I was out on this beautiful fall Sunday taking a rare walk with my husband and daughter when, thinking aloud, I said, “I have no idea what to blog about this week.”  My husband, only half joking, replied, “Write about how much you hate your life and how everything sucks.”  And so, in the absence of the creative inspiration that usually hits me at some point during the week, that is exactly what I’m going to do.

First, I should clarify.  I DON’T hate my life, and everything DOESN’T suck.  My husband was just poking fun at me a little because I’ve been super whiny and negative lately.  I started a new job this fall, and everything related to that (i.e., life) has been pretty stressful, between learning the ropes, adjusting to different expectations, having my daughter start daycare and my parents start a sometimes complicated schedule of babysitting and staying overnight, and trying to fit in some fun time while maintaining some sense of order in my house and joy in my marriage.  The balance is a little askew right now, and I’m fighting hard not to tumble off the edge of the scale.  It’s a theme of life that’s older than the dinosaurs: change is hard, y’all.  Balance is even harder.

But I’m not going to whine.  Whining feels good for a minute and helps me feel validated, but it doesn’t accomplish anything.  Even crying is more useful – at least after a good cry I feel refreshed or determined or ready to take on a challenge.  Whining just heightens my anxiety.  So instead, I’m making an action plan.

Get more help.  I’m one of those people, probably just like 90% of you who are reading this, whose default is to decline assistance and power through on my own.  I will say that I’ve gotten a little better at this since I had my daughter, as it was quickly apparent that I could NOT do it all on my own.  I need to more frequently take people up on their offers of assistance.  Even something small like my husband washing the highchair tray for me makes my evenings feel more manageable.  (Related: I just ordered from Peapod for the first time, which is huge!)

Exercise.  True confession: I have made almost no effort to work out or do any kind of exercise since I was about 7 months pregnant – well over a year ago.  My husband has a good routine going now and has been reminding me lately that it is a huge stress reliever.  We have a treadmill in our basement, so there’s really no excuse.  This will have to happen either at 4:30 in the morning or after dinner, but I think it will be worth it to get myself moving.

Get organized.  My house is such a ridiculous mess.  You would never know how spotless it was a few weeks ago for my daughter’s first birthday party.  Mess definitely contributes to my stress level, but I constantly feel like I don’t have time to clean up.  I need to get back into a routine of taking even 15-20 minutes each day to put my house in order in an effort to start putting my mind in order.

Set aside time for me and my husband.  I will admit, lately I have been kind of a naggy, critical, emotional, erm, person.  It’s not my husband’s fault that my stress level has been so high, and I shouldn’t get mad at him for his inability to read my mind.  I think that if we dedicated more time just to each other (as opposed to doing side-by-side housework or taking the baby out somewhere) then we would feel much more connected.  It’s time to schedule a couple date nights.

Smile more.  Did you know that smiling, even when you aren’t happy, actually makes you feel happier and less stressed?  Here’s some stuff that made me smile recently that I hope will make you all smile too:

-An adorable video of a guy breakdancing with his toddler.

-Many of you have probably seen this, but I never tire of watching it: comedian Jim Gaffigan on parenthood.

-And finally, pretty rand-o but I strongly urge you to watch this amazing video from the 80’s.  It is guaranteed to make your life better.

I pretty much have everything I ever wanted in life – an amazing, supportive life partner, a precious, funny little girl, a beautiful house, a career I’m incredibly proud of… At times like these when everything seems so difficult, I think that I must be doing something so wrong to feel as miserable as I’ve been feeling.  It’s time for me to take a little action and begin to reclaim my happiness.