I had my second baby 9 months ago and it has really thrown me for a loop and has caused me to question everything I thought I knew about myself and motherhood.
I have really struggled and there has been some hard times. I was in a continued cycle of feeling overwhelmed and then guilty, overwhelmed and then guilty. I have not gotten a good nights sleep in over 2 years.
My days are filled with endless diaper changes, crying teething baby, constant tantrums and defiance from my 3 year old, constant pulls and demands on my time and attention, mountains of laundry, messes that never end.
Looking around and seeing other moms who seem to have it all together and I would chastise myself. Why do they have it all together and I barely make it through my day? Why do I let my older child watch so much tv? Why am I not doing all the fun crafts and activities that I used to do? Why does leaving my house seem like a monumental task that leaves me exhausted before I have even left? Why do I lose my temper and patience?
Obviously I am such a bad mom and surely am ruining my kids forever.
You can clearly see how I had gotten to a very bad place. But I think it is a place we all can get to when we continuously listen to that little negative and doubting voice in our heads.
I got to the point where I simply was not enjoying motherhood. And this made me very very sad because previously, motherhood was what fulfilled me and made me the happiest I had ever been.
I decided I needed to go on a journey to rediscover that happiness.
5 Tips for Rediscovering Happiness in Motherhood:
1.Recognize the season of motherhood you are in.
One of the quotes from Deliberate Motherhood I loved said this about seasons “There is a time and purpose to every phase of our lives. Just as we can’t enjoy autumn’s vibrant colors in April, or picnic on a soft grassy lawn in January, neither can we expect to have all the treasures of a lifetime of seasons packed into today…To be constantly wishing away the current season, because the next season seems more appealing, is to miss the fragrance of lilacs after a spring rain because you can’t wait for barbecues by the pool.” Wow, I had been wishing away my current season of motherhood because I was envious of the things that come with different seasons. I wished for a full nights rest. Some time to myself. An end to the tantrums and fits.
But wishing away the current season means I would be missing out on the beautiful things that only happen when children are young. The imaginative play, the baby giggles and slobbery kisses, the little head on my lap that fell asleep from playing too hard. There is so much beauty in my current season and I need to make sure I am enjoying it before it is gone.
2.Adjust your expectations for yourself and your family according to your season.
Once you recognize the season you are in, you really need to adjust your expectations. Part of my problem was looking around me and feeling like I wasn’t measuring up because I wasn’t doing or accomplishing as much as another mom.However, I really have come to learn that if you are a mother with young children and babies in the house you really shouldn’t expect to be able to do all the things that a mother who has older children is able to do.
It took hearing from other moms that a day in which you have fed, bathed, and played with your kids was successful day. I felt like I was failing and part of it was because I was just putting too many expectations on myself. Caring for young children is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. We can’t constantly be comparing ourselves to other mothers who may be in different seasons than we may be in.
Remember that you need to take care of youself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I highly recommend the course “Mommy is a Person”. It will really help you in finding ways to care for yourself so that you may find the joy in motherhood.
3.Be forgiving and kind to yourself.
There is no perfect mother, there is no such thing as a supermom. We all make mistakes. There are days when we lose our temper or when we lack patience. There are days when our kids watch too much TV or drive us crazy. There are days when we just won’t like being a mom and when we can’t wait until the kids are asleep in bed. All of this is okay. This does not mean we are bad mothers, this means we are human. Our kids will forgive our impatience, so we must learn to forgive ourselves. We are the mothers our kids want and need, imperfections and all.
4.Discover and focus on your strengths.
Every mother has strengths. It may take a little reflection and thinking but I promise you have several. These are the things that come more natural to us.
I have found I have been much happier when I focus on the things that I am good at and actually like doing rather than trying to be something I am not because I feel like that is what “good mothers” do. For me, this is reading with my children, cooking and baking with my children, and doing sensory activities. These are things I enjoy and don’t feel like are a chore. For you maybe you are great at snuggling or playing with your children. Maybe you give great advice or can tell a mean story or joke.
I think with Pinterest and other social media, we often are left feeling like we are inadequate or guilty because we are not doing all the amazing things we see on there. The truth is those “perfect” pictures you see are those individuals strengths and talents. You should never feel like you have to be perfect at all things.
There is not one person who is going to be the perfect cook, crafter, baker, painter, home decorator, wife, mother, etc, etc. Pinterest can be a great place to get inspiration but find things that fit with your strengths and likes and you will be a lot happier doing them. I found that I am not very crafty person. I don’t enjoy doing big craft projects with my children. It is just not a strength or like of mine. And you know what? That is okay.
5.Enjoy the moments.
Motherhood can often be monotonous. Days can blur together and you really can get bogged down in all the stressful and boring aspects of caring for your home and children.
However, if we stop and start to pay attention in our day we find these small moments that make all the hard parts of motherhood worth it. It is the giggles between your children behind close doors as they play happily together. It is the random I love you’s. It is the slobbery open mouth kisses from your baby. It is the gleam of pure happiness in your child’s eyes when you introduce them to something new and exciting. It is their uncontrollable laughter when you are tickling them. It is the way your baby leans their head on your shoulder if only for a second. It is your baby’s first step. When they first learn to ride a bike.
These are the moments that make motherhood. That make your heart fill with such love that you didn’t know existed. That make up for the sleepless nights and the messes and everything else that make it such a difficult job. When we are deliberate and conscious in our days to stop and really recognize these moments, we can find the happiness and joy in motherhood.
I am not much of a journal writer but I have started writing in a notebook (or Evernote) just a few minutes a day thing that I want to remember. Every entry starts out with “Happiness Is…” and I fill it with moments that brought me happiness in the day. It is simple and I literally spend 1-2 minutes doing it but it really has helped me see that my days are filled with happiness. I just need to stop and enjoy the moments.
By making these simple changes in my life, I have really learned to enjoy the season I am in and have truly rediscovered the joy that can come from motherhood.
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