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The other day another mom confessed to me that she was becoming a bit frazzled.
Not burn-out level yet, but not doing well either. She had trouble relaxing, she said, she had too much to do.
I was a bit shocked, I know plenty of moms get overwhelmed, but I hadn’t expected her to get to this place.
Overwhelmed moms are everywhere
I see it more and more, moms who try to do everything, be everywhere and fail.
Not because they’re not good enough, quite the contrary. They fail because they are too good. They are so good they try to do it all at the same time. Only, that’s not possible. And not only is it not possible, you shouldn’t want to be that picture perfect mom.
I think we’re waking up from the picture perfect dream. For the past decade or so we’ve seen pictures everywhere of what parenting should be like. How much you should be playing with your kids. Which courses they should take and what types of crafting you should be doing with them to make sure your kids become the very best versions of themselves.
Growth for the sake of growth?
At the same time we feel the pressure to develop ourselves. To have a career, to be friends, be romantic, have an interesting hobby. I say pressure, because at times development and growth no longer seem like a choice. Advice on how to improve yourself is just everywhere!
Sometimes, that is beautiful. I love to learn and grow. Yes, I want to improve myself and become who I could be. I don’t want to grow old with regrets over the things I didn’t do or learned.
Sometimes, I can’t stand it. I don’t want to feel pressured to be my best self all the time. Some days, I just want to be a mess, hide in my PJs with chocolate and a book.
I think that in recent years, we’ve been overdoing it. Growth for the sake of growth isn’t a good goal. Growth is good if it’s voluntary, if we’re ready for it and we have the energy, space and balance. And let’s face it, moms, when the kids are still so very young, some days all we can do is just get on with it.
Growing? I’ll be happy if in the evening I’ve made it through the day without any drama!
It’s okay to improve: on your terms
We have to remember that the tools, the organizing, the growth, they are there to serve us. We don’t serve them. Whenever we start serving the tools, it disrupts our space and balance.
Whatever we use in our lives, it should help us as moms and it should help us to be happy. When you’re striving hard to be perfect, to have your kids look cute and make a great impact at this party your going to…does that make you happy?
If it does, then great! Keep doing it! If not, then why should you? Stop doing it. And ask yourself what does make you happy.
You know, I’d love my wardrobe to look neat and tidy. Worthy of the perfect housewife label. I’d love for my wardrobe to bring a smile to my face every time I open it. But then again, is it all that important to me? To me it isn’t. So I’m not putting in more time then I need to.
This is not against people who organize their wardrobes. Not at all. This is against feeling like you have to. If organizing your wardrobe makes you happy, go right ahead. If it doesn’t, then don’t feel obligated.
Ask yourself what you want to spend your time on instead.
Space and Balance: What I mean by Balance
I love food, so I tend to compare things to eating. A meal is good when it’s balanced. When there is not too much of one thing or too little of another. The flavors, all of them, are mixed in just right.
Of course, it’s very difficult to get this right, so every time you cook a meal you have to see (smell and taste) how things are panning out this time and then you adjust as you go along.
It’s the same with life. Ideally, we have just the right mix of ingredients, emotions, events, to keep things balanced just so.
We are always balancing, never quite in balance, because life is always in motion. And so are we. We keep learning and growing (even if we don’t feel like it and even if we’re not reading a book about it) and so we keep adjusting.
Balance means you know which ingredients you need to be happy, and having them in your life in the right amounts.
Space and Balance: What I mean by Space
Space is when you have the time and the opportunity to do the balancing. It means time to yourself. To think and learn, but also to relax.
You need relaxation for your mind to process everything it’s been taking in during the day.
It also means you get the space to be you from the people and circumstances you find yourself surrounded by. Your partner, friends and kids need to give you that space.
It is your job to make sure you get that space, to teach others how to give you that space (in case of kids, think of them going to sleep when they’re supposed to, or quiet time activities during the day) and for you to take the opportunity when it presents itself.
That last bit is difficult: us moms tend to feel guilty about all sorts of things. Including relaxing when we could be serving others. Let’s agree to stop doing that right now, okay.
What steps to take to get space and balance
Well, this differs per person, but for moms sleep and a bit more time are usually good places to start.
Letting go of certain hangups is another. Like having the house perfectly in order. Our house almost never looks like an Instagram picture.
Currently, we’re placing a new tile floor in the hall and kitchen areas and so it looks even less Instagram worthy. Yes, the clutter annoys me, but things are as they are and fighting that doesn’t do anything for me.
So, I just let it be and focus instead on the things I have more control over.
To get space and balance you need:
- Sleep (rest)
- The right mindset
- Fun with the kids
More or less in that order and though it’ll take time to turn all of these things into habits, the good news is that with some dedication you can reap the benefits quite soon.
Sleep is at the very basis of your well-being. If you’re not sleeping well, nothing else you do will make on iota of difference to your happiness.
Moreover, you won’t have the energy nor the discipline to keep up with any change you want to make in your life.
See these two posts for tips on sleeping.
We feel we need to do so much, when in fact, we don’t. One of the reasons we need space and balance is because we experience a lack of time. It’s at the core, so to speak.
If I had to sum up in one sentence what most of my posts are about, it’s this: slow down! You are not in a sprint.
There’s plenty of time to do the things that really need doing. And you are not missing out if you do less. Especially not if your time is filled with things you don’t even like doing.
Did you know, that even though we have all these appliances nowadays that are supposed to make our lives easier, women today are actually spending more time doing the household chores?
Get more time and joy
So, look at your calendar, or make a list, of all the things you’ve been doing in the past week. Likewise with the coming week.
- Which things don’t bring you joy?
- Say no to those things.
Your homework is to say a big fat no to at least 2 things in the coming week. Keep that up for the whole month. It can be anything.
Hate ironing? Discuss it with your partner and stop doing it. My husband irons his own shirts and everything else gets ironed as needed. If I don’t want to iron and I have a dress that requires ironing. Well guess what, I wear something else.
Another trick is to list what is really important today. What really needs to get done?
List no more than 3 things in any area of your life. Those areas should be work, private life. No more than that.
Don’t get tempted into splitting areas into more subsections than that. You’ll only make yourself busy, again.
So, now that you’re sleeping and you’ve got some time, you can actually get in the mood for fun. Space and balance in your life starts with the right mindset.
If you, like me, have been telling yourself everything is difficult / a drag / terrible / hateful for any amount of time, then you’re mind is going to repeat that for you.
The next step, then, is to stop your mind from babbling all the time. And to replace that nonsens with things that bring you joy.
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So, while there’s lots of stuff you shouldn’t be doing, you should be having fun. What do you enjoy doing? What did you do when you were a kid?
Ask yourself: when in the week will I have time to do this activity.
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Joy with Kids
Okay, lastly, once you have found some space and balance inside yourself, wouldn’t it be great to enjoy the kids? I thought so.
Raising kids is never going to be easy. I always say to myself that I have my worst, but also my best moments with my kids. They bring me tears of frustration as well as tears of joy.
But we can make things somewhat easier on ourselves, by being more consistent, more calm and less hurried.
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We can also make it easier on ourselves by adjusting our expectations (they’ll never adhere to our script of the day, just forget it) and by doing things that they and we will enjoy.
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I hope this give you a bit of a roadmap to you path to being a calm mom who finds space and balance in her life.