Nurture the Spirit of the Woman Behind the Mother
Where is that woman you were before motherhood descended upon you? Find her, unearth her and bring her to light. Here are 10 important must-dos for mothers to avoid getting lost in the day-to-day grind of motherhood.
1. Stay Interesting.
Remember the woman you were before you had children. When you have a child the whole world of moms open up to you. Suddenly, you have common ground with a whole group of people who can spend hours on end discussing poops, naps, feeding, gear, tantrums, teething, schools, classes and the list goes on.
I understand that other mothers can be a tremendous support when learning the ropes of motherhood, but be warned: you become an awfully boring person when all you talk about are your kids. Your motherless girlfriends may remain patient through glazed eyes initially, but don’t be surprised if they stop popping by.
As much as your kids will take up a huge part of your life, don’t forget who you were BC (before children) and nurture that woman behind the mother. She’s still there. Feed her spirit instead of living your life through your kids. Make time for your own passions and interests. And hang onto those motherless girlfriends—they will happily assist in keeping the ‘you’ alive.
2. Nurture you.
Do something every day that is just for you and don’t dare feel guilty about it.
We are so good at putting ourselves last, which inevitably means we can miss out day after day after day. Make it a priority. Seriously. If you don’t, no one else will. Have a coffee (or wine) with a girlfriend, workout, take a nap, get a pedicure, facial or massage, read a book, write, study—whatever it is for you, do it daily, not occasionally, not monthly, daily! It will recharge you and remind you of the importance of nurturing you. You will be a better mother, (and a better wife) when you are not feeling completely depleted.
If you’re expecting a child and you think family life is going to resemble a Huggies commercial, you’re in for a rude shock.
As amazing and wonderful motherhood is, those adorable little people totally shake your world like nothing else. Let’s be real—it’s the most selfless, exhausting and full-time (24-hour) job you’ll do and it’s hard work. Nothing else on this planet can make you feel like you’re going insane like your children can. They have the ability to push your buttons, test your patience and melt your heart to the extent that you learn a lot about yourself and your limits. There are days when you feel totally on top of the whole parenting business only to have it all come tumbling down within minutes, leaving you feeling like falling into a heap of inadequacy.
Surrender is my only advice. Let it all fall apart and be okay with that. You are only human. Stop worrying about what other people are doing—especially those who appear to have it all under control.
Who cares that you have rice bubbles all over your floor (and in your hair). Who cares that the laundry is piling up. Who cares that you didn’t get around to showering or hitting the start button on the dishwasher. Who cares that your car floor looks like a deli. The reality is your kids are not going to remember how perfect everything was, they are going to remember the time you spent with them and how present you were with them. Don’t get caught up with appearances and looking like you’re picture perfect. Surrender and know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother but hundreds of ways to be a great one.
4. Listen to your heart.
Read as many parenting books as you like but remember that it’s only the author’s point of view. Same goes with your best friend, mother-in-law, the lady at the grocery store or your neighbors—take from their advice what works for you, but I believe that most of parenting is common sense. Listen to your heart and do things your way.
5. Feed yourself
I use to be the biggest foodie hypocrite, insisting on and preparing the healthiest meals and snacks for the kids. I’d feel amazing watching them devour handfuls of blueberries and slices of avocado, while I’d be grabbing the first thing I could get my hands on (usually a cookie or another cup of coffee). Then I’d run out the door and realize I hadn’t eaten anything substantial. Not Good!
Part of nurturing you is honoring your body by filling it with healthy and nutritious foods. Busy Mamas need as much energy as possible. I now start the morning with a smoothie made from banana, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, oats, linseeds, coconut oil, natural yogurt and a splash of milk. I keep bags full of almonds on my desk and in my car for when I need a snack between meals and try to stay hydrated by drinking a ton of water. It can be hard to eat well when you’re a busy mother, but it needs to be a priority.
6. Get away with the girls.
I cannot imagine my life without my soul sisters. They are so precious to me and I am forever grateful for them.
If you feel that your husband has a limited capacity to truly listen, empathize and relate to how you’re feeling then rest assured that you’re girlfriends will step up to the task. Sisterhood is a strong and powerful bond that allows us to vent, laugh, cry and be ourselves. My besties are scattered around the world, but spending time with them is more therapeutic and energizing than any spa day. It can often take a lot of planning, organization and energy to actually get away, but when you’re talking about ways to nurture your soul, this has to be up there at the top of the list.
We complicate our lives in the Western world with disposable income and the need to keep up with each other. As a mother of four young kids, I’ve discovered the key to my own sanity is simplicity. Keeping life as simple as possible allows me to enjoy ‘being’ with my kids instead of dealing with all the busyness that our society has evolved into. After living in Nicaragua with my family, I could really write an entire book on this topic, but here are two points in a nutshell:
>> Stop buying unnecessary material crap. Our society has become diseased with consumerism from knick-knack for the house, to clothes, to toys, gear, electronics, gadgets, etc. You don’t need it and neither do your kids. Not only will it empty your bank account and clutter your house with mess—it’s not teaching your children anything about what’s really important in life.
>> Keep after school activities to a minimum or none at all. They will not suffer! Believe me, you will be the only one suffering by driving yourself crazy driving from one venue to the next all afternoon. Trust me, if your child is a gifted artist, they will travel down that path as they grow up. Allow your kids to come home from school and be free. That’s where true creativity comes from.
8. Spend time with your husband and don’t talk about the kids.
We’ve all heard about the importance of having date nights with your significant other once kids are in the picture, but what’s more important is ensuring those nights count.
Let’s face it, if you’re going to shower, shave, blow dry your hair, get your fancy clothes on and dine with your husband without the kids, don’t spend the evening discussing the very beings you are escaping from. It’s also not the time to be unloading your frustrations about what he’s not doing around the house or how he’s not appreciating everything you do—I know this can be particularly tempting after your second margarita, but you don’t need to be paying $15 per hour to chew him out. Instead try to put all the junk that comes with parenting aside and connect as two adults who fell in love and had plenty to talk about prior to having kids. Talk about your goals and dreams and really check in with each other.
9. Practice gratitude.
Scientists are finding that people who practice gratitude report numerous benefits including:
>> Stronger immunity
>> Higher levels of positive emotions
>> More joy, optimism and happiness
>> Acting with more generosity and compassion
>> Feeling less lonely and isolated
Awesome benefits for busy mothers, don’t you think? Every day take the time to write down or think about what you are grateful for. Now that my children are getting older this is something we often share as a family during meals together. Practice gratitude everyday and teach your children to do the same.
10. Cherish each moment.
Young children can be demanding, but in the whole scheme of things, it’s a short chapter of your life that goes by quickly.
This quote by Jen Hatmaker says it all:
“You’ll never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Breathe and notice. Smell and touch them: study their faces and little feet and pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today Mama—it be over before you know it.”
Julie McBroom is the mother of four and founder of HipMum : a website that acknowledges and celebrates the spirit of the woman behind the mother. She currently resides with her family in Nicaragua where simplicity, nature, time together and helping others have become a priority. Follow her blog at Hipum/Journal.
Editor: Edith Lazenby
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