Are you apart of the least supported Entrepreneurial Group? Mothers.
Have you ever felt like you have dreams and ventures you still want to explore but feel like you can’t because you’re a mother? It can sometimes feel like an unconquerable dilemma.
Whether you’re a single mother, a mother with a less cooperative partner or raising your children with “all hands on deck,” it’s not easy to follow your dreams as a mother. But in this post, I am going to outline a few tips to help you parent and enjoy your children without fully compromising your own creative expressions and purpose all while avoiding burnout.
1. Remember, this won’t be easy.
When I think of ease, I think of predictability and being able to plan. Thoughts come to mind of smiling lots and no tension in the body. If you really want to make this work, go ahead and fully accept that parenting while living your dreams won’t always be easy. Raising children has its moments of feeling hard and heavy however, is that the feeling you have most of the time? If so, something needs to change drastically. Only you know what that truly is. I get kisses and smiles from my children for simple things. I have a son who refuses to get any rhythm in his slender hips and whose sidekick is a two-year old sister that loves to ask, “Are you kidding me?”, (She also loves the phrases “You need to think about it.” And “This is ridiculous”.). Needless to say, they can sometimes be a hand full, but seeing those two enjoy each other’s company-- even if they start arguing 2 seconds later-- is parenting gold.
Let me be honest with you; maintaining the balance isn’t always easy. Right now, there’s a stomach virus cruising through our family taking it’s precious time to invade us all. I have to constantly, and consistently, remind myself “this too shall pass.” I don’t get frustrated anymore or think about all that has to be done or how I have to take days off work to take care of my family. Instead, I take deep breaths and think about how grateful I am to be their mom in this very moment. In full transparency, it took practice to get to this point. So my advice to you is: practice, practice and practice some more on dwelling on being the mom who shows up present and caring when everyone isn’t their best or feeling well.
On the days when no one is sick and aren’t fighting to the point where words are inaudible because they’re crying, feel it deeply. Save those moments of peace bottled up within your heart. Recalling them will help lessen your feelings of depletion on the tough days.
2. Be ultra-super flexible.
Before having my first child, I was a very structured and precise person. I would plan meals and if I had to be somewhere, I arrived early just in case my services were needed to help prepare anything or just to be settled in before other guests arrived. That WAS me. The birth of my oldest daughter is what cured me of my pre-perfectionist ways.
Once I had another human to care for, I had to make peace with the fact she became a co-creator of my life. Because of her, I was forced had to move through the world differently. All of a sudden, I had to let go of being everywhere on time! Not only that, I had to learn to be happy with the idea that, hey, at least we made it! Just when I thought I was used to the changes motherhood required, I had my second child. He likes to take his precious time. Rather than freaking out about another person making me adjust my schedule, I consciously became more flexible in my scheduling. Now, my son begins to get ready at least 30 minutes before anyone else. This practice keeps us both sane and prevents from me rushing and feeling overwhelmed. My flexibility, and the modeling of it for my son, prevents many missteps and multiple trips back into the house because I forgot something.
Another way that being ultra-super flexible has helped our family is with our meals. For instance, in the past dinner was every day at about 6 p.m. Today, and four kids later, dinner is between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. After we eat, we have what’s called room time or wine down from about 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This is the time we use for baths, chat individually about our day, and more.
I stopped using the word bedtime so much because it would start a struggle in my house. The kids would say things like, “We don’t wanna go to bed.” “Mommy, can we sleep in your bed?” “Why can’t we stay up a little longer?” It would be a power struggle every night. Now we ease into it “bedtime” with a more flexible routine. The children know what’s coming but because of a conscious, flexible routine of winding down, by the time we get in bed, they are ready and feel a bit more in control of how they end their day. I no longer struggle because the children think they are winning and as long as they are asleep by about 8:30-9 p.m., I realize that I’m the real victor.
Because they are down almost every night by nine, I have time for gratitude to flow from me. When they are asleep and the house gets quiet, I get an opportunity to sit in this feeling sometimes for a moment and sometimes for an hour (because flexibility, right?). I’ve found that this time helps me think more deeply about my dreams and strategies for realizing them.
As moms, we sometimes feel overwhelmed, tired, and/or frustrated. When the children are asleep, try to honor your feelings that you weren’t able to fully express in front of them. You can honor your feelings by feeling them. When I need to cry, I do it in the shower because as much as I know that my tears are valuable, I am not willing to wake anyone up with a sniffle (lol)! If I need to just sit and be still…I do that. If I need to vent to a friend I do that too. Whatever I need in the moment I give it to myself.
Do you have time in your day to check in with yourself? If not, schedule some time ASAP, but be flexible about making it happen. If you do not take time to quiet your mind and take deep breaths it will show up in your temperament especially with your little people.
3. Plan Your Dreams around Your Children.
I refuse to let my dreams go. I don’t use the word entrepreneur to describe myself. By definition I am, but I see myself as a talented, innovative woman who has goals. And as important as that is to me, I am a mother too.
I thought about waiting until my kids were older to chase my dreams but then I was like, nah. I don’t want to do that. So, I began to study what was working for me and what wasn’t. I began to create boundaries with, and for, my children to change somethings for the better. My friends and I joke sometimes about something else I’ve incorporated into my life: parental hours. Before you gasp at me and mom-judge…let me explain it a wee bit.
-I have parental hours-
Parental hours in my home are from the hours of 7 a.m. until about 8 p.m. These are the hours where I am “on.” I am a vigilant parent: negotiating, helping with homework, cooking the food, watching the movie we have watched 101 times like it’s the first time, kissing imaginary boo boos, listening to my five-year old son boy-splain why his teenage sister is being mean to him and then having to explain that it’s because I’ve given her immunity this week because she’s on her cycle. I then tell him that when he gets a wife, she too should have immunity during that time as well! In other words, from 7 until 8, I’m your typical maternal miracle worker!
After 8 p.m. I float around and make sure nothing major is happening. Unless something major happens- the parenting day is basically over. I relax internally, take deep breaths and admire my family a bit. I check on my children and find at least a few things that are as they “should” be at that moment, give thanks quietly within and I try not to create any additional work for myself. If there’s a load of laundry it’ll have to wait. I do this because I need time to decompress, dream and progress in my own desires.
After our scheduling, the next set of boundaries I created with my children were around the use of the bathroom. I know this may seem small but it made a huge difference in my ability to focus on myself and care for myself more deeply.
Once upon a time, my children were allowed to ask questions while I was in the bathroom. Yep, no matter what I was doing in there (yikes!). I remember even getting out of the shower on several occasions to assist them with really minute things that could have waited. Then one day I had an ah-ha moment. I thought to myself- -I deserve to use the bathroom in peace. I had created a false- narrative that I couldn’t use the bathroom in peace! When I realized that I was the one that created the narrative, I realized that I had the power to change it.
One day I made an announcement to my children that unless there was an emergency, they were not to summons me while I was in the bathroom…under any circumstance. They only tried to disturb me a few times after that. I simply did not respond from inside the bathroom and after a few weeks they stopped all together.
The reason I created these boundaries was that I often felt consumed by my role as a mother. I didn’t want to feel that way.
Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time to care for yourself? If so, I encourage you to create, and protect, your own boundaries. You deserve to respect what is important to you and have pockets of peace throughout your day.
4. Create Bliss Every Morning.
We’ve all heard about the torturing day of the week known as Monday. Add getting a couple of children ready on an already stressful day and Mondays can feel even worse.
Now that I’ve implemented the strategies I’m sharing with you, I can honestly write that I don’t dread any day of the week because I have simply accepted the fact that being a mom isn’t easy, understand that I have to be super-ultra flexible, and plan out my dreams around the children.
Those strategies help a lot, but they don’t mean anything without a deliberate effort to ensure I maintain bliss as often as I can.
Here are few things I do to make our mornings flow with bliss.
· I get up 30 minutes-1 hour before everyone else to gain my composure and set my intentions for a good day.
· I give myself at least 15 minutes or so to do something super important like drink a cup of coffee with quietness as my background.
· Finally, I start my parental hours by waking the children up individually instead of all at once beginning with the one that takes the longest to get up.
Since we’re talking about bliss, this next point needs its own paragraph--my teenage daughter. She takes the longest to get ready and looks the same every day. Rather than sacrificing my peace with her I will literally just go sit in the car until she comes out. It takes a while to get everyone in their car seats and then I hop in… that gives her at least another 3 minutes. To help myself from turning into a fire-breathing mom I sometimes fantasize about just pulling out of the drive way and leaving her…right then she usually comes out. I laugh when she gets in the car instead of asking why it took so long for her to be ready. I realize she has no idea why she takes so long and neither do I. If I weren’t intentional about maintaining bliss, I probably wouldn’t be able.
If you have a rough morning with the kids after the last drop off (if you have multiple like me) play your “rock out song”. Turn that song on and sing it as if you’re being paid to perform. I pray, cry and take many deep breaths when our mornings are just hectic but I know everything will be okay because I have accepted that being a mom isn’t easy, having a blissful morning EVERY MORNING doesn’t exist and no matter what I will chase my children and my dreams too. How about you?