8 Simple Ways to Level Up to the Mom You Want to Be

by | May 9, 2018 | motherhood, personal growth

Is your mom-life not quite what you envisioned?  Are you feeling a little lost, or maybe on autopilot right now?

You are definitely not alone.

I became a mother just a few months after our first wedding anniversary.  While I don’t think one can ever truly prepare for parenthood, it is safe to say that I felt completely unprepared to be a mom–compared to my own lofty standards.  Over the years I have learned (often the hard way) how to be a mother.  For years, I fumbled along on my own.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  So, here are 8 lessons I have learned that have led to greater joy in motherhood, and actually–in life.

 1.  Be intentional.

Own your stuff.   If there is something about your life that you are not happy with, ask yourself first what you can change.  If you cannot change the circumstances, see if there is anything that needs to be changed about yourself.  If there is nothing about yourself that needs changing, then you may need to shift your perspective.

Cultivate a vision What values and traditions do you want to pass onto your children?  Integrity?  Honesty?  Kindness?  What activities (i.e. game nights, vacations, etc) matter most to you and your family?  Take some time to jot these down and identify a few things you can do to cultivate your family values and environment.

 

2.  Clean house (broom not required).

Declutter your soul.  All of us have—at some point—experienced pain, hurt, anger, and bitterness.   Sometimes we hold onto things that no longer serve us.  If you are feeling weighed down, ask yourself if you are holding onto any unresolved hurts.  Unforgiveness is like taking poison and waiting for your offender to die. 

Forgiveness is an act of release—not of letting someone off the hook so that they can keep hurting us.  Forgiveness is releasing your soul from the bondage of anger.  If you choose not to forgive, you are holding yourself hostage, and allowing a person or situation power over your wellbeing.  If you cannot identify someone in your life who needs forgiveness, consider that you may be that person.  What do you need to forgive yourself for?

Get organized Is there something that you have always wanted to do, but can’t seem to find the time or space for it?  When I decided to start blogging, I was already a full-time stay at home mom of four and a new homeschooler.  That might not seem like a lot to some of you, but for me it was plenty.  I had to organize my time to fit in 15-20 hours of blogging work into what I thought was already a busy week.  I had no idea.  Time can be budgeted similarly to money.  Before you say “I don’t have time…” check your schedule to verify that.

3.  Realize you don’t need to do or know it all.

Ask for help When I had my first daughter, people came out of the woodwork to offer to babysit.  I wish I had taken more people up on those offers.  Now that I have four kids, the offers don’t come nearly as often.  When you refuse help, you subconsciously teach people that you are invincible and self-sufficient.  After a while they will likely stop asking, so take the offer even if you don’t think you will need it!

This applies to your household as well.  I used to do all the cooking and housework and complain about constantly being exhausted.  No wonder!  That got old so quickly.  Now, we have a chore chart and tons of communication about teamwork.  Having to ask for help is far better than wearing myself out serving my family hand and foot. Trying to do everything on your own in a world full of people is unnecessary.  It truly does take a village (to raise a child—among other things)!

Simplify your meals.  Right after I quit my job to stay home, I prepared super fancy meals and cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  By “super fancy,” I mean I didn’t use my crockpot and we never had grilled cheese or cereal for dinner.  I have since learned the art of a simple meal plan.  I also learned that my family loves Taco Tuesdays even when I’m bored with them, and my crockpot is, in fact, my best friend.  When I pared down my meal planning, I found more time and energy to enjoy my family.

4.  Find your tribe.

Surround yourself with like-minded people.  I joined a MOPS group about 3 and a half years ago, and it has been a source of support and camaraderie I couldn’t have dreamed up.  Joining a hobby-based group (on Meetup, etc) is a great option if you don’t necessarily want to talk about potty training and sippy cups the whole time.  Sometimes it’s nice to remember that you are more than a parent.

Find a mentor.  This goes along with tip #3.  We all have the capacity to learn from others.  We train for every other job, why not parenting?  Mentors and coaches can help offer support, encouragement, and perspective.

5.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Laughter is good medicine.  The meltdowns and messes we deal with on a daily may not seem humorous now.  But the sooner you find something to laugh at, the sooner you can let stress bypass you.  For instance–when I hear my son ask me the same question fourteen times at increasing decibels, it’s incredibly irritating in the moment.  But writing about it is kind of funny.

Kids are resilient.  There will be great days as surely as there will be days that are less than perfect.  We will recover, and our kids will survive.   We cannot control our kids any more than we can control the outcome of their upbringing.  If we are humble enough to admit our mistakes, that will mean much more to our relationships with our kids than if we were to live in denial.  When you mess up (notice I did not say if), own it and apologize if necessary.

And look on the bright side.  Maybe college tuition will be free by the time our kids are old enough to go, and we can save that money for their therapy bill.

Just kidding.  See, laughter is good medicine.

 

6.  Take the occasional detour.

Some of my favorite memories I have with my parents are the days we went off the beaten path and took a spontaneous day trip.  Or had an impromptu picnic at the park.  Or took a mental health day off from school.  I have 3 kids who love surprises, and one that I usually must prepare to ‘carpe diem.’

An occasional planned (or not) break from your ordinary routine is sometimes just what everyone needs to fight a case of the blahs.

7.  Say goodbye to [mom] guilt.

I have a hunch that this is a generational thing, but we as parents are so hard on ourselves.  I don’t know where we got the idea that we need to have great jobs working from home 5 days a week, plus two degrees, and a side business, with a perfect wardrobe and a gym membership.

And for moms, the pressure is intense.  We want to do everything right from the time we conceive.  We compare feeding, sleeping, and disciplining methods.  We judge those who parent differently and seek validation from people who neither live with us nor have any say in the upbringing of our children.

We want to have and be it all for our kids.  The truth is, our kids don’t need us to be perfect—they just need us to be present.   But they don’t need us to be present 24/7 either.  Give them (and you) a little room to breathe.

8.  Stay in your lane.

This may sound cheesily like “do you, boo,” but here goes nothing.   Maybe don’t try to be someone that, deep down, you truly aren’t.  If you are the super quiet, introverted mom, don’t feel like you have to volunteer for PTA prez, scout leader, and backstage dance mom.  If you hate cooking, don’t try to conjure up elaborate meals.  If you hate being outside in nature, don’t feel pressured to chaperone a camping trip.  The thought of that last scenario makes me feel twitchy.   If you need a clean house to feel sane, by all means, clean your house and get your kids on board to teach them responsibility.  Or hire help if you can afford it.

Some of you will flat out disagree with me on this, and I can handle that.  So, I will tell you a little story:

I love my mom.  When I was 8, she invited every girl in my third-grade class to our home for my first slumber party.  There were maybe twelve girls in all.  I had a blast, but I can’t imagine how she pulled that off without a glass of wine her sanity intact.  I do remember a strobe-lit pillow fight, one homesick girl, and two dead goldfish in our aquarium the next morning.   When you love someone, you are willing to make certain sacrifices.  But know your limits and respect them.   Your kids will be fine, I promise.

Motherhood is an experience like no other–an extraordinary journey full of mountaintop moments and days at rock bottom.  There are twists and turns that no one can predict.  Motherhood has brought out the best and the absolute worst out of me.  I used to hope that each day, I would become a better mom. What I have found instead is that–each day, my heart opens up a little more, enlarges a little more.

Each day, as I’m stretched and pulled and pressed against my limits time and again, my capacity for love grows stronger.  I used to hope to find fulfillment in motherhood.  What I have found instead is even better–an opportunity to invest my life, my essence, my being, and my love into four lives that will one day grow and branch off and contribute to the world.

What lessons have you learned that improved your life, mom or not?  Let’s chat in the comments!

31 Comments

  1. Michelle Ford

    Yep I think you covered it! Laughter has definitely become a big part of my stress-relief and resiliency. Helps me to roll with life’s punches better. Just wish I knew it in my twenties. Heh. And I’ve been working on finding more connection with other moms and positive women in general. That’s still a bit of a struggle. A little too Miss Independent if you know what I mean. 😉

    My other big change…being emotionally in tune with myself. Really critical. If I don’t know where I’m at emotionally, then I don’t know what I need (chances are neither does anyone else!) and things can fall apart quickly. And then I’m no good to anyone! I used to think of it as “I’m too sensitive” but now I see there is great value in it all.

    I love your writing, so clear and uplifting! You help me remember what really matters. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Michelle, I appreciate your insight. I am still learning to laugh, but I am a work in progress. As are we all. Self-awareness is the first step toward growth. I have also been deemed “too sensitive” or overly emotional. Wouldn’t suit if we were all the same, right? Thank you for reading. If I help you remember what matters, I have reached my goal. Blessings!

      Reply
  2. Ariel | www.mamaofkings.com

    YESSSS! I needed this! Intention has been my main focus this year, and also not taking myself too seriously! Loved this post.

    Reply
  3. Megan Rowsey

    I love this post! So many nuggets that I agree with. Especially how we are so hard on ourselves and it’s a generational thing. I know for sure my parents did feel the same pressure we put on ourselves these days.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Megan, my mom is constantly telling me I’m too hard on myself. There is a stark difference in the way I grew up and the way my kids are growing up. The world is ever-changing. Hopefully we can stick to what matters most amidst the many distractions.

      Reply
  4. Amy @ Orison Orchards

    What a perfect list — I know I need to work on almost every single thing listed. Except the not taking myself too seriously, I’m pretty good at laughing about all my quirks. Thank you for the wonderful reminder!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Amy, send some of those laughs this way! I am definitely a work in progress. I think homeschooling is a great way to learn not to take it all too seriously. At least, I hope. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  5. amy

    Love this!, mum guilt is everywhere and you need a tribe that is going to support you and laugh with you (not judge and compete). I still have trouble asking for help when I need it but I have learnt to laugh a whole lot more and it makes being a mum so much easier.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Hi Amy, I’m glad you mentioned that we need friends to support and not judge and compete. That is so important! Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  6. Jana

    Love, love, love this post! I think for me my biggest lesson was to be content and stupidly grateful to what I have everyday. Since I had that AHA moment I’ve become a positive, glass half-full kind of person and I hope I can pass that along to my son too.

    Reply
  7. Julie Clark

    I love these ideas, especially Find a Tribe. It is so incredible how being around people in similar situations can help to know you aren’t alone.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      I’m a believer in community. How do we survive otherwise? Thanks for reading, Julie!

      Reply
  8. Margaret Westhoff

    So many valuable tips here! As the mother of two toddlers, I feel like I am just now starting to get into the groove of motherhood, and finding out what kind of mom I want to be for my kids. On the hard days, laughter is the best medicine.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      The toddler stage is so fun yet so challenging! Thanks for reading, Margaret!

      Reply
  9. Kat Charles

    You are so right, Diana. I can tell when my kids need a little extra TLC by their behavior at times. Thank you for reading!

    Reply
  10. Brandi Michel

    I love how you pointed out that mom-guilt may be a generational thing. I think you’re on to something there. Our moms just did their best to raise us without all the hype and comparison from the internet and social media. Comparison and thinking we need to be perfect is killing us.

    Reply
  11. Jaclyn Musselman

    GREAT reminders! I agree..you can’t take life too seriously. It is not worth sweating the small stuff too!

    Reply
  12. candy

    My tribe has gotten smaller the older I become. No time for negative people. Like all your ideas and do many of them already.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      So important to surround yourself with positivity, Candy! Good for you!

      Reply
  13. Brittany

    Love all of these! Definitely with you on the simple meal planning – makes a world of difference when it comes to prep time and clean up!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Yes! And the fewer dishes, the better! Ha!

      Reply
  14. Danielle @ A Sprinkle of Joy

    Such great tips!! Finding your tribe was so important for me.

    Reply
  15. Samantha

    I really like this. Once you let go of mom guilt, I feel like the other stuff just falls into place!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Samantha, you’re so right. Guilt is an unnecessary burden. If you are doing the best you can, it is more than enough!

      Reply
  16. McKayla

    Wonderfully written! I think this article nails motherhood perfectly. I especially struggle with being intentional, changing the things we can, and accepting that of which we cannot. I also cannot agree more with surrounding yourself with the right people.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Thank you McKayla! You are not alone on this journey! Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  17. Erin

    Yes to all of this!!

    Reply

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Hi!  I’m Kat Charles, a married mother of four precious, spirited kiddos.  We homeschool in the DC area, and we totally dig it. I am an aspiring writer, secret shower singer, and lover of all things beautiful.

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