Ummm, what happened to Summer?!
Summer has come and gone… If you’re a mom of young kids, it may feel like it flew by! It was a bit of a blur for me trying to balance building a business, keeping the house together, prioritizing my health and spending quality time with my son over Summer break…
Some of our routines may fall by the wayside through these wild Summer months. But Fall is a season of change, harvest, and abundance. And I’m here for it!! If your healthy habits and regulating rituals took a hiatus this summer, it’s not too late to fall back into what was once working or add in something new. It’s time to fulfill our OWN needs!
As a momprenuer with autoimmune disease, self-care is NOT a luxury, It’s a NECESSITY. And when I’m talking about self-care, I’m not referring to nutrition, exercise, or sleep. These are basic needs for physical, mental and emotional health. When I’m referring to self-care, I’m referencing all of the habits and rituals that allow us to truly tap into our parasympathetic nervous system. The part of ourselves that allows us to rest, digest, and reset. The little routines that we do within our day to allow us to relax and unwind can be so powerful and can make all the difference in how we feel.
RELATED TOPIC: How Self-Care Saved Me
For years and years, I was stuck in a sympathetic system overdrive (also known as fight or flight). I had chronic tension headaches, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, nervousness, insomnia, anxiety, stomach aches, and other symptoms pretty much on the daily. At the time, I thought I didn’t have any time for any “extra” activities to help my body and mind respond better to stress and find more calm and balance in my day. I knew that I needed to create the space in my schedule for rituals that brought me more joy, helped me become more mindful, and allowed me to practice stillness and gratitude. I entered a season in my life where I chose ME.
Starting at the Pain Point
One of the first and most important changes I made was prioritizing sleep. This was right around the time that my son turned 1. I was in a constant autoimmune flare during this hazy season… Fatigue, joint aches, digestive issues, anxiety, brain fog, and many other daily symptoms that were slowing me down. I wasn’t living. I was surviving. Going through the motions of my days and nights. Venice didn’t sleep for an entire year. I swear, when I did see him sleep, I’d always feel almost surprised that he was sleeping.. Like, “no way, he can’t actually be sleeping!” Expecting him to wake up any minute…. He literally never napped as a baby, was so hard to put down at night, then woke up every 2 hours. It was EXHAUSTING! At the time, I was working full time, finishing my Masters, and I only had part-time child care. With the advice of a couple trusted mom friends, I finally decided to sleep train Venice – MY own way that aligned with my values and parenting style. It was no doubt one of the hardest things I had to do. But, it was the beginning of an actual full night’s sleep again. Which opened up the door to having the mental and physical energy to then add in some new rituals for myself. With time, these relaxing rituals have become SO beneficial in my autoimmune healing journey.
A Routine Reset
It was a snowball effect… Knowing that Venice would sleep through the night allowed me to give myself permission to go to bed earlier, which resulted in more restful sleep. After a period of consistent restorative sleep, I started making a point to wake up earlier in the mornings to have some time to myself. Previously, I’d wake up to Venice crying anywhere between 4:30am and 5am every morning… And he never went back to sleep on those early mornings. Not an ideal way to start the day. Now, he’s in bed by 7-7:30am and sleeps until maybe 6 or even 7 if we’re lucky! So I developed a morning routine. A time when the house was calm, tidy, and quiet. A time I could sip my hot coffee by myself, even for just 15 minutes before somebody needed me. I noticed that on the days I would get up before Venice, I was more relaxed, patient, and focused on those days. So I started maximizing my morning routine by adding in little rituals. It has evolved over time and will continue to change, but my mornings now always consist of a warm beverage, typically writing in my gratitude journal, a 5-10 minute meditation, a little reading, and often snuggling on the couch with my little early-riser! My morning routine is crucial in helping me feel like I have control over my day. It helps me manage my stress, keeps my energy high, and fuels my focus and productivity. The rituals I practice within my morning routine vary, but are all intentional choices to foster more mindfulness, grow my sense of gratitude and encourage self-compassion.
My nighttime rituals are equally as important. As a new mom 6 years ago, I started from a season of survival. I was regularly rewarding myself with wine every night. There was plenty of mindless binge snacking in an effort to numb my stress. And I’d stay up until midnight regularly to have some time to “zone out” in front of the TV after a very long day of constant momming, working, schooling, and housekeeping. I knew how my morning routine transformed my mindset and mood. It was time to work on my nighttime routine. I wanted to calmly close out each day and thoughtfully ease into every evening.
After dinner, I would clean up the kitchen, then head out for my walk with my pup, Pepper. This is the start of my nighttime routine. Some of my favorite rituals to include in my evenings are sipping on a warm herbal tea, writing in my journal, laying on my grounding (earthing) mat while listening to a podcast or meditation, and/or deep breathing exercises. I also always spend about 5 minutes doing a quick tidy session before Venice goes to bed, so I can relax in a decluttered, clean-ish space after he’s in bed.
Most days, my morning and evening routines each are anywhere from 5-30 minutes. I shoot for an average of 15 minutes for myself to both start and end the day. These simple rituals bring me joy and set the stage for how the rest of my day or night will go. Admittedly, my rituals have shifted over Summer – with travel, later start times for camp, and less time for work, I only got in one or two of my me-time rituals on some days. And that’s OK! I have embraced flexibility during the summer season and am giving myself grace as we fall back into the rhythm of the school year.
As we slide into Fall, I’m looking forward to adding in some nourishing rituals that reflect this beautiful season of transition. As the color of the leaves change, so will my rituals. I will sprinkle in some of the sights, sounds, smells, flavors and feels of Fall. Fresh flowers in my home bring me joy. The colors of yellow, orange and red found in Marigolds, sunflowers, and mums are a beautiful treat for my eyes and nose. As the temperature eventually drops, I’ll be opening the windows in the early mornings and evenings to let in the fresh air and appreciate the sounds of the wind and rustling leaves. I really enjoy diffusing essential oils, and the aroma of warm harvest spices helps me feel cozy. I like to add in textures of heavier knit throw blankets on my sofa to curl up under as I write in my journal, sip my tea, and read my books. And you better believe there will be plenty of pumpkin baked-goods ALL Fall long over here at the Tabbara household! Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin breads, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin lattes… our bellies will be packed with pumpkin no doubt!!
I challenge you to write down a list of all the little rituals that bring you joy, pleasure, peace, and ease. See if you can add in at least one of these rituals to your morning and evening routines. With consistency, these rituals have the power to transform how you feel and can positively impact your wellbeing in more ways than many realize.
Happy Fall, friends!