We’ve all heard it: there’s no I in TEAM. And, of course, there’s none in MOTHER, either.
But—there IS one in MOTHERING!
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to forget. The moment you suspected that pregnancy test would be positive, you knew there would be sacrifices…
- You gave up lunch meat during pregnancy because someone used the word “Listeria”.
- You gave up your caffeine.
- You gave up your favorite deodorant for one that contained less aluminum just in case it caused bone damage or anemia.
- You gave up your SLEEP.
So was it worth it?
When you first hold that baby in your arms, you’re so much in love, you’d give up the world for that precious face. Sure, that means things get put on hold, and a few dreams are delayed. You can’t just get up and go anymore…you have another human being depending on you for everything. That’s okay, though. It’s a life season, right? It’s not forever.
But do you know the one sacrifice you should NEVER make?
You should never give up on yourself. You have been created with abilities and talents and passions. You don’t have to set those aside! In fact, being yourself while you’re mommy-ing will not only help you ENJOY your mothering. It will help your child learn and grow from your uniqueness.
You were given the gift of this unique precious baby, but don’t forget! He was also given the gift of YOU!
Part of motherhood is learning how to keep HIS care balanced with YOUR care. Here are five powerful ways not to lose yourself in your mothering, without neglecting–but, in fact, benefitting–your child.
Find Yourself Tip #1:
Teach Your Child Your Favorite Hobby
You’ve spent years learning that particular skill. It’s given you hours of pleasure, and with it, you’ve changed a little corner of your world. Why not teach it to your child?
- It will help him learn something new.
- It will give you an outlet doing something you love.
- It will build a special bond between you and your child.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can add that hobby into your mothering.
Love to Bake?
Your child will LOVE helping you in the kitchen. Not only will you have hours of fun creating together, but he’ll learn math, time, reading, and science with every recipe. You’ll connect his left and right brain, all while enjoying your passion. And, of course, you’ll wrap it all up with a delicious taste test at the end.
Make it even more fun by giving him his own set of real cooking materials. This way, he can learn how to “clean his tools” just like Mom!
- The Sassafras Children’s Cook Set includes perfectly-sized spatulas, whisks, and other hand tools, along with a free herb pot!
- This Mindware Deluxe Cookware contains all the usual spatulas, whisks, and measuring cups, but adds cupcake liners, a tot-sized apron, cookie cutters, and a recipe and tip booklet.
There are also many kid-friendly recipe books, like this baking book, to help your little chef learn to follow recipes. (The sooner he learns, the sooner he can make lunch!)
Love to Garden?
When it’s your passion, it can be hard to see little hands and feet trample your hard work–or mistake a carrot top for a weed…But you can STILL teach him the hobby that you love.
Help him prepare his own small patch or herb pot with these great garden tools. Dig up a new square area or set off a corner of your larger garden, put up a little fence to help little feet understand borders, and dig in.
Add a touch of whimsy to your little one’s garden by creating a Fairy miniature garden he can check on during the week. Just don’t forget to slip out there once in awhile and “rearrange”, adding stacks of sticks or other “evidence” the house is being lived in!
Love to Run?
My husband started running our city’s 2-mile Thanksgiving Turkey Day Run with our kids when they were little. It has now become a yearly tradition for the whole family and has bloomed into most of my kids running track and cross country in high school. Pick a cause or event and make it a yearly family tradition!
Love to Write?
Let your child illustrate for you! Write a simple short story about your childhood, lay it out in picture book fashion on your computer, print it out on card stock, and give your child watercolor pencils to draw and color illustrations however he sees the pictures in his head.
Later, you can have it spiral bound together at your local office store. The book my children illustrated for me when they were preschoolers has become one of my most prized creations.
What Else Do You Love Doing?
- Graphic Design? Give him a spiral sketch book, and let him cut magazines and paste the pieces all together in new ways.
- Chemistry? Try fun kitchen and backyard experiments.
- Accounting? Teach him real math with manipulatives using a real abacus, then give him his very own calculator to practice while you work.
When it comes to inspiring your child to grow from your “being you,” the sky’s the limit. You’ll find both you AND your little bud blossoming.
Find Yourself Tip #2:
Sing and Dance to Your Favorite Tunes
What kid doesn’t love music? Or dancing?
This isn’t just some childish want. Schools are realizing the NEED for moments just to move–for both kids AND adults. They call these little respites “Brain Breaks” or “Brain Charges” and it’s getting a lot of buzz in early childhood education.
- Dancing gets blood pumping to the brain, giving you much-needed energy…while expending some of that energy in your little Energizer Bunny.
- You’ll create silly memories (don’t forget to record them)!
- On rough days, once you get those giggles started, you’ll often find you’ve nipped tantrums and power plays in the bud!
You don’t have to look great doing it…. Although, if you were once a contestant for a dance reality show, now’s the time to show your mini dance partner. For most of us, the sillier we look here, the better.
Wheels on the Bus not your favorite song? Pick something that is! Raffi is still kids’ music, but not so every-day. Or try a cd of sing-alongs like these. At my house, we also love Southern Gospel and musicals. Pick something you know your child will recognize, with lots of interesting sounds and rhythms. (Frozen anyone?)
What makes you move? What makes you groove? What makes you mellow? It’s another chance to enjoy something you love AND teach your tot something about you.
Pro Tip: Check the vocab in your favorites. Kids learn lyrics FAST. Make sure it’s something you don’t mind your 2-year-old repeating in the grocery store.
Mix some music and cut a rug with your kiddo. It just may be the sweet, fun turn-around to days that were originally on their way to disaster!
Find Yourself Tip #3:
Get Some Exercise
Exercise? Who has time? I know how easy it is to feel guilty about this one. Resist! There’s no guilt in the Mighty Moms Club! It’s HARD to get out there.
But most of us can attest to feeling so much better on the other side of a workout. There’s that blood-pumping energy, and we feel like we’ve actually completed something! Add to that, the chance to teach your little sprout a healthy lifestyle, and you’ve got a credit-worthy way to find yourself –all while putting your good sweat to use!
You don’t have to run a marathon. There are plenty of fun at-home options for you to try!
- Grab a Zumba video! (Even if it’s only 20 minutes!) The top three most-commended videos are Zumba 101, DanceX: for Kids, or Zumba Fitness.
- Let your toddler try leg kicks, push-ups, or sit-ups with you. (Unless you have diastasis recti! This awesome article by Wellness Mama shows you what it is, how to tell if you have it, and which exercises are safe for you to do with it.)
- Use your infant as your weight—he thinks you’re playing, but you are getting exercise—arm curls, windmills, shoulder lifts. For some extra fun, let your little dumpling dress the part with this adorable kettlebell onesie.
- Download Jocelyn Clarke’s The Ultimate Workout for Moms: Making Home Exercise a Habit for other great, inexpensive ideas. (It’s only $.99!)
Exercise doesn’t have to be exhausting, and it doesn’t have to take up hours of every day. Just 20-30 minutes a day can make a huge difference not only in your health, but your mom-esteem!
Find Yourself Tip #4:
Steal an Hour or Two for Yourself
Grab an hour or two on Saturday or Sunday afternoon when the kids are napping and Daddy’s home, and take time to do something by yourself. Nothing huge with tons of planning; just enjoy a chance to breathe without counting heads and noses!
Try one of these proven possibilities:
- Head out to McD’s by yourself for a soda and time to read.
- Walk in the mall or a park.
- Meet a friend for coffee.
- If you relax best at home, encourage Daddy to take the kids to the park or the indoor McD’s playground while you stay back and do something you love. But unless you really get rejuvenated cleaning, DON’T touch that rag!
- Need other ideas on how to pamper yourself? Check out 27 Cures for Mommy Cabin Fever.
Find Yourself Tip #5:
Take a Mom’s Night Out
Once a year, get away for 24 hours. Without guilt! When I was headed out for an annual women’s conference, my toddlers asked why I had to go. I told them because it would help me be a better mommy. It was so true!
Your short sabbatical gives you a chance to let down your hair and leave the diaper bag at home while you reflect on who you are as a mother, wife, friend…and regular human being! . You’ll have a chance to come back refreshed and ready to do “mommy-ing” again. (Hint: This 24-hours-away, leaving Dad in charge, is actually GREAT for Dad and little darling, too. Dads play differently, and that’s OKAY!)
If you do decide to head out, help your man along by following some of Chelsea’s smart tips to help your getaway go smoothly! (It’s written with babies in mind, but would really be helpful for kids of all ages!)
This kind of time for yourself doesn’t HAVE to require hours of prep. Here are some super simple ideas:
- Find a relaxing ladies conference through your church.
- Set up a scrapbooking weekend, either by yourself or with friends.
- Invite friends to a nearby hotel for a movie marathon or time in the pool.
- Have dads do an indoor camp-out with the kids at one house while the moms have a sleep-over at another.
Your “I” in MOTHERING is Important.
Yes, being a mommy requires sacrifices, but your gifts and talents shouldn’t be one of them!
It’s true that sometimes we have to slow down those gifts and talents for the sake of others , but it doesn’t mean we shove them in a closet and lock the door.
Doing that would harm BOTH of you.
Your mothering—and your child—will grow stronger when you find yourself being the UNIQUE mom—and person—you were created to be.
So what part of yourself are you going to bless your child with today? What hobbies and activities are you excited to reclaim?
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