What have you done for YOU lately?

Spring is here and moms are feeling anxious. Why? It's the shift from a winter schedule to chaos, really, as sports ramp up, graduations loom in the horizon, dances and dates pop up, kids venture farther away on their bicycles, try to stay up later, and well, it can be overwhelming. It's these days, these longer, sunnier but more hectic days that necessitate a lot more planning, a lot more calendar organizing, and the realization that your time is not your own. You are the human transport vehicle, moving from one thing to the next, cooking, driving, cleaning, starting over. But I'd like to remind you, and myself, of one very important point during this very stressful season:

Your time is just as important as your children's. Really.

Why? Because it's hard to be your best for your family if you aren't happy. You know the studies and the research that back up that age-old truism: "If mom isn't happy, nobody's happy." It's not selfish to take time for you; it's imperative. So, now that spring has sprung, what are you going to do for you? Need some ideas?


Take a walk. I am amazed about how much better I feel by simply getting outside, and it's doubly great when I have a good friend along. Pick up the phone. Call a friend you haven't talked to in awhile and make her day, and yours. Those girlfriend connections are what help to keep the smile in your life, especially in times of stress and tumult. Plant something. Even if you don't have the world's greenest thumbs, spending some time in the dirt a garden or even a pot or container will do you a world of good. It can be your own personal Earth Day celebration. Getting dirt under your fingernails on purpose not just from picking up your child's muddy cleats, is a great de-stresser. Go on a date. Really. This is a tough one, but you deserve a great night out. If you haven't seen a movie with real people in it for awhile, that may be a sign. Or make a reservation at one of the great restaurants in town. Candlelight and conversation are sure-fire ways to calm down. Get a massage, a manicure, or some small luxury, and don't feel guilty. Don't do it if you can't shake the guilt or justify the expense right now. That will add to your anxious mind. Ask for help. From your husband, your best friend, your mom, whoever. If you are feeling overwhelmed and you need a break, an extra pair of hands, or anything at all, the key to getting what you need is simply by asking. Suffering in silence only makes more suffering, and that's the opposite of stress-busting. Count your blessings. Sounds simple, but living in the moment, trying to be present and thankful in the midst of chaos is tough. I know. But I also know when I focus on the now, the here, the present, my heart swells and my anxious thoughts recede. Read a book. Did you know sales of romance novels are escalating as women seek escape through their pages? I love to read, and when I make time for it, it's so much better to unwind after a long day with a book rather than the television. Set your entrepreneurial dreams free. Have you been dreaming of starting a home-based business, or getting a part-time job? Are you an entrepreneur in hiding, even though you are working for somebody else? If so, there's never been a better time to pursue those passions than now. Did you know a woman starts a business every 60 seconds? It's true. Start making plans. Think about what you would love to do. You don't need to start now, just start dreaming. (If you need help, my book is available www.realyouincorporated.com .) Exercise. You are worth it. Your health is important. And, go to the doctor. Get your screenings and check-ups. Nobody wants to do it, but everyone is counting on you to be around. Then you won't have that nagging voice in your head telling you, "I really should've had that mammogram." Just do it.
And the bottom line to all of these ideas is that you must choose the ones to make you feel more fulfilled and less stressed. There are many more. But by thinking of yourself, speaking up for yourself, you will enrich the lives of your kids. They want a happy mom. They deserve a happy mom as much as you deserve to be happy.

"I have come to believe that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood." -- Audre Lorde

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda is a mother of four, author and entrepreneur. She's interested in writing, yoga and energizing women's lives. She's also been known to "honk" when laughing. To learn more, visit www.KairaRouda.com .