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It's no secret that moms everywhere are stressed out and overwhelmed. It's not easy juggling it all: work, household chores, meal preparation, kids' needs/demands, your own needs. And then there's the pressure to do it all and do it all well. Sometimes it gets to be too much. It can be difficult to enjoy motherhood when we're constantly being pulled in different directions or being told that we're not enough.
When I first became a mother I basically fell into a pit of despair. My anxiety was through the roof. I just couldn't handle all the craziness. I knew I needed to implement changes into my life in order to stop stressing and start enjoying motherhood. And here's how I got started:
1. I stopped doing it all. I really wanted to be Suzy Homemaker. I mean, I really tried. But you know what? That's not me. I don't mind cleaning and organizing, but cooking sends me into nervous breakdown mode. I wanted to be the mom making elaborate healthy meals for the kids every night, but I couldn't handle the pressure. So yeah, sometimes my kids get chicken nuggets and mac n cheese for dinner, and I'm okay with that. I usually end up cooking dinner only a couple times a week. The rest of the week we either take advantage of ready to go meals from the grocery store (I'm looking at you delicious rotisserie chicken), eat at a grandparents' house, or my husband cooks since he enjoys it more than I do. We also eat out at least once a week. Sue me.
I would often feel guilty taking time for myself away from my children. But that's ludicrous. I need to fill myself up in order to be able to give to my children.
2. I delegated or shared tasks with my spouse. When my first child was born I did everything for him. I felt it was my duty as a mother to fully care for my son while my husband pretty much watched from the sidelines. By the time we had our second baby, that went out the window. My husband, for example, always bathes the children at night. That's his deal and I stay far away from the bathroom during that time. I use that 30-minute period to put my feet up and unwind. We also share night time duties, since our children still like to surprise us with middle of the night wake-ups every now and then. We pretty much settled on a man-to-man defense model when it comes to dealing with nighttime parenting. I take the boy and he takes the girl. That way I don't have to be the only one exhausted from being up all night. Lack of sleep can make you crazy. On that note, I also delegate tasks to my children. When they're done eating, they put their plates in the sink. When they make a mess in their room, they clean it up. They take responsibility for their own stuff and I feel less like a maid and more like a mom.
3. I implemented more independent play time. For some reason, moms these days feel the pressure to play with and entertain their children 24/7. What madness is this? I'm pretty sure my mom didn't spend hours a day playing with me. I just don't have the energy for constant play time. When I need to get other things done, like writing an article or folding laundry, I need time and space to complete those tasks. I can tell my kids to play in their room or sit them down with some crayons or play-doh and that buys me a good chunk of time to do what I need to do or to simply sit in the quiet. It took time to get them used to the idea, but eventually they accepted it and now they love it.
4. I started taking care of me. I heard someone say once that there is nothing selfish about self-care. I would often feel guilty taking time for myself away from my children. But that's ludicrous. I need to fill myself up in order to be able to give to my children. I now go to a yoga class every week that really helps to calm my mind and strengthen my body. It's just an hour every week but I come back feeling rejuvenated and healthy. I also take regular trips to the hair salon, because when my hair looks good, I feel good. These two simple things help to eliminate stress which makes me a happier mom. And as a result of de-stressing my life I am able to pour out more for my children. Everybody wins!