Years ago I started a group called UnMom, a community of mothers who loved their children, but found the day-to-day tasks and experiences of motherhood to be…well… less than delightful. Of course there were the haters, accusing me of being crass, because to them, motherhood was the fulfillment all of their girlhood dreams come true. This post is for the rest of us, who sometimes find ourselves unrecognizable in the mirror… embodying a special mix of stress, boredom and all-out insanity we call motherhood. Here’s my best advice.
#1 Get More Sleep
Apologies for the anticlimactic first tip. But your husband your kids and/or your boss are not going to be the ones insisting on you get more rest. And when your mother suggests more sleep, it just feels like judgement. If you have babies or little ones, you are almost guaranteed to be tired. My biggest temptation in early motherhood would be to stay up late to enjoy that sliver of precious “me time” after baby went down, then wanting to throw myself off a cliff, come morning. And this still stands with my youngest being seven. Mommy does NOT want to play Barbies or have an epic dance party on anything less than six hours of sleep and 16 oz. of home ground coffee. It’s hard enough feeling like we’re not doing or “being” enough for our kids, without actually reducing ourselves to less patient, less focused moms because we were working/playing/Facebooking ‘til midnight. Set an alarm on your phone for 10 pm or whatever and MAKE yourself hit the hay.
#2: Cut Out Distracting Activities From Your Life
This could be anything from a bad relationship, to an outside commitment (even if it’s good, like a ministry) to a friendship that sucks too much of your time and energy on a consistent basis. Most of us are simply stretched too thin. Life seems to get more complicated and complex by the second and sometimes it’s all we can do to survive the day. When we’re in this mindset it can feel nearly impossible to enjoy the daily tasks of motherhood. To have the energy to sit and read together before bedtime, or help with Math homework, or remain present with our chattering daughter on the drive home from dance. This could mean deleting a social media account or two, or taking on less work from home hours. If you’re feeling like you aren’t able to relax and connect with your kids, ask yourself why. What are you consumed thinking about? What worries or chores commitments keep you from enjoying your kids on a daily basis? There might lie the problem.
#3: Incorporate Your Favorite Activities Into Play Time
I hate pretend play. Dread it. I honestly think I’ll be rewarded in heaven for the literal years of my life I spent on my hands and knees playing Legos, or pretending to be a Power Ranger on the trampoline daily, for all the neighbors to see. Though I do continue to pretend play (youngest is seven… home stretch!) I have learned through the years to also incorporate activities and experiences that I enjoy. I love water. I would live in a jacuzzi if I could. So, when I was a stay-at-home mom with babies, I’d throw the swim suit on and take ’em in daily. I believe we ate lunch in that jacuzzi. Being outside makes me happy, so if it’s hotter than 60 degrees, I pack up the toys and play outside on a blanket. Try thinking out of the box when it comes to your quality time with the kids. Take drives with your toddler and discover new coffee places (what else is there to do during Connecticut winters?!) Foster animals (dogs are automatic playmates for kids) if you’re not into permanent pets. The kids will notice a change in your mood which makes everything better.
#4: Make A Good Mom Friend
Misery loves company, right? Sounds a bit crude in the context of motherhood, but when you find a kindred mom who struggles a bit with mommy hood…A.K.A. might be spotted at story time with Pinot in her travel mug, your mom hood will be so much more enjoyable. If/when you do find a kindred spirit with similarly aged kids, fill up that calendar. Even if it’s a couple hours of playdates during those long mornings with toddlers, having someone else to talk to and commiserate with, can be so uplifting. This also helps avoid the nasty comparisons we all fall prey to, when hanging out with the “other” moms always complimenting each others’ minivan interiors and re-pinning each others’ seasonal craft ideas with gusto. Find your crew. Never let them go.
#5: Understand The Seasons Of Motherhood
I really struggled when my kids were 0-3 years. It felt like ALL guts and zero glory. I continually felt guilty for not feeling more joy as a mom, like I was missing some kind of domestic chromosome. But when the kids got older, I became a more relaxed, fun mom, able to enjoy my kids more. If you find yourself wondering if it’ll ever get more enjoyable, know that it really will. If you’re stuck in a season of pre-teen mood swings that truly might kill you, just know that they do grow past it, and just like that, they’ll be able to answer questions without a single eye roll. Keep the big picture in mind, and focus on what we can control…being the best moms we can be, in the moment at hand.
#6: Pray For Enjoyment
I rarely blog without incorporating this element. Prayer makes all the difference in whatever we’re struggling with. I’ve known moms who don’t believe in God, and have agreed to let me pray on their behalf they’re so desperate. One man’s foxhole is another woman’s twins in diapers. If you’re feeling guilty about not enjoying motherhood, or feeling bored/frustrated/out of sorts all the time, talk to God about it. He’ll never, ever judge. Ask him for new perspectives, people in your life who will offer direction, help, guidance, a spirit of creativity, a renewed spirit of joy and appreciation, etc. It will only make it better.
Despite all the challenges, struggles, qualms and insanity motherhood brings, our kids are our greatest gift, and watching my 6’3 college boy cooking eggs as I type this, I an attest that it goes by in an absolute flash. You’ll never regret prioritizing ways to enjoy motherhood more, because happier moms are better parents. Enjoy the journey. Even when traveling in an Odyssey. xo
For more on being a better, happier mom, check out my post, “4 Important Truths For Stressed Moms To Remember.”