For the past year, I have been trying to figure out the best way to juggle motherhood with the rest of my life.  I’ve thought, “Surely, there is an easier way to do this.” But, to my dismay, no one has offered up my dream solution and I certainly haven’t figured it out myself. No matter how I slice it, juggling motherhood and life is no easy feat.

However, in recent months, I find myself getting a little bit better at this thing. Of course, I’ve faced my share of challenges, and yes, some days are far better than others, but I think I am starting to figure out how to make this thing work.  And I’ve realized that it’s really not about finding this elusive sense of balance.  If that was the case, I’d still be on my search.  I realized that it’s about finding ways to make me better at the things that are most important to me – even if it means sacrificing something else.

Obviously one of my most important roles in life is being a mom. So I asked myself, “what can you do to make yourself a better mom?”  And to get to the right answers I had to be real with myself.  I had to look in the mirror and really see the person staring back.  It was tough because I was at the point where I developed a number of habits I wasn’t proud of.  But taking that candid look at the way I was living my life prompted me to make a few changes.

Change is good.  We resist it because we find ourselves holding tightly to what we are comfortable with, but comfort does not equal joy. Here are 5 changes I’ve made in recent months that are not only making me a better mom, but are changing my life.

Stop Yelling

I’m not a big yeller – really, I’m not. But when I am trying to get out of the door in the morning with two kids and my son refuses to do what he’s asked, I have definitely raised my voice. At first, it was happening once in a blue moon, but unfortunately, I let it become a habit.  Lately, the yelling rarely happens and things with my son have improved. Yelling is just a bad way to communicate—with anyone. I now try to express my feeling more calmly, even if I am upset, and it’s better for the kids and me.

Say “no”

There isn’t much need to elaborate here. I found myself committing to too many things and I just had to start saying “no” to a lot.  I was overextended. Frankly, spending time with my children matters more than anything so if I can’t fit something on my plate now, it will come back my way if it’s meant for me.

Put My Health First

I have been neglecting my health for years.  The last few years of my life has been filled with weight gain, fatigue, headaches, and a pretty decent dose of stress. Sadly, I haven’t been doing much to manage any of this.  This year, I finally decided to cut the crap and put my health first before my kids end up at my bedside in a hospital when they are in high school.  I’ve recently lost a few pounds, I’ve signed up for 3 races this year, and I am doing my best to make healthier food choices. I know it will take time to reach my fitness and wellness goes, but simply working towards them is changing my stress level, my mood, and how I interact with my kids.

Get Organized

I have been working is an office filled with piles of paper and I can barely find anything in my closest.  I am finally changing things.  The shred pile has been shredded, magazines have been recycled and I am slowly giving away clothes that I don’t want or need in an attempt to clean out my closet.  I am even bringing in professional help soon so I can really get organized because, admittedly, it’s not my strength. I’ve realized that by putting my own stuff in order, I am far more capable of managing the kids’ things and helping them stay organized.

Lighten Up

I’m a pretty down to earth person, but when I have a long to-do list and my stress level is high, I can get a little uptight. No one likes an uptight mommy (or wife). I’ve realized that by taking things easy and going with the flow, I enjoy the time with my children more instead of constantly thinking about what I need to do once they are asleep.  I’m still working on it, but I have come a long way.