked at in two ways: restrictive or constructive. I want you to see them as constructive, keep your ball in the lane so you can knock your goals down one by one. To do this, I want to look at 8 areas of your life where boundaries are helpful. You might even consider some boundaries in these areas especially if you are struggling in these areas. The areas are faith, physical health, mental health, emotional health, marriage, parenting, relationships, career, and finances.
When you create a boundary you need to ask these questions.
What is my goal?
What is keeping me from fulfilling this goal now?
What would have to change to make me successful?
What do I have control of that I could use to protect my efforts?
Faith: This one is incredible personal but where we start first. I like to advise my ladies by first asking two questions: How do you want to continue to learn about God? How do you want to make sure you include God in your life? Personally, I put the boundary in place that I mentioned in our routine series that I always begin my day with Bible Study and prayer is essential. I do not do anything else unless I have spend time in God’s word and in conversation with Him. It is a boundary that helps me connect with Him and put Him first in my life. You might do something similar or you might have a standing date with a prayer partner or do a devotional with your husband. There are many boundaries you can put in place to make sure God is getting a place in your world.
Physical Health: I have oodles of boundaries ideas for ladies that struggle with physical health issues that are related to emotional eating. Personally, I don’t eat unless I’m physically hungry. That is a boundary that helps me not emotionally eat and it helps me tune into my body’s needs. Other physical health boundaires my put limits on sweets, alcohol, times of day to eat, when you exercise, how much water you drink, and the quantity of sleep you get. Our body’s are vessels of the Holy Spirit and we can do nothing on this Earth without our physical bodies.
Mental and Emotional Health: This one can feel tricky, but incredibly important. Want to hear one boundary that really helps me? I don’t multi-task. I just don’t. I know multitasking saps me of mental energy and makes me go from peaceful to anxious and frustrated within a couple minutes. My only excepts is if you am doing something entirely mindless like driving or gardening. Your boundaries might be turning your phone on Do Not Disturb in the evenings or meditating before getting started on evening chores. The question to ask yourself is, where do you feel your mental energy slipping and emotions go from peaceful to reactive. How can you protect yourself? Where to boundaries need to be put in place?
Marriage: How do you need to protect time with your spouse? I have a standing rule that my husband will not eat alone. Even if he arrives home at midnight from moving cows, I will sit with him. I also like to make sure that whenever possible we do something special together once a week, even if it is snuggles and a movie on the couch.
Parenting: Parenting can be life-consuming. So, let me keep this as simple as possible. What do you kids need from you? How do your kids need to grow? Right now my daughters need to know that even when I am busy that they are loved, seen, and important. They also both need to learn how to be responsible human beings. So, our boundaries include me always looking them in the eye when they talk to me and they also have to do their chores and homework.
Relationships, careers, and finances are the last three areas. I decided that instead of giving you personal examples, I would love to hear from my listeners. To do that, go over to the page for this podcast. I’ll link it in the show notes, and leave a comment. Or, you can contact me on Facebook or Instagram. I would love to know what boundaries you have in place to protect your relationships with family and friends. How do you use the concept of boundaries in your career and finances. Just let me know.
Have you ever traveled and put your jewelry in a little bag? Inevitably the necklaces and bracelets become a messy ball of shiny chains. If we ever want to wear them again, we must painstakingly begin to pull apart the mess. We surely can’t afford to throw them away and buy the same pieces again.
I want you to keep this analogy in your head as we talk about the wreck you believe your life is in.
First of all, you cannot get all the knots out at the same time. You can’t just try to shake it hard and have it all work out. If you do that, something might even be damaged.
You have to go slow and target one tangle at a time.
This is exactly how it works when we feel like our life has gotten too chaotic to reign in. With school season starting, I know you are looking at all this and feel like you have a lot of irons in the fire. It might even seem like you would like to throw it all away and start over, but that is not really possible.
So, this is how and where you start.
Step 1: Write down all the problems or areas in your life that you feel you need to work on or sort out. Think about your relationships, your health, the physical condition of your home, your faith, your children, your mental health, your marriage, your job, and your finances. I know this might seem intimidating, but once ti is on paper it can be a relief to stare it all in the face. It becomes more tangible. You can look at it from different angles instead of all these issues bouncing around in your head like crazy worries. And some things you will even let go of.
Step 2: Divide them into tasks and habits. A task is something that simply needs to get done. Such as, buying the kids school supplies or writing thank you cards. A habit is something that needs to get done with ongoing consistency such as working out or going on date nights with your husband. Now, there will be a few things on your list that are both a task and a habit so you would list them in both areas. For example, you might need to reorganize your closets and then would need to develop the habit of maintaining that organization.
Step 3: Schedule out your tasks in a doable manner. If you are a working mom I would consider scheduling only a single task per week or even a couple a month. But, truly schedule them. Put it on the calendar the same way you would do any other event and then follow through.
Step 4: Pick one habit at a time to work on. I know we want to do all the right things right now and right away, we are more likely to be successful if you concentrate on one habit at a time and then build on them from there. Believe me, if you picked twelve new habits you wanted to install and said you wanted to start on all twelve tomorrow, you would most likely fail and be extremely frustrated in the process. But, if you concentrate on putting in place one habit a month, you can end the year with 12 new positive habits firmly installed into your routine of life.
Step 5: Monthly reassess. Each month get out your task and habit list. Schedule your tasks and begin work on a new habit.
This is how true and lasting change happens. Don’t be discouraged by the time it takes. That time is also a powerful blessing that shapes your character and develops your life.
I also want to pause and ask you that you lay down any shame or self-condemnation you might feel at this point. Things happen and we deal with them the way we know how in the moment. When Micaela was a year old I had to take a hard look at my life. I had spent the last two years in survival mode between pregnancies, moving homes, and parenting. I had spent the last nine months figuring out Micaela’s therapies, doctors, and daily care. My older daughter, Adela, had spent most of her time in front of the TV. I haven't exercised in forever and my eating and drinking felt out of control. It was a terrible situation to be in. My first steps forward were baby steps. They are actually why I call my work The Beautiful Day Project. I had to figure out how to have beautiful days even within the struggles and heartbreak that seemed to fill my life.
Okay, here is a little rehash of the steps.
I feel like my PM routines are really where I need the most discipline and follow-through. Honestly, I have the tendency to become incredibly reactive as stress levels rise and energy levels fall. My routines in the afternoon circle around closing down work in a way that I can be present with my family, caring for myself so that I can refill and show up as the mom and wife I want to be, and go to bed at an hour that I feel rested and replenished the next day.
We are going to work through the final parts of our routine and as we do, I want you to remember to give yourself grace and be realistic. Follow through is goal number one, so if you make your routines unrealistic for yourself and your family, you will not be able to execute them in a way that feels successful for you.
In order to set up your routines, I have some questions for you to ask yourself followed by an example of what I do. The three routines we will look at are: prep to leave work, arrive at home, get ready for bed
Prep to leave work:
How do you need to feel when you end work so that you can be present at home and with your family?
What communications do you need to check?
What planning or calendar systems should you check?
Are there any people you need to check in with before you leave?
What needs to come home with you?
I want to feel confident that everything got my attention and I am ready for the next day in my classroom. I check my emails one last time. I go over our calendar and write anything down in my planner that might need my attention. I also make a plan for the next day while I’m in the mindset of what needs to be prioritized. I finish up any grading or physical cleaning and organizing of the classroom. I grab my water bottle, coffee mug, and lunch box and turn off the lights.
Arrive at Home:
How do you and your family need to replenish?
What tasks or chores need to get done and who should be responsible for them?
What needs to be prepared for the following day?
Okay, I begin with replenishment. At this point I’ve already driven home with the girls and reconnected with them so I set the girls up with some snacks and some music and then I do 15 minutes of intense exercise followed by five minutes of meditation. I would also like to add five minutes of journaling here. After that, the girls tackle homework. When homework is done we move one to household chores. I am going to make a checklist for Adela here, too. Then the girls have screen time while I cook and finish preparing items for the next day.
Get Ready for Bed:
How do you want to feel ending your day?
How do you want to connect with your family?
How many hours of sleep does your body need?
How much sleep do your children need?
What activities will help you decompress and help prepare your body, mind, heart, and soul for sleep?
Bedtime begins with what my daughters’ needs. Micaela needs extra attention with medication and self-care. When we are all ready, we like to read together, pray together and sing our bedtime songs. I like feeling connected with them before I turn off their lights and walk away. Then I get ready for bed physically and when I am all cozy and in PJs, I read and go over how my plan for the day went and what tomorrow will look like. Then, honestly, I just go to bed. I might watch TV on the weekend with my husband, but, don’t laugh, most TV shows make me feel anxious or too full of thoughts to sleep so I just avoid them. My girls go to bed between 7:30pm and 8:00pm. I am usually in bed by 8:30 pm on the weekdays or 10:00pm on the weekends.
So, there you go. Successful routines can be yours. One thing I should mention here is that while of course our routines look different on the weekends, some things stay the same. For example, I still like to do my self-care routine in the later afternoon even on the weekends. I also find that the girls bedtime routine is incredibly important to follow through on no matter what day it is. Lastly, my Bible Study and coffee happen no matter what, even if I’m still in PJs and the family all woke up together. I just know it is something I need.
Okay, you’ve got this my dear. Our routines can create powerful change in our relationships and health. Let me know how it is going and, once again, don’t forget to download that routine toolkit. It’s on my website under free resources and it is linked in the show notes.
If you listened to the last episode then you should have done your homework, evaluating your current or past routines, writing down what is or has been happening. For example, I’m looking at the upcoming school year. I sat down and looked out routines we have used this summer and routines we had last year. My goal is to develop something that works for myself and my family during this upcoming year.
Our morning routines are essentially broken up into the areas: Wake Up, Before You Leave, and Land at Work. I want to break this down for you and give you some important questions for each area that you need to answer. I will also show you what this looks like for me.
How much time do you have to devote to coffee, devotional, journaling, planning, & getting dressed?
Do you want to include some movement or exercise?
What needs to happen to make sure you actually complete this routine?
How do you want to feel after you do your wake up routine?
My routine is simple. During the school year I grab coffee and get dressed, doing my hair and make up. Then I sit down, do my Bible Study, plan my day, and dig into some social media work and posts. I wake up at 4:30am in the morning to do this so that I have time alone before the girls wake up at 6:00am. That might seem extreme, but it is incredibly important and works very well in my life.
Before You Leave:
What does your family need from you to set them up for success?
What can and should they do for themselves that you simply need to check in on?
What do you need to make sure you take with you when you leave the home?
What do you need to check on before you leave?
How much time do you need to get this done?
What do you need to do to make sure you follow through with this routine?
My routine for this area leans heavily on that wipeable list. I have to make sure that Micaela is dressed with her leg braces and glasses. I have to give her a bolus of water through her G-tube and make sure she gets her meds. My dad usually gets them on the bus so he will make sure the girls eat and brush their teeth. Adela is ten, so this year I’m actually going to post her own checklist that I will check on before I leave. I have to make sure I have my water, coffee, and lunch before I exit the home. If there is anything special happening on that day, I actually leave space on the checklist to write it in for that day. You’ll see that in the example on the checklist, of the routine toolkit.
Lastly, there is the “Land at Work” Routine: (home or work)
What transition do you need to make in your brain as you switch from home to work? What would help you do this?
What communications do you need to check?
Are there people you need to check in with?
What planning system or calendar should you look at to know what your day entails?
My routine begins with prayer for myself, my coworkers, my children, and my students. Then I check emails and update my planner with any tasks or dates that need my attention. I go over my planner and my plan for the day then I get to work. Work might mean morning duty or it might simply be doing some lesson planning before the first bell.
Okay, my love, be real with yourself as you plan out these routines. If you are a beginner who has never had routines or have gone through a serious life transition, give yourself very short routines with plenty of time. What you want to cultivate is follow through. Not some sort of grand and expansive routine.
The three routine areas we looked at are Wake Up, Before You Leave, and Land at Work. Go ahead and get the free toolkit resource. It will lead you through the routine building process. I’ll see you here next week for the last part of this routine series.
People often ask me how I do it all and I have to say first of all that I don’t do everything. There are many things I ask for help with and there are many areas in my life that are simply not up to 100% perfection and that is perfectly okay. But, with a special needs child, a farm, a full time job as a teacher, a home to maintain, and my life coaching work, it is routine that keeps me centered and peaceful most of the time.
Routine also allows other people in my life to step in and help out. More on this later.
Right, so I am finishing up my daily wipeable routine right now. I have a summer routine on the fridge but as soon as that first day of school comes around, I’ll be posting our school-time routine to the fridge and our routine will be ready to go. Some things won't be changing but other things will change drastically.
Routines are simply habits that follow one another in a series.
What is the benefit? The benefit is that you don’t have to think about them, they just happen. For reals. You save time and mental energy plus, if you are proactive, your routines can set you up for a more healthy and successful life.
Everyone has routines. Think about it. You have things you do right now at certain times of the day without having to think about it. You might come home and put your purse or bag down at the same spot and then go straight to the refrigerator for a snack. In the evening you might go to the same chair and turn on the TV before you begin to scroll on your phone. In the morning you make your way to the coffee pot then check your phone again. See, you already have routines, but today we are talking about leveling up our routine game.
To do this, I am breaking it up into beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels, because if you have never worked on your routines, then we need to start with an expectation that you can follow through on. However, some of you might have done work on your routines in the past and you simply need a fresh infusion of idea and a couple good tips to get you ready for the school year.
Lets jump in.
I like to divide my routines into six areas. Don’t worry, they’re not that complicated. Wake up, get ready to leave, land at work, prep to leave work, arrive at home, get ready for bed.
Wake up: This is the very first part of your day. It might happen before the rest of the house wakes up or it might be you handling it all the moment your feet touch the ground. Either way, this is the order of events and what you do to set you and your family up at the beginning of the day. A key question you want to ask yourself is how you want to feel after your wake up routine.
Get ready to leave: This part includes making sure you did chores and that you and your family have everything they need to leave your home and go to school and/or work.
Land at work: For me this is checking my email and getting things out for my students before they come into my classroom. For you it will be anything you need to do to get yourself set up for the work tasks on your plate. This also helps you make a key mental shift from home to work.
Prep to leave work: I like to leave work after checking my email one more time, taking anything home that needs to be done, and having a plan for what I need to tackle when I get to work the next day. This is also a mental shift time. I’m shutting my work brain down so that I can come home as a wife and mother without the niggling feeling that I might have forgot something.
Arrive at home: This routine is key to my mental health and where I find I need to plug in my exercise and some decompression before we get started on homework, etc.
Get ready for bed: In order to rest well, I know there are certain things that work really well for me. I do them here.
Okay, don’t turn this off. Like I said, you already have a routine for each of these areas. I have a whole routine building toolkit that you can sign up for and it is entirely free. But, before you dig in, I want to talk about deciding first if you are a routine beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
Beginner: You would know you are a beginner if you feel like you have no healthy routines at all. Perhaps you feel like your life is completely chaotic and utterly unpredictable.
Intermediate: You are an intermediate routine enforcer if you feel like you have some healthy routines or habits in place in a couple areas I mentioned before but feel like those routines need some work and feel like you could use some routines in more areas of your life.
Advanced: An advanced routine enforcer has routines built into most areas I mentioned. You will enjoy revisiting these routines and making changes as needed throughout the year.
Okay. We’ll be spending the next three weeks on routines. For now, I want you to simply look at your routines. You can grab a notebook or use the resource from my website that I’ll link in the show notes. Think about what you do currently, or if you are like me, think about what you were doing during the school year last year. Write it all down. Decide if you feel like you are at the level of beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
This is the first step and it is crucial. Evaluating current and past routines allows you to become curious about your life and what is working and what it isn’t. You can work through the routine toolkit from there. If you are a beginner, I will want you to only pick one or two habits in each area to put in place. More than this will overwhelm and you won’t follow through.
Let’s recap today’s episode.
Today we defined healthy routines as a series of habits that make you more efficient. I went over six areas that most ladies benefit from having proactive routines: Wake up, get ready to leave, land at work, prep to leave work, arrive at home, get ready for bed. Lastly, I left you a task of evaluating your current routines and deciding if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
Okay, now, I promised you a fun hack, right? Okay. Use a laminator or a document protector and start checking off your routine as you do it throughout the week. This will make things fun and also help you solidify your routines into place. After a while doing it will become automatic. No check marks required.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.