Jana Says

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Tag Archive: advice

Making my bed and other advice I do follow

Last month I wrote a post about all the advice I don’t follow. It’s not that it’s necessarily bad advice; it’s just not for me. Which is fine. Everyone is different and I think it’s important to listen to different perspectives and take from them what you need. But I figured it was a good counterbalance to that post to discuss the advice or suggestions that I do follow.

A qualifier: I don’t follow all of these to the T. I screw up, make changes, and sometimes flat out ignore them. But overall, this are a few tips and tricks I’ve accumulated along the way to make improvements:

  1. No social media notifications on my phone. None. Not at all. Not email, IG, Pinterest. I don’t even have Twitter or FB on my phone (although I do have groups and messenger, mostly for communication with the child’s gym. These people hate email). I did, at one point, have notifications for all the apps turned on but it stole so much of my time and sanity that I got rid of it all. It has made a huge difference in my presence with people and eliminates distraction. One exception: MLB score updates on all Mets and Orioles games. 
  2. Prioritizing my time. I’m a huge advocate for the way Laura Vanderkam discusses time and time management and using her system has, well, I don’t want to say revolutionized because that’s too dramatic but drastically changed how I use my time. Basically, instead of trying to do everything, I’ve whittled down my core competencies and what’s essential and important to me and fit my time around achieving the goals within those. I might be mixing up messages from two of her books but whatever. It works for me. 
  3. Meal planning. I don’t meal prep. I discussed that last time. I do, however, meal plan. I’m not a good enough cook to look at a whole bunch of random ingredients and mix it all up into something palatable nor do I have a good enough memory to remember recipes or what I need to buy at a store (or have on hand). Meal planning makes me pay attention to what I’m buying (saving money FTW) and it also assures that I know what I’m cooking and how to do it properly. It also answers the question “what’s for dinner?” I hate that question. 
  4. Sleep routine. Confession: my sleeping habits are shit. I have a terrible time falling asleep, staying asleep, and all that jazz. It’s even worse when my anxiety hackles are up. I had tried everything but what’s really helped is having a routine. And not having electronics in the bedroom. True story: we don’t have a TV in our bedroom and I won’t even read an eBook before bed, no matter how good it is. The combination of those has led to me being able to sleep decently 4-5 nights per week which is a HUGE improvement. 
  5. Making my bed. I forgot where I saw this originally but it basically said that making your bed sets up the rest of your day. It helps you feel organized and put together and some other helpful shit like that. And you know what? It’s true! There’s something about making your bed that separates night from day and says “let’s get today going”. It also makes my room look neater (and, considering my husband is a class A slob, any little bit helps) and keeps the dogs off the sheets. Everyone wins!

So there you go. Some of the advice I DO follow. 

How about you guys? What are some tips or tricks you’ve learned along the way that have made a difference in your life? Which ones do you recommend I try? 

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Waking at 5AM and other advice I ignore 

There’s a lot floating around the interwebz on how you can be more productive and use your time better. I find all that stuff fascinating and it’s why I read books about it, along with those articles and blog posts (and OMG, Pinterest. Holy shit is there a lot on Pinterest). I figure I can always do better, be better…self-improvement is never a bad thing. But what I’ve learned more than anything is that knowing yourself is better than following all the advice in the world. 

Knowing how you function, when you function best, what motivates you, what keeps you going…that’s the stuff that, at the end of the day, gets your shit done. However, without experimenting, there’s no way to know what works for you and what doesn’t. 

How do I know? Because I’ve tried. And what I’ve learned is that many of the go-to tips don’t work for me. For instance:

  1. Getting up at 5AM. Or some other ungodly hour. I tried to do that. To get up insanely early and be productive in those hours. It lasted about 4 days before I said fuck this and stayed in bed till a reasonable hour. I wound up not getting anything done because I was exhausted and my thoughts kept drifting back to my bed. So now I get up around 6:45 and work in the evenings instead.
  2. Weekly meal prep. I know many of you swear by it but it doesn’t work for me. By Wednesday I hate everything I’ve made or no one is in the mood for what’s prepared and have you ever tried to force feed a picky 10 year old with an attitude as big as she is? Peanut butter sandwiches only go so far and I can only fight so many battles. So I meal plan for the week and cook daily.
  3. Freezer meals. Not sure why so much revolves around food but here we are. I guess this falls under my dislike of weekly meal prep but I have done a few freezer meal sessions and OMG it is not worth the effort. Having a few is great in a pinch but I am not a freezer stocker. Not a big stockpiler, either, for what that’s worth. It’s a shit ton of effort and I always mess up something and the dishes. SO MANY DISHES. So, rather than freezer meals, I make sure there are leftovers or, if it’s a complicated recipe like stuffed shells that I’m making anyway, I double and freeze some of that.
  4. Gratitude journaling. At the risk of sounding like a bitchy asshat, I just can’t get into doing this. I’ve tried with pen and paper and with an app. I simply struggle with writing it down. I frequently reflect on what I’m grateful for but I am not, nor will I ever be, in the daily habit of writing it down. I get the benefits, especially the mental health benefits, but meh. Not for me.
  5. Eliminating TV. I actually wrote a post once listing a ton of things you can do while watching TV. Because I don’t think we need to demonize TV the way it is in many circles. It’s about striking a balance between how much and when and what else you’re doing but a show a night or a binge watch weekend? Nothing wrong with it at all. And honestly, I’m quite productive most days. That’s right. I watch TV AND I get shit done. Oh, and I read like 80 books a year, too, so you can do both.
  6. Eat the frog first. I wrote a whole post about this, too, but I don’t eat the frog first. I eat it last because for me, it’s more motivating to get the small, easy, simple, annoying tasks out of the way so I can clear my plate for the big one. Is it satisfying to get the major task done before everything else? Yes. Does it leave me with almost no energy for everything  else? Also yes.

I’m sure there’s more but I’m writing this on my phone because I’m too lazy open my laptop and also, you guys get the point. Not all the tips work for all the people so if you’re looking to improve, read all the things and then pick and choose what works for you. Experiment. Manipulate. Track how you feel when doing thing. Check progress and determine if what you’re doing really is worth it. Then make a plan or list and follow that. 

And know that if you don’t feel like getting up at 5AM, your day isn’t a waste, you’re not lazy, and sleep is a wonderful thing. 

What are some popular or conventional tips you forgo?

P.S. Next week I’ll talk about some advice I do follow. #balance

No regrets

 

Let’s talk regret. I’m not talking the “I should not have watched that 10th consecutive episode of Sons of Anarchy last night” or “potato chips and Diet Coke for lunch was a bad idea” or “I regret wearing this dress on a boat because this shit is inappropriate” types of regret. (For the record, I’ve done all of these). I’m talking the serious type of regret. 

The life altering types of regret. 

The not taking the job type of regret. 

The staying home rather than go on that once in a lifetime trip type of regret. 

The staying in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy for longer than you should type of regret.

The not taking a chance on something, anything, because you were scared type of regret.

It also works in reverse. You know those “I can’t believe I did that” type stuff. 

Regret is a real, powerful emotion. It makes you think and do weird stuff. It can ruin your day, your week, your year. 

I gave up on regret at some point in my 20s. I’d love to tell you that there was this big eye opening moment but there wasn’t. It was simply some self-reflection that made me realize regret, for me, was a fucking waste of time. I can’t change the decision I made, and I made the decision I did because clearly at the time, it was right for me. Would others have done the same? Probably not. But they’re not me. They don’t have to live with my choices. 

I do. 

And I think that’s the crux of my no regrets philosophy. If I’m comfortable with the choice I made, I’m not bothered or saddened or guilty or shamed by it. I don’t feel the need to erase anything or wish I’d done this or that different. I don’t regret relationships or jobs or making that purchase or taking that 3 hour nap because every single choice has led me to where I am now. Everything has taught me a lesson. What I like, who I like, what I want. Regretting any of those parts of my life means denying something’s impact.

Have I done stupid things that maybe I shouldn’t have? Yes. Absolutely, 100% YES. But do I regret them? No. Absolutely not. And believe me, I’m grateful nothing terrible happened as a result of those god-awful choices. Because some of them could have gone incredibly awry.

Also, in dealing with depression and anxiety, having regret is simply stoking the fire. It opens up avenues to dwell and beat myself up and that’s a gateway to an episode. I don’t need anything else making it worse. Especially not something I can control. 

Let’s be clear: regret is multifaceted. The regret I’m talking here is based on choices or perceived loss of opportunity, not on time (think time spent with grandparents or kids). And you should never, ever do anything you’re not comfortable with because you think you might regret if you don’t. That’s just ridiculous. And pop psychology will lead you to believe that you should do those things simply because you don’t want a lifetime of regrets. That’s a steaming pile of shit. 

You’re an adult. You do what you want. 

And live without regret for doing so.

live-without-regret

 

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The only parenting advice you’ll ever need

I know some of you guys who read this here blog are pregnant or trying to become pregnant so in the spirit of wanting to help my fellow women out, I figured I’d drop some parenting knowledge on you since in my almost 10 years as a mother I’ve picked up a thing or two (even though much of the internet tells me I’m less of a mother because I only have the one kid but fuck them and also, I do know some shit). Hope it helps. 

The single most important thing you can do as a parent is this: DO WHATEVER THE FUCK FEELS BEST AND RIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILY. 

That is it. That’s legit all you need to do. 

Breast feeding vs. bottle feeding.

Daycare vs. staying home.

Vaginal birth vs. C-section.

Jarred baby food vs. making your own. 

Disposable diapers vs. cloth ones. 

Comfort them vs. let them cry it out.

Private school vs. public school.

Co-sleeping vs. sleeping in a crib (although, a caveat. If you want co-sleep, please research how to do it safely. And always, always, back to sleep)

Sedan vs. minivan.

Small house vs. larger house.

Losing the baby weight right away vs. taking a long time (or never).

The list goes on and on and on and on. There are so many choices and variables to consider and most of the time, it’s difficult to pick which direction you want to go (pro parenting secret: most of it is trial and error anyway) and once you do, someone is bound to tell you you’re wrong and then spend 20 minutes pontificating on why you’re wrong. Fuck those people. They don’t live in your house.

Also, spending time on Pinterest and many of the mommy sites can be overwhelming and at some point, make you feel completely inadequate because you’re not that crafty or remember to do those “I’m 4 months old today” pictures that are trendy and all over social media (pro parenting secret: Not posting a monthly photo update is not screwing up so please, for the love of whomever you believe in, don’t beat yourself up if you forget or just simply don’t want to. You are raising or growing a human being. That is time consuming enough without having to pose for pictures). But I assure you, you’re not nor will you be. You know what you’re doing and what you want to do and once the baby is here, you will know what is right for your child even if half or more of the time it doesn’t feel that way. Seriously, more than once I looked at my daughter when she was an infant and thought “what the fuck am I doing? How badly am I screwing up right now?” 

I’m sure I did plenty of things wrong. Still do. But she survived and she’s doing quite fine. Because I listened to myself, my instincts, and, as the one spending the majority of time with her, I knew what she meant when she cried (and yes, rest assured, you will eventually understand what all those different cries mean) and I learned what comforted her and made her happy and that’s what I did. And that’s what you’ll do, too. There’s a steep learning curve but you’ll get there. And you’ll be a great mom.

I PROMISE.

OH. One more thing. Your child does not have to have an Instagram ready nursery or outfits in order for you to be a great parent. Most of that shit is staged anyway. 

 

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P.S. I know I didn’t really mention dads in this post and honestly, I didn’t for a bunch of reasons. But. If the dad is around and willing to help, LET HIM. Really, if anyone is around and willing to help, let them (well, obviously within reason. Safety first). Get some fucking sleep. Eat a decent meal. Have coffee with a friend. Read a book. Just because you’re a mom now doesn’t mean you’re no longer a human being. 

A (long) note to my teenage self

Welcome to the Notes to My Teenage Self linkup. After you’re done reading my letter, feel free to add yours or check out some of the other ones.

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Dear teenage Jana,

I know. It’s pretty strange that you’re receiving this now, given the fact that I’m all old and you’re hanging out in 1994 at the ripe old age of 17. But I figure you’re getting ready to start your senior year of high school and it might be a good time to impart some wisdom on you to help get you through your final year in what is pretty much a flannel filled hell. I know you can’t wait to get out of those walls and start your new life but for a moment, I want you to sit back and appreciate what you currently have.

For starters, you live rent and expense free. You pay for nothing except CDs, concert tickets, books, and nail polish (incidentally, your spending habits don’t change much in your 20s. Or 30s). Enjoy the lack of financial responsibility and stress but, while you’re at it, learn how to manage money. It’s a lot easier to learn when your feet aren’t to the fire and also, it’ll prevent you from getting into debt as an adult. Trust when I say that getting into debt is fun but getting out is worse than first period math.

Second, spend time with your sisters. Especially the little one. Sure, you guys are making some memories but you’ll be moving out soon and she’s only 7. You’ll miss more than you’ll want to admit and you’re going to want more than Friday nights watching Boy Meets World and driving her to piano lessons to cling to (oh, and convincing her a monster lives in the hole you kicked in the wall and making her scared to go up the stairs? It’s funny but don’t do that. It’s kind of mean).

Third, all the stuff you’re worried about? Like finding friends you can trust or having a boyfriend or not fitting in or thinking you’re fat and ugly or feeling like the rest of your life will be exactly like it is now? I get that you’re concerned but believe me, you’re worrying for nothing. Let it go. In just a few short months, you’ll find some of the most amazing friends ever (and you’ll still be friends with some of them, all these years later) and you’ll realize that they like and appreciate you for YOU, not someone you think you need to pretend to be. Boyfriends? Don’t worry about that shit. That’ll happen (including, in 2 short years, meeting the person you’ll marry), too.

And as far as your appearance, learn to enjoy exercising and eating healthy now, make it part of your routine, and you’ll feel so much better. Because feeling good and attractive really starts with liking who you are in the mirror and no one but you is in control of that. And by taking charge of it now, it’ll make it much easier on the old lady version of you. So if you could do that, I’d appreciate it.

Now, let’s move on to the life advice.

  1. You are talented and creative. Use that to your advantage and when you get to college, pick a major that will make you happy. Keep some practicality and ability to get a job in mind but if you choose to pursue something you love, you will be successful.
  2. Believe in yourself. You are smart and you truly can do anything. Never let anyone, family, friends, or other, make you doubt that. If they’re making you feel bad, they’re not worth your time. Don’t let their negativity sink in. Deflect that shit like you’re wearing Teflon.
  3. You know how you try hard to be nice to everyone? Keep doing that. Even if it backfires and you still wind up at home alone on a Friday or Saturday night, just keep being nice. You’ll love yourself for it and learning to love yourself, and having to live with yourself, is more important than any date or party. And for the record, assholes are everywhere, in every phase of life. It sucks but you’ll eventually learn how to sniff them out and avoid them.
  4. Do your homework. Read. Learn. Work hard. Go to class (except gym. Go ahead and feel free to skip that, which I know contradicts my earlier advice about being healthy but gym is pretty much the worst). Never be ashamed or embarrassed about being smart. Smart girls are awesome and although the names Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling mean nothing to you right now, you’ll understand when you’re me (and this piece of advice will make total sense).

 

I apologize that instead of a few short notes, you’re getting a fairly long letter. But you’ll come to realize that you are a verbose gal and once you get started, it’s hard to stop (also, you use words like “gal”). It’s one of your charming quirks.

My point is this–who you are is just fine. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, wrong with you. I know it doesn’t feel like it now because high school is one long fucking nightmare filled with people who seem to have it all together. But believe me, they don’t. They are just as confused and awkward and full of self-doubt as you are. They’re just better at hiding it.

So love yourself, be confident in who you are, and remember that it’s almost over. Enjoy the good moments (and there will be more than you think) and don’t let the bad ones define you.

See you in 20 years.

Go Blue Hens!

Fondly,

37 year old Jana

 

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