Mama, I feel you. With your kids always demanding your time, energy and attention it can get really tough. Here I’m going to give you some strategies to find joy in motherhood again.
First of all, I thought we’d better discuss the huge elephant in the room: that on top of feeling like you’re just scraping by the days, you feel massively GUILTY about it.
Let me just say, it’s not your fault.
You put anyone in the same house with little creatures that never stop making noise, doing stuff, knocking things over, fighting and requesting snacks – and even the toughest minds would crumble.
But because we’re mothers, we’re supposed to have it all together right?
Represent the gentle, cookie-baking, Pinterest craft-making type of mom or the Instagram perfection we see in the squares of happy families.
So again, it’s not your fault, you just to make few tweaks to start feeling better again. Here are some of the things I’ve done:
1) Reduce Social Media
I get it, motherhood in this day and age is incredibly lonely. There is no village of women like once upon a time, we cannot wash our laundry together in the river…
More and more moms are finding themselves isolated, away from close family because they’ve moved town or even country – like me – and childcare support systems are…in most cases expensive or hard to come by.
So it’s no surprise that we’ve started to find our community on our phone.
Now, instead of being surrounded by well-meaning aunts and mothers, we’re drawn to our phone in the early hours of the morning whilst nursing our babe to sleep.
We don’t just crave connection, we NEED it.
That said, we need to become more conscious of our usage of it and be careful not to fall down the trap of comparing it too much to real life.
Decide which apps are sucking away your time, unfollow the people that don’t make you feel good or cause you go into a downward spiral of jealousy.
Ask yourself, if you do find yourself comparing and jealous – what re you actually jealous of? Usually it’s the happy emotion they portray, and you aren’t going to find that in scrolling more, you’re going to find it living your life.
2) Know your values and beliefs
What does being a mom look like to you?
How did you imagine motherhood to be like before you became a mother?
The reason why I ask this is because sometimes we hold beliefs about that we’ve seen in films, watched our friends do (on a good day!), even what we may have picked up when we were a child.
So try to to strip away the opinions that others hold of you and ask yourself, if no one was watching, if no one was asking, how would you mother?
Decide on what’s truly important
I’m guessing you know the saying ‘Choose your battles’ and when it comes to kids, I think it couldn’t apply more.
Motherhood is all about deciding what’s really important to pass on to and teach your kids, and what you might be making a big deal about (which usually happens when we’re mega stressed).
Start by grabbing a piece of paper and writing down a simple list of values that you want to teach your children.
Have it nearby during the day and refer to it in moments where you can feel yourself getting mad. Does the reason you’re getting mad align with the list?
Give them the gift of choice
This applies for young tots all the way until the teenage years.
Kids will automatically thrive when given the opportunity to choose certain aspects of their life – when they feel more like a community or a team working together.
They’ll also learn to make decisions on their own behalf, rather than being stuck because they’ve never had to think for themselves.
For tiny tots, it can be something as little as choosing between two different tee shirts, for kids bit older, they can decide on the activity they’d like to do.
Of course you’re still the leader, you just give them the choice based on options you have handy (rather than letting them decide from the nothing).
3) Be intentional
A lot of the time when we’re not really finding joy in motherhood, we’re spending time trying to ‘escape’. Be this in social media, the television, or getting caught up in endless errands.
We’re on constant ‘ON’ mode, or what I call autopilot, which allows no room to enjoy the present moment with our kids.
We can’t settle on the sofa until we’ve caught up with all the housework, we scramble dinner together just so those little people will give us 5 minutes of peace while they eat.
(Anyone else do that?!)
Capture the moments
I’m a firm believer that there’s a balance to be met between giving your attention to your kids and letting them occupy themselves alone.
Essentially, the more your children know how to entertain themselves – even for just a few minutes here and there, the more headspace you’ll gain.
And with more headspace, you can be more present with your kids.
Anyway, you want to shift your focus to spending quality time together in short spurts.
This can be as simple as eating meals together and making eye contact, having fun with some bubbles in the bath or reading a story before bedtime.
Just try and make sure that you’re really there with them (rather than letting your mind wander towards your to-do list or catching up on emails.
When they ask you questions, I know it can be tiring, but try to listen sometimes, get down on their level and intentionally give them a response.
4) Enjoy the present
You know one thing that strips us all from the joy in motherhood?
Thinking wistfully about the past, the days in which we had the freedom to do whatever we liked, on our own time.
Enjoying hot coffee, uninterrupted conversation and not feeling like your brain is a constant blur.
Or wondering what we’ll be able to do when our kids are just a bit older.
Either way, we long for the easy. We want the hard days to pass. But those hard days can be some of the most bittersweet too.
So when you feel like it’s all getting a bit much, take a deep breath and sink into the moment.
5) Stay true to yourself
I know that this can be hard to do – motherhood can take us far from who we were before.
No one ever mentioned that we were to be birthed, just like our newborn.
Start by taking small steps to regain your identity.
I remember feeling completely lost not long after my daughter was born. I didn’t know who I was outside of diaper changing and nursing.
Suddenly I had to question myself: what did I like doing? What goals do I have?
I know that these questions and re-discovery can be daunting, which is why I made a special Planner Journal to help you get back on track and set new goals at your own pace:
6) Let go of perfection
If you aren’t living up to your expectations, is it your fault for being inadequate, or are your expectations unrealistic?
Often in life, we’re met with contradictions.
One of these is the need for mental rest and recharge, yet the longing to know more, to be on top of our game – to be perfect.
The resistance to truly ‘give in’ and allow for inner peace to take over, stems from the fear of falling behind.
Either with others or the standards we set of ourselves.
If we did EVERYTHING we ever thought of doing in one day, we’d be depleted.
It’s in our ‘nature’ – to do everything right, to be scared of letting go of control only for an instant in case the world crumbles.
Take a step back
What would happen if you let go of the reigns a little?
You are a key tool to the machine, but it is not your job to keep the entire machine together. That is teamwork.
Let’s drop this narrative.
When we let go of the reins – if only slightly – we allow space for others to stand up and do their part too.
You have to get comfortable with allowing your ‘role’ to fall apart, to challenge it, to understand what works for you.
Remember that your kids don’t ask you to be perfect, you already are in their eyes.
7) Make time for you
I know that it feels like you just can’t sneak any you time in, but just 5 minutes here and there if you’re short for time, is totally possible.
You’ve heard it a million times before but self care is not selfish.
Let’s just say I’m not a big fan of the word SELF CARE because it can just feel like another thing to add to your to-do list.
Rather think of it as Self Peservation, you need to come back to your centre and get in tune with your needs.
You won’t start to feel a shift in your mood and find joy in motherhood again unless you start investing in yourself.
It’s in these little moments in which you can reconnect with who you are and who you’re becoming.
We often underestimate how much good just a few calm breaths can do us.
You don’t have to be a super yogi or buddha to just regulate your emotions, see how you’re feeling.
Ask yourself if and where you’re holding tension and see if you can relax a little deeper with each breath.
As I said, it doesn’t have to be a super long sesh – 5-10 breaths can be enough to restore your nervous system.
Do you feel like it’s all too much mama?
If this article has you thinking ‘No way there is just no way I can even think of where to start right now’ then I have something that will help you:
In this Free Mini Guide I uncover the three main reasons you lose your shit, plus how to get out of overwhelm and gain back your sanity.
You got this, mama.
Cheering you on!