I’ve heard of all kinds of “one-month challenges,” from sticking to certain diets to adopting particular workout plans. Today, though, I’m sharing one I’ve created for myself, in an effort to become happier.

By no means am I sad right now. I absolutely love being a mom, and life is truly better than it’s ever been! But I do feel behind nearly all the time, and I think that making a few small changes might positively affect that. Last month, I made some life tweaks–like hiring extra help and giving Mitch a bunch of business/editorial responsibilities–and I can’t get over how much things have changed as a result! Here’s hoping that these little alterations make an impact, too.

Change #1

Get up at 6:00 a.m. every day. I’m a sleeper. Always have been, and you can read about how that affects my mornings here. But I’ve been spending a lot of time with my good friend Kira these days, and Kira and her husband get up at 5 every morning. While I’m not ready for that big of a change, haha, I’m amazed at how much my crazy friend (kidding) gets accomplished before I’m even awake. I’ve now woken up at 6 two days in a row (baby steps!) and–gasp–it hasn’t been that bad. I’m able to shower, get dressed, throw on some minimal makeup, dry my hair, make the bed, clean the room/throw in a load of laundry, have breakfast with Mitch, and tidy up the living room and dining room if they need it–all before Emma wakes up at 8. Thank you, Kira!

Change #2

Take a morning walk. Usually, our first real walk takes place after Emma wakes up from her first nap, around noon. But I’m so much happier when I get sunshine earlier in the morning… and I think Emma is, too! The best is when we’re able to get out the door by 8 so we can walk Mitch to the train. At this point, I’m striving for 30-minute walks, as it’s still pretty cold. But as the weather improves, I’m hoping to push ’em to an hour. When we get back, it’s playtime and playtime only!

Change #3

Work during the morning nap, and only work. I want to write the following day’s blog post and make progress on whatever outstanding work I have. If there’s extra time, I want to work on projects due later in the month. There’s just nothing like being ahead.

Change #4

Visit a park every afternoon, and run an errand on the way there. I tend to go to the same park every day, simply because it’s dog-friendly and it’s close to our house. But there are so many other parks, and I want to explore now that it’s a little warmer! As for that errand, it could be going to UPS, the dry cleaner, the pharmacy, the grocery store–whatever. But one thing that’ll help me stay on top of life while also getting Emma out and about. (Girlfriend loves meeting new people!) More playtime when we return, as well as eating. Solid foods for both of us. ;)

Change #5

Work on correspondence during the afternoon nap. When I really think about what’s weighing on me most right now, it’s that I find it nearly impossible to stay on top of email, texts, social accounts, mail and phone calls. I know: it sounds ridiculous. But when I’m with Emma all day, trying really hard not to check my phone, it piles up… and when I finally sit down to make a dent in all of it, I get overwhelmed and just don’t do it. But this makes me sad. I love my friends, family, readers and fellow bloggers. So the afternoon nap is going to be reserved for that, along with annoying life stuff, like paying bills and to do lists.

Change #6

Embrace solo hobbies. I love reading. I love writing fiction. I love playing the guitar. (Poorly.) And I love photography. So every day, I’m going to make sure I spend some time doing one of those things. This past week, I’ve been playing the guitar for Emma, and we’ve been having so much fun!

Change #7

Work at a coffee shop one night per week to get bigger chunks of work accomplished. The dates need to be selected at the beginning of the month, though, that way Mitch and I can plan for it. All of this month’s dates are already on the calendar!

So here’s the plan:

Today is Thursday, March 9th. I’ll check back in with you on or around Thursday, March 23rd, which will be the halfway point, and provide an update. :) And two weeks after that, on Thursday, March 6th, I’ll report back with how it went and what kind of an impact it made on my happiness.

I know that I’m constantly on the search for a balanced lifestyle, and it must be a little annoying to read about one scheme after the next. Truth be told, though, I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m working on it, and I’m getting closer and closer every day. But my fingers are crossed for this little scheme. ;) As always, let me know if you think I should add/change something. You guys always have the best advice! Thanks!