Are You Just Getting Through Motherhood?
You're knee deep in laundry, trying to figure out what to make for lunch, the kids are begging for snacks or for a show or for something other than what you need to be doing in that moment. You send a quick text to your husband "can you just take a sick day? I don't know how much more of this I can take." and he responds, "You know I just left an hour ago, right?". You look at the clock. It's not possible. There's no way it's only been an hour and you're already stressed and looking for an out. So you press through, because you don't really have any other options. You try to take them out of the house to kill some time, but you can't find someone's shoes, or the toddler has an epic meltdown, kid 1 wants a drink of water, kid 2 needs to go potty, and by the time you start to make your way to the car, it's lunch time. The only thing that gets you through the morning is thinking about nap time and the only thing that gets you through the post nap time grumps is knowing daddy will be coming home from work soon. The days are long. I get it. This has been my song and dance for way too long. I've had nights where I didn't want to go to bed because I was enjoying being alone so much and I knew that once I went to bed that silence and alone time would be over for the next 24 hours. I've had mornings where I curled up on the couch with a blanket, threw some breakfast on the floor and just let my kids run wild and destroy things because I didn't have the energy or drive to be an active mother. If that's you, I so get you. I wish I could give you a big hug and a cup of tea and tell you it's going to be ok. And then after we finish our tea, I'll look you in the eyes and with nothing but love say, "It's time to get up."
Do you really want to look back on your days as a mom (whether you're a stay at home mom or not) and realize that it was just something you had to "get through". I know we all have those days, but it's time to step up and be intentional about your parenting, your motherhood, your relationships with your children, and your role in your household. I've had so many rough wake up calls over the past few months and they've revolutionized our home life. I'm sharing a few of them with you, not to belittle or place myself on a motherhood pedestal, but to hopefully inspire and encourage you to own this season of your life.
1. Wake Up With Everyone Else
I know not everyone has the luxury of a spouse who lets them sleep in a little in the mornings, but mine does. Not always with a cheerful heart, mind you, but he's been so gracious with my pregnancy exhaustion and sickness, and I've completely taken advantage of it. But what ends up happening is that he'll wake me up right before he has to start getting ready for work and I feel like I'm waking up into chaos. The kids are demanding for second breakfast and they've already destroyed what we cleaned up before we went to bed, I haven't had a chance to drink a smoothie or eat a piece of toast and sometimes, I just don't get to eat at all. Waking up like that is just not good for my naturally demonic soul when I crawl out of bed. The past month or so, I've been waking up right along with my crew and while it's not fun, it definitely helps me get a head start on the day. We make breakfast together, have a cup of coffee (tea for me), I try to prep Zach's lunch, maybe throw a load of laundry in, and then while Zach's taking a shower and the kids are playing, I get a little work done around the house or on the computer. It's so much better to ease into the day, rather than waking up to the morning half over without having the chance to feel human for a second. So. If you're a sleeper inner, start waking up earlier. It's a game changer.
2. Put Your Household First
The best way to avoid feeling like you're drowning in any sort of chore is to just be on top of it. Decide what days are laundry days, what time of the day you'll wash dishes, when you're going to vacuum, when you'll wash the cloth diapers. Make a list of all the things that need to get done each week and assign a time and day to them. If your first thought is, "I could never be that scheduled!" then I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you're currently drowning in something that needs to be done. I only say that because I'm the same way. If I don't pick a day to do it and stick to it, it doesn't get done. Take charge of your household and don't let it slack. Not only will this help your home stay somewhat clean and organized, it protects you from feeling the constant stress of something needing to be done. Put the laundry in and then go play with your kids. There's no need to be swallowed by the duties of a homemaker. You set the rules and you also need to set the boundaries.
3. Quit Something Every Week
Just do it. It's going to feel so good. Whether it's quitting the PTA, or unsubscribing from an e-mail list, canceling a credit card, resigning your volunteer position, whatever it is, if it's weighing you down and stressing you out, let it go. You can only say yes to so many things before your yes's start to own you. Quit something small every week and feel your shoulders get lighter and lighter. Once you start quitting things, start practicing the art of saying "no".
4. Get Better at Planning
Plan your meals, plan your play dates, plan your date nights, plan your budget and then stick to these things. I am in no way a planner by nature. I've always prided myself in being a go with the flow laid back type of person, but the truth is, I can't function as a mother or wife or blogger/business owner that way. My days get away from me, I default to eating out, I get stressed, I feel like my day is owning me, that my kids are out to get me, and that my husband is the enemy. I had a very tangible "come to Jesus" moment recently and I had to look at the reality of my life and realize that it wasn't what it should be. My kids deserved better, my husband deserved better, and I deserved better. Starting out the week with a plan has almost completely eliminated stress from my mom life. My days don't get ahead of me because I've already decided what's going to happen that day. Granted, sometimes things happen and don't go according to plan, but when that happens occasionally rather than every moment of every day, I'm finding that I have a deep well of patience and grace. I now very rarely get to the end of the day and feel the need to hop in the car and drive far, far, away. Which brings me to my last point.
5. Don't Escape the Moment, Embrace It.
I know the closet is a good place to hide and the phone is a nice distraction from the chaos, but when the phone is off and the kids open the closet door, life is still happening and you have to be a part of it. You cannot escape this role. You cannot transfer it to someone else. This is your motherhood and you're the only one who can do it. When you feel the need to escape, take a deep breath, find the last ounce of self discipline left in your weary heart and embrace the moment. Stop escaping your life. You're missing out. Your kids are missing out. Embrace the difficult days and find some kind of peace in knowing that they certainly can't last forever. And when you're 80 years old and you look back on these days, I hope that you'll look back on them with fondness, not regret. Escapism almost always leads to regret. From one escapist to the other - I can assure you of that.
All of these things require a critical introspective look at who you are. It's not easy and it's not fun, but if you want things to change, you're the one that has to change. If you find that life is happening to you over and over again, step back, look at what you're doing and acknowledge the places where you can step up, change, and make a better home life for your family. I know there are other factors at play. You might have a special needs child, or a husband who is zero help to you, a chaotic work and school schedule, but this isn't about the other factors and this isn't about tacking on more guilt to your motherhood. Definitely not. We have enough of that already. This is about owning this season of your life and embracing it with welcome arms. This is about enjoying it, not just getting through it, and being a mothering beast.
Everything I write about and post about online is written with the purpose of relieving the pressure of motherhood. We have enough guilt, we have enough people who are better to compare ourselves to, there's no need for one more person to make you feel like a terrible excuse for a mother. That's not what I'm about here. At all. But in my own life, I've had to scale back the laughing at my mom fails all the time and I've challenged myself to step up. As I call myself higher, I'm calling you with me. Let's get intentional about our motherhood. Let's relieve the pressure of our motherhood by being better at it. Because we can be better and it's ok to admit that.