When I dreamed of being a mom, I pictured lots of cuddles, sweet conversations during walks to the park, fun family trips together, playtime and crafts, and enjoying that simple magic children bring to the world. All this is true, of course, but let’s face it: I was not prepared for the exhaustion, the bone weariness that comes from sleeplessness nights, and most of all, the negative thoughts that invade each evening after the kids go to bed.
To be honest, I struggle at night.
I can do well all day; making healthy food choices, staying present and energetic, but when nighttime hits, it’s like I turn into a different person. The bedtime battle fades and my kids finally fall asleep. As the quiet settles, I find myself feeling emotionally vulnerable and physically starved. I am hungry for anything sweet and sometimes salty. I deserve a snack at the end of a long day, right?
More than hunger for food, I am starved for a vacation (hello beach breeze!), or a gold star, or just for good, old-fashioned affirmation. When the lights go off for bedtime, so often my better judgment and clarity dims, as well. At that point, I am accosted with the negativity I had masked or ignored all day.
What happens after bedtime is when the real battle truly begins.
Can you relate?
At this time of the night, we probably should be resting or engaging in some soul care activities (a topic for another day!). Instead, we entertain ourselves by perusing our well maintained mental list of the big and small ways we failed that day.
We relive the moments when we lost our patience and it felt like we were losing our minds as well. We grieve the moments of anger, with a playback of tears and yelling so vivid it’s almost like our failures are being projected on the wall. Instead of enjoying the peace and quiet we so deserve and crave, we delve into self-pity and resentment. We feed our stress and discouragement with negativity in our thoughts. And we feed our tired worn bodies with junk food. Sadly, this harmful habit is poisoning our contentment and stealing our joy.
Fortunately, there’s a better way.
Instead of allowing those negative thoughts to defeat us each night when we’re already feeling depleted, we can create a habit of positivity and health and goodness. (And don’t worry, it’s not another post on the power of positive thinking, although I’m all for that!)
Current research states it takes a person an average of 66 days to change a habit. That is a long time!
So, how can we maneuver out of our nightly routine of self-depreciation and negativity? Here’s how.
A wise and spunky woman once told me if we focused on repair in our relationships and with ourselves, then the world would be a completely different place. By repair I mean a comment or action that keeps negativity from spiraling out of control. She said for relationships to thrive there needs to be three components communicated: attunement, containment, and repair. In other words: I see you, I can handle you, I’m sorry.
When the storm of big emotions both from our little ones and from ourselves begins to rage, we must acknowledge these feelings, stand strong, forgive, make changes, and move forward. For the next 66 days, I commit to choose goodness each day and feed the positive thoughts. Essentially, I will actively replace the negative thoughts with kind and productive thoughts.
I invite you to fight with me!
Here’s the plan:
Every night, let’s write down three great things that happened that day and three things we are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be fancy or long, it could be written in a beautiful journal or on a cute sticky note. And the three things can be as silly or as serious as you want. There is goodness in giggles, bubbles, living-room camp outs, and heart-to-heart conversations.
There is power in repair and it’s worth fighting for. It’s for our own health and well-being and for the benefit of our families.
The battle after bedtime must no longer end in defeat. This can be your time to reflect, rest, and encourage yourself with affirmative thoughts and notes of gratitude. By doing this, we make it easier for ourselves to turn off the negativity, turn down the junk food, and fall asleep in grace.
You with me? Let’s dive in!