I think about the first time I laid eyes on my child. I mean the VERY first time. The first time I heard my baby cry, saw her sweet face, felt her skin, her warmth . . . and that CONNECTION. My gosh, it was a breath-taking lightning bolt!
In an instant, all of the pains of labor were forgotten, all of the worry and doubt I carried over the last 9 months, gone, and a maternal instinct within me flipped on like a light switch. It was as if there was no one else in the room; it was just me and my new little one. A feeling of love and adoration, so great I could burst, swept over me.
And it was at that moment, I KNEW. I knew from her first breath that I would spend the rest of my life loving and providing for this tiny human. That I would do everything in my power to ensure her safety and well-being. Life now had meaning because of her. This perfect, little life, a little piece of me, now depended on me.
I became a mother.
As time went on, I fell victim to routine and absent-mindedly settled into Mommyhood. I hear, “MOM! I need help,” “MOM! I can’t find my shoes,” “MOM! I’m hungry,” among other requests about a thousand times a day (give or take). I’m a selfless, bottom-of-the-totem-pole, family’s-needs-before-my-own kinda mom. But I’m also human – I get tired, overwhelmed, stressed, upset, irritated, discouraged – to the point where I kind of run on auto-pilot, lose sight of myself and fall into a “funk”. A “Mom Funk”.
During these slumps, it’s easy to forget that my name isn’t “Mom” – that I actually have a birth name. A name I rarely hear anymore. Heck, even my husband calls me, “Mom” when we’re around the kiddos.
But let me make this clear: “MOM” is NOT my name, nor is it yours. It isn’t Mother. Mama, Madre, Mommy, Mum, Mumsy, or whatever name our kids call us . . . nope, it’s none of those.
It’s <insert YOUR (ACTUAL) NAME here>.
Yes, my kids will always see and know me as “Mom”, but they also deserve to know ME — COURTNEY. The ME that my husband married — a fun-loving, spontaneous, goofy girl.
You are A mom and a damn good one at that! Being a mother doesn’t define you – it’s a PART of who you are. And when you’re down-in-the-dumps, overtaken by the “mom funk”, how do you pull yourself out of it?
Like a flippin’ boss, that’s how!
The following are my favorite ways to lift my spirits and regain my sanity.
We ALL need to unwind from time to time. Having “me time” and personal space is important, whether you have kids or not. We ALL get stressed out and overwhelmed to the point where we feel like crying, tearing our hair out or breaking stuff (or all three). Don’t wait until you snap to seek refuge, or you run the risk of lashing out at your loved ones. (Disclaimer: As tempting as it sounds to run away and start a new life, DON’T DO IT! ) Plan your day “off” with your spouse, bff, family member, babysitter, etc. — just make sure your kiddos, dog, houseplant or whatever you’re responsible for is taken care of. Go to a spa, a movie, a coffee shop, shopping, kayaking, or drive to the middle of nowhere. Do something for YOU, without anyone to worry about, clear your mind and BREATHE.
A little fresh air and vitamin D does WONDERS for the mind and soul! There’s just nothing like letting loose and being a kid again. It’s so easy to get caught up in adulting that we forget to let our inner child come out and play. I love taking my girls to the park, hanging from the monkey bars, sliding and swinging. Blow bubbles, climb trees, play tag, ride bikes, hula-hoop, roll down hills. Just turn off your electronics, and reconnect with Mother Nature! And remember, a little mud and rain never hurts, either. My kiddos and I LOVE splashing in puddles and dancing in the rain!
“You are what you eat.” So if you eat crap, you’re going to feel like crap. Studies prove that your diet has a TON to do with your well-being. Not only physically, but mentally. It’s no secret that bad diets are linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc., but do you realize it also messes with your psychological state? If you’re depriving yourself of proper nutrients, you’re setting yourself up for a mental catastrophe. I’m no medical expert by any means, but I do understand how awful my body feels when I abuse it with junk food. When I incorporate more of a “clean eating” type of diet, I feel better as a whole. (Check out THIS LINK to read some interesting stuff on the effects of nutrition and your brain!)
According to Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don’t shoot their husbands…they just don’t.” So, there ya go! Go for a jog, a bike ride or whatever floats your boat, and release endorphins for a natural stress-reliever. I LOVE yoga, and I find that it works best for me if I’m feeling uptight and agitated. It’s challenging, yet calming, and I always feel refreshed after a session.
One of my favorite ways to pull myself out of a slump is to give back to others with random acts of kindness. Making others feel good and being the source of a someone’s happiness (if even for only a brief moment) never fails to put a smile on my OWN face. To name a few, I’ve purchased coffee for police officers, bought lunch for members of our armed forces, left quarters in gumball machines for kiddos and have written little encouraging notes and hid them in random places for people to find. You never know what battles people are facing in their lives, but I remind myself that whatever it is I’m going through, someone else is worse off. I get such joy out of knowing that I may have been a ray of sunshine in someone’s darkness.
I’m a creative person at heart, and I NEED a creative outlet! Writing is the best medicine; a way to get my thoughts and emotions laid out, quite literally, in black and white right in front of me. Just like my home, my head can get pretty chaotic, cluttered and disorganized. Writing, for me, is like spring cleaning my home, and it leaves my mind clear and peaceful. I’m a huge fan of coloring, too, specifically in adult coloring books. Concentrating on color schemes and intricate designs totally wipes my mind, clean slate. Photography, editing, painting, and sculpting makes me a happy camper — I love it all!
Build yourself up. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Seriously! This should be a daily thing. Do NOT search for happiness in other people, and don’t base your happiness on other people’s opinions of you. You KNOW that you’re kick-ass, confident, independent, smart, etc. When you’re feeling down, remind yourself of all the blessings in your life, the experiences and people you’ve been fortunate enough to know and meet, the obstacles you’ve overcome and where your life is at this very moment.
BONUS TIP: When all else fails, PRAY.
I get such a feeling of joy, serenity and fulfillment when I open my heart to God. When life gets crazy, and I try to handle too much on my own, I give my burdens to Him. When my plate is full and I’m overwhelmed, I pray. When I am anxious, I pray. When I’m discouraged, sad or angry, I pray. I give thanks for my blessings and ask for forgiveness when I know I’m wrong. I may not get the answers I’m hoping for, and I know this isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s refreshing and feels great to talk with God!
Know that it’s completely normal to feel down or overwhelmed sometimes, especially after becoming a mother. We work hard to maintain a happy and healthy household, yet do little for ourselves in return. When you feel like you’re slipping into a funk and start losing your light, it’s ok to shut down and reboot for a little while. Build a list like mine, find your happy place and reconnect with YOU!