I don’t consider myself someone who has found the secret to motherhood – actually quite the opposite. Often I feel like I am running around without a clue what I’m doing, or where to go next. Every day brings about new challenges. I have learned a lot over the last two years. I’ve learned my strengths and my weaknesses as a mother. The learning curve is so immense from the moment you hold your new baby in your arms. I’ve made many mistakes, but have come to realize many triumphs. Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.
During my crash course into motherhood, I’ve come to realize many things. They may not be true for some. Perhaps they are only true for me… But they may make you think, or try a few things differently!
1. TAKE TIME FOR YOU: It is so important to take time for yourself. Mom’s lives can get so busy with cleaning, cooking, running errands and playing, all while trying to deal with finances, kissing boo-boos and singing songs. Do something you love every day. After the kids are down, take a few minutes for yourself. Read a book. Take a warm bath. Go to Target. Call your mom or friend. Do something for you. Your health and your sanity is extremely important, so you can take care of your babies the next day. It is not selfish to ask for an hour to yourself.
2. LIFE IS BETTER WHEN YOU’RE LAUGHING: Learn to laugh. Nothing is going to be perfect – there are going to be days where you actually just want to cry! But learn to laugh. We all make mistakes – but everything works out. I find it helpful to laugh in some of the most stressful situations – like the time Olive had a poopie diaper on an outing and I had conveniently forgot her diaper bag. Stores were already closed, so I had to improvise. Suffice it to say, I quickly took off her diaper, cleaned her up with kleenex, put her pants back on and placed her back in her car seat without a diaper. The entire drive home I prayed she wouldn’t go pee-pee! All I could do was laugh, because really, there wasn’t anything else I could do!
3. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SCHEDULE: I find that my most successful days as a mom are the days I wake up early and get going quickly. My first few months as a new mom were hectic. We never had a regular schedule. Olive never took routine naps. We woke up and played every day by ear. Now, however, we know Olive naps somewhere between 11 and 2. Like clockwork she heads to the stairs when she is tried. We have learned to schedule our daily activities around this time. I never imagined my life revolving around nap time, but it does. Every day. Find out what kind of schedule works best for you and stick with it. Its okay to tell friends and loved ones you can’t meet during nap time. That time is crucial for a happy baby and a happy mommy!
4. FOCUS ON FAMILY: Family should always come first. Your spouse and your children should be your very first priority. Let your first interest be in your home. The baby you hold in your arms will grow as quickly as the sun rises and sets. Take time for your children. Have them sit on your lap and read a book. Don’t just watch – get on your hands and knees and play with their blocks, trucks, and dolls. The more time you spend with them, the more your love for them will grow, and the happier and more successful mom you will be.
5. ITS OKAY TO ASK FOR TIME AWAY FROM THE HOUSE: Not only is it okay, but it is a good thing! Leave the kids with your significant other, mom, friend, babysitter – and enjoy some time away from the home! Leaving your baby behind is hard. I had a hard time convincing myself that my mom and mother-in-law were capable of watching Olive for a few hours. What if she choked? What if she doesn’t stop crying? What if… What if… What if? Finally I told myself that between the two of them, they raised 6 healthy and happy children. I didn’t leave Olive’s side for (probably) 6 months or more, but now I realize that time away, even if just an hour or two, helps to make you feel like a real person. The first time I went grocery shopping without Olive, I was quickly reminded that I can be in and out in a 20 minutes, rather than an hour. Some things are just easier by yourself. You should not feel guilty!
6. CREATE A HAPPY, HEALTHY HOUSE: I once saw a sign that said, “Please excuse the mess, my kids are busy making memories.” Although it is so important to have a clean house, I am a big believer in creating a happy house too. Often times, I will get done mopping our floors and suddenly little toes come running down the hall that I JUST cleaned. Permanent little feet marks are always on my wood floors. It use to stress me out – but then I realized that it is okay! Our homes don’t need to be perfect – one day we will miss those little feet and hand marks.
7. DONT WORRY ABOUT THE JONESES: Social media can be an amazing thing, but it can also cause a lot of anxiety and stress. Those Momma’s on Instagram really don’t have the picture perfect lifestyle they portray. Always remember we don’t see everything. Just because someone’s life looks flawless on Facebook, doesn’t mean that is truly how it is. Everyone has trials. Everyone has bad days. Stop comparing and just be yourself.
8. CALL FOR HELP: I have learned that it is okay to ask for help. In fact, we can’t do it alone. If you don’t have a significant other to call – call your mom, call a friend, call a neighbor. We all need support. Someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a person to make us laugh. Reach out for help and don’t be shy. I use to think I needed to be super mom and do everything all on my own, but I quickly learned that I can’t do it all, I need some serious help!
9. LEARN HOW TO SAY “NO”: This is a hard one for me, but I am slowly learning how to say it. Successful moms know where to draw the line in service, in party planning, in recreation, in volunteering, in church, in everything. As you get wrapped up in special events and groups – people will seek for your help and ask you to make dinner for someone, plan a program, drop the kids off and then pick them up and babysit all in one day. It is okay to say “no” sometimes. You can’t do it all. Only put as much as you can handle into your schedule.
10. DO WHAT YOU CAN DO, IN THE BEST WAY YOU KNOW: Lastly, just do your very best! You should aim to rise to the great potential within you. You do not have to reach beyond your normal capacity. Do not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do, in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.