The Washington Post recently posted an article on a German study, which showed that new parents felt that their happiness level had fallen more so than those who had recently lost a spouse or became unemployed (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/11/the-most-depressing-statistic-imaginable-about-being-a-new-parent/). If that statistic isn’t depressing enough, I don’t know what is.
The first years of motherhood is HARD. (Just the other day, my 19 mo decides it’s funny to pour her lunch all over mommy while she is already on her knees cleaning up the spilled glass of milk.) It comes with a steep learning curve and a huge dose of ‘life will never be simple again’. But being a parent also happens to be the most inexplicably special thing. So after two years of intensive immersion, I’ve compiled a list of five things that have nudged me towards happier SAHM-hood. Allow me to share it with you.
1. Focus on what you are doing, NOT on what you aren’t
I often find myself thinking about all the things I could (or should) be doing while I’m singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the umpteenth time with Butterball. Heck, I’m even thinking about what I NEED to be doing: what to prepare for dinner, the dishes still in the sink, and the bathroom I have yet to clean. But all the stress and frustration is just a waste of energy because you can’t really be doing two things at once, can you?
Since I can’t help my mind wandering, instead, I now look at Butterball and marvel about how well she can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when she could barely put together two words only a month ago. Today, I brought Butterball to a county fair and she scrambled to the firemen without looking back once at me because she wanted to climb out of the firetruck like all the other big kids. I was so proud. And how lucky am I to be hanging out with the fabulous little person who really loves spending time with me, instead of spending 8 – 10 hours a day tapping away on my computer at my old job.
2. Don’t compare (check out of social media if you have to)
While social media like Facebook can be a great way to keep SAHM’s from feeling less isolated, it’s also showing me how Jenny is having the time of her life skydiving in New Zealand, while Amy is having the most fabulous looking strawberry shortcake and a steaming cup of coffee at the latest cafe to open in town. Now I’ve cut down on my social media time, checking in just once in the morning and once before bed. That makes a huge difference in keeping my perspective in check so much so I plan to cut down even more. I’ve joined a mom’s groups in my area and spending time with other mums who know what you are going through while your kids play together is much better use of my time. Live your life and don’t worry about what someone else is doing.
3. Make time to recharge your battery
Take an afternoon off once a fortnight or once a month, whatever your family’s schedule affords you. But do it. I don’t know how many times I have felt like I just can’t handle it anymore and having those few hours to myself for a pedicure, a cup of coffee at my favorite cafe, even to just take a nap have recharged me and left me ready to take it all on again. Plan in advance for a regular girls night out. Hanging out with my girlfriends every so often is the best medicine, and being away from the little one actually makes me value my time with her more.
4. Don’t EVEN try to be perfect
If you try to be supermom and expect to have three square meals on the table (and it HAS to be organic!), a clean house and still be able to spend quality time with your kids, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure (and misery). It’s not that you can’t, you can … if you have hired help at your beck-and-call. Don’t sweat the little stuff. Besides, a little dirt may do some good for Butterball’s immune system! So what if the laundry is still unfolded? At least we have clean clothes! Elsa had it right – let it go!
5. Give it time
Yep, it ain’t gonna last forever. So inhale, exhale and tell yourself that none of this is permanent. Butterball is going to grow and change, and for that matter, so will Mumbles and I. Before I know it, I’ll be chasing after Butterball, begging her to spend time with me. I blinked and Butterball is now almost two. So for now, just take it a day at a time and appreciate it as much as possible – it’ll all go by in a flash.