Being a mom of four makes it hard to put my own needs first. My kids are young and my 3-year-old is autistic.  I also work part-time as an EMT for North Mississippi Medical Center, so juggling two frontline jobs and also making sure I have time for my family is difficult. I wasn’t resting as much as I needed, and then I’d be so exhausted that I’d just be a bump on a log with my family. 

The first choice I made was to allow myself to sleep more after a night shift. 

My lack of sleep was affecting everything in my life. I was only getting six hours, and it wasn’t good sleep because I sleep during the day. I made the choice to start sleeping an extra two hours, and I bought a $2 eye mask to help. I also started wearing AirPods with relaxing sleep sounds, and left a pillow in my car in case I needed a power nap at 2 a.m. during my break.

When I was not getting enough sleep, I would get physically ill.

When I wasn’t feeling well, I would just say, “Let’s just have a cereal day and buy sugary cereals to make everybody happy.” I didn’t have the energy to cook a real decent meal. I gained a bunch of weight doing that, but that habit had to cease on its own once I was finally getting enough rest. I’ve never really had a problem getting exercise, since I work two physically demanding jobs and have four kids. But I added in little things, like squatting instead of kneeling when I’m stocking bottom shelves.

Our time together as a family became so much more meaningful. 

The Connect aspect ended up taking over my Thrive Challenge  because I finally had energy to do certain things, like take our baby to the park, and have movie nights with our boy, going through the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series. I wasn’t feeling on edge anymore because I wasn’t as exhausted, so I allowed the kids to make sugar-free caramel corn together and eat in the living room with our mattresses on the floor. 

I’m a better wife, mom, employee and individual.

I feel like a new person. My husband and I even went on a date overnight to Nashville. We hadn’t done something like that in years. We went ziplining, stayed at a fancy hotel that I would have never splurged on, and we really focused and connected. I’m also connecting with co-workers in a different way, and with my ex-husband. He even came over for dinner and cooked with us. It’s important for our boys and for all of us for me to have a better relationship with him.

The Thrive Challenge has made me more mindful and appreciative. 

Getting more sleep created a domino effect. Doing one thing that felt so minuscule really affected everyone else around me. I’m thankful for my supportive husband and patient children. I’m also hopeful that I might advance in my Walmart career in the future. I’m taking care of myself,  living in the moment, and realizing how lucky I am.

—Heather Hurt; Walmart Supercenter #0105; Corinth, MS; $5K Winner

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