C. S. Lewis once said, “Children are not a distraction from important work, they are the most important work”. I love this quote for many reasons, but sometimes I simply love it because it acknowledges that mothering is hard work. We mothers, regardless of our careers, our partners, or our family dynamics all work hard. Raising the next generation is no easy task! This month we want to focus on ways to make your work easier and little ways to treat yourself. You’ve earned all that and more, Mama!
Don’t Lose Yourself in Mothering
When you have a newborn, it’s easy to believe the lie that your only purpose is to feed and change your baby on repeat. Sleep deprivation can make us believe crazy things! It’s normal to be exhausted, and it’s fine to have days where you stay in your pajamas from morning till night. But find small ways to remind yourself that you are more than just a mother. You’re still a woman, you still have interests! It may be putting down that parenting book for a week and picking up something that has nothing to do with being a mother – an architecture magazine, a classic novel, a new cook book. Even in our time away from our babies, it’s easy to focus solely on our role as primary caregiver, but it’s important to allow yourself a break from your role. I so often find that as soon as my husband and I get away for a date night we are talking about the kids and I’m looking through my phone at pictures of them from the day. This isn’t bad by any means, but sometimes I need to remind myself to take off my ‘Mom Hat’ and just enjoy time with my husband, my friends, or by myself.
Make Your Job Easier
Parenting involves so much varied work, and I’m always on the lookout for ways to make life easier. If you can find a product or a service that frees you up to more readily dive in to time with your kids, it’s probably worth its weight in gold. I have a friend who swears by hiring a cleaning service after the birth of every one of her children. It’s not an expense that she can afford regularly, but as a mom of four, she understands that the house will fall apart during those newborn days, and if she can save up for the little luxury, it’s the best use of her money. Even small things like a parent console for your stroller to make trips out of the house a little bit easier, or a diaper bag that can truly double as a purse, so you’re not forever switching things between the two, can make a big difference.
Do not deny yourself a break! Rest is so crucial for moms to continue carrying out their good work, even if you need to get creative to make it possible. Do you know a reliable babysitter? Have her on speed dial! Is a babysitter not in your budget? Ask a family member to come over for a couple of hours. Don’t have local family? Exchange babysitting duties with a mom friend and take turns watching one another’s kids so you both get some ‘Me Time’. If it’s impossible for you to have someone care for your children, then treat their nap times as sacred time for yourself. Sleep if you need to. Take a bath with some post-partum soothing herbs. Make a hot cup of Mama Tea and read a book (remember, not a parenting book!).
And when your children are older and no longer napping, I strongly suggest ‘Quiet Time’ for the kids and mom! Not only is independent play fundamental in building creativity and independence for children, but it’s also a much needed time to calm down and give mom a break! Our children all stopped napping around age two, but they still enjoy one hour of ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch each day. It’s in our daily routine, so they don’t usually protest. Once we’re cleaned up from lunch I remind them that it’s ‘Quiet Time’ and ask them to choose a few books or toys that they’d like to take with them into their room for the hour. I set a timer so they know when ‘Quiet Time’ is over (and so they aren’t asking me a hundred times!). This hour is so precious! It’s when I work out, have a shower, have a look at my phone, or sneak in a nap if the night before was a rough one. Don’t be afraid to carve out rest time for yourself and your children. It’s not just mom who needs it!
I’m sure all mothers would agree that raising their children is the most important work, and likewise, no one needs to convince us that it is indeed work. It’s exhausting, patience-trying, lonely, and often thankless, and yet infinitely valuable as you love and raise your children who will one day lead our world. You are doing a great job!
Emily is a Montreal-based writer and blogger, but most importantly, a mom of three littles (age five and under). She geeks out over cloth diapers, lattes, and will do just about anything to travel. You can find her on Instagram @emmorrice where she profusely overgrams pictures of her meals, kids and city.