Lately I’ve been in a bit of a funk. It happens from time to time — especially since becoming a mom.
Perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons, or the fact that my 15-month-old is discovering how to throw epic tantrums, or the fact that my 3-year-old has been growing increasingly whiney. Whatever the case, when I get into these funks, my days feel a lot like trying not to drown. I go through the motions in a bit of a fog, and I feel exhausted every day and wonder how I’ll get through another. But then I do.
And pretty much every day is the same as the last: Wake up way earlier than should be acceptable. Make food for tiny, hungry people ALL. DAY. LONG. Clean up after everyone. Play the same games and read the same books over and over and over again. If it’s a particularly exciting day, we go to the grocery store or the park where there is usually a child meltdown at some point. Try to squeeze my writing work into the margins — often unsuccessfully. Go to bed exhausted.
I have to be honest, as much as I love my children, the reality is that motherhood can be mind-numbingly mundane. The hours are long, and the work is thankless, and it often feels like there is no progress being made. Breaking up the same stupid fights, repeating the rules, prepping 873 meals and snacks every day … it’s tiring. The entire experience can feel a bit soul-sucking on certain days, but having gone through these funks more than once, I’ve come to realize that, as with any relationship, a good parent-child relationship requires nurturing.
Enjoying motherhood requires work.
Love is a choice, and I am choosing my children and finding ways to rekindle the magic in our bond so I can fall back in love with motherhood again. Here are some things I am currently implementing that have helped me in the past and perhaps can help you too.
1. I’m going on dates with my kids.
Nothing gets me reenergized for motherhood quite like dating my kids. Getting out and having some quality one-on-one time always helps us to reconnect and reminds me of all the little things I love about them.
2. I look at photos when they’re sleeping.
I am pretty certain that the greatest thing about modern technology is the ability to capture sweet moments with our children. There is nothing quite so sweet as reminiscing about your children while they are sleeping. It’s a lot easier to have those loving feelings for them when they aren’t pestering me or each other. And often those loving feelings can carry over into the next day (or at least until breakfast is over).
3. I hug it out when they are being jerks.
Mothering two children means that about 50% (OK, probably more like 70%) of my day is spent putting out little fires. Tantrums over stolen toys. Meltdowns over life’s little minutiae. It can be exhausting trying to “handle” it all. Sometimes the best thing I can do for them (and myself) is to just hug them. In the middle of an epic fit or a battle of wills, I sometimes just stop and hug it out. Instantly the tension melts away from all of us, and when I am feeling less tense, I feel a lot more into this whole motherhood business.
4. I truly listen to my kids.
Little voices in one’s ear can be grating after awhile, and if I’m totally honest, I’d have to admit that I often find myself tuning my kids out. I’ve realized though, that when I stop to truly listen to them and their concerns, they are less needy throughout the day and they become a lot more enjoyable to be around.
5. I take a break for myself.
Getting away by myself is absolutely crucial for avoiding burnout. Sometimes I forget to make time for it, but I’m always better when I do schedule it in. Sometimes I roam the aisles of Target in sweet solitude, other times I hide out in my room with wine, a treat, and a good book while my husband tackles bed time. Happy hour with friends or a book group after my kids are in bed are two of my favorite options. Basically, just anything that helps me get away from my “mom self” and reconnect with my individual self is magic for my well-being.
6. I try something new with them.
Novelty can help me break out of a funk like no other. Pulling out the paint set that I usually avoid or having a picnic outside … Having friends over to play or going on an indoor treasure hunt. Anything new that breaks up our days is an awesome mood booster for all of us.
7. I go outside.
Fresh air does wonders for a mood. Staring at four walls all day long is enough to put anyone in a funk.
8. I write down the good moments.
It is so easy to dwell on the negative moments as a mom, but intentional gratitude always pulls me back to reality. Writing down the good moments from our day and the good things about my children and motherhood is a simple way that I can be reminded of the beautiful life that I have. It’s a simple way to choose joy.