Snapping at your husband? Losing patience with a small child? Does the idea of sex with your husband sound like a chore? I recently had a conversation with my sister, ahead of me by one baby, and I was having a particularly hard day and she reassured me saying that we moms have every reason to be grumpy and that my husband should understand that. Truthfully, I was glad someone finally understood how I felt about the whole momming thing. Then I remembered that I don’t want to be a grumpy mom. When I was growing up, my friends’ moms all had a reputation, I had them pegged: the baker, the one who tanned all the time (awful skin btw), the freckled smiley one… and, you guessed it, the crabby mom. Whose house would I go to all the time? The bakers’ of course!
So here’s the question we want to ask ourselves as parents: Do you want your kid to spend all his or her time at the “cool” mom’s house, or would you like to have a bird’s eye view of your child’s friendships and decisions as they do this terrifying thing we call grow up?
To be the “cool” mom, I’m pretty sure you don’t need to know how to bake although it would be a huge plus. What we do have to strive to be are happy moms. When I’m stressed out, tired, even a little angry about my long day I can tell you the last thing I want to do is bake. Or smile. Some say baking therapeutic, so maybe if I gave it a fair shot, it would be on the list below, but as it is, the things on this list are tried and true by this real mom who, like all of you, loves her baby and wants to give the best of herself to her family.
1 – You may have heard this before, and I’m becoming a fast believer in minimizing EVERYTHING, but I would have to say the number one fabulous better-than-spa-treatment for me has been one thing, and I can almost not do it enough. Declutter! I will pull up a trash can, open a drawer and go to town on that thing like it were my worst enemy. The feeling I get afterward is a kind of light and airy feeling in my middle. I can’t help but brag about having tossed another batch of junk. Try it in spurts, nothing major. Your underwear drawer: get rid of the undies that don’t spring back anymore, the bra that doesn’t love your boobs (we all know which one), the socks with
2 – For heaven’s sake, give yourself the gift of a routine, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants life style is sure to make you go insane. Close your eyes and imagine how you would feel if you had a day where you simply look up at the whiteboard in your kitchen, your smart phone or your fancy schedule printed out with colors and decals and you knew what was coming up next. Even if it was just craft time with your toddler. Now imagine forgetting about dance class, not realizing you skipped lunch, arriving late everywhere, and at the end of the day feeling guilty for not teaching your toddler motor skills with her craft. Predictability is your friend.
3 – Go for a walk. Even if you go with your kids, it can be a welcome relief from sitting around the house hearing them tell you their bored and begging you to play with them. I may be a first time mom, but I spent half of my twenties in the same house as a 2, 5, and 8 year-old as they grew up. Sometimes, it is worth it to just put everything aside for 30 minutes and take them all out for a walk or to the park if it’s close by. If at all possible, for a special treat, go by yourself, bring your iPod and your favorite worship music with you. It lends a whole new meaning to “refresh”.
4 – Teach your baby to sleep through the night. This is a no-brainer! Not the teaching to sleep part, but the concept of getting a good night’s sleep is a huge deal for moms, essential, a non-negotiable that goes overlooked all the time. As a mom with experience in sleep training I have one thing to say. Don’t wait! The longer you wait the harder it is for your little sleeper, and consequently the harder it is on you. I can’t stress this enough. Go to bed. Wake up in the morning. Bliss.
5 – Color. This is a true story. I find that old-fashioned doodling requires a little too much thinking, when all you want to do is wind down, and not think for 5 minutes, grab your made-for-adults coloring book and just fill those pages with colorful beauty. In the spirit of minimalism, fill every single page, throw the book away, and buy a new one. Don’t get attached! I am buying the one below for my mommy.
6 – Sometimes to stop thinking so much about our issues, problems, worries and refocus, to simply be generous somehow to someone intentionally will give you the boost that maybe all the above combined could give. Don’t knock it till you try it. Some ideas would be to be really 50s and bake cookies for the new neighbors, invite your least favorite relatives for dinner and treat them like royalty. Here’s a two-birds idea: clean out your cupboards of all your dry goods you bought months ago and never got around to preparing (declutter!) and bring your kids with you to a food shelf to give it all away. If you look for opportunities to teach your kids generosity, you will double your joy-money.
7 – Count your blessings. I can still hear my mother telling me to count my blessings when something in my young life wasn’t going as planned.
Me: “The other kids have seen that movie, why can’t I?”
Mom: “Count your blessings.”
But this is actually a really good idea, and usually when I start feeling that urge to go down Negative Lane, I think to myself: “I love my baby, he is so healthy, my husband helped me do the dishes yesterday, my mom sent me a care package last month and I’m still in love with those cozy jammies she gave me.” Keep thinking of the good things until the urge leaves your body!
8 – Be quiet. Wake up early, be intentional about finding a time for just you, your Bible, your conversations with God and a journal. I try every morning (sometimes fail) to sneak downstairs and take 15 minutes to sit and meditate on that day’s passage from My Utmost for His Highest, only the most poignant devotionals with one extremely useful quality for someone with only 15 minutes: they are short! I read and meditate on how that day’s reading applies to my daily life, and then I pray for my family. When you know that you’ve given your troubles to God, the rest seems like a piece of cake. Also, 15 minutes is sometimes all it takes to make what would have been a mediocre day into a great one.
Ladies, these remedies are for simple emotional release and personally for me, they are my golden nuggets for de-stressing and counting my blessings.