When we have our first child, we tend to approach motherhood with high expectations—as only a newly-minted parent would. That was my experience too. Armed with a ‘must-do’ list that was a mile long, I enthusiastically launched into parenting, only to find myself burning out and exasperating my loved ones.
Now, nine years and two children later, I’ve found some effective ways to stay consistent (and sane) in my motherhood journey and build the family life I longed for.
Build Your Community
It takes real effort and initiative to build a support network in our time-strapped society, but the payoff is immensely rewarding. Having a like-minded group of women to support us in our parenting journey and offer sound advice is an absolute gift. They not only bring great comfort in times of stress and tiredness, they can also help us to maintain a healthy perspective on life.
Not all these women need to be married with children, or in similar age group, but this can be a plus point. It is always helpful to learn from the wisdom and experience of older female mentors to overcome similar life challenges.
Prioritise Your Marriage
One of my frustrations in the early years of motherhood was that I never got to hold my husband’s hand. Our arms were always occupied with babies, strollers and diaper bags. Over time, we fell into a routine of simply ‘co-parenting’ and neglecting the marriage relationship.
Sounds familiar? This unhealthy pattern of neglect could ultimately undermine a marriage. Once we recognised this, we instituted fortnightly date nights to have kid-free conversations and truly connect with each other.
Find a routine that works for you—it could range from weekly date nights to chatting about your day before going to bed each night. Making time for each other intentionally, even for 15 minutes a day, will strengthen your marriage in the long run.
With homework, exams and the various classes our kids need ferrying to, it can sometimes feel like our children are one more item that needs to be ticked off on our to-do list. Worse yet, our children also feel like they are simply rushing from one task to the next. In our home, this is a recipe for frustration and flared tempers.
We’ve learnt to limit our extra-curricular activities and maintain a work-free rest day each week. Take time to enjoy your children and savour the time you have with them.
Opting for a slower pace also ensures you get more rest. A Pew Research Centre analysis of the 2010 American Time Use Survey found that while American parents with children under age 18 found their childcare experiences ‘very meaningful’, some also found childcare activities ‘very tiring’, compared with work-related activities. So, do take time to rest.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Rather than give in to constant self-doubt and the worry that you could be doing more, or better, resist the ‘mum-guilt’. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can each day, and that your children love you just the way you are – their loving, imperfectly perfect mum!
Written by Judith Xavier.
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