One thing that I have learned over and over again since becoming a Mommy is this: your life is no longer just about you.
We can complain until the sun comes up about this fact, we can let it bring us down, spiraling in to a state of depression and loneliness (and at times I have), or we can grab this petulant reality of a bull right by the horns and own it. And by own it I mean pull it together, be humbled, allow yourself to learn from this, and find the joy even if you have to suck the sweet juicy marrow out of this bloody cow! PS just kidding, I eat plant based – mostly! Haha.
I don’t always feel on top of it all, in fact it’s often that I crumble from the pressures of being needed ALL THE TIME (ask my husband!). But every now and again I get it right. And it feels so good when I do!
Here’s what I am doing when it’s all working well:
1. Sweat It Out
I experienced postnatal depression and anxiety after the birth of both my children. My youngest is only 8 months old and I am STILL battling some demons. I do my best to combat these struggles every day and the single most contributing factor in doing this is by far exercise.
There was a point after both my kids were born where I felt absolutely hideously disgusted with myself, inside and out. I felt fat, bloated, emotional, tired, smelly and just not great in my skin. Both times I pushed myself to exercise and, looking back, I don’t know how i’d even have got up in the morning let alone raise my child all day if it weren’t for the endorphin’s rushing through my blood after each little workout I did.
You don’t have to run a marathon or become a body builder to get all the good feels that exercise has to offer. Even just 15 minutes of moving your tush and getting that heart rate up is all you need to invigorate your day. Also, if you are reading this and thinking “I don’t have the time,” or “I can’t afford a gym membership,” or whatever excuse you have, STOP. There are always excuses for not eating right, not exercising, not challenging yourself to be the best you. Only you are holding yourself back, no one else is.
15-30 minutes of light cardio or home workouts is all you need to change your entire day. Don’t overthink it. Just get up when baby is asleep, do walking lunges to the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of water, drink it, lunge your way back to the lounge, do some squats, do some jumping jacks, do some sit-ups, take a break and repeat. Then TELL ME you don’t feel better! And if coming up with what to do is even more than you can handle, try Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide.
2. Eat Right
You wake up, put on coffee STAT, feed the kids some oats only to see they don’t eat it so you pour them the chocolate cheerios leftover from Granny’s visit (last YEAR) and cut up some banana slices. You drink your coffee, munch a handful of the chocolate cheerios, and get your brain switched on while they eat so you can plan your next move. Eventually its 9AM and your youngest is on his first nap before you have even thought of food and suddenly you are so starving you can hardly wait for a slice of bread to toast before you eat your hand off! Sound familiar?
Yup. We’ve all been there (or still are there). And its totally understandable! After all, as mothers there literally is not enough time in the day to pee let alone feed ourselves. It is SO easy to get caught up in the trap of mindless eating and, as understandable as it is for busy moms, I definitely feel much better when I eat healthily and mindfully.
Eating well has been shown to enhance mood, increase energy and lower depression. I find that when I am eating plenty of plant based whole foods with a balance of all the macro-nutrients at each sitting, I feel like a new person. I’ll write another blog about what I generally eat in a day, however, if the paragraph above describes your daily eating habits and you feel like crappola, do yourself a favor and start eating right. Eat what grows naturally, eat plenty of colors, have protein and fibre in each meal, plan ahead and always always always hydrate.
3. Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
OK at the risk of sounding like a complete and total alcoholic here, I will admit that I have learned (a few times over) that indulging in too much wine at night and waking up with 2 kids in nappies the next morning is the worst cocktail mix ever! Pun intended.
I am an American expat living in Cape Town, South Africa and well, the drinking culture here is similar to that of the Brits and Aussies. To say the least, Saffa’s like their vino, maybe a little too much! It was all fun and fabulous in my twenties and before babies, however these days I just don’t wear the hangover as gracefully with two kids who require me for their every need.
I love my rooiwyn (“red wine” in Afrikaans) better then the next person, but I don’t love life very much when I drink too much of it these days. I am my happiest mommy self when I stick to the recommended 1-2 units a day (no more than 7-9 a week), as well as stay hydrated, eat well and get my exercise in.
4. Prepare The Night Before
I know this feeling all too well. You have your to-do list written and ready to tackle the minute you get some kid-free time. You are SO tempted to start working on that list while the kids are playing or eating, but you resist the urge knowing that the moment your eyes are off them the walls will start crumbling.
The cheeky monkeys finally go to bed and you sit down to get your things done only to be flooded with overwhelming exhaustion and a sudden desire to do it all later. But if you’re clever you soon learn, later never happens, all you have is NOW! I find if I don’t get my things done when the kids are asleep, they don’t get done. Not only do they not get done but the list piles higher and higher, only adding to my mounting anxiety levels.
So when I tick things off my list when they’re asleep and prepare for the next day the night before, I wake up a much happier mama. This includes packing my gym bag, packing the kids bags, putting everything in the boot of the car, prepping our meals and snacks, loading the dish washer, tidying the house one last time and finishing up whatever personal things I am working on such as this blog or emails.
5. Wake Up Early
I can’t remember the last time I slept past 6:30AM so when I say wake up early, I mean 5AM. This may sound like the worlds most heinous suggestion to a mom who is already sleep deprived, but I am serious. A day in the life of motherhood is way smoother when you rise before the kiddos!
When I wake up before my kids I have a chance to splash cold water on my face, cleanse and moisturize, put a little bit of makeup on, have some coffee and catch up on some comms in silence (golden!). By the time the little boogers are awake I am bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to conquer the day, tantrums, chaos and all!
6. Make Time for YOU
Our job as mothers includes but is not limited to putting our kids needs before our own, raising them to be the most decent humans possible, ensuring their safety at all times and being available for their every physical and emotional need. This is the most time consuming, exhausting, draining, mentally challenging, physically taxing and REWARDING job in the world. It is an honor, a blessing and nothing short of a profound privilege.
That said, our efforts will be in vain if we don’t also make a point to maintain and nurture who WE are as well. I truly believe a happy Mom makes a great Mom and I am certainly a better mother when I take some time to nurture my own identity as well. For me that means making time for date nights, pursuing my own personal goals, spending time with my friends, keeping up my blog, reading my book, getting pampered and exercising.
So there you have it, my tips for being a happier Mom. Like I said, I don’t nail it every day, but I tend to be winning when I do the above!