As moms, even if we are able to make plenty of time for self-care, the day-to-day of our life is largely full of responsibilities. Mothers of young children spend much of their time changing diapers, feeding hungry bellies, cleaning up messes, and trying to prevent major disaster. Mothers of older children may not have the same responsibilities, but their work load is just as full. They run to and from school, sports practices, and keep track of homework. We’re a busy bunch, us moms, but that doesn’t mean our work is drudgery. Being a mom is rewarding, and it is important—but it can also be fun.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget just how fun being a mom can be. I occasionally need a little reminder, to refocus my time at home with girls to enjoying our time instead simply surviving. Lately, I have brainstorming a few ways to have more fun with my kids, keep reading to see exactly what I came up with.
#1. Mix up a boring day by asking another mom and her kids over for playtime and lunch.
#2. When everyone is feeling a little cranky, crank up some music and have a dance party.
#3. Create weekly themes. Our first week, our theme was penguins. We checked out a huge stack of books on penguins, printed off coloring pages, and watched a penguin themed movie.
#4. If you are bored of your dinner time routine, have breakfast for dinner or pack a sack lunch and meet dad at the park on his way home from work.
#5. Have a movie night, don’t forget the popcorn and sugary treats.
#6. Take the day off. Everyone stays in their PJs all day, reading books, eating off of paper plates, and ignoring the to-do list.
#7. Keep an eye out for big boxes from TVs, refrigerators, or furniture. Create an elaborate fort or maze and decorate with jumbo crayons.
#8. If you are tired of being home, make a trip for ice cream or hot cocoa.
#9. Take a day trip. Sometimes, it is so easy to grow tired of the routine. Pack up early in the morning, let your kids nap in the car, and spend the day exploring someplace you’ve never been before.
#10. Make memories and write them down. Keep track of the special days, big and small, but documenting your life on snapchat and keeping a journal of your days.
How do you add a little extra fun to your life as a mom?
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One thing I am learning as a mom, a wife, and an employee is that self-care is non-negotiable. When I neglect the things which make me feel happy, healthy, and whole, I become frazzled and I struggle to properly care for the people around me. As a mother, it has been easy for me to fall into a routine of martyring myself, or making myself believe self-care is selfish. It is easy for me to look at the responsibilities surrounding me and assume I simply don’t have the time to care for myself.
The truth is, it easy to neglect self-care. It is easy to prioritize the needs of everyone around you while ignoring your own needs. But it also easy to believe there is no time for your own hobbies and wellness, when it is simply not true. Sure, we have a limited amount of time each day, but I know I devote time to unnecessary things or fail to manage my time well on a daily basis. So, finding time for self care in my own life has meant creatively looking at my schedule and finding more time in my schedule. Here are a few ways I am finding more time for self care.
#1. Deleting social media apps from my phone: First, let me say—I really love social media. I have no interest in giving it up completely. What I have done, is remove social media apps from my for several days or longer. Even though I only spend a few minutes at a time checking in on Facebook or Instagram, those minutes add up and take time away from my day.
#2. Saying no more: Saying no to the people I care for does not come easy to me, but sometimes it is essential if I really want to care for myself. Usually this looks like saying no to something that is not really that important, such as saying no to cleaning my kitchen after the girls head to bed an reading a book instead. Or saying no to an play date invitation when I really need a quiet day at home.
#3. Asking for help more often: As a work-at-home mom with young children, the days where I check everything off of my to-do list are few and far between. Instead of stressing out or putting housework before my own wellness, I am asking for help more and letting my husband step in however he can throughout the week. Lately, this has looked like him doing dinner clean up and bedtime with our girls so I can get an early start on my work each evening.
#4. Combining fun and responsibility: Sometimes, there is no getting around your to-do list, it simply has to be done. One way I taking better care of myself is combining work with fun every once in awhile. This has meant inviting a friend along for a diaper run or inviting another freelancer friend to work alongside me in a coffee shop. It isn’t much, but a little company can add something special to the most boring tasks.
How do you find time for yourself? Share you tips in the comments below.
Yesterday afternoon, while my girls slept sweetly in their room, I sat on the couch straight up pouting. Here is where I confess: I still can’t shake that burnt out, bored, sadness which has been haunting me for a few months now. This feeling, it is hard to explain, it is something like restlessness to the max. It is this—RUN!—kind of feeling that makes my chest feel tight and my mind race for any explanation. All of my life, I have experienced this feeling every couple of years. And, all of my life, there has only ever been one solution: I need something new. I can’t continue doing X,Y, and Z each and every day. I am dying for a challenge, for an adventure. As a young person this looked like a hastily chosen box of cheap hair dye, an impulsive trip with my best friend, or even a new college major (three times!). As a newlywed, it was a new apartment, impulsively quitting my job simply because I need the challenge of figuring out what’s next, or a rambling three hour drive late into the night. Everything I needed to shake off a funk was wrapped up in challenge, risk, and exploration.
Recently, it was explained to me exactly why I experience this feeling. My personality type is actually hell-bent against routine. I don’t do well with repetition or mundane. If I want to grow, if I want to thrive, I need to explore.
Well, yesterday, I went looking for adventure. I wrestled my toddlers into clean clothes and shoes, I brushed hair and styled ponytails, and loaded them into my adventure-mobile: my Toyota Sienna mini-van. With no plan, I started to drive. A few minutes into the drive, my toddler was shouting from the back seat, “Mama! Where we goin’?” And before long it was clear that my current life isn’t conducive to adventure. We went to the library and the thrift store; we had dinner at Chik-fil-A. I arrived home feeling even more restless than before and now it was clear that I was stuck.
As a mother of small children with a demanding new career, there is not margin in my life for re-creating myself or running off on an adventure. There are people in my life who rely on me everyday to chose not to Eat, Pray, Love my life. And some days, that is really hard.
I am telling you all of this simply to say: sometimes you can’t run. Sometimes love compels you to choose monotony again today, just like yesterday. And, as a sweet new friend explained earlier this week, this is when you lean in to the hard.
I would love to give you “5 easy steps” and “9 books to read,” but I can’t. I am not here to give you a magic formula to transform the monotony of motherhood into easy and carefree, because it often isn’t. What I do want say is, when you are sure beyond a shadow of a doubt you can’t get up at 4:30 again or struggle through one more tantrum, simply embrace the weakness. Stop trying to white-knuckle your way through your burnout and start relying on someone stronger than you.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9
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This week I read a post by a mom who feels like she is drowning in the responsibility of motherhood. As I read each word, I was nodding. It resonated. No matter how much I work against burnout or practice the habit of gratitude, there are always days where I feel as if I am drowning, too.
In this post she expressed her fear: she believed because she was balancing so many responsibilities—work, school activities, housework—she was ruining her family. Extreme as it might sound, haven’t we all felt that way a time or two? If I am being perfectly honest, I feel that a few minutes of most days. I lose my temper, forget an important appointment, or prioritize work over family, and then I find myself believing I am not cut out for this job.
Motherhood is uniquely difficult because each and every day you are confronted with overwhelming need. From the second the first set of toddler toes hits the floor in the morning, we are responsible for their livelihood, for their souls, for their health. Meanwhile, there are a hundred other things we are responsible for. There is a home to keep clean, friendships to maintain, and many of us hold a job inside or outside of the home as well. At the end of the day we must stop doing and collapse into bed, knowing we left things undone.
It is exhausting. And it is impossible.
This job that we do each day is impossible. No amount of perfect planning could make that less true. So, how, then how do we keep from drowning? Do we give up and let the waves of responsibility overtake us before we even have a chance to finish our morning cup of coffee?
That is an option, for sure. But there is another option, I think. I believe the only way we keep from drowning is holding on to something that doesn’t sink.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Daily, this verse saves me from throwing my hands in the air and giving in to deep waters or responsibility and disappointment. Today and this week, I am moving forward with my life hanging onto an unsinkable God who gives me strength and who loves me. Join me?