I wake up and hit the ground running each morning. Scrambling to change my crumpled nightshirt into something a bit less crumpled, I quickly splash water on my eyes to get rid of the sleep “crusty’s,” and stumble towards my babies’ morning cries.
All three of them.
With my disheveled hair and stomach growling I fix pancakes and eggs for breakfast. Demands for water, more syrup, more eggs follows for the next 10 minutes as I rush to provide for their needs. By the time I’m ready to sit down for a half-a-second to take a bite to eat, they are already needing their sticky hands washed, potty breaks (or a diaper change for my baby girl) and tearing through the tupperware drawer to find something of interest.
Forget the steaming cup of hot coffee that is ready to be sipped and savored.
After a few hours of the morning, I finally manage to get my breakfast in my belly, brush everyone’s teeth (including my own), comb hair (if my kids are lucky, forget about my own), and change their clothes—only to have them covered with grime 20 minutes later from jumping in the bushes with sprinklers going off. This is all before 10 am.
Does this resonate with your current season of life?
Selflessly serving. Sacrificially giving. Sanity draining.
At times I forget about the joys of motherhood. I’ve recently entered a season where it has been just that. This is different than an overall lack of joy in all aspects of life (which could be a season of depression… something I’ve experienced before as well). I find joy in many other areas of my life, but recently I have felt a lack of joy amidst my mothering.
I feel ashamed for saying so. Ashamed that I don’t find motherhood as fulfilling and rewarding these days as I once thought. I’m sure if we are truly honest with ourselves, each of us mommy’s have thought this a time or two as well.
It has nothing to do with a lack of love for them. It’s not that I don’t love my children. My heart bleeds with love for them, even if I don’t always show it well at times. And it’s not that I don’t love being a mom. But at times there are things in this motherhood business that I admit I’m not a huge fan of. There are parts to this job that can be down-right exhausting!
I’ve been exploring this lack of joy with motherhood and have found some things to help with this season I am in. The days I remember to incorporate these things, the joy in mothering returns. Even if only for that day. Let me share…
Health is SO important! You NEED to take care of yourself if you are to take care of anyone else. This means getting the rest you need. Figuring out ways to allow others to help you during the day so you can take a nap or go to bed early when needed! Maybe you need to prioritize an earlier bedtime if possible.
It also means eating healthy food or in general getting the nutrition you need. (Even simply popping a vitamin supplement or two in your mouth each day will help.) I know the days where I fuel myself up on leftover toast from the kids meal and a few crackers from their snacks, my body feels sluggish and drained all day. Figure out quick and easy healthy snacks such as veggies with hummus dip, or blending a shake together with the fruits and veggies you need. There are lots of ways to incorporate healthy alternatives without breaking the bank.
It means, exercise. I will admit, I’ve been slacking in this one, and it is the one thing (I’ve realized) that will likely help me have more energy with my kids if I squeeze it into the bits and pieces of my day. Burning energy by exercising sounds opposite to gaining energy. Which initially it might be. But as you continue to build your stamina and strength by simple walks around the neighborhood (with the kids?), doing a few squats in your house for 5 minutes, or hitting the gym early in the morning, it will provide you with more energy and overall health to propel you into your role as a busy mama each day. You can even do exercises with your kids (I’ve been doing sit-ups outside with them as we look at the clouds and often they like to join in on the fun!) Overall, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE so you can stay strong and alert as you roar through your day in mothering your little troop.
For those married with children, perhaps you have discovered you have opposite techniques to parenting that may be straining your marriage. This can also be a drain to the joy you desire. First, let me share something that both women and men need to hear:
Ladies, your way is NOT the ONLY right way to parent! Yes you are mom. Yes you perhaps have the natural nurturing abilities compared to your husband. However, DO NOT disrespect your husband’s opinion or abilities when it comes to parenting as well! Acknowledge his insights. Find areas in parenting where you can compromise. Recognize that he is NOT A MOTHER, he is a FATHER which has its own unique and distinct roles when it comes to raising your children together. He may do things differently when he is watching the kids. Let him. As long as they are fed and alive at the end of the day while you are away, call it a success.
Men, she WANTS and NEEDS your support! As much as your wife tries to take control of the whole parenting gig, she really does want your help. Seek to find ways to share the load. Whether its picking up the house at the end of the day, cleaning up dinner, giving the kids a bath, or for huge brownie points allowing her the night off so she can have some time to herself (to take a shower perhaps??) this will speak volumes of love to your wife and support her in parenting as she balances this role of motherhood.
Back to the equal parenting. Let me share with you an example. My husband is very laid back when it comes to parenting. I tend to want more boundaries and rules to control my kids’ behaviors. Neither is necessarily a bad way to parent. Both ways have their pro’s and con’s. However finding balance between the two is key. My husband allows our kids to jump on the couch in our house. I would have decided against it. Yet we’ve found some common ground that they cannot jump on other people’s couches when we visit their homes. A simple example yet we’ve found the middle ground on this parenting rule.
Are there certain rules or boundary disagreements between you and your spouse? Seek to discover them, acknowledge them, and try to find ways where you can both be in agreement with the things you desire to teach your children so building stress and tension doesn’t continue and so your children don’t become confused on what boundaries are established in the home. Need more help with parenting? This is a great article from Family Life Today to start!
Cutting down on distraction.
There are SO many distractions surrounding us these days. We get so busy filling up our schedule with things to do, items to multi-task, lists to check-off, that it’s no wonder we get stressed out and lose joy in mothering our kids when we’ve got so much on our plate. Perhaps you need to cut back in order to allow room for some joy to take its place? Organize your day into blocks, scheduling separate times for checking social media or browsing the web and separate time to give 100% of your focus on playing with your kids or doing an activity with them. Kids know when we are distracted. They see it. They sense it. And they react to it. When my nose is scanning back and forth from them to my phone, my kids know they are not the focus. Therefore they usually begin to react in displeasing ways so as to get my attention—often in negative ways.
There are also times in the past where I sought to fill my days and weeks with multiple activities for the kids. This wasn’t the best approach for my family. It caused more stress on myself, filling my day with irritation and grumpiness. My joy was quenched.
So I cut back. I minimized my schedule to things that give the kids enough activity but also doesn’t overwhelm me or my schedule to the max. When I focus on cutting out unnecessary distractions, creating time blocks in my schedule for when I respond to people via text or email, or jump on social media train, it opens and encourages more joy to my day of motherhood.
Seeking TIME for YOU.
This means discovering activities for YOU that you enjoy! Not for your children.
Have you completely lost interest in things because you feel like you have absolutely no time for them?
Let me give you a realistic truth. There are ALWAYS going to be more chores to do; ALWAYS more items on your check-off list in your role as Mother. More laundry to fold. More dishes to put away. More errands to run. The tasks of motherhood are never-ending from morning to night! Even as a full-time working mom, part-time working mom, stay-at-home-mom or all the mom’s in between; you need to find a little bit of time each week for an activity that YOU enjoy. Therefore, you need to learn to LET GO of certain things some nights or during certain parts of the day to allow room to refuel your fuel tank! Take a few minutes in the evening to read a book instead of catching up with laundry. Paint your toenails while you watch a show during your kid’s naptime. Write that encouraging note to your friend that you’ve been meaning to write during your lunch break. Finding time for yourself outside of your motherhood role is important to fuel your spirit and soul. It will give more joy to your day, fill your heart with more energy, and help you pursue your role as Mom more refreshed and refueled before you go to put the mom hat back on.
Find your community.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help! We all need the support of others.
There are seasons of life you might desperately need the support of others more, and other seasons where you need less. Yet we all need community. This generation of mom’s gives the expectation that we are able to do it all. On our own. This is the wrong mantra. We are NOT meant to do it all on our own ladies. (Or men for that matter!) This motherhood and parenting business will eat you alive if you don’t seek the support of others during those funky days where things go haywire and “off-kilter” from your normal swing. Many of us have this fear of being a burden to others when we ask for their help. But guess what? Most people are happy to help and perhaps need the support just as much! And if they can’t, they will let you know! But it doesn’t hurt to ask. So… plan a play-date with the kids. Do a date-swap night so you can have some time with your spouse, and provide your friends with a free date-night as well. Call a friend and talk to them when you are melting down or ready to explode from the chronic unnecessary whines of your kiddos that is just about to pop your lid.
You need your people. You need your village. We are not in this motherhood role alone. This motherhood stuff is tough, but we are all in this together.