The Afternoon Routine
I don’t know about you, but I definitely hit a slump in the afternoon. It usually hits around 1pm. The morning energy (aka coffee) has worn off, the realities of the day have begun to set in, and my motivation to get things done is on the decline. I know in the previous post, I joked about being an afternoon person, but the reality is that I struggle with afternoons as well. I think it is easier to establish morning and evening routines because often times those hours are more predictable. Afternoons can be filled with a number of things, so at least for me it has been difficult to establish a good rhythm. I think this will become easier when I have kids in school, but for now afternoons are a bit tricky for me to figure out. They are so open that it can be hard to know the right things I should be filling them up with. I am still working on establishing good afternoon rhythms, but here are 5 tips that help shape my midday and get me out of that dreaded 1pm slump.
1. Get Outside
For me, this is one of the most important aspects of my afternoons. I need to have at least one outing to get us out of the house. Some days this will be an actual outing with a plan and time to meet someone and do something. Other days, the outing will literally be just to walk Nala around the block. The point here is that there does not need to be pressure to have a big outing every day. At least in my book, an outing is anything that is getting us out those two front doors. Sometimes the outing is going to be something really fun, like baby yoga, and it will take a 3-hour time slot. Other times, it will look more practical, like going to the grocery store. But Trader Joe’s can even be fun, especially when you get samples and stickers. With most things, it is all about mindset. I think it is especially important when Hudson starts to get older that I can model to him that it is a fun and exciting adventure to get out of the house, regardless of what we are doing. As much as I can, I try to make our afternoon outing include time with people, whether that be our new friends in MOMS Club, old friends I have not seen in a while, or family. I always leave the outing the most refreshed when I am able to also connect with people. It is amazing how one trip out of the house can really change your whole day. It helps me gain perspective when I allow myself to leave the house. It reminds me that there is more to life than loads of laundry and dirty dishes. It reminds me that there is in fact life beyond the walls of our home and that it is important to participate in it. Trust me, getting out is not always easy for me. I am a homebody through and through, but when I push myself to get out, both Hudson and I are happier. I also find that my days are overall more productive when we do get out of the house. I gain energy and motivation to get done the other things on my list.
Movement is something I took for granted in high school and college because it was something I had to do. Once I graduated from college and no longer needed to run, I stopped almost all movement. It was not until movement in my life ceased that I realized how dependent my body, mind, and soul were on it. I am finally understanding that when my days lack movement, I fall into a major slump. I am on edge. I am grumpy. I am sad. I am unmotivated. I am tired. It does not always make sense, but going out for a 9-mile run brings me so much energy and joy. I always battle with the logical side of my brain that tells me: “You are tired; therefore, you should do nothing.” This is such a lie! Even when I physically feel exhausted, pushing myself to move almost always has benefits. There are very few times I regret running. I think the only times I have truly regretted it were times I was physically ill and it did not make sense to run. The fact of the matter is that making time for movement in your day, whether that be a workout in the park or a stroller walk, is not always going to be easy. Trust me, when it is pouring down rain on a Saturday morning, I don’t actually feel like going out for a long run. But last Saturday, I did it. And again did the same thing this morning in the pouring rain. And let me tell you, I was so happy I did. It was hard and windy and long, but it gave me life. I came home inspired and motivated and ready to tackle the challenges of the day. Things feel more possible after you run 9 miles in the pouring rain. I am learning the importance of movement in my life. It is a super important part of my days. But, it does not come naturally to me. It is something that I definitely need to schedule and prioritize. A few months back I overheard something at a yoga class that really spoke to me. A woman told her friend that she treats going to yoga class as a scheduled meeting with a client. She puts it in her calendar and makes sure she is there. Just like we would never just skip a meeting because we did not feel like, we should not do the same when it comes to movement and our health. Ever since I heard this, it has completely changed the way I think about working out. My runs and yoga classes are now things that I schedule into my calendar. I don’t cancel them. I show up. Movement in your life should not be a thing that only happens if there is time. Or if the conditions are perfect. Or if you have the energy to do it. You have to make time and you have to show up to it like it is a very important meeting with a very important person…you!
3. Clean with Timers
The fact is I could spend my whole afternoons just cleaning our house. With a golden retriever that sheds like it is her full-time job and a baby that has toys and activity centers and mats all over the house, cleaning could be happening all. the. time. I don’t want to be that mom that is so obsessed with keeping the perfect and clean home that she misses out of the joy found in the mess. I don’t want Hudson to associate me with always being stressed out and cleaning. I want him to see his mom as someone who is okay stepping aside from the dishes to play with him. I want him to see someone who does not freak out when another spill happens or things get out of order. In order to help set boundaries when it comes to cleaning, I have been setting timers. This has helped me so much! I do not always get to finish the amount of cleaning I wanted to do in that time, but that is okay. I can walk away knowing I got a good 15 minutes of cleaning in. Sometimes, I realize I just need more time so I do sometimes extend it, but try not to extend it by more than 10 minutes. Cleaning with timers really helps me focus in on what needs to be done. It also allows me to make cleaning like a game. I am a very competitive person, so this works well with my personality. Can I clean the whole kitchen in 15 minutes? Yes I can!
4. Don’t Waste Nap Times
This is speaking mostly to the moms/dads that have littles at home that are nap takers. Nap time is sacred time in the Capel home. For the most part, I try really hard to ensure that we are home for nap time and that it will not be interrupted. I know this is going to become even more of a challenge when we have kids in school, but for now it works out pretty well. In the first couple months of Hudson, his naps were also my naps. I am terrible with actually resting, as I have already alluded to in previous posts, but those first couple months I actually needed those naps to function. Now I don’t really ever take naps, but I use Hudson’s nap time as a time for me to do work that fills me up. For a while I was using nap time to get more cleaning and practical things done around the house. I soon realized that this was causing me to feel even more burnt out by the time Hudson woke up. Now I rarely clean during Hudson’s naps. I usually use that time to write, read, or scrapbook. I am still doing something, but I am intentionally choosing to do things that I am passionate about. I call this time “active rest.” These activities truly do fill me up and give me rest, while still allowing me to do something. I know the nap has a time limit so by being more aware of my time constraints, I am able to get right to the work that fills me up as soon as I walk out of nursery. It is so important that I don’t waste this time. There are days where I definitely have wasted precious nap time and I always regret it. Just like babies need their naps, mamas need their time to do the things they love and were created to do.
5. Eat a Cookie
So isn’t there a rule that you’re not supposed to eat a lot of sugar before 2pm? Maybe I am making that up, but I think that is a bad rule. I am all about having a sweet treat to help with that afternoon slump. As mentioned earlier on, afternoons can be hard. It can really help me when I pause in my afternoon schedule and allow for something sweet. I am not saying go crazy and eat that whole box of cookies (even though sometimes it happens), but have that piece of chocolate at 1pm. Or that slice of cake. Or that candy you have stashed in your drawer. I really look forward to a small treat in the afternoon. Usually this “treat” is in the form of espresso, but I do occasionally have a leftover cookie from the night before. I am someone who definitely is extrinsically motivated. Last week when Lance requested I do the taxes, I asked him if I finished them by that day if I could have In-N-Out for dinner. It does not take much to motivate me! A hamburger and fries is all it takes to get me to crank out taxes in a few hours. I do the same thing with sweets in the afternoon. When you finish folding these loads of laundry, you can have those vegan cookies. These are the conversations I have with myself throughout the day. And you know what? I finished folding the loads of laundry!
Afternoons can be hard. But I think it can be a real game changer when you view the afternoons as a big 6-hour time window (for me, that is 10-4) that has infinite possibilities. Afternoons have the potential to be filled with fun and people and new experiences that my morning and evening routines typically do not have. Thinking of afternoons as these windows of opportunities, alongside giving it guidance by incorporating the 5 elements discussed above, can really give a lot of life to your midday.