Comedian C. K. Louis disagrees with the saying that being a mother is the “hardest job in the world.”
He says that “the hardest job in the world is not one you can do in your pyjamas” and we should “tell that to the miners getting black lung.”
Granted, but no matter how hard any job is, being a mother is one in which you never clock-off.
And the most consistent, everyday challenge I find with motherhood? It’s not resisting, it’s being present even when the going gets tough.
We’ve all heard the “enjoy every second, it goes by so fast,” saying one too many times, however, in practice, I am often thinking of the never-ending to-do list, bedtime, how to manifest five more minutes in bed, whether I can sneak away for a ten minute lie down, or just enjoy a cup of tea or bathroom visit without a mutiny breaking out in my absence.
The following are tips I use to help remind me how quickly time passes:
1. From time to time, when I look at my children, I try to imagine I’m taking a photograph of their face and then think about the changes their faces will go through as they grow and how much they have already changed.
Somehow I find this easier with my daughter, as she has a face more similar to mine, and I think of all the changes ahead of us—her teeth will change in the next year or two, her hair will grow. She was bald as an egg with no teeth for such a long time but she already looks so much different than that potato-like chubby baby that couldn’t talk.
2. Every now and again I would draw an outline of my hands and feet and then draw my little ones’ hands and feet inside mine and display them somewhere I can see them all the time.
It reminds me how little they are and how much more growing they have to do and it helps remind me to enjoy every moment and not get too frustrated when they don’t tidy up or listen.
3. I don’t have cellular data turned on on my phone.
I did once but could not cope with the constant beeping. The reason why it is impossible to resist checking the beep, is that it could be my landlord saying the man is finally coming to fix the boiler, it could be a friend in need, or it could be a useless promotion, but I don’t know until I check. And this seemingly insignificant break in flow interrupts me listening to my child recounting their day. I don’t think that on my death bed, I will wish I had interrupted more conversations to check my messages. It is irresistible, so I try to escape the internet as much as possible.
4. Take a few centering breaths before reading a bedtime story and only read stories that are well-written and interesting.
So many times I have been reading to my kids and noticed I’m thinking about something else and taking these two steps really helps me be present. I have a list of my ten favourite enjoyable yet unique children’s books, if anyone is interested.
5. A foot massage.
My kids love foot massages and it is an easy thing to incorporate into our day. My daughter is not a huge fan of hugs like my son and she prefers a foot rub so I feel this is an important way of connecting with her. My plan is that, as she gets older, I can maintain this. If she is anything like I was, her teenage years are going to be a time of massive disconnection with her parents, so I try and get a foot rub in at least once a week. It can be done at anytime, before bed or at the beach, and doesn’t need to be a big deal or more than a few minutes.
6. A measuring chart.
I love seeing how much they have grown and I find it incredulous to think they used to be so tiny (and so do they).
7. Look at photographs.
I look at their scan pictures, their pregnancy photos, then the photos when they were born. If you have more than one child, you can make a game of it—they can try to guess which baby picture was them. At school they made a timeline, from birth to three years, and stuck photos along it. Show them how big their toys were in relation to them then and now, if you still have those toys.
8. Spend time outside.
Escape the many distractions, turn your phone off and watch your children play. Next time you are out in nature, get some duct tape and stick it around your child’s wrist, sticky-side facing out, they can then collect any natural (inanimate!) objects they find and stick them on here. I used to empty my handbag and the kids’ pockets of all kinds of weird and wonderful collections but this is way nicer.
9. Take one hour a day to be your kids’ babysitter.
I make sure an hour each day is dedicated to playing with them, making things with them or being outside with them. It may not be a full hour everyday, but I am conscious that this is the goal, and just having that goal in my mind makes me etch time out for them. When we are busy I can get to the end of the day and think, wow, I didn’t sit down with them once, but then I add up 20 minutes of story time, 10 minutes walk home from school, 10 minutes getting dressed in the morning and evening, 20 minutes of conversation at dinner and it soon adds up.
10. For Christmas, their father helped them write down their favourite things about me and put them in a jar.
My daughter’s were all food related and my son’s were about hugging and helping him with his writing. The plan was, if I ever feel down, I can dip into this jar and select one paper. Just seeing their cute handwriting cheers me up instantly.
If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comment and let me know if any of the above are things you have done/do.
Author: Hannah Martin
Editor: Katarina Tavčar