Its tough being a mom.One of the things I discovered when I became a mother is that motherhood is a full time job. A 24/7 365 job, with no leave, no overtime pay or bonuses and no sick days. If anyone in the formal sector had to put up with these sorts of working conditions they’d probably be on strike right now. So just exactly how do you survive this endless job without breaking down. Truth is you don't. Unless you learn to care for yourself. To carve out time for yourself to renew your energy and your soul. Here are some things that I have found helped as a mom. Take care of yourself. After all if you collapse who will make dinner. 😄
2. Go to bed early. If it doesn't have to be done leave it till the morning and get to bed early. A rested mom is a much more patient and energetic mom.
3. Put your kids to bed early. Get you kids into bed early. Even if they don't go to sleep straight away allow them reading time or quiet games. You need time in the evenings with your spouse. Don't let late bedtime shenanigans stop you from getting one down time. My kids will tell you that mommy goes off duty at 7:30pm.
4. Go on retreat. In my home my family knows that mommy goes on 'retreat' twice a year. This is a time for me to get away on my own. I usually got to somewhere in nature where I don't have to cook, clean or organize anyone. I sleep in, pray, read, watch movies, go for walks and sometimes a massage of I am lucky. It's time for me and God and rest. There are times when I have gone away to weeping and gnashing of teeth. My husband and kid have been angry and felt unloved but God constantly reminds me that if I want to be a good mother I have to look after myself to. It's not easy but it's worth it.
5. Sleep in. Make a deal with your spouse so that each of you gets a turn to sleep in one day a weekend. The other person takes the kids in the morning.
6. The vent message. My best friend and I started this little self-help item. When one of us is feeling truly horrid or angry we send the other a WhatsApp which starts with the word vent. Then we proceed to lay out all our feelings. The agreement is that these messages do not need a response and all that they contain is confidential and to be read with an open heart and a goldfish memory. These have been great for those days when you just need to let your feelings out and know someone has heard you.
7. Exercise. Yuck this is my least favourite self-care topic but it works. I hate to exercise but I have tried to find something that works for me and to give it priority if time and budget. All that nonsense about increased endorphins is actually true. Also the fitter you are the more energy you will have for the task of mothering.
8. Outsource dinner especially during the tough times. It is not a failure to admit that you need help preparing food for your family. A friend of mine has taught her domestic helper to cook certain meals. She then prepares the meal once or twice a week. I have another friend whose helper preps everything during the day and then she simply cooks it at dinner time. Another friend just does the Woolies thing. In my house we have a menu. It's the same every week for now. Boring but doable as I hate to cook. My mom helps me prepare and/or cook dinner. Suicide hour is not a myth and it's my most stressful time of day. It has taken me 6 years to admit I need help in this part of my mothering.
9. Give up things and simplify your life. I always thought this meant that I had to empty out my life to make time for everything but recently I have learnt this is not what it means at all. When you empty your life of all your own activities and the things that give you joy you burn out. Believe me I know. Give up bath time every night or always having home cooked meals. Give up the dinner time fights and streamline bath and bedtime. Give up your preconceptions of what your family should be doing. Ease up on yourself. Your kids won't die if they only eat peanut butter sandwiches or don't wash behind their ears every night. I've given up fighting my daughter do wash at bath time, if all she does is soak that will have to do. I pick my battles very carefully now days because living in a house where I am constantly shouting is no fun at all.
10.Join a bible study. Go with your hubby or without him just go. If he is your only babysitter then so be it. Your soul needs to be fed by God. You need to surround yourself with women who can listen to you, care for you, pray for you and give you Godly advice. Sometimes it's helpful to be part of a group with older women who have been through the journey of motherhood and can give you advice.
11. Pray. In the shower, while patting children to sleep in the middle of the night, while you are driving, while you are shopping. Talk to God, lean on him and take the strength that only he can give.