Mothering is one of the most demanding jobs there is. Of course, the rewards are great – seeing your children grow up to be happy and independent, enjoying all the smiles, games, and trips along the way. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In honor of this year’s Mothers’ Day, we’ve decided to dedicate the following to moms. We want to thank you for raising us and making us into the people we are today by reminding you that even superheroes like you need some time for themselves.
Is Mothering a Full-Time Job?
Your instinctive answer as a mother will probably be – yes!, especially if you have very young kids. But that doesn’t need to be – and shouldn’t be – the case. If you have someone to help you out – a husband, a sister, a friend, a mother – don’t take it all upon yourself! Some mothers feel like they need to be with their newborns 24/7, and if they don’t, they’re somehow failing them. That is far from the truth. Your baby needs to get their sleep, be well-rested and happy, so why do you think you don’t deserve the same? You don’t need to do everything alone.
Finding Time for Yourself is a MUST
The happiest mothers are those who regularly find some time to do what they love – read, go swimming, grab a cup of coffee with their friends. And happy mothers are more likely to raise happy kids! If your child is always seeing you tired, cranky, and wishing you were somewhere else, but not actually going, they’ll start feeling bad. If they’re very young, they may not be able to verbalize their feelings, but you’ll notice it in their play or the general change in their behavior.
Many mothers don’t want to be away from their child because they feel they should be always there for them to give them the best possible childhood. But by doing this at your own expense, you’ll eventually guilt-trip them and they’ll end up feeling sad for you: “My mom gave me everything, and I took her life away in return!”
Here’s a couple things you can do instead to ensure both you and your child are happy, healthy, and enjoy a great relationship.
Activities for Busy Superheroes
- Ask for help.
Needing help when you work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is nothing to be ashamed of.  It doesn’t make you a failure – on the contrary, it means you care enough about your health and the well-being of your child to not let your pride get the best of you. Having your husband take care of the baby while you go out for an hour isn’t the end of the world. If there’s no one around to help you, hiring a babysitter once a week doesn’t mean you aren’t fit to be a mom: it simply means that you need time to recharge your batteries, just like anyone else. You don’t have to do it all alone, nor should you.
- Leave the house. 
If you spend all of your time inside the house feeling tired, you’ll soon start associating your home with negative feelings and emotions. Some moms tend to feel like leaving the house even for an hour would mean abandoning their child. “What if this happens? What if my husband/babysitter forgets to do that? No, I’d better stay home and make sure everything is okay.” These thoughts and the overprotectiveness behind them will only make you even more stressed and lead to you feeling chained to the baby’s room.
So remember this: leaving your house and child for an hour or two doesn’t mean you are a bad mother! Even you need some time to blow off steam and forget about crying, diapers, and the lack of sleep. Go for a walk; go to your favorite coffee shop with your best friend; do something you used to do before becoming a mother. You deserve to have something else in your life, too.
- Find your identity 
Remembering and practicing things that used to bring you joy is very important for mothers. Even if you are a stay-at-home mom and you’re completely devoted to your child, thinking of motherhood as your defining characteristic can eventually lead to negative emotions. One day, your child will grow up and leave to start their own life, and if being a mother is your only – or the most important part of your identity – you’ll be in trouble. You’ll probably be left with very strong feelings seeing the empty nest, and without other things to bring you joy, become increasingly sad.
That’s one of the reasons that finding your true self as a person, not only as a mother, matters. Do you like painting? Swimming? Getting together with your best friends? Then don’t forget to do these things occasionally. Try to figure out what you liked doing before and what you’d like to see yourself doing in twenty years – and pursue that.
- Get enough sleep 
This might sound like a fairytale, especially if you have a baby at home. However, it’s crucial for you to be able to get some healthy sleep in order to be fully focused and prepared to do all the necessary, everyday-baby-things. This is connected to our first tip: if you’ve already gone for a week without decent sleep and every time you sit down you end up nodding off, ask for help. Ask your husband to be responsible for the baby the next night, get some ear plugs and tell him to only wake you up if it’s really important. If you’re a single mom, try to find someone who will do that for you, even if only for a single night. You can also take advantage of the time of day when your baby sleeps and use it – sleep when they sleep, instead of using that time to clean up the house or cook. A day of healthy sleep is much more important than cleaning some week-old dust.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation 
The good thing with this is that you can choose when and where to do it – and really, it can be anywhere and anytime, so it can fit any schedule! Practicing mindfulness is about accepting things as they come. For example, if you’re having negative thoughts about yourself and believe you should be doing more, try to experience those thoughts as a wave of sorts: don’t shy away from them, but don’t overthink, either. Accept that these thoughts will find their way to you every once in a while and do your best to not give them too much value. Do your best, practice recognizing the negativity in your life, and don’t beat yourself up about every little thing.
Meditating has enormous benefits, especially when it comes to stress and negativity. By learning to clear your mind, you’ll be able to find some time for yourself where you’ll simply enjoy breathing and not thinking about what you should do next.
- Teach your kids responsibility
And finally, teach your children to be responsible for themselves from an early age. This does not mean they should be cooking dinner at the tender age of seven, but if you can send them to school alone and teach them to be responsible enough to send you a message when they arrive (same thing with visiting a friend), it will give you some time for yourself. As they grow up, they’ll get to be more and more responsible, both inside and outside of the house, and you’ll be having more and more hours to spend taking care of yourself.
- Shapiro, S. & Brown, K. (2007). Teaching Self-Care to Caregivers: Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Mental Health of Therapists in Training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, Vol. 1, No.2, pp. 105-115
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