…and what to do about them when you do!
by Chaia-Zipporah Nicholls
As a mother, you know deep inside that if you do not get your own needs met, there is very little left for anyone else. If Mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! So here are give things to avoid if you want to be a happy mamma:
1. Not putting yourself first. “But there just is not enough time or energy or money for me and for what I need.” Believe me as a coach I have heard every excuse that mothers use for not looking after themselves under the sun (and as a mother, yes, sometimes I remember using them myself.) Bottom line a mother who looks after herself and takes the time to care for herself is a happy, fulfilled mother (and wife/partner/friend). This may mean doing something as simple as throwing away your children’s leftovers rather than eating them yourself (been there!) and making sure that you plan and prepare good healthy meals for yourself. Or maybe you will decide to turn on some “happy and uplifting” music on a car ride just for you.
2. Vague Boundaries. Taking on more than you can (or want) to handle, saying “yes” when you want to say “no,: staying in touch with “frienemies” who drain you, “giving in” to the fractious demands of children (of any age!) – this surrendering of your personal power leads to chronic dissatisfaction, stress, comfort eating, and depression. Take baby steps (pun intended). “Mummy is going to have a shower now.” When you make a conscious decision to create calm, loving and respectful boundaries with your family and friends you’ll be more energized and fulfilled, your family will reap the rewards of having a happy mamma and your children will have a healthy role model for themselves.
3. Thinking life will get better when x happens. When the kids are in full time daycare/ at school/have left home…when I lose the “baby weight”.. when I or my spouse gets a promotion, when we move to another area, etc., etc. Flourishing as a mother is a choice which requires planning. It doesn’t automatically happen after a certain event. In fact, inaction can very easily lead to an “I have no choice” attitude, the start of the “Martyr Mamma” spiral. Making a decision to be active in seeking out ways to develop personal growth is the first step to becoming a fulfilled mother. Small steps are good – if you used to be an avid reader find a book of short stories or poetry and choose a moment during the day (just before picking up child/after leaving work/just before going to sleep) to savour a story or a poem.
4. Thinking “that’s just the way a mother’s life is.” This is a direct way to not blossom as a mother. This mindset will keep your horizons limited. It’s a mistake to assume that as a mother you have to behave or dress in a certain way, that your family’s needs always come first and that your social life and romantic/sexual life will be put on hold. If you are married or otherwise partnered up, reinstitute a weekly “date night” (a walk around the park could do the trick as much as dinner out) or daily “date moments” i.e. coffee in bed. As a client of mine once said to me, “Babysitters are expensive, but divorce is so much more expensive!” If you are a single mamma, book a weekly babysitter so that you have a framework for a weekly social opportunity for yourself. From personal experience I can say that this is a mental health saver! By opening up to all possibilities you open the doorway to allow them to enter.
5. Living Day to Day. By just focusing on the nitty-gritty “just gotta get through the day” you are in danger of losing your “joie de vivre.” Take the opportunity at regular points (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries) to reflect and plan short- and long-term goals. By putting aside some mental time to focus on how you want your life to look in six months time, next year, or in five years time, you will keep the “bigger picture” alive and you can actively take steps to create it.
Chaia-Zipporah Nicholls helps mothers (and grandmothers) who feel overwhelmed by the constant demands that are made on their time and energy with no time to recharge their own batteries. They can then create space for themselves guilt-free, while embracing their ever-expanding lives and enjoying their families. She is a primigravida mamma, a Certified Life Coach and an NLP Practitioner. E-mail Chaicoaching@yahoo.com for more guidance about how you can become a happier mamma, and ask for her free guide, “Creating Pockets of Time For Yourself.”