Breaking the mold: Why a change will do you good

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Spinning Class

because-I-said-so-greenA few years ago I got a wild hair and decided to certify as a Spinning instructor. Since that time, I’ve taught a few classes a week at our city recreation center, where I get paid to exercise and chat with the cool people that come to my classes. It’s a fantastic gig.

As an instructor, I am constantly reminding my fellow riders of the importance of switching it up. Depending on the day, we vary our resistance, position and intensity, and often we change all three. The workouts and music are different every day, too, and I also encourage riders to cross train with other types of exercise, such as strength training, yoga or running.

Why? Because there is power in doing something different.

The way I see it, what is true in fitness is true in motherhood, too. So much of what we do as mothers every day has to be done … every day. Lunches have to be made, kids must be fed and bills must be paid. Many days, going full-throttle is the only option. After all, things have to get done, right?

I confess I am a major routine-and-schedule-loving girl at heart, but there is something magical about doing things differently. When I find myself cranky with my kids for no real reason or when I feel frustrated all day long, that is a sign that I need a change. There can be a lot of monotony in motherhood if you let it creep in. Next time you feel like you’re in a funk, why not switch it up?

Sure, you could book a weekend getaway or pencil in a day of shopping and dining with your friends. But I’ve found smaller changes help, too.

Instead of getting gussied up like you usually do every morning, toss on some sweats, a T-shirt and a hat and go granola for a day. Or, if stretchy pants are part of your go-to uniform, put a little more effort into your ensemble and see if it improves your mood.

If you rarely relax, try sitting down on the couch and watching TV or reading a book in the middle of the day. (No, watching TV while you wash the dishes does not count.) One day recently, after I put my crazy toddler down for a nap, I sat down on the couch in a fog of fatigue and watched two back-to-back episodes of a Martha Stewart cooking show. When my son got home from school, I had him sit down and watch with me. It was glorious.

If you’re usually up all hours, treat yourself with an early bedtime. Or vice-versa if you usually turn in early — stay up late doing an activity you enjoy.

Don’t wait for someone else to tell you need a break. For a few weeks — well months, actually — I’ve been dreaming of spending a few hours at the spa. In the back of my mind I was waiting for my husband to surprise me with a day at the spa “just because.” My husband is a very kind and thoughtful guy, but he can’t read my mind. Instead of waiting for him to save the day, I signed up for email promotions from the spa, watched for a deal and booked myself a three-hour spa treatment. Huzzah!

Just like in my Spinning classes, sometimes the change I need to make isn’t to dial things down a bit — sometimes I need to gear my efforts up a notch or two. Maybe it’s time to revamp the family chore system or be more intentional about one-on-one time with each of my kids. Even when it means more work (usually for me!) I find that change, period, is invigorating.

Whether it’s trying hot yoga, cleaning out your closet or painting your toes when you “should be” scrubbing toilets, do something different — today. I guarantee that a change will do you good.

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Natalie Hollingshead is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer and editor. She writes regularly about home, family, food and travel for a handful of publications, and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Elyssa Andrus. A native of Alberta, Canada, Natalie lives in Orem with her husband and their three children.

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