What You’ll Find Inside: Feeling exhausted and weighted down by the responsibilities of parenting? Inside you’ll find out why a lack of self-care may be the missing piece to your parenting puzzle that keeps you from enjoying motherhood.
Being a parent is tough. I know… way to state the obvious, right?
Before becoming a parent, I had grand ideas about being a sweet, kind and thoughtful mother. All the time. I would be full of energy and love, glowing and exuding kindness.
But after a few months of being a mom and not sleeping, things changed – I felt worn down and wasn’t so sure I was cut out for the job of parenting.
I was overwhelmed with love but also felt twinges of anger and frustration towards my tiny baby for being the one thing standing between me and my sanity. And then I felt guilty for feeling angry. I was crestfallen about my kind and sweet parenting dreams crumbling into dust before me.
We picked back up our normal routine at home. That’s when life became hectic. Everyone in my life assumed I had this parenting thing under control and didn’t need as much help. If only they knew how much help I had needed then…
My baby grew a little and learned to push every emotional button I had. I kept trying to find new ways to handle the stress, but I didn’t always feel kind.
I was tired. Overworked. Emotionally spent.
Related Post > Don’t forget to check out the related post that includes a freebie.
A State of Maleficent
Every night, I stayed up late reading everything I could on parenting and anger management… and it all made sense. But in those overwhelming moments after weeks, months, years of sleepless nights, it all seemed too hard to implement.
And life didn’t slow down. We added more children and more activities. With each addition, came more responsibility and more stress. With each addition, I gave up time needed to take care of my own needs.
The patient, sweet mother who responds instead of reacts was slowly drifting away again.
Can you relate?
After my second daughter was born, I walked around in a state of Maleficent (big black horns and wings, green ominous smoke swirling around, dressed in black with a wicked voice). I was an angry drill serjeant all.the.time. I didn’t even recognize myself.
Something Had to Change
My anger exploded often and I wasn’t able to separate work and home. My frustrations from the day spilled over to my home life and my two little girls. I still wasn’t sleeping well from having a nursing baby.
I was back to work full time as a Project Manager and I was teaching children’s yoga on the side, often bringing along my daughters. My classes were more than yoga; they included meditation, lessons on growth mindset and mindfulness all in the form of stories and games.
After a while though, something strange hit me: I LOVED teaching these children, and I was seeing real emotional growth in some regular ones – but I was a different person at yoga than I was at home.
It was such a strange phenomenon, especially having my daughters there and seeing the ‘yoga teacher me’ vs. the ‘home-mom me’.
All this stressed me to the max, and I felt like I was going backwards in terms of figuring out what I needed to become the model parent I wanted to be.
NOTHING HAD CHANGED.
Adding to the Chaos
Three years after my second daughter was born, we welcomed our third daughter and life became unbearably hectic. Once my maternity leave was over (I’m in Canada, so that was a year), I went back to work. Our oldest two were in before-and-after daycare and school in one end of town and our youngest was in a daycare across the city which added almost an hour to my commute in the morning and then again in the evening.
My husband and I were barely even crossing paths except to eat a rushed, last-minute dinner and do the bedtime routine.
I knew I couldn’t go on living like this. I was on my way to a complete mental breakdown. My family life was suffering. I was feeling dangerously distant from my husband and cold and almost fake towards my girls. I was a mess and spiralling fast.
One Day it Finally Hit Me.
Maybe I had been doing laundry all day, maybe I had been cleaning up vomit from a sick child, or maybe my soul decided, at this moment, that everything was just too much and it screamed out…
This Realization Changed Everything
I realized that I hadn’t been caring for myself at all. For years, I had been making the excuse I didn’t have time to care for my body, overall health, mental state, emotional or spiritual life.
I was always putting everyone else’s needs above my own. When I signed up for this parenting gig, I took the self-sacrificing part of the job seriously. As I’m sure you have too.
I was at a point where I felt rushed and stressed taking a weekly shower; I was eating whatever I was feeding the kids (which is healthy but not always good for my body). I hadn’t formally exercised in years, hadn’t meditated for more than a minute in years, and hadn’t slept a full night in years.
To make a long story shorter, we welcomed a fourth baby, a little boy, into our lives and I left the corporate world to homeschool my two younger daughters. I envisioned a slower life for us all.
But long after leaving my job for a so-called “slower life” I was still feeling angry and out of control.
I was trying to parent four kids, homeschool my middle two, work on this blog after everyone was in bed until the wee hours. Add to that being a devoted wife who says more than “Hi, can you change the baby’s diaper” when my husband comes home, and manage all the things in the house that fell under my role now as a stay at home mom.
I had completely lost myself. And honestly, I had done it to myself. As an A-type first-born perfectionist I had created an illusion I had to manage everything and that everyone always needed me. I know they need me, but not the way I imagined in my head.
This ‘ah-ha’ moment set me on a different path for parenting by taking better care of myself. I found that it is truly is the key to parenting mindfully. In fact, prioritizing self-care is possibly the single most important ingredient we need for long-term gentle parenting and raising mindful, conscientious young adults.
Let’s face it, although Maleficent’s power can be pretty seductive….that’s not how we want our children to see us, right?
But How Do We Fit In Self-Care?
If you’re anything like me you’ve got an interesting image in your head of what self-care is…..spa visits, getting to bed early, elaborate meals, yoga/meditation classes, extra trips to the book/coffee shop…. all of these adding time, money and effort into your already packed schedule.
They all sound wonderful, but in some seasons of life, a more subtle and consistent form of self-care is required. You need self-care that can fit into your everyday activities. You need small little rituals that become habits over time….it’s the small things, right?
Sometimes our brains are so resistant to caring for ourselves that we need to be a bit sneaky. We need to transform everyday activities into life-giving rituals. Sometimes we even need super-stealth ninja tactics to get past the gate-keeper that tells us we are needed (at all times).
To save you from reading a ridiculously long post, I’ve put together a companion post with a list of 7 Self-Care Rituals for Busy Moms (who have no time for self-care). This post includes a free printable and goes into more depth on how to fit self-care into your everyday activities. Be sure to head over for the freebie even if you have to come back to the post at a later time 🙂
What About You?
What are some of your big ‘ah-ha’ moments in parenting? I’d love to know.