A Mother's Love
Updated: Jun 13, 2018
Information overload, how not to lose yourself to motherhood, and 5 tips to help you be the best Mom you can be.
While chatting with a friend who's currently expecting her first baby, I tried to describe what it’s like to be a mom. What came out was something like… it’s a job I love, and I want to do it really well.
I have been reflecting on that comment recently. As women, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the ideal mother, to do the job perfectly. And in this day and age that can become really overwhelming!
Every time I research a parenting topic there are about 50 different opinions on how to do it right. Do I breastfeed? Yes, okay, for how long 1 year, 2 years, 5 years? Do I put her in a crib or co-sleep? Do I sleep train? How do I teach her what is right and wrong? What are age-appropriate forms of discipline? The researching can go on for hours. The sheer volume of information available at our fingertips is overbearing; it can even be anxiety-provoking for someone who is trying to be the BEST mom ever.
Then there is the judging and questioning from other moms, even when well-intentioned. Your baby doesn’t sleep through the night? Oh you don’t co-sleep! Here is an article that details how you are screwing up your baby by doing it that way (or by NOT doing it this way). Ugh.
Anyone else experience these things? I know we all want to be gentle with each other, but sometimes we're so attached to doing it "right" that we can get obsessed with our way of being right. I know I have done it to another mother, however inadvertently.
The truth is there's no such thing as a perfect mom.
There is no RIGHT way to do things. Every kid is different, every family is different and every circumstance is different. There is only being the best mom you can be in each moment and choosing what is right for YOUR family.
When we throw ourselves 100% into being the perfect mom, we sometimes lose ourselves to the role of mother. We forget who we were before kids; we lose our other passions and stop living our own lives.
I work with so many women in my practice who struggle with intense depression when their kids move out. They’ve lost their sense of self and don’t know who they are anymore without their children. Yes, our kids are important, but so are we! We mothers have so many other gifts to share with our communities, too.
Remember: raising awesome kids is not the only way to contribute to the world, and our journey doesn’t end when they’re grown.
This Mother’s Day I want us all to give ourselves the gift of compassion, the gift of trusting our intuition, the gift of self-actualization, and the gift of self-care. In order to show up for our kids 100% and be fully present we must fill our own tanks.
Here are 5 ways to help you be the Mom you want to be this year:
1. Take some time for self-care. Aim to get at least 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time per week. Go do something you love to do. Dance, volunteer, stay engaged in hobbies you enjoy, meet-up with girlfriends, etc. It may seem like you don’t have the time or the support to do this, but you must prioritize it. Find a mom who wants to trade babysitting, make a deal with your partner, or enlist a family member for help. If you can’t get longer blocks, take shorter blocks more frequently. Here are 10 ways you can hit the pause button in your life.
2. Get enough sleep. Fact: it’s difficult to be even-tempered with your family when you’re tired. If you’re waking up during the night to breastfeed, take naps or enlist help from a partner or a friend to take the baby for a few hours early in the morning so you can catch up. Make yourself go to bed early. So many moms I know stay up getting things done after the kids go to bed, but this means you’re missing the most important hours for sleep. It’s better to wake up early then stay up late.
3. Exercise at least 4x a week. Physical activity helps us blow off steam; it keeps our energy up and our mood more stable. All essential ingredients to getting through the day with kids. It’s easy to let this one go because there isn’t enough time or enough money or the weather is bad. Again, we must make it a priority. There are a number of affordable options to workout in your living room; we just have to do it. We are the role models for our kids and if we can’t do it for ourselves then do it for them. Teach them that exercise is indispensable. Because when it comes to your health and happiness, it is.
4. Do not engage in negative self-talk. If you yell or your kid gets hurt don’t beat yourself up. Life happens, we get frustrated, and kids fall down. Apologize for your mistakes and move on. Instead try writing down your parenting wins each day. Then when you’re feeling like a failure, and convinced your kid is on the fast track to living in your basement at 30 years old, take time to read them.
5. Trust. Trust your children’s inherent strengths. They will learn from your mistakes as well as their own. Our successes and failures will be their teachers, and all of it is good for them. Trust your community. It really does take a village and if we can’t rely on each other for help this whole parenting thing is 10x harder. We want to show up for each other so stick your neck out there for you neighbor and let someone offer you a helping hand. Trust your intuition. Try not to spend hours online or reading books on the how-to of parenting. If you’re struggling with a specific issue gather a few tips and try them. If those don’t work be flexible and try something different. None of those books or blogs know you or your family. Your inner guidance will usually have the right answers if you just listen.
Finally, if you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed, please find someone to talk to about your feelings. It often feels better when you realize you are not alone. Mom groups can be great resources, as can psychotherapy. If you need support creating space for yourself I can coach you through creating boundaries and healthy habits. Sometimes you just need a cheerleader to get you started.
Hang in there, Mama. You’ve got this!
Work With Dr. Hillary Roland, ND
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