Becoming a mother is one of the most rewarding experiences in a woman’s life. It can also be one of the most challenging. I remember when I first became a mom, my emotions were everywhere! Although it was a good 14 long years, those feelings still cling to me like tape to the wall.
Many people around me turned into parenthood advisors overnight, but I wished that someone could have told me the importance of how to stay happy as a mom.
Seeing my son for the first time after enjoying 36 weeks of his foetal life in the 7-star hotel and carrying him in my arms felt so alien to me. Then came breastfeeding.
Is it just me or any first-time mom felt the same way?
Exposing my boobs is strange enough, having a little mouth sucking on the nipple is surprisingly satisfactory. I would never have imagined my boobs filling the tummy of a tiny human being!
The thing was… my milk supply was not enough at the start, which I later found out was a common issue. The people around me thought that I was the problem and that I was not capable enough to feed my child. I was young and depressed, and never thought about finding out more about breastfeeding. I accepted the criticisms and shortly after a month, I stopped breastfeeding entirely.
Although I am open to feeding formula milk (nothing against moms who do that), I felt incompetent.
To top it off, figuring out the reasons behind the endless crying, the sleepless nights, and the judgemental looks from others being a 20-year-old mom was adding to my stress barrel.
It was not until I had my third child did I understood the importance of loving myself as a mom and a woman.
We all want to be the greatest role model for our children, but we often forgot how to stay happy in this stressful hustling city. Staying happy does not mean having loads of money or having all of the material status. It can be as simple as spending quality time with your family, having a nice meal together, and laughing with the kids at their silly jokes. Small actions from you make a big difference to the atmosphere in the house, and the positive emotions to the people around you.
Staying happy as a mom also boosts your self-esteem, confidence, and the way you present yourself. You will want to dress nicely, look presentable, and surround yourself with positive energy.
To chase away the depression blues, here are 5 successful ways that I have figured out to stay happy as a mom.
1. Prioritize self-care
As a mom, it is essential to take care of yourself before taking care of your family.
This might sound selfish to many, but it is an essential key to staying healthy mentally and physically. Our mental health affects our body, our emotions, and the decisions we make. If you are in a bad mental state, you might end up hurting yourself and the loved ones around you.
Self-care includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and doing things you enjoy. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself; it’s necessary for your well-being. Taking care of yourself will help you feel happier, healthier, and more energized.
We tend to feel guilty taking a nap, or leaving the kids to play on their own while we rest on the couch. Let me tell you this – it is perfectly normal for your body to run out of fuel.
Think about it, would you rather walk around the house like a grumpy headmistress or feel energized to take on your kids and the household chores?
So go ahead and take breaks when you need them.
2. Stay true to yourself
Social media has done its job so well that we know what the girl next door is wearing. It can build up negative emotions in us, yet social media is a good platform for sharing information when used the right way.
Everyone has individual methods of staying happy. What works for one mom may not work for another. Comparing yourself to other moms is a victory for the Devil. Instead, focus on what works for you and your family. Trust your instincts and make decisions based on your values and priorities.
Recently I read a book (I highly recommend to anyone who wants to change your perception of yourself) – Awaken Your Genius by Ozan Varol. There is a paragraph under Introduction Page 16 that says, “No one can compete with you at being you.” I probably should tattoo this phrase somewhere on me where I can see it every day.
How true is this?
He goes on to explain (I am summarizing the paragraph) that your thoughts are the extension of yourself – if you think that you excel in what you are building, then you are in your league. But if you belittle yourself, you are hiding behind all that wisdom within you and might never achieve success.
So, believe in yourself and stay true to your beliefs.
3. Build a support system
As the saying goes, “It takes a village to bring up a child”.
I have three boys, so I need a tribe.
Whether you need a village or a tribe, never do it alone. I speak from experience, and it is overwhelming. You get wild thoughts and since there is no outlet to vent your anger, you throw it out on the innocent child.
Don’t make the mistakes I made.
Motherhood is fun, crazy, angry, and all emotions mixed in a pot. But this can only happen when you have family and friends around you. Join parenting groups on Facebook, have coffee with mom friends (bring along your baby, and no one will judge you), sign up for prenatal yoga classes etc. When you have a group of friends who are riding on the same boat, you know you have each other’s backs, and it will increase your confidence as a mom.
There are many ways to keep yourself grounded and stay happy as a mom.
You might have seen this word too often than you would like, but exercising helps clear your mind.
Exercise does not have to be vigorous and intense in the gym until you can’t feel your glutes. It can be a 30-minute walk around the park or bringing your dog out for his morning walks.
The objective is to stimulate your brain, boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells).
I started on the elliptical machine for the first few months. Treadmills are one of the few machines I avoid because I dislike running. But I do use it on my cardio days to do steep climbing. Not long after, I explored weights, starting with 4KG before building my strength over these 2 years and now I’m doing 15kg dumbbells. My objective was not to become a bodybuilder, I took it slow at my own pace (remember point #2 – stay true to yourself), to relieve the stress of handling my boys and to look toned.
If you are playing with the thoughts of exercising, just walk out the door this evening or in the morning before work and go around the neighbourhood. Listen to the rustling of the leaves, have a quick chat with your neighbours, and relax.
5. Enjoy the little things
Adulting is tough, and motherhood is grinding.
But scroll down Instagram and you see pictures of moms smiling genuinely into their toddler’s eyes, or moms posting videos of their babies’ first step.
Simple words like “I love you” come from your little kiddo or a card with stick people on it and it says “for mommy” which puts a smile on your face. Suddenly the ‘terrible twos’ or the ‘threenager terror’ does not exist for that few minutes.
One thing you should be doing to appreciate these little things is to be present. Put away the phone or stop working on the computer, saying ‘hmm’ or ‘uh-huh’ to a toddler just so they can leave you alone is not going to make you a happy mom. Give your child your full attention so you hear what they are saying and have a proper conversation with him, sometimes they will catch you off guard with their entertaining thoughts. Like they say, “Kids say the darnedest things!”
Enjoying precious moments like these will help you to stay happy as a mom. No one said that being a mother is a walk in the park. Every mom (silently) agrees that there are times when they would feel like strangling their child, and these same moms will also tell you the sweetest things that the same monstrous child did that put a smile on their faces.
When you have the right people around you to give you support, you will learn to navigate motherhood in the right direction. Motherhood becomes less scary than you think, you watch your children grow up and wish they were little kids again. Most importantly, with the right mindset, you will stay happy as a mom and bring up happy kids.