comes along and smacks you in the face! I'm no expert but these are my tips on how to feel empowered as a mum, whilst keeping some level of sanity!
Cue the rolled eyes, I know, what mother has time for herself? As mums our lives are consumed with the demands of our children, jobs, marriages, housework, friends, family, and so the list goes on. To be frank most of the time we are lucky if we've had time to give our teeth the 2 minute brush they should have! However, creating time, solely dedicated to you, is SO important. Whether it be a day at a spa or a 15 minute soak in the bath, do something that is just for you. None of us are physically able to give ourselves as much as we give our children (and I'm sure most of us wouldn't have it any other way), but that "you time" should be a close second.
Whether we are naturally organised human beings or not, as mums we automatically become planners. We have to be - the little humans around us rely on it. Sometimes even control freak planners, like myself, must learn to 'go with it' at times. Who really cares if your toddler decides they need the toilet just as you've put them in the car and you're already 15 minutes late or if they look like they've been dragged through a hedge backwards. Alright, some people will care and will judge- forget about them. In the grand scheme of things is it really that important? Sometimes (most of the time when kids are involved) even the best laid plans tip upside down - Just take a deep breath and go with it.
Stop looking at other mums and putting yourself down. I know you do it, because we all do it. It's human nature to look at someone else's life and think they've got it altogether, that everything is perfect and happy all of the time, but that person you're looking at is mostly likely looking at someone else in exactly the same way. No two mums are the same, just because you're bottle feeding and they're breast, or you're relying on purees and they're 100% baby led doesn't make you or her wrong. The minute you start comparing yourself to another mum is the minute you're setting you're self up to walk into a whole heap of disaster. By all means, talk to the mums you look up to and ask for advice. Be respectful of their choices and how they do it and do not doubt yourself because you have chosen to raise your child/ren differently. What works for you and your family is the most important thing.
When we have children, particularly when it's your first you feel like you want and need to do everything, that to 'have it altogether' and succeed as a new mum you must solely look after the baby, whilst fitting back into your pre pregnancy clothes, whilst keeping the house immaculate and serving healthy organic, home made meals everyday. I learnt fairly early on that the house is going to be messy, that laundry won't always get done and sometimes beans on toast for tea is absolutely fine. It's important to ask for help, whether it's from your husband/partner, friends or family. Take them up on their offer, especially on those days when you feel like you're drowning, because we all have them (it doesn't mean you're depressed or struggling as a parent either), it doesn't mean you're a failure it means you're human, and we humans cannot physically do everything ourselves. Asking for help does NOT mean that you are failing.
A large proportion of mums will tell you that their main job is to raise happy and healthy children, when in actual fact, that's just one aspect of it. The other aspect, of equal importance is for you to be happy and healthy. As previously mentioned, we devote countless hours to our families to ensure they have a solid home and foundation in which they can grow into happy, young individuals, but you must ensure that you do they same for yourself. Maybe go back to college (there are plenty of part time one day/evening courses out there), start a business (or a blog!) that you've always dreamt of, anything that will ensure you develop and grow with your children. Set them an example that you're never too old to learn and try new things.
Friendships change when you have children, especially if you're old friends don't have children yet. This doesn't mean you can't be friends with them anymore, but you can find new mum friends that you feel you 'click' with, whether this be via local mum groups or online. So many times I have shared my triumphs and failures with my mum friends, never to be met with anything other than support and encouragement from them. Even the most empowered mums want some reassurance at times or to share the latest joy to enter their lives. There's no better feeling than connecting with other likeminded mums, mums that keep it real- there's absolutely no better gang to belong to.
Everyone will have an opinion on how you should be raising your children, some will be so forward that they'll even push it on you. Your opinion, as your child's parent is most important, there may be something that you feel you could really use some help with, as we all do at times, you may not have all the answers but you have the right to try and figure it out on your own. I do think we all have a better chance at changing things if we learn to communicate effectively. However, sometimes, other people need to learn how to communicate with you. If you feel that someone is saying something that you don't agree with or trying to force their ways on to you, speak from a place of love but be firm and say what you want to say. It isn’t your concern how said communication is received as long as it’s delivered from a place of empowerment and love.
Many things have changed in parenting since I was little, let alone when my parents were growing up, however, there's definitely something to be said for the advice and wisdom from another generation! Sometimes it's great to hear things from a different perspective - they can help you challenge conventional parenting, look at things from another point of view, and help you to make conscious decisions about how to achieve your own happiness. Listen to their advice, take what you want from it and adapt it to fit to your parenting style.
I preach this regularly - mostly because I am preaching it to myself! Sometimes, no matter what you do, baby won’t eat, baby won’t sleep and your toddler is having their 1000th mini meltdown of the day. What’s an exhausted mum to do? You can fight every fight you're faced with, or you can walk away. Your baby will eventually eat and sleep, and your toddler will soon go back to the little angel you know they can be. Don’t exert the little energy you have left trying to resolve every single battle. Some things don’t need fixing, being “broken” is where your growth as a parent comes from. Breathe, it’s all gonna work out just fine.
This is something that quite often irritates me, people saying 'cherish every moment because it's gone so quickly.' It's true, it does go quickly and it is important to cherish the moments, but that doesn't mean that every moment is worth cherishing. It's learning to let go of the times/days/weeks that things don't go to plan, learn from them and try to pick out some good moments but let them go. We all feel that things need to be perfect and we need to enjoy every single moment of motherhood, I certainly don't, and I don't believe anyone who says they've never had a moment when they just want to pull their hair out or question what they're doing. However, when it's all said and done, those "bad" times are times that shape us as parents and families, they make us stronger and make the moments that are worth cherishing, even more special.