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Appreciating the present can be challenging when you’ve got a baby on your hip and a toddler yanking on your pants leg for your attention. I get it. Appreciating the present can be challenging when you feel like your life is one big giant to-do list. I get it. BUT what I also get is that everything just does happen for a season and it’s important to be present and appreciate today.
Even if sometimes it’s hard. Even if sometimes you want to lock yourself in the closet and have a big cry. Even if you’ve taken your child to 12 medical appointments in the last couple of weeks. Even if all of those things. So…… when you’re all wrapped up in the complex special needs life, how do you have time to even be present?
How are you supposed to be present when you feel like you need to do 4 things at once if you have any hope of finishing your to-do list today (or within this century for that matter)? I’ve got you! We will work through this together. You can learn to appreciate what you have and be present in the moment even though you have a hectic life. It’s possible for you!
Appreciation vs Gratitude
Appreciation and gratitude can kind of get lumped together, so we’re gonna break them up and define each one of them.
Appreciation (according to Google) is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. Or it can be a full understanding of a situation.
Gratitude (according to Google) the quality of being thankful, ready to show appreciation for, and to return kindness.
Both of these are VERY important, but we will be mainly discussing appreciation in this post.
The importance of appreciating what you have
Appreciating what you have will make you more grateful for your life. It will help you realize your life is already amazing. You can make a conscious effort to appreciate what you already have. It's not saying you won't ever have anything else or want anything else. It's just appreciating and being grateful for what have RIGHT NOW. If you've been around awhile, you know I love me some Natalie Bacon. She’s a life coach and talks about this topic all of the time.
She says you need to appreciate what you have and love it from abundance. Meaning you appreciate and are grateful for what you have now THEN you want new things from that place. When you don’t appreciate what you have now you have some negative energy (scarcity) and that negative energy won’t make having the new thing better. You’ll still have the negative energy even though you’ll have the new thing. It won’t be as enjoyable for you either.
How to appreciate what you have now
You can learn to appreciate what you have now. It’s totally possible and available to you. It doesn’t mean you’ll love every second of every day (remember life is supposed to be 50/50), but it does mean you’ll create that abundant positive energy. You will be focusing on the good things instead of the bad. The good and positive things will rise to the top of your mind vs being at the bottom like they usually are.
I love love love gratitude journals. Gratitude journals are for daily use (or at minimum a few times a week). You can buy one that has daily prompts, or you can just get a notebook and write out 3 things you’re grateful for that day. I have done both ways and love them both. This is my favorite gratitude journal. It’s a small book and focuses on the practice of gratitude journaling for 5 minutes a day. It’s amazing!
Practicing gratitude every day makes me feel like I have an amazing life and it really helps me know for sure that I absolutely love my life. It doesn’t mean my life is all rainbows and daisies and that’s okay. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
There is an underlying thought in society today that if you’re positive and happy most of the time you “have your head in the clouds”. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. It just means that you have learned to appreciate the good with the bad. It means you really appreciate and love your life and what you have right now.
You’re already complete right now. You don’t need anything else to make you complete (like that new purse you’ve been eyeballing for weeks).
Ditch the comparison trap
The comparison trap is a dream killer. Nothing good comes out of the comparison trap. If you’re looking at someone’s profile/wall for more than a couple of minutes you’re either judging or comparing, and you need to stop. You’ve probably heard this before, but you’re gonna hear it again now. People’s social media profiles are their highlight reels. They aren’t going to post anything bad on them. They cropped the messy part of their house out of the photo before posting. It’s not real.
When you compare, it’s usually based on the negative scarcity mindset. You’re usually thinking “Oh must be nice to have a new car. Why can’t I get a new car?” or “How are her kids so clean all of the time? I’m must be a bad mom because my kid still has chocolate on their mouth from lunchtime and it was two hours ago.”
Nothing good can come from you comparing your life to someone else’s. Stop doing it.
How to stop comparing yourself while on social media:
- Remove the app from your phone
- Schedule times to check social media during the day
- Unfollow the person causing you to compare the most
- Set a timer to only check social media for 15 minutes. After that, get off.
Be present in the moment
Being present in the moment can be a chore for busy moms because:
- You feel like your life is one big giant to-do list.
- You feel like if you're not multitasking you're gonna get behind.
- Your to-do list is in your head and you feel like if you stop, you’ll lose your momentum and forget your entire to-do list.
- You feel like you can’t relax until you “finish your list”.
I get it. It can be challenging to stop and be present. As a list checker myself, I get you.
Ways to be present in the moment:
Delete social media apps from your phone
Social media is time-consuming. If you're an iPhone user, you can look at your usage and see how much time you’re spending on social media per day. It’s a lot more than you think, I bet. Studies have shown that the average social media user, spends an average of 2.5 hours per day on social media apps. https://review42.com/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-social-media/ . That’s a lot of time! Put your phone down and be present. You can still have social media time, just do it purposefully and not unconsciously throughout the day. Deleting them from your phone will help you do it more consciously.
Limit social media time
Limit the amount of time you spend on social media each day.
Here are some ways to limit your social media time:
- Only check social media at certain times every day. Like during lunch and right when you get home as an example.
- Set a timer to only be on social media for 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Install an app to block/limit time on certain apps. (Common apps for this are: Moment and Offtime)
- Remove the social media apps from your phone
Scheduling downtime sounds so boring. I get it. But scheduling it actually gives people who feel like they always have to be doing something permission to do nothing. It’s giving them permission to just chill. It can make you relax and be more present because you know you’re gonna get to your to-do list.
Schedule family time
Scheduling family time means that it’s important to you and it ensures that you make time for it. You can schedule a family day once a month and you can schedule from 4-5 every single day to spend time with your kids. If someone calls, wants to come over, you feel like you have to work, or whatever, you don’t. It all gets put on the back burner until your family time is finished. Doing this will help you know that you’re spending time with your family and help you to feel less guilty when you’re working because you know that you’ve made a conscious effort to have one on one time with your family.
Stop all of those crazy phone notifications
Stop all of the phone noises. You do not need to have all of those phone notifications. Repeat after me “I do not need all of these phone notifications”. Turn them off. Like for forever, You don't know how many times a day you pick up your phone and then get sucked into your phone for like 10 minutes. Just stop.
How to change your phone notifications:
You can either change all of your phone notifications at one time or by one app at a time. You just google your phone and “change notification settings” for directions. On an iPhone, you just go into settings and then notifications. All of the apps are on the screen and you can choose how you want to handle notifications for that app. It's time-consuming, but in the long run, it saves you a ton of time and sanity. For iPhones, there are several options for notifications.
You can stop notifications completely for that app or only have the notification showing in 1 place. An easy way to do it is to just change all notifications to stop and then go into each app and add back the notifications for the ones you actually want.
You don’t need notifications for emails or social media. You just don’t. The notifications and emails will still be there when you sign into the app. You don’t need to know when someone posts in a Facebook group right away. That’s not an emergency.
Practicing self-care helps you appreciate what you have, you. You need to learn to appreciate and love yourself. You deserve self-care. It’s okay to take time out to pamper yourself and care for yourself too. You can’t help others when your own tank is empty. You don’t even have to have a lot of time for self-care. You can do it in just 15 minutes per day. Practicing self-care doesn’t mean you need to take a day off work and have a $150 spa day. It can mean whatever you want to do to take care of yourself.
Did you used to read, but now you can’t find the time? Great, carve out 15 minutes and read a new book.
Did you use to love working out before you had children and now you can't find the time? Great, take 30 minutes a few times a week, tell the husband he's on his own, and take off down the road.
Figure out what you want to do and schedule it. Take it in bite-sized chunks. Maybe you want to get up to working out 3 times a week, so work on consistently doing it once a week and finding the time for that, and then move it up to 3 times per week.
You have time to take care of yourself. If you don’t have 15 minutes a day for yourself, you don’t have a life. I first heard this from Rachel Hollis on a podcast and I thought it was so right. You have 15 minutes. Find the time and get it done.
Create a “What’s going right” list
Get out a pen and sheet of paper and start writing everything that’s going right in your life right now. Set the timer for 5 minutes and start writing. At first, it may take you a moment to get started and that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You can write anything you want. You can write anything from I love my new car to I’m happy for my family’s health this year. Whatever. Just set a timer and get to writing. You can keep doing this a few times a week if you want to keep you in the mindset of looking for what’s going right.
Practice wanting what you already have
This flows with the previous list perfectly. It’s a concept I first heard about from Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School. You already have a lot of things you want; you just don’t realize it. This helps you really accept what you already have and realize how amazing your life is. It helps you to focus on what you HAVE (positive) vs. what you DON’T HAVE (negative).
Get out a sheet of paper and a pen. Think about your life. Look around your house. What do you want that you already have? It can be big things or small things. It doesn’t matter.
Here are some examples:
- I want a husband.
- I want two kids.
- I want one daughter.
- I want one son.
- I want that dining room table.
- I want a Chevy Tahoe.
- I want a Great Dane named Penny.
I want hardwood floors.
- I want a fireplace.
- I want to be married.
- I want to be a mom.
- I want to live in this house.
- I want to have a home office.
These are just some examples I wrote about my own life in a few seconds. It’s that easy. It makes you feel really grateful and appreciate what you have. You’re already blessed. You’re already lucky. You just need to open your eyes and look around.
To take this work to the next level, grab yourself a copy of the free Journal Prompts for Special Needs Moms. There are a whole page of journal prompts to get you started along with a page to help you complete them. You just pick one from the list and write the first thing that comes to mind. Journaling is a really great process for practicing gratitude and appreciating what you have. It's something that can help get you in a positive frame of mind. Grab your copy HERE.