What Other Mothers May Not Tell You: The Bad.....The Ugly.......and The Beautiful
Dear Precious Mother or Mother to Be,
You are not alone! In my opinion, there is no greater work more precious than that of raising a child! It is the most beautiful, and at the same time, most exhausting and life sucking task on this Earth! You will probably question yourself and your ability to be a mother daily, cry easier than you have ever cried in your life and find yourself swearing often. You may be filled with worries at times or often, find yourself wondering if you will ever sleep again, when your life will return to normal, or if your house will ever be clean again (or stay clean once you manage to clean it). You may reheat your meals several times in an attempt to sit down and have an uninterrupted hot meal and you look at your spouse/significant other and realize you haven't had a decent conversation in a week or gone out on a date with each other in months. Instead, maybe you spend time engaging each other/fighting over who is the most exhausted, stressed/overwhelmed .....oh and that wonderful sex-life you used to have.....uuummh what happened to it?
After thirteen years of marriage and two beautiful daughters I have learned a lot! Because my life lessons learned being a wife and mom hit me like a ton of bricks! I have dedicated my health coaching practice to uplift and support other moms and guide them through their journey of a healthy marriage and child rearing where possible. So here are some of the skills I learned along the way that would have made the early days go a WHOLE lot smoother and that now allow me to enjoy both marriage and being a mama a WHOLE lot more!
Express Gratitude Often/Fortify your Spiritual Life!
Being grateful and counting your blessings helps you to remain grounded and to be more joy filled and positive.....all which add to your health. Whomever your higher power may be or what your spiritual practice is, connect regularly. Be prayerful in all things. I start my day by thanking God for seeing another day, that gratitude, love and patience fill my heart, that my family is healthy, strong and thriving, that my husband will be clear minded, focuses and prospers, that I am open to hearing direction and guidance for the day, that my kids are safe and protected and having a joy filled day in school, I pray over the school and all individuals that they may come into contact with that day, that my extended family prospers....etc..By fortifying your spiritual life and "covering yourself", when your kitchen floor is covered with baby food, your dishes piled high, you are rest broken and feeling like everything is crazy, you'll be less likely to snap. During these times, just breath deeply at least three times and think of five things you are grateful for. If possible, take a break, call an upbeat friend for an uplifting conversation or laughs or take a nap!
Breath deeply often.
Breathing deeply oxygenates the whole body. It helps calm anxiety and brings fresh oxygen to your entire body. It is one of the easiest things you can do to increase your health and help you be at peace in the midst of any situation. Deep breathing also lowers/stabilizes blood pressure, increases energy levels, relaxes tight muscles and decreases feelings of stress and overwhelm.
Build Your Village and Ask for Help!
Going motherhood alone and not getting the support and help you need leads to feelings of resentment and exhaustion. Stay connected to friends, your spouse/partner and other family. If you are lacking in any of these areas, join a mom support group. You can find these offered at hospitals sometimes. Find a local moms group also at momsclub.org. If you are in the Metro-Detroit Area, I would love to have you join one of our in person Sister Circles (gatherings of moms led by me where topics such as self-care, mom tips and support, wholefood nutrition, healthy relationships and more are taught).
Go to Sleep!
I cannot stress this enough! Proper sleep, at least eight hours, helps to keep your immune system strong, your weight healthy, anxiety levels down, possibly wards off disease, enables you to react with a clear mind and helps you to thrive instead of survive Motherhood (think not having to crawl to the coffee maker or make a bee line to the nearest Starbucks to deal with the world (or your family). When you sleep, your body is able to regenerate from stress it encountered from the day. No proper regeneration= mounting stress= a volcano waiting to erupt, temper and/or in most severe cases, issues health wise.
Pick Up Some Serious Self-Care Skills!
In addition to getting good sleep, eat high quality and nourishing foods, think positive and healthy thoughts, take time to nurture and maintain your marriage and relationships/friendships (This area is usually the toughest for mothers to excel in (myself included!) It takes work and dedication. Whatever you like to do or what your income may be, there is some level of relaxation you can add to your life. Whether it be taking an extended shower or bath with a candles, sit down and close your eyes for 5 minutes and deep breath, dance around your living room to your favorite song, take a walk, get a massage, schedule and enjoy a meal with a friend, take a trip with girlfriends or your spouse, etc. Write down your self-care plan. If needed get an accountability partner or lean on loved ones or a support group to help you.
Everyday is a Gift! Truly Enjoy It!
That little beautiful creature that just came out of you and turned your whole world upside down (aka your newborn) will grow up quickly and you will miss the beauty of it all if you stress through it. Sadly, I was so exhausted when my girls were toddlers that I honestly do not remember much about the early days. I literally was a walking zombie. Some days I wish I could close my eyes and watch a whole replay of their first four years of life. When you find it challenging to shake off the stress that you are feeling...ask yourself, "Will this truly be an issue or deal breaker six months from now?" If the answer is no, then try to shake it off. During an interview, I once heard Oprah Winfrey say the words, "You and you alone are responsible for your life." Now I share these words with you. What do YOU need to do to enjoy life more and see it as the gift it is?
Be The Unique Mother God Intended for You to Be for The Child He Sent You (Beware of the ugly Comparison Monster!)
Many times we mothers can create our own stress with the all to dangerous comparison game. We go to another mom friend's home for a play date with some other moms and find her home immaculate, she's dressed fabulously, make-up done, perfect snacks for the kids and seeming like she has this whole mom thing perfected. However, maybe what you don't know is that out of fear of looking like an incompetent mother, she cleaned her house for two days so that it "looked" like she had it all together. Everyone has their "stuff" seen or unseen. Show yourself some love and avoid comparing yourself to others!
Enrolling Your Child in Four Activities at Once Does not Equal a Better Mother.
If the soccer mom down the street is rolling by doing her daily run taking her children to gymnastics, soccer, softball and karate while you are in the floor with your child playing Legos, having a tickle fest and sipping hot chocolate or better yet, you are taking a warm bath or shower while your child sits outside the door reading a book or you are snuggling with your child taking a nap. The point here is that what works or does not work for one mom, may work or not work for you. Define your own family values, lifestyle and goals for your family by what feels good and is productive for your household. Does your family thrive in an active on the go adventurous lifestyle? Or is your family more so homebodies that enjoy taking it slow and just hanging out together playing board games, sitting around a good home cooked meal and unwinding together. YOU choose!
Thy Husband is Not Thy Enemy!
Whew! This is a biggie! He's just different.....ok maybe very different and he does things differently than you would.....ok maybe very differently! However, marriages with children between the ages of 0-5 have a high divorce rate. It is duly noted that sleep deprivations, fears, anxiety and the addition of a new family member, work and more, may cause you to look at each other like strangers and fight like the best of them. Seek out support and learn information surrounding your experiences that most couples have when a baby enters the picture. You are not alone! Relationships can get weird and experience extreme strain (Violence is not ok. Seek help immediately if you are experiencing it)! When my husband and I experienced the hardest year of our marriage and both emotionally checked out, it was intensive Imago therapy (a weekend intensive) AND continuously doing the work and using the tools we learned, that brought us out of that gray time and put us back onto the happily married path. It would warm my heart that you seek therapy as a preventative measure!
Sex benefits the Marriage and Keeps You Connected. Have Sex and Touch Often!
Ok, before you roll your eyes and talk about how exhausted your are.....I've been there! Now about that possibly dwindling or non-existent sex life......Sex is important to the marriage and is not just for one spouse's pleasure. By not connecting sexually, you risk depleting the bond that the two of you have and opening up your marriage to feelings of anger, frustration, resentment or even one or both partners having an affair. Protect your marriage and work on it regularly. Check in weekly with each other to see how you are doing mentally and physically. Even during busy or crazy times, quick simple touch can communicate liking and acceptance.
According to psychologytoday.com:
"Touch is crucial in creating and strengthening romantic relationships. Tactile physical affection is highly correlated with overall relationship and partner satisfaction. Moreover, conflict resolution is easier with more physical affection—conflicts are resolved more easily with increased amounts of hugging, cuddling/holding, and kissing on the lips" (Gulledge et al., 2003).
Remember that your spouse is your first family member and to not become so focused on your work, activities, baby or other children so much that he feels like a distant memory! Again, seeking out support from trusted SUPPORTIVE friends or a therapist (I love our Imago Therapist on our team, Dr. Lavinia Ekong) is not only a good idea, it is an excellent one! Getting the "craziness" out of your relationship is a integral step towards living life amazing!
Motherhood is not a race, nor a marathon......just a beautiful journey of guiding your chlld through life and being their number one support system.
So much love, many hugs and mama support,