It was February. I had just found out I was pregnant with baby number 3, and I sat bawling my eyes out in my bedroom. I was being faced with everything I had ever wanted. Three kids, close in age, was always the plan. But between a one-year-old, three-and-a-half-year-old, a part-time job, running a business and the basic responsibilities of being an adult, I was depleted. Overwhelmed. Exhausted.
I didn’t know it, but I was facing mom burnout. I found myself unable to keep commitments, short with my kids, unexcited about events, unmotivated for work or exercise and finding joy in pretty much nothing. I’d been pouring from an empty vessel, and it wasn’t good for anyone. I knew being a mom was hard, but I figured it was just a season and it would pass. I figured if I kept going, it would just get easier. But it didn’t, and as I looked forward all I saw was more being added to my extremely full plate.
I knew I should be grateful. These were all good things taking up my time. But despite my heart being full of love for my sweet family, all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and be left alone.
Let go of the expectation of perfection and busy-ness and remind ourselves that in the end, what our kids actually need, is a happy, healthy, engaged mom.Kelly Warkentin
One day, someone recommended a podcast to me. The second episode I listened to was about the epidemic of mom burnout. I cried while I listened. The author of the book “When Less Becomes More” was being interviewed. She talked about how she looked at her happy daughter and didn’t want her to think growing up and being a mom meant being stressed, frazzled, and upset. I immediately bought the audio book. Every word spoke to the deepest places of my soul.
As moms, we tend to take on a lot of responsibility and meet everyone’s needs before our own. The book helped me realize that all the things I stuff my day full with, many of them just don’t NEED to happen. What matters is my children. Their childhood, and not just surviving it, but experiencing it. Being present for it, and making it wonderful for them. What matters is their time with and experience of their mom. When they spend time with me, do they see a cranky, impatient, distracted mom who fits them in between all the other stuff she does, or a happy, fun-loving, silly mom who puts them first?
I want to be the second mom, but I know that I’m more often than not the first. We get to a point where we think everything is indispensable. But how many times have I been scrolling Instagram and my three-year-old repeats herself four or five times while I nod along until she finally says “Mom! You’re not listening to me!”
Maybe you don’t understand what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve got it figured out. But if you’re like me, looking for ways to get back to that “fun mom” and get rid of “grumpy mom” once and for all, you may be thinking what can be done about it? This is just life, isn’t it?
- You can commit to less. Fewer sports, fewer activities. Less rushing in and out of the car.
- You can put down the phone, somewhere out of reach and out of mind.
- You can create some routines to make space in your day. Simple, easy to prep dinners so you can spend less time cooking and more time around the table.
- You can plan to rest. Don’t feel guilty if you put the kids in front of the TV so you can take a shower, read a book, or call a close friend to catch up.
So let’s get back to “fun mom.” Let go of the expectation of perfection and busy-ness and remind ourselves that in the end, what our kids actually need, is a happy, healthy, engaged mom.
Kelly Warkentin is a Vancouver family and newborn photographer and mom to three little ones aged 4, 2 and 4 months. She’s passionate about finding ways to make life less stressful and helping moms feel supported and cared for through her Facebook community Greater Vancouver Moms Supporting Moms.
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