The word on the street is that moms who are thriving most likely:
- Have help
- Don’t pay attention to their kids
- Aren’t busy enough
- Have a lot of money
- Are selfish
What do I mean by this? The culture we are in paints a picture that if you aren’t stressed, tired, and frantically running from activity to activity then we aren’t good moms. If we don’t feel immense guilt when we leave our kids to do something for ourselves then something is REALLY wrong. We are supposed to be at their beckoning call 24/7, doing everything, buying everything, making up for all our imperfections as a parent.
This is the hard truth. Something I had to come to terms with and fight to overcome daily. This is not something that you can just flip a switch and be done with it. Mom guilt, self sacrificing, overcompensating, feeling that we aren’t enough just as ourselves. These are ingrained in our souls, and if we don’t stop these patterns, our kids will become this, and continue the cycle. It is going to take a disciplined practice to gradually pull ourselves out of these patterns and start showing our children that there is another way. We have a choice.
Three ways to teach our kids by example.
- Resting and playing
We can’t always be on, neither can our kids. Playing presently with our child is wonderful and something they will always remember. Taking time to recharge is just as important. As a family we love doing things together but we also love our solitude moments where we can reset, rest, and come back fully and presently. As a mom this is always the hardest one for me. I feel like I always need to be doing something and then I miss out on the quiet moments with my child. Or I miss out on the rest that I need to be able to show up as my best self.
Time chunks of present play, then take a break. When you feel the urge to go do an activity, just sit in the uncomfortable feeling and hang out with your child. This has changed my life, and my child’s. On an unconscious level it might be hard for us to connect with our children at certain ages and that’s where the “busyness” comes in.
For example: my daughter was always expecting to be entertained, because we were ALWAYS doing something. I was burned out, exhausted, with a patience level of 2 by 4pm. Now we take breaks, she has an incredible imagination where she plays in her little world all by herself, creating amazing scenarios within the boredom. She now craves this time, while adults create during work or by writing blogs etc, kids create in the quiet moments of doing nothing. (We can only play store, kangaroos, super heros, or family for so long as an adult. Sit with it, these moments are magic for kids. I usually set a timer for imaginary play and then we go do something else and come back to it later.)
This is the SAME for work. Of course we need to make money to be able to live, but if you are always go go go, you will eventually burn out, get sick, or just be incredibly unhappy. It’s a vicious cycle that we have all been in at one time or more. And news flash your kid is watching you! At one point when Greye was 4 she would walk around with a dog bone pretending it was her cell phone. The walk, talk, and stress (yes stress) from this dog bone cell phone conversation was intense. She would aggressively strut through our living room screaming a stressful situation into the cell phone. My husband and I were both alarmed by this behavior (not the dog bone phone). Realizing, holy shit! She is imitating me!!
Taking time to workout shows your child that health is important to you and should also be important to them. Same with movement throughout the day. If you sit in front of a television all day but tell your child to go run outside you are not living by example and eventually the child will figure that out and become the person sitting in front of the TV.
From the time your baby is a newborn carve out the time to move your body(after you are cleared by your doctor). This can be 10 minutes. Show up for those 10 minutes every day. Go for walks with your baby. Walking is one of the ultimate nervous system resets! Get outside and move, it will change you and your baby’s day. Find a gym with childcare, or ask a family member or friend to watch your child. There are thousands of home workout programs at our finger tips that require zero equipment.
3. Ask for help
I grew up thinking that if I had to ask for help then (a) something was wrong with me, (b) I was weak and (c) I was bothering whoever I was asking for help.
These are all false, and yes, those moms that have reached out and asked for help, they ARE thriving! They found the secret sauce to go from surviving motherhood to thriving. The mom mentality that we have to do it all, control everything, work, play, and get all the chores done. STOP. We are strong as hell, and yes we can actually do it all, but at what price? Our health? Our children turning into tiny little work slave people pleasers at the age of 4? All because our ego is worried about letting go of control. Asking for and receiving help is a GIFT. Let’s start practicing it.
Find where you need help first. Prioritize the tasks and roles that are most important to you. During the period of my life above where I let my business run my life I started asking for help basically because I had to. I hired a house cleaner which I felt so blessed to be able to afford. I started speaking up and asking my husband for help with meals, and walking the dog.
Fast forward months later, we moved and I have significantly changed my life and priorities. I no longer have a house cleaner, but by asking for help, I realized those chores actually don’t matter and are WAY down on my priority list. A little dirt is not going to kill me, it will get done when it gets done. If I feel myself going into the pattern of trying to do it all, I immediately stop and see where I can ask for help. Practicing RECEIVING help is just as important as asking!!! When someone offers help, say yes!!! They mean it, and genuinely want to help you.
These three practices are going to keep you REALLY busy! Each day will get easier. Stay consistent! Become aware of these patterns. We all have different jobs, incomes, and lifestyles so adjust these practices to your life and make it YOURS. I think a lot of us will be saying we can’t afford a house cleaner, nanny, gym etc but you don’t need money to do this. It can be as simple as putting your baby in a swing for a 15 minute workout, asking your husband or mom for help, saying no to emails past 5pm because that’s your family time.
Prioritizing your mental and physical health, setting boundaries, and being present, is NOT selfish! It is necessary to be able to live your life to the fullest everyday and show your child that you’re an adult, BUT that you are not done growing. Each day is a new day to become better, learn from mistakes, make changes in your life to make it BETTER. It’s never too late.