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Playful Self-Discipline: The One Quarter Mark

It’s Thursday and time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline project. March’s theme is Organization, and so far I’ve written about making my bed, setting priorities and spring cleaning little by little. Today I’m veering away from the theme a bit in honour of the Spring Equinox, and I’m looking back over this first quarter of the year. What’s been successful? What still needs more work? Where do I go from here?

A Test of Self-Discipline

Last week I came down with a really nasty cold, and as I felt myself getting sicker and sicker I could feel my mood plummeting lower and lower. Pretty soon I was wallowing in a vat of self-pity. Now, I’m the first to admit that being sick as a stay-at-home mom is pretty much the worst part of the job. And as much as I want to say that I rose above it all and was a model of positivity and good cheer for my children, well, I can’t say that’s totally true. I did complain about my kids running around and shouting, and I spent as much time as I could loafing on the couch, but when both girls really needed some attention I also got down on the floor with them and glued a massive collage during the afternoon I felt the crummiest. I then escaped to bed the moment my husband came in the door and left him to cook dinner and put the kids to bed.


When I finally started to feel healthier, my positive mood gradually returned. And I learned that these things I’ve been working on really do help me shift the funk faster. What worked the best?

Meditation and generally taking the approach of not making my bad mood more meaningful than it was.
– Cleaning the house and yes, making my bed.
– Making progress on freelance work
– Getting outdoors for a hike

Room for Growth

One area where I still feel like I need more focus and dedication is in getting out for regular heartrate-increasing cardio sessions. I stopped going to Zumba after getting a bit bored with it and I rediscovered the pleasure of going running, but now I need to be as dedicated about running as I was about going to Zumba. There is something about paying for a class that motivates me to get there on time every week. When I do go for a run I feel really, really good afterwards. I just need to go more often.

salmonberry blossom

I also want to have a meditation practice that is firmly enmeshed in my daily routine. Co-sleeping makes waking up earlier than my toddler pretty difficult, but I wonder whether it would be possible. Otherwise I can sneak in 10 minutes of meditation before my husband has to leave for work, but it’s hard to shake the feeling like I’m “on the clock” already, because I really am.

So, Is Playful Self-Discipline Worth It?

So far I feel like this project has been worthwhile for me on a personal level. I don’t know how much it’s making for compelling blog fodder, but in my actual daily life I think the benefit is starting to show. A couple of days ago Tom said, “You know, ever since you started this self-discipline thing you’ve been much easier to live with. You seem like you’re more in control of your life and willing to work at changing things that are not working for you.” So, these words from someone who has lived with me for more than ten years, well, that’s pretty high praise indeed. Maybe self-discipline naturally comes as we age, and maybe life seems easier to handle when spring is just getting underway, but I believe attitude and the behaviours we practice in daily life make a difference too.

And lest you think I’m tooting my own horn a bit too loudly here, I will be the first to admit that I have PLENTY of room for improvement. Just this evening, while I was surfing the internet and eating dinner with my kids (multitasking at dinnertime, BOO!) Bea called me Poo-Poo Boots after I shouted at her to stop getting up and down from the table. My shoulders tensed and I bunched up my face in a serious way and I said in my stern voice, “I am offended by that name! Don’t call me Poo-Poo Boots again.” But just try saying Poo-Poo Boots out loud without laughing. Really, try it! Kids are always ready with reminders to stay humble, live in the moment and keep our sense of humour hanging by our sides, ready and waiting.

How are your resolutions going so far this year? Have you made any changes so far in 2011, big or small?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cynthia March 24, 2011, 10:03 pm

    Wow, Tom’s words must have been very affirming for you. I’m impressed with the work you’ve done so far!

    I feel like I’ve had a bad couple (few?) weeks. Too many moments of having my older boy tell me, “Mommy, you’re not being kind right now.” That’s always humbling to hear from a child! I’m hoping it’s just the last of the winter funk and things will improve along with the weather. I’ve also fallen into some bad sleep and diet habits, so I could definitely do with some self-discipline there.

    • michelle March 25, 2011, 10:58 pm

      It does feel good to hear a nice compliment! Although it’s always one step forward and two steps back, and today was a really rough day. I think I need to address my need for balance/alone time/valuing my work in some future installment of the playful self-discipline series, because I’m starting to notice that it’s becoming a theme in my life. Not getting time and space for myself means it’s so much harder to be fully present, patient and self-disciplined with my kids.

      It is so hard to hear the truth from our kids. I know I’ve received my share of comments like that from Bea. I can feel the change in season coming though! More outside time often helps us get along better with each other.

  • Rachael March 25, 2011, 8:14 am

    One thing that I’ve noticed about blogging is that not only is it hooking me into a network of thoughtful parents, but it is making me more mindful about how I live my life. Just writing about my life and sharing it with others, I think, is helping me to make difficult changes. Are you finding it to be that way, yourself?

    I appreciate your writing about and sharing your efforts with us!

    • michelle March 25, 2011, 11:02 pm

      Yes, definitely. Knowing that I’ve committed myself to writing about self-discipline makes me pay more attention to how it’s going in my life, and I feel like being public about it is helping me stay accountable instead of letting that self-discipline slip. Sometimes I feel unsure about how much of it is really interesting to other people, because posts that consist of “I made my bed today like I said I was going to, and it was good!” could be pretty bland after a while. :) But hopefully there are some issues and goals that I’m working on that resonate with other folks too.

  • Andrej March 30, 2011, 1:46 pm

    I think that self discipline is much like building a muscle. You have to improve it gradually and always go to the limit, but not over it! If you try to lift weights that are too heavy you won’t get anywhere. If you train to light you won’t improve either. So you have to first look at yourself realistically where your self discipline stands now and then gradually improve it.