Before my husband and I got married, I really wasn’t a “kid person.” I was focused on my corporate consulting career and I wasn’t even sure if having kids was for me. Now, as a stay-at-home mom of two daughters, ages 6 and 3, I have truly learned how to love being a mom.
When my second daughter was born, I really struggled balancing it all and I desperately craved my independence and time alone. I always thought that I was doing something wrong because I didn’t love every moment of motherhood. It was like I was missing a piece of the “happy mommy” puzzle. Every time I talked to other moms I would hear them say, “Don’t you just love being a mom?” and “You must love being home all day!”
I really struggled agreeing with them. Sometimes, I wanted to quit this motherhood job.
More than anything, I want to remember having fun with my kids and enjoying them. I want to remember playing in the rain, staying up late watching movies, and laughing so hard with them that our bellies hurt. I want to remember making cinnamon pancakes on Sunday mornings and dance parties to Taylor Swift after dinner. I want to remember the smiles on their faces when daddy gets home from work. I want to enjoy them and I want to remember being a happy and satisfied mom when my kids were little. I want to give them the childhood they deserve. Let’s face it, time does fly but when you are in the thick of raising little humans, it is hard work. Yet, time goes on and kids grow up a little more every day. Each stage of motherhood passes to the next. This time with littles is temporary and I want to love it. I want to be a happy mom.
Let’s talk about how you can really love being a mom. Here’s what I try to focus on:
Stop comparing yourself to other moms. Every mom and every family is unique and what works for one may not work for another. Limit your time on social media. All we see are everyone’s best photos. Remember that every mom has moments when they want to scream and run away. These moments don’t make it on Instagram. Instead of focusing your energy on those moms who appear to have it all together, extend your love and help to those moms you know who are struggling. Pass it forward and I bet it that love comes back to you.
Find your mom crew and call them on the phone (and meet in person too!). Find other moms you can talk honestly with. Instead of always texting, call them and see how they are doing. Surprise them with coffee. They will return the favor. There is something so refreshing about getting phone calls from friends these days. Phone calls and surprise visits mean the world to us moms. Schedule a regular get together and make it a priority. Talk to your spouse about how important friend time is and make it happen. I have a group of girlfriends who I get together with regularly. Sometimes we have the kids with us and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes there is wine and sometimes we are eating leftover graham crackers from our kids plates. Regardless, we make time for each other.
Really enjoy your kids notes and artwork. Take note of the effort your kids put into the things they create for you. Hang up those “I Love Mom” signs and those funny looking pictures of mom and dad. Celebrate your kids creativity. When your kids see how much you appreciate them and their work, they are happier kids. When you have happier kids, you are a happier mom.
Embrace how needed you are. You are your kids mother. Their mother who does pretty much everything for them, right? This is an important job. There is no one who can do this job better than you. Embracing this role has changed the entire way I look at motherhood. Realize how amazing you really are. You made your children. You keep these little humans alive everyday. You feed them. You bathe them. You rock them to sleep when they are sick and when they have bad dreams. You are a rock star. Own it and remember how important you are to your kids. They look up to you. Tell yourself that this work is important and that you have value because it does.
Realize your worth. Raising your kids is the single most important job you will ever have. Period. The more you realize how important you are for your kids childhood and for their future, the harder you will try to do your best. When you try to be a great mom who is having fun and enjoying the day, the more you will love the present moment. That’s what it is all about, right? Enjoying the present moment is the key to loving being a mom. For a long time, I struggled with leaving my career and I often felt inferior to moms who work. Yet, I have learned that EVERY mom is a working mom. We are ALL doing our best and we all have to realize how amazing we all are.
Introduce your kids to your favorite music, TV shows, sports and passions. Instead of Sophia the First and Bob the Builder, introduce them to Fixer Upper, Dave Matthews Band and yoga. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean that you have to give up all your favorites. Introduce them to your kids and they will remember you as an amazing person with interests, not just mom.
Talk to your kids. Talk about what is going on in the world. Talk to them about your grandparents who are no longer here. Talk about how they can make a difference in the world. Talk about your childhood and about funny things you did as a kid. Tell them about how mommy and daddy met. Tell them about your wedding. Show them pictures. Tell them how much you love daddy. Tell them why you wanted to marry him. When I really talk to my girls I see this light in their eyes. They want to know more. They want to know me for more than just mom.
Take road trips often. Get out of town with and without your kids. Find that much needed time to connect with your husband. Plan outings with the kids. Try to find new experiences for them and for yourself. Find ways to grow and learn.
Give yourself more time. Kids take a long time to get out the door in the morning. Like, a LONG time. Pretend school actually starts 30 minutes before it does to allow yourself extra time. Try to be patient and kind.
Don’t overcommit your schedule. Be realistic to what you can commit to. Learn how to say no and don’t think you need to say why. Only let your kids be in one activity. Make time for the family to all be home in the evenings at the same time. Allow your kids to get proper sleep at night. Remember, you are in charge of your family dynamic. You get to decide what you are all committed to. Pick commitments wisely.
Remember that your kids are learning. So are you. Don’t mistake your kids for adults. They have only been alive for a few years. They are still learning right from wrong. They are still learning how to drink water from a real cup. They might spill. They might smear Chapstick all over your carpet just to see what it looks like. Think before you react. Don’t try to be super mom and do everything. Pick the things that are important to you and do them really well. Maybe cooking home cooked meals is a priority, so do that. Maybe having your kids in a lot of activities is important. Great, do that. The trick is, however, that you can’t do everything. You may try, but I bet you give up because you feel like you are failing. Your kids would rather have a happy mom who does a few things for them compared to a crazy, stressed-out mom who is all over the place. Remember to breathe, give your kids a lot of hugs, read a lot of books, put down your phone sometimes and take walks with your kids and look at bugs. You don’t have to be perfect. Neither do your kids. You are both learning and getting to know each other. Be patient and enjoy each other.
Less stuff. The less stuff in your house, the less you have to clean and organize. Embrace purging clothes that no longer fit and toys that your kids don’t care about anymore. Your kids don’t want more and more toys. They want a happy and healthy mom that is laughing and enjoying life. They want a mom who is present.
Get back to the basics. Think about how you can make your family dynamic more simple. Does this mean less activities or less commitments outside the home? Does this mean take-out for dinner a couple nights a week so no one has to cook and you can talk more? Slow down and take the time to listen to your kids. Turn off the news. Talk to your kids and play board games. Have your kids help with the chores around the house. Think about what is really important to you as a mother. Think about what kind of adults you want you kids to be.
Remember what kind of mother you wanted to be. Think back to before you were a mom and how you thought you would be. What was important to you? What kind of things did you want to do with your kids? What kind of mom did you want to be? I really wasn’t one of those girls who “always dreamed of being a mom.” However, when I found out I was pregnant with Madilyn, I really started to think about what kind of mom I wanted to be. I told myself that I wanted to be patient, loving, fun and always there when they needed me. I think I am going to write these words on my kitchen chalkboard so I can see them everyday as a reminder. Focus on what kind of mom you want your kids to remember.
Take care of yourself. Make sleep a priority. Eat right. Take hot baths at night. Sure, these things don’t happen all the time, but when they do, I bet you feel better about yourself and you are a happier mom.
Remember the time is now. Realize that there is no guarantee that you will have the time or money to do things later. Go for them now. Take that trip. Get those family pictures taken. Do that craft of Pinterest you really want to do with your kids. Go outside and play in the snow. Jump rope in the living room. Your laundry will probably never be all done. There will always be dishes in the sink. Make a list of the things you really want to do with your kids when they are small. Have your husband do the same. Make a plan to make them happen.
It is possible to find that missing piece of the “happy mommy” puzzle. Moms, I admire you each and every day. Don’t miss out on today, relax a little and enjoy your littles.
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