Do you ever feel as though you’re perpetually treading water? And the second you take a break you start sinking? By exerting all your energy on simply staying afloat, it’s no wonder you can’t focus on anything else.
Let’s be honest, being a mom is incredibly wonderful and terrible all at once. It’s an unpaid position with the highest burnout rate. We often find ourselves questioning. What was I thinking?
Am I even qualified for this job?
Part of the problem is our inability to recognize when we need help. It takes a village after all, right?
As any parent knows raising kids can be all encompassing. The day to day stuff is time consuming and exhausting, which can make it near impossible to put yourself up there on the list of priorities. We do so much for others, but the mom guilt kicks in full throttle when we try to prioritize ourselves. And well I agree that our children should be number one, I also believe that if we neglect ourselves we are doing them a great disservice.
We all know that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but many of us are doing this each and everyday by pushing our own happiness aside. We are burnt out, angry, and we have lost our sense of self. Life revolves around the kids schedules, wants and needs, but who is there to make sure our cup is topped up?
I have been a stay at home mom for almost a decade, and it has taken me at least half of that time to learn that nobody likes a martyr. Even those closest to you will only sympathize for so long before your negative energy sucks them dry.
Basically, it is time to focus on you. Shit or get off the pot (pardon my french) Below are a few things that are imperative for maintaining a sense of identity beyond being a mom.
Date your Spouse
To maintain happiness and cohesion in marriage, you NEED to make time for one another. This is so difficult for couples, especially those with young kids because they have gotten so used to neglecting their relationship that they don’t even notice they are doing it!
If you cannot get a babysitter, schedule an in house date night, once the kids are in bed. Even if you are in your sweatpants having an impromptu dance party, do it! Just make sure you make the time to connect with one another. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it is just the two of you. Life gets crazy, and often times your schedule revolves around the kids activities, sports, extra circulars, parties etc. It can be easy to neglect your relationship with one another, but don’t! You might think that you have all the time in the world to spend together when the kids are older, but nothing is set in stone. The reality is that one day you will be empty-nesters, and it will be just the two of you. Make it count now, so you don’t wake up one day to find that you’re living with a stranger!
Find your Passion
This could mean finding a new job if your current one makes you miserable, or volunteering for a cause you are passionate about. Even if you are having trouble finding what makes you happy, keep searching! Life is too short to be doing something you hate. I put my biggest passions on hold while I was raising kids. I just assumed they’d be easy to delve back into once I had more time. But I found the more I put these things on the back burner, the less a part of my life they became. Eventually all of my creative juices had run dry and there was nothing left to salvage.
With writing absent from my life, I became void of self confidence and joy. When I saw others excited about life, it annoyed me immensely. At the time, I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I re-introduced journaling into my life that I began to see what a crucial role it played in my well being.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to explore your interests, because I promise you it will go as quickly as it came. Don’t feel guilty about taking that time away to do what brings you joy. Your kids need you to be okay, and when you are happy and healthy everyone else in your life will benefit.
Accept Help and Know When to ask for it
When I was pregnant with my first, I had no idea how sleepless nights and imbalanced hormones would affect me. I was pretty confident that this parenting gig would be fairly easy. I had these visions of myself bouncing a happy baby on my knee, while reading a book, and maintaining my beautiful home.
In reality it was me pacing up and down the hall at 3 am with a screaming baby, wearing the same PJ pants 3 days in a row. The house looked like a bomb had exploded, and I was crying every 5 minutes because I felt so overwhelmed whilst trying to do it all.
I had various offers from friends and family to come by and help with cooking or housekeeping. I declined them all because I felt like accepting the help would make me a failure. I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I was capable of doing it all. I craved the praise from others that I thought came along with being super mom. The praise never came, and ultimately my plan backfired. By turning down the offers of willing friends and family, I actually pushed them away.
Once I decided that something needed to change, I began asking for support. I noticed that many people were quite content to go out of their way. People like to feel needed, family in particular. By reaching out to others when I was in a dark place, it showed me how vital their support was. I was able to be more productive, and feel relaxed. The kids benefited, and at the end of the day everyone was happier.
It truly takes a village.
It is difficult when you are in the thick of it to see the importance of nurturing your relationship and passions, while also seeking the support of family and friends. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Being a parent is an important job, but to do it well, we must not lose sight of our own identity. When our cup is full, it is our children who reap the rewards