If you’ve been a mom for any longer than, say, 15 minutes, you know how overwhelming it can all feel. Even with a super supportive co-parent and partner, many moms carry the load of responsibility for little ones, and it isn’t uncommon to feel like you’re drowning at times.
Mama, please know that I see you. I see all you do, all you worry about, all the things you think about, and all you are planning for. Know that you ARE ENOUGH. You are doing your best with what you have.
If you’re feeling like you’re on the verge of dropping all the balls you’re juggling, you’re not alone. While part of motherhood is embracing the chaos, you can set yourself up for success. Here are a few tips to help you feel a little more like a rockstar, and maybe take the next tantrum in stride.
1. Mama Eats First
Remember how your own mom used to go on about the importance of getting a good start by eating breakfast? Well, she wasn’t wrong (don’t you find yourself saying that a lot these days?!). If you’re going to get through everything the day will throw at you with grace and energy, you need to fuel yourself. It’s tempting to rush into the morning getting breakfast prepped for everyone else, do some cleaning before you’re needed, or answer emails before anyone else is up. They can wait. Seriously – a solid breakfast is going to make or break your patience and energy for the rest of the day. If it means you need to throw together some overnight oats the night before, or keep smoothie pucks in the freezer, or tell your partner to cook you some eggs before he or she goes to work, DO it. And please, make sure you have at least 10 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein in your breakfast – you need more than carbs if you’re going to last past noon.
2. Kids Can Clean
I’ve found that I really struggle with my expectations in having a clean house since having A. My partner does his share of cleaning, but he’s more of a “clean when it’s dirty or at the end of the day” kind of person. I thrive when my environment is neat and tidy, and that means I have to clean up as I go. That can seem counterproductive (or impossible) with kids, but I think I’ve hit on a solution. When my little one was tiny, I put him in a wrap or pulled his bassinette into the area I was working in. He got some quality mama time while I got something done. When he got a little older, I would give him something related to the job I was doing – so maybe a few pieces of clothing to look at while I put stuff away. Now, at almost 2, he actually helps me – he’ll take all the cutlery from the dishwasher and put it in the drawer, or dump clothing into the dryer. It takes a little longer, and the cutlery might be in a jumble, but who cares? You’ve just accomplished two goals – quality time with your kiddo and a chore. And I’m sure this will pay off in the long run – we’re setting the expectation that we all do our part in our house. Hopefully when he’s older it won’t be a big struggle for him to do chores, because he already has been, for his entire life.
3. Mindful Naps
Look, I get it. There are 3000 things you want/need to get done while the little one naps. I have a list too. But the most important thing on that list should be YOU. We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, and it’s true – when you feel run down and overwhelmed, you feel like your parenting sucks, you can’t focus, and you just want to sink into the couch and stare at your phone for an hour. But that only leaves you feeling worse, in the end. So, what if there was a way to fill your cup, to energize you so you could tackle those things you just have to do? And what if it only took a few minutes? All you have to do is sit or lie down, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breath. Do it for 2 minutes or 15 minutes, but I promise you it will change your life. You don’t need mantras, chanting or scripts (unless that’s your thing!) – just your breath. Here is a great tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEfs5TJZ6Nk The apps Insight Timer and Calm are also excellent.
No matter how centered and calm you manage to go about your day, there will be times that the kids, and you, find yourselves in a funk. I find if I’m feeling a bit off kilter, I’m much more affected by my son’s moods – if he starts getting testy, I feed off it, which causes him to be more demanding, or whiny, or difficult. In these moments, I know the very best thing I can do for us is to get some fresh air. Research has shown, again and again, that being outdoors has a measurable impact on your stress levels, anxiety, and mood. The best thing you can do is to take your shoes off, walk in the grass and take some deep breaths of forest air, but practicing your bunny hops on the sidewalk or playing tag in the backyard will help too! Even if it takes a few minutes for my little one to get to having fun, the change in scenery and fresh air will turn a foul mood around every time.
5. Find Your Thing
Being a mama tends to feel all-encompassing. Raising a human takes an immense amount of work, love, energy and patience, but that doesn’t mean mama is all you are. It is essential that you take time to do things that spark your creativity and feed your soul – this will help carry you through the days when you feel like you’ve lost yourself. I’m not talking about the typical “get a massage and a pedicure” prescription that the media tries to pacify us with. You need to do the thing that fires you up and inspires you to feel like yourself again. Maybe it’s a yoga class, maybe it’s reading a great book, or dinner with a best friend. It might feel super daunting to find that time for yourself, but it is so necessary. Try for once a week to start – the more you do the thing, the more confident you’ll feel about taking the time back for yourself, and the more energized you’ll feel.