Before I had kids, I remember my enthusiasm for parenting knew no bounds.I couldn’t wait to add offspring to my home. My husband and I had bought a family house with three empty bedrooms, an empty playroom, an unused main bathroom and a double garage. We were excited to fill our home with children. Oh the joy that would fill our home once we had kids. Everything would feel new again as we would be looking at life through our kids’ eyes.
Fast forward to three kids later, and the mum I wanted to be is not always the mum I am. My home is not as joyful as I imagined and I’ve lost my mum mojo. Most of the time, I’m just getting through the days any which way I can. Where are the bubbles, laughter, cuddles and smiles? They are sometimes there, but more often than not there are tears, screams, mess and exhaustion. Pre-kids me could never have imagined the struggles and juggling needed to raise a family. In my mind, raising children was going to be fulfilling, fun and add meaning to my life.
While my girls have certainly been all three of those things, there have also been moments where I have been tested. I feel like I’m stretched every day. It feels like once I’ve struggled through the basics like food, sleep, nurturing and hygiene, I’m left with little energy for the ‘extras’. I feel so drained by the physical demands of mothering that just getting through the days feels like a challenge.
But each day I am faced with a choice. I can choose to be the nagging, negative, sarcastic, wine-sculling mum who yells at her kids and rushes each day because life is just so busy. Or I can choose to be the calm mum who goes with the flow, is not phased by mess, doesn’t allow obligations to pressure her, enjoys the challenge of each milestone, and nurtures her children even when I could do with a little nurturing myself. Honestly, on any given day I’m mostly mum #1. I want to be mum #2, or at least a more inspiring blend of the two.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘Nothing great is achieved without enthusiasm’. I’ve often thought about this quote relating to work. No matter how passionate you are about your job, there will always be parts that are mundane and tiresome. It’s in the mundane tasks where our enthusiasm should shine because those menial tasks can lead to a great outcomes.
I believe this is true of parenting, too. If we want to raise great kids, shouldn’t we have some enthusiasm while doing so? Sure kids can make life busier and complicated, but that’s part of raising a family. Accepting the mundane, exhausting parts of parenting with an enthusiastic attitude is what leads to great outcomes for our kids.
My attitude can make a lot of difference to the social environment of our home. I don’t want my girls to feel like they have to walk on eggshells to approach me. That was never the kind of mum I wanted to be. Here are some ways I’m bringing my mum mojo back to my parenting:
1. I keep a healthy perspective. Ever felt like having kids was the worst idea you’ve had because the house looks like a bomb’s hit it and the bank account is looking nuclear? It’s nice to have a clean house and important to have money in the bank, but surely these are not the end goals. Playing a major role in bringing a person into the world is a wonderful privilege. A privilege denied to so many. I will always try to be thankful for the blessing of my children and embrace the chaos they bring with them.
2. I remember my time is limited – as is my children’s. As children reach new milestones, it feels like the years go faster. Babies don’t stay babies for long and children eventually grown into teenagers. Lately I have been looking through baby photos of my girls, reminding myself to embrace the age and its complexities now. I will never get this time back with my children and I don’t want to regret wasting it by wishing it away.
3. I embrace my inner child. As a kid I thought how wonderful it would be to be a mum because I could play Barbies all day with my daughters. Five minutes playing Barbies with my girls can feel like half a day. In the process of growing up, I’ve forgotten how to play like a child. So I’m taking more moments to do fun activities with my girls like craft, or jumping on the trampoline. I embrace my inner child and join in with their play, staying in the moment as much as I can. I’m actually enjoying myself and my girls love the time spent with me.
4. I stop pressuring myself. Often a lot of the pressure we put on ourselves is self-pressure. The pressure to get as much done as possible so we can have time to do what we want in those kid-free hours after bedtime. Lately, I’ve been easing the pressure and rather than doing things myself, I have used simple chores as an opportunity to teach my girls a valuable life skill. I need to get better at this, but I know investing in teaching my children how to do basic chores will ease the pressure on me to do all the things. It’s also teaching them valuable life skills they will use when they move out of home.
5. I make time for myself by taking time out. Whether catching up with a girlfriend at night or organising a date night with my husband without the kids, time away from my children definitely restores my enthusiasm battery to full-charge. When there is so much to do and life feels rushed, it can be hard to take the time out, but I’m making it a priority because I know how beneficial it is to me and my girls.
6. I pray. For me, this should be the first way I bring enthusiasm to my parenting, but I usually pray when I’m at the end of my enthusiasm tether. Praying each day to be the mum God has called me to be helps me to focus on what’s most important. I truly believe God can help us have the right mindset and the wisdom to react carefully to each new parenting challenge. I definitely believe prayer is helping me stay on track to be the mum I dreamed I’d be.
There are days where my enthusiasm for parenting falters, but quiet reflection at the end of each day can be the catalyst needed to try better the next day.
How do you bring enthusiasm to your parenting?