5 Things Moms Need
When I think back to the early years of my marriage, I remember having a close relationship with the window that looked out on the driveway. I had my first five children in six years and I was frequently trapped at home between naps, car sick kids and terrors of dogs at our local parks. I lived for that magical moment when my husband would pull into the driveway after a long day of trying to start a business that would provide for our rapidly growing family.
I had always planned to be a stay-at-home mom because I wanted to be the one in control of forming my children’s character and setting the tone of the home. My mom was a full time homemaker and she was my hero. While I know her job of running our home and raising eight kids was full of challenges, my memory of her during those years is one of optimism and cheerfulness. It didn’t take being a mom for very long to realize that this doesn’t just happen.
Whether we are stay-at-home moms or we are juggling a job and family life, we can’t just respond to the demands on our time without clear priorities. If we want to be both happy and generous with our families, I’ve learned over the years that we need to be intentional and proactive in taking care of ourselves and setting up the support we need in order to avoid burnout. Here are the things I find to be indispensable:
Supernatural Perspective. If we aren’t getting regular access to the sacraments of confession and Eucharist and if we aren’t making some time for prayer every day, chances are we are spiritually anemic and it’s going to show up in many places in our life. For me it looks like, short temper, lacks of temperance and constantly comparing myself to every other mom out there. Not pretty. The fix? Talk to your husband about morning routines and how you’d like to find a way to make prayer time a priority. In my family, constant communication is involved with many schedules and moving parts but chances are you’ll find something that can work for everyone if you are really motivated.
Exercise. I like to joke about how I hit my athletic peak when I started walking at nine months. The last time I played on a team sport was fourth grade basketball. You get the picture. Going into motherhood, I had little to no appreciation for the physical toll child bearing and rearing takes on the human body. I didn’t start exercising regularly until after my fifth child but I’ll never look back. Even if it’s just a brisk walk around the neighborhood, exercise will help recovery and outlook. Endorphins are a wonder drug!
Social time. When my older kids were babies, I was super spoiled to have an amazing group of friends to meet up with in parks, backyards and living rooms. In person, real time with other moms is a huge support and needs to happen regularly. If you don’t know other moms in your stage, it may take some inquiring and slightly bold invitations but chances are, they need it just as badly as you do.
Intellectual stimulation. Remember when you used to talk about something other than baby stages and your kids’ life? Make sure you always have a book that you enjoy reading on your bed stand or bookshelf and promise yourself at least fifteen minutes of bliss before you go to bed. Don’t know where to start? What was your favorite classic novel as a teen or in college? Hunt it down and re-read it. Chances are you’ll appreciate it even more now. Also, be prepared with a podcast or books in a kindle app on your phone for those unanticipated moments of down time in carpool lines and doctor offices.
Date time. Make it a priority to spend quality time weekly with your husband. Use it to discuss what’s working and what’s not in your family life and more importantly, just enjoy each other. It doesn’t have to take tons of money or planning, think a bottle of wine, a take out menu and a board game, a good movie or whatever suits your fancy.
Being a mother is a hard job. It is a vocation and profession that is desperately needed in today’s world. If done well we can have a huge impact on the moral compass of future generations. Despite its importance, there is very little training and support. While far from exhaustive, I hope MOMentum can be a springboard for you to develop yourself spiritually, professionally and personally. Take care of yourself mom, the world needs you!