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30 Days of Discipline

On showing up, doing the work, and improving your life

They say when you give birth to a child, you become a different person. You’re not the old you in many ways. You don’t have the same body, the same priorities, and definitely not the same energy.

What I noticed from the early days of motherhood was that one of my favorite traits was increasingly hard to come by.


Pre-mom life, I loved setting a lofty goal, making a plan, and going after it every day. My discipline had gotten me across the finish line of a marathon and several half-marathons. It got me to be gluten-free and dairy-free for years and finally manage IBS. It got me through popping out a few drafts of a book before popping out my baby.

Then it seemed the only thing I could be disciplined about was breastfeeding. I kind of had to be, though I also could’ve thrown in the towel. My only real goal in 2021 was to make it to one year of breastfeeding my baby, and I was in no way prepared for that to take up every ounce of my being.

But after that first year, I thought I could slip back into my old self. There were numerous times I tried to give up dairy again or my addiction to peanut butter Perfect Bars (seriously, try one), or my beloved coffee, without making it to a whole week before caving. I’d start new writing projects, show up for a few days, and then ditch everything.

On our flight to North Carolina about a month ago, I listened to a podcast episode on Deep Questions with Cal Newport about discipline. I liked his approach, to just make a new habit easy by doing something for only 10 minutes a day, preferably at the same time each day.

This idea wasn’t new to me, I had just made excuses for it in the past. I could wake up earlier, but Leo’s sleep has always been unpredictable. There’s no guarantee that if I set my alarm to get up a half hour earlier than his usual wakeup it would be free from a sleepy child crying to get out of his crib.

But gosh, North Carolina inspired me. Maybe it was seeing Nicholas Sparks’ office and my dream career wrapped up in one building suite. Maybe it was all the famous movie landmarks in Wilmington. Maybe it was yoga on the docks in Southport. I was inspired to not just write, but daydream.

So, I didn’t waste any time. The morning after we landed home in Arizona, I set my alarm for 4:30am, thinking I’d have 30 minutes before Leo’s alarm gives him the green light to get out of his crib.

My first goal was to create a meditation routine, so I used the first 15 minutes for meditation and prayer. I want to be a more chill and relaxed mom. I get stressed out easily, and I rarely take time to breathe, meditate, or do nothing. So, yes, I set my alarm 30 minutes early so I could close my eyes again, and breathe and pray.

And the second half I intended to write something straight out of my imagination. No agenda, no pressure, just playful daydreams on paper.

That first morning of this new routine, sweet Leo started crying the second I opened my notebook. Instead of throwing in the towel right there, I had to laugh. Of course he cried the second I opened my notebook. This was a test. I was committed to showing up for this for 30 days, even if Leo cried through it.

For those first few mornings, I had to go in Leo’s room and either get him back to sleep, turn his nightlight on or give him a book to keep him busy until his alarm light turned green (more about that in the Parenting section).

But I kept with my routine, and magically, Leo started making it all the way through to his alarm without crying. I decided to meddle a bit and pushed back his alarm by two minutes, and it kept going well.

Then even more magically, he started sleeping past his alarm. The universe rewarded me for showing up by giving me even more time to write each morning.

Honestly, it has been easy to wake up this early. I’m enjoying this routine so much that I’m excited about it when my alarm goes off. I love having that quiet time to connect spiritually, and then the writing has been enjoyable. It has me thinking about my story and writing throughout the day, which is actually the single thing that’s really helping me feel more connected to my pre-mom self – the girl who always has a story going in her head.

It’s also nice to have this time to myself every morning, rather than be on Leo’s schedule from the second I wake up.

So I’ve made it through 30 days of discipline and it has been so worth it. I can’t possibly keep my eyes open past 8pm anymore, but I’ve not got an established meditation and prayer routine. I’ve found a way to make progress in my writing every single day, before the day can get away from me.

I’m still addicted to the Perfect Bar + coffee breakfast every morning, but hey, one thing at a time. This 30-day stretch has at least shown me that I can still do things I set my minds to.

If I can make this change happen, I know you can too.

  • What area of your life would you most like to improve?

  • What habit do you need to develop to make that happen?

  • How can you create 10 minutes in your day? Get creative!

  • Print out a calendar, or if you have a planner, make a big red X on the day every time you show up for your practice. Don’t break the chain.

You got this.

TS Song of the Week – “Change”

An oldie and such a goodie. If anything is going to go along with a post on discipline, it’s this song she wrote for the 2008 Olympics.

Parenting Tip I Tried – The Alarm Clock

Leo got his alarm clock for Christmas, right before he turned two. I’d say it started working for us better as he got to around 2.5. Still, I don’t think it hurts to try it earlier, because the more they see it the more they get used to it or understand what its purpose is. Remember, 90% of parenting is repeating yourself for as long as it effing takes.

We have this cute little dog alarm clock, and his light stays red all night until it turns green at the set alarm time. We don’t like that there’s a light on all night, but we cover it with a book so you can just see the color coming out the top. That way kiddo isn’t staring at a bright red light all night.

It took some time for this to work, but it’s well worth sticking with it. Leo is an early riser, and if he doesn’t sleep til 5 then he’s really not getting enough sleep. So we started by going in when he’d cry too early and reminding him that it’s not time to wake up yet. When the light is green, we’ll come back.

The older they get and the more you do this, they start to understand. Now every night at bedtime, I tell him “I’ll see you when your dog turns green.” His response: “I get out of my crib!”

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