Happiness in Motherhood

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my role as a mother.  Particularly as a stay at home mother.  I’m really grateful to my mom for instilling in me and my sisters a deep love and respect for Motherhood.  However this last week I’ve been thinking about some of the things I really don’t love about being a mom, like not getting much sleep, worrying over my children, staying indoors with sick kiddos for a week straight with no outside interaction except for the friendly Walmart pharmacy staff, and the list goes on.  Despite all of these things that make motherhood so difficult I still really love what I’m doing.  I’m still very happy on a daily basis.  And I’m not just saying that because I feel like that’s what I should say, it’s how I really feel.  So in doing this deep thinking, that I tend to do when I’m lacking adult interaction, I thought about what advice I would give to my daughter (if I ever have one) on  making your job as Mom work for you..

Here it is,

I think number one it’s important to know yourself.  Be aware of your own stress triggers and work within those limits.  I can handle a messy house for about 1 day.  I can handle quite a lot of chaos and loud noises for most the day.  I can’t handle having no schedule for multiple days in a row and I do best when I have a few moments to myself in the day.  So these are my limits.

Also know what makes you happy and aim to include these things in your days when you can.  I’m really happy when I feel productive, when I exercise, get good sleep, have time with just Dane and when I have time to do some of the things I love.

I try to give our selves somewhat of a flexible schedule to follow each day so that there’s some purpose and structure to our day…it just makes me happy.

I don’t care how messy the house gets during the day.  A lot of playing happens and the mess is apart of that, but every night I try to go to bed with a clean house.  1 day of mess isn’t too hard to clean up each night and it helps me go to bed feeling lighter.

I try to designate times in the day that are devoted entirely to my kids.  They are so much happier when i do this and better behaved, plus that’s when a lot of my favorite mom moments happen.   Again, know your limits.  I enjoy playing pretend with my kiddos, but not all day and some people have a hard time doing this at all.  So I give my kids 15-20 minute chunks of my day multiple times that are all theirs.  That doesn’t mean they always pick what we do though.  Sometimes (lots of times) I play cars on the floor with Boss. I enjoy reading books to Isaac and just cuddling with him. My favorites to do with the kiddos are make puzzles, make eggless cookies together, read books, have dance parties or make Isaac laugh with Boston.  Boston also really has fun (at least for now) cleaning with me.  My best “happy trick”?  When I’m playing pretend with Boss I usually put on music, that way we’re doing something we both enjoy.  And as cheesy as it sounds, it sometimes makes the moment sweeter having a “soundtrack” to our day.

I always try to include a devotional and learning time in our day, but I’m happy if we just get devotional in.  This is just a prayer, scripture study, song and pledge allegiance to the flag.  Learning time is more involved, but we don’t always have time for that and that’s totally fine.  Boston loves devotional/learning time and it’s something he can count on.

Nap times rock!  This is my time to just be me and do things that I enjoy. I don’t enjoy cleaning, so that’s not what I do during nap time.  I do however enjoy, blogging, watching tv, reading a good book, talking with a sister on the phone, surfing the internet, or just enjoying the silence.  On really busy days, nap time does have to go toward doing bills, working the budget, or working on things for church, etc… but I try to make sure at least a few nap times a week go just to myself.

When you just had a baby or are up all night with sick kiddos let all the regulars fly right out the window and make sure they take all your guilt with it.  Borrow movies, buy healthy food for the kids and stock up on your favorite treats for yourself.  Plan to stay in pajamas all day and get no housework whatsoever done.  If some happens to get done then you’ve exceeded expectations and you deserve a treat (from your stockpile).

My sister just recently gave me permission to bribe my child at the grocery store.  I was having a rough time with my toddler in the store and she said, “it’s fine to give them a treat to keep them entertained, or a reward for being good. Do what you need to make the trip as easy as possible”.  It was freeing to get this advice!  I don’t typically use bribery in my parenting, but after that advice I decided that there are times it’s just more important to make things easy on everyone.  Not everything has to be difficult and your kids will turn out just fine if you let go of your “parenting bests” sometimes and just make the moment work.

Don’t compare yourself to others and feel guilty that you’re not the same.  Every Mom is great at something and no mom is great at everything (no matter what it may seem).  If another Mom is doing something you admire, try it.  See if it works for you and your family, if not, toss it.  Focus on the things that you’re doing really well and keep it up.  Guilt is not your friend, so don’t spend all your late nights and free time with it.  Every now and then a little guilt (like after yelling at a child) is a good reminder to do better next time.  But thank your “guilt” for the little reminder and send it on it’s way.

Let your spouse be involved in the parenting decisions.  A mother knows best…but so does a dad.  And sometimes a fresh (less chaos-crazed) perspective is just what’s needed.

Mommy and Daddy’s bed is a great place to spend a Saturday morning with the kids.  We still get to lay down and pretend it’s not 6 am, and the kiddos get to climb all over us.  Many of our favorite memories are playing in bed with our kids.

Replace as much tv as possible with music.  I don’t know what it is, but having tv on all day just depresses me and music lifts me up.  Plus I’m pretty sure it’s a better environment for the family as a whole.  However when our kids aren’t around, Dane and I love to cuddle up to movies and watch our favorite shows together.

Alright, since my oldest is only 2, that’s all I’ve got.  I really hope my children enjoy parenting as much as I do.  Oh, and I just realized God kinda uses the bribery thing on us too.

If you’re willing to endure sleepless night after sleepless night and temper tantrums that feel endless, I’ll reward you with chubby baby cheeks, first smiles and the title of “Mommy”.  Trust me…it doesn’t get better.

Feeling better now about this whole bribery thing.  🙂

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