5 Qualities To Reduce Motherhood Stress
Written by: Jasmin Hepburn
I was practically wobbling to the doctor’s office for my pre-natal checkup. My belly was huge, yet from behind, nobody could tell I was pregnant. A woman exited the building and looked at me. “First child?” she asked. “Yes,“ I replied with a smile. “Oh,” she continued… ”piece of cake.”
I have often recounted and reflected on her comment. A piece of cake to be a mother? It certainly doesn’t seem so on those days when I watch helplessly as my child suffers in a hospital bed; or when he is misunderstood and labeled; or when getting him to complete a task (homework, anyone?) makes me want to pull my hair out; or when I feel tired and would rather take a nap but choose not to because his need for food supersedes my desire to rest.
But in those moments when he happily eats my food and exclaims, “this is heaven on a plate!” or when he looks at my scalp, tells me to wait, goes for a cotton ball, touches my head and shows me that I’m bleeding (after putting a bit of red paint on the cotton ball); or when he tries to teach me to ride a bike (yes, believe me… I can’t!) and laughs when he sees me teetering away, I do believe that the lady I met had a point.
I don’t know how many of you as mothers lift your hats to yourselves for the wonderful work that you do. Most times, you focus on doing more, on getting it right, on raising wonderful children who stay out of trouble, who do well in school, get a good paying job and become outstanding citizens of society.
But life doesn’t always flow like that. Too often you have to face heart-wrenching situations that threaten to derail you on your journey as a mother and you blame yourself or push yourself mercilessly to do more, give more, be more, support more – and often end up stressing more.
I have found that exercising the following traits have been helpful tools for me on my journey. I hope they will benefit you too.
1. Forgiveness – This affects every area of our lives, whether it’s of ourselves, our children or others who wrong us. When you learn to forgive yourself for your shortcomings first, it becomes easier to forgive your children. If you are hard on yourself, you will be hard on others – because you can’t give what you don’t have. See life as a school and your children as students in a classroom (whatever their level may be). If it seems that they are doing the opposite of what you teach them, or they seem to do wrong so often, forgive them and remind them to keep trying until they get it. None of us are perfect and no child came with a manual on how to maneuver through life. So, when it seems that they do “wrong,” extend forgiveness to them.
2. Acceptance – Children are all different and have a mind of their own. Accept that and expect them to behave differently than others. Comparing them is futile, because each of us has a different path to take in life. Instead, acknowledge that the uniqueness of your children will lead them to become the best that they can be. Instead of nagging them to do and be what you consider to be the “best way,” encourage them to follow their heart. Every time I’ve listened to my son and followed his lead, I’ve had some of the most beautiful experiences in life.
When you value you and your children’s differences, you let go of the need to micromanage every aspect of your children’s lives and the stress that results from that. Teach them to become independent thinkers and to follow their heart. Of course, that doesn’t mean you are not going to set healthy boundaries. Rather, it means that, instead of always expecting immediate compliance, you make room for your children to show their unique perspectives as well.
3. Inspiration – There is a thin line between commanding and inspiring as a mother. Yes, there is a place for commands, but be careful to balance them with doses of healthy inspiration.
It would be wonderful to command them to do homework and get immediate compliance, right? Yet, you know that it’s not always as easy as that. Therefore, you can look for honest ways to inspire your children to do something they don’t enjoy, such as learning how math can help them in everyday life or how persistence has led to great changes in the lives of people who have overcome amazing difficulties.
Inspire them to see themselves as outstanding individuals as opposed to ordering them to do what we think is best for them.
4. Trust – You can’t go forward as a mother without this, because life itself demands that you face each day expecting that the best will happen to you and to your children. You trust others to care for them, teach them and be positive role models for them. It is also important to extend that trust to your children by giving them responsibilities and allowing them to fulfill them. If you expect them to fail, they probably will. However, if you express your trust in their ability, they will surely do their best, even if the results are often not what you expected. They will rise to the task of being responsible as you delegate and that in turn will make your life less stressful.
5. Honesty – Don’t pretend to know it all or have it all under control, because children very often see through us. Be honest about your feelings of joy, disappointment, fear and shame and share your own experiences (according to their age and maturity level) so they know that you understand their challenges and they can trust you enough to share with you.
It’s a beautiful feeling for me to share openly and honestly with my friends and know that I am accepted and not judged. You want to model that type of honesty with your children so that they feel free to be themselves and honestly share their emotions so that they can feel heard and be guided on their journey.
If you notice, the above qualities are an acronym for “FAITH,” a virtue that I believe all of us who are serious about motherhood have. Deep within you is the desire and determination to raise well-adjusted children, despite the challenges that you face. Therefore, if you embark on the journey with FAITH, you are sure to have more rewarding times and fewer stressful times. Your faith in yourself will also help you become an exemplary – not perfect – mother. For that’s what children need: solid examples of how to go through life successfully despite the bumps, bruises and scars that they will experience.
So, when you face the stress of motherhood, remember to act with FAITH and watch as your children spread their wings and fly. And during the process, celebrate your joys and successes, for those are the moments that help make us feel that we are strong enough to face any type of stress in our journey as mothers.
Jasmin Hepburn is a Certified Holistic Health Coach specializing in helping women rid their life of unhealthy stress. She supports women who are ready and willing to live the life they desire, doing whatever it takes to achieve this with authenticity and purpose.
Jasmin merges her experience as an educator, counselor and health coach to guide her clients in understanding and appreciating their unique journey and the deeper meaning behind their stress. Using a holistic approach, she helps her clients to remove the blocks that prevent them from embracing all of life’s possibilities and creating one that makes them feel truly happy and fulfilled.
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