Motherhood has many meanings
Hi friends and welcome to the first post of this beautiful website. I am a mother to a sweet angel child, so I had to contract this particular subject out to one of the best mothers I have the pleasure of calling a sister. She has wanted to be a mother as long as I can remember, and I am turning 30 in two months. She has two lovely redheaded boys that I am lucky enough to call my nephews; both under the age of 5. She balances motherhood, being a wife, teaching at a university, and getting her PhD. She was kind enough to get real with me and share with all of you the reality of balancing all that she does while being a momma. If you are a mom struggling to balance all that life throws at you then this is for you! If you love what you read here feel free to start a discussion in the forum for other moms to relate as well!
1. What made you decide to want to be a mom?
I have wanted to be a mom since before I can remember. I have always loved babies and children. I love interacting with them. I love snuggling with them. I love watching them learn. From an early age, when I envisioned my future, being a mom was always part of it
2. What is something you wish other moms had been honest about?
I wish other moms were more honest about the hard parts of parenting- postpartum, sleepless nights, decision fatigue, mom guilt, giving so much of yourself that you lose pieces along the way. I think women are making strides in this department. Instagram and blogs have really given moms a platform to connect and really support one another.
3. How do you keep a routine with small children?
Well, as you know I am a type A personality. Organization has always been a part of my personal routine and I feel like when I had children it became an extension. I am a planner. I plan our activities, our dinners, our grocery lists, our outfits for the week… The list could go on and on. Some might say “Oh my goodness that sounds exhausting!” but it provides me more time to rest. If I have planned these things out, I don’t need to expend the energy thinking about them as the week unfolds. Planning brings peace into my routine and takes things that would otherwise be stressful off my plate.
I also know with my background in pediatrics that children crave routine, and they thrive when routine is maintained. Children love feeling secure and knowing what to expect, so I keep that in mind as I am planning their day. We always start and end our days the same and this helps with harmony in our home. When there are changes to our schedule, I make sure to let both the boys know ahead of time so it’s not a surprise. I think my four-year-old benefits from this especially.
4. How do you find time for yourself?
Its hard. I really struggle with this still, but I am improving. I can now notice quicker when I need time to fill up my cup. When I started working on this, I did all the research- articles, blogs, podcast you name it. I wanted to know how other moms made time for this glorious “self-care” everyone was talking about.
I started small. Every day I try to take at least 30-60 minutes to do something just for me. This is usually done at the beginning of the day before the boys are awake or at the end of the day after they are tucked into bed. These things look different everyday depending on my mood and what I need. In the morning it might be enjoying a cup of coffee by myself or getting to read my devotional or Bible in complete silence. At the end of the day, it might be exercising, reading a book, watching Netflix, taking and extra-long shower.
When I notice that I am really stressed of feeling overwhelmed that is when I work with my amazing husband to carve out longer time. Sometimes, he will even say, “You have been going so much lately take a break” or “I can tell by your mood that you need to get out of the house by yourself for a little bit.” As we have grown in our marriage and in parenthood, I think we have both learned to pick up on cues that the other has and offer that time to rest and rejuvenate. That might look like dinner with friends, an afternoon of iced coffee and target, a manicure and pedicure or even an afternoon by myself in the house while he takes the boys out.
5. Do you ever feel guilty about taking time for yourself? Why, or why not?
I used to. ALL THE TIME. I would beg for time alone and then as soon as I got it, I would spend the entire time guilty and miserable that I wasn’t with my kids or wasn’t helping my husband. I would worry that others would consider my time away from them selfish, especially because I am a working mother and spend time away from them to have a career that I love.
I am not going to say that the guilt is gone completely but it is better. Now when I go out I remind myself of these thing over and over and it helps:
1. Your boys are safe, and they are getting quality time with dad, grandparents, friends, etc.
2. You will be a better and more patient Mama if you take some time to breathe and fill up your cup.
3. You are modeling to your boys what it looks like to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
4. It is not about the quantity of time but quality. When you take breaks, it opens you up to be more present with your children when you are with them.
6. How did you deal with the change of having less time for yourself?
I think the hardest part of this for me was the sensory overload. I am an introvert. I require time by myself to recover from socializing and being in a high sensory environment. Before I had kids I would come home from work, shower, eat dinner and relax and decompress from the day. Now I come home from work and pick up the children, listen about their day, play with them, answer their 23596 demands for snacks, and kisses, and “Mom watch this!”. I make dinner, I clean, I prepare for the next day, I help with baths and bedtime…this list goes on and on. At the end of the day my mind is overwhelmed, I am tapped out. I think the best way to deal with this decreased time is to still make sure to do the things that help you decompress even if you have less time to do them. For example, after bedtime instead of answering emails, making phone calls, scrolling through social media (all of which would just add to my sensory overload), I focus on relaxing and calming my mind and boys down for sleep. I shower, I get in comfy pajamas, talk to my husband, I drink tea, I read a book. I try to use what little time I have to focus on the things I need.
7. How do you and your spouse find time for each other, the kids, and yourselves?
We plan out date nights in advance.
We plan out family events in advance. We know what we are doing almost every weekend for the rest of 2021.
We sit down every Sunday night together and talk about and plan for the week ahead.
We have traditions
There are standing dates every week to make time for family:
We eat dinner together every night
We have family story time all together before bed.
We have family dinner at my parents’ house every Friday
We have pancake Saturday with the kids every Saturday morning.
We Communicate EVERY DAY
WE make sure to talk every day.
My husband leaves SUPER early for work in the AM. He is gone by the time the kids and I wake up for our day. After I drop the kids off at daycare, I call him on my way to work. We talk about our day and encourage each other to have a great day.
We talk every night before bed.
We text throughout the day.
8. What is the biggest piece of advice do you have for struggling moms?
Tell someone you trust you are struggling. Do not carry that burden alone.
Seek out mom friends. They understand uniquely what it means to be a mom.
Seek out positivity related to motherhood- podcasts, Instagram accounts, friendships, support groups, etc.
Block out any social media that makes you feel bad about yourself as a mother.
Give yourself ALL the grace. You are human.
I know it sounds cheesy but repeat your truths or affirmations to yourself often (anytime you are feeling less than).
You were fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are enough just the way you are.
You were chosen to be _____’s mom. No one could do it better.
You are exactly what your child needs.
You are worthy.
You are more than just a mother.
9. What is the most rewarding thing about being a mom?
Watching my babies grow and learn every day.
I love getting to know their different personalities. I love watching them together. I love watching them take what we (my husband and I) are teaching them and use it in the real world. I love watching them make friends and spread kindness to others. I love listening to their little laughs. I love their imagination. I love the way they see the good in people and the world. I love their excitement over each new thing they experience. I love watching them learn something. I love how proud they are when they do something for the first time. I love their little hugs and kisses and snuggles. I love that I get to love them.