After a busy day of home schooling, starting the day with some work assignments for my Forest School training whilst the kids slept, then taking them out for a morning walk to try and quell the squabbling and bickering which had been yesterday, we got home from their evening swimming club and I faced the kitchen; dinner to cook, dishes to wash, and preparing the activities for tomorrow’s Forest School session. I looked around, all surfaces covered; plates, laundry, the sticky skins of lemons the girls had squeezed to make lemonade with mint from the garden earlier in the day, pots of dry lentils and beans my four year old loves to play with, the calls of the kids from the next room, and I felt truly, utterly beaten.
Beaten, not by the difficult behaviour of my kids, for they are no trouble really, they are lovely, vibrant, busy children, exploring, creating, learning, but beaten by the weight of the everyday overwhelm of everything that it takes to care for kids and run a home. There is just so much to do, always and everyday. And if we as mothers are not very careful, this overwhelm can soon take hold of us, distort our vision, overthrow our hormonal balance and wring the joy clean out of our mothering journey.
Sometimes we have to take a stand against it, against this morass of pressure which builds up within and around ourselves, and which oozes from social media. We have to stand up to it and say ‘no more’. We have to recognize that we are enough. That we are doing enough. That we love and care for our kids more than words can say, and we are doing our very best with the resources we have in each moment.
So let us face that overwhelm, and the voices which accompany it, chastising us, taunting us, reminding us of how we are failing, of how we are not enough, of how we are so much less than. Let us face this. Let us make it stop, and let us remind ourselves, dear, gentle mothers, that we are great. That we are greater, that we are so much greater than the overwhelm which surrounds us.
Rather than trying to run away from it, to shut everyone up, to quickly restore order, walk into the overwhelm, not away from it, walk deeper and deeper into it. And be still. Breathe deeper, deeper than the feelings, the intensity, the drama. As you may have done through labour and birth, taking your breath deeper than the intensity of the experience. Stop, and feel your power. Know you are a Creator. Know that all of this we see before us is of our own creation, and that of those around us. We are powerful creators, we have got this.
Step into the overwhelm, and breathe.
And say to yourself I am here; say to your children I am here.
For the power resides in your words, for when we are here, so fully and completely, with every fibre of our being, we are here, completely alive and in the present moment. And it is from here (and only here), that we are truly powerful and that we can truly affect change.
Look around, breathe deeper than the whole situation, and remind yourself, I am here. Feel this truth deep down in your body, deep in your belly, deep in your womb space.
Awaken to the presence of your power, and the power of your presence.
Allow the stillness to coarse through your veins, allow the spinning and shouting to fade away. Breathe deeper, and bring a sense of stillness to your surroundings.
Feel strength uprising, a strength far greater than the situation, and so capable, so able to hold what needs to be held.
Then feel an awakening in your heart. Feel fierce, pure unconditional love flowing from your heart centre, and feel a softening. As we hold the situation with our power, as we have this, we enable our hearts to open wide and from here we are able to see, once again, with eyes of love, compassion, empathy and understanding.
We have the power to hold, to sort, to connect, to create and re-create.
We remember. We are capable. We are wise.
Gentle mothers, we are so much more than the piles of laundry, the odd socks and diapers, we are so much greater than the unwashed dishes, the sibling squabbles and the feelings of failure which pervade our thoughts when we haven’t been as much, or as good as we hoped we could or should have been.
We are powerful, passionate and loving creators. We hold our children in our hearts, our minds, our arms and our homes. We hold them and tend to them with a love so fierce at times it scares us and shakes us to our core.
Breathe into your power, your love and your fierceness. Breathe deeper than the overwhelm, breathe deeper than whatever creations trouble you just now. Breathe deeper than them all.
And then find your point of stillness.
Connect with your power, connect with your gentle, fierce, pure and loving heart. And look at your kids, yourself and your situation through eyes of love. Feel waves of empathy, understanding and compassion flowing through you. You are love. And so are they. Remind yourself of this.
And now breathe deeper, deep down, all the way, to your place of inner power and indomitable strength. Remember you are as powerful as the Earth. Remember you are a Creator. Remember that you have this. You can do it. You are doing it. And then take a step forward. A step of love, a step of power. For one blazes the way for the other.
You are all of these things gentle mothers; we see you and we need you. Breathe deep, and share your fierceness, gentleness, strength and love with your children and the world. Remember this, we need you.
- Clare Cooper
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We had a newborn and a three-year-old. My husband (MJ) was in a haze of pain from regular migraines, I in one of fatigue. We were both cranky.
I sat in front of my computer 10–16 hours every day, trying to work but spending hours as a social-media zombie. Probably once a day, I heard MJ yelling at the kids, and the kids crying. I would help calm the situation, then go back to slogging through my work, mentally walking through cold molasses.
Finally, sometime after midnight, I would climb into bed with a happy sigh and a huge grin at the thought of an hour or two of sleep before the baby woke to nurse or our daughter woke screaming.
She would shriek like someone was murdering her.
Exhausted, panicked, I frantically tried to quiet her so she wouldn’t wake everyone else. When she was finally calm and I tried to go back to sleep, she scream like a banshee again. Back to her room I went, quietly imploring her to go back to sleep.
Twenty minutes later, more screaming. I would again rush to her room, my voice rising as I begged, pleaded, “I have to sleep. I need sleep. Please, please… please, for the love of … why won’t you sleep?!”
Then I would hear myself yelling, “You are going to wake everyone else up. It is nighttime. It is time for sleep. People are trying to sleep!”
I felt ashamed at my loss of control. Something needed to change, but what? And how?
Our Life Savers
Then I discovered Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning. I liked the idea of getting a better handle on my life by using the Life SAVERS (silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, scribing)—but how in the world could I get up an hour before my kids to do this?! It was all I could do to stumble out of bed when they woke me in the mornings.
I was desperate, though, so I gave it a shot. It worked … sort of.
I started daily self-care again, brushing my teeth, flossing, exercising … even showering! (When did I stop doing these things? I wondered.)
But I felt good enough—almost human again—that I kept going.
Even from his haze of pain and sleepiness, MJ noticed the change in me, so he started doing the Life SAVERS too.
Our days were so much better when we did the SAVERS before the kids woke up, but we still had to claw ourselves out of bed each morning, sometimes before the kids. But I often fell asleep in my silence. And affirmations. And visualization. And reading.
We were seeing enough improvements to stay determined, though, so we muddled through.
Then MJ discovered Shawn Stevenson’s book Sleep Smarter. We were already doing most things Stevenson suggested, but implementing those last few things made a tremendous difference. Suddenly, with sleep in order, everything started falling into place.
A Whole New Family
MJ’s migraines dropped from affecting him every day to only once or twice a month. He went from being anxious about almost everything to calm, even cheerful. Our interpersonal interactions are more considerate, more thoughtful. We treat everyone—including ourselves—with more respect.
We worry less and are present, engaged with our lives, our children, and each other. We accomplish much more every day. We keep our tempers. We rarely yell. Our house is much more peaceful.
Through trial and error, we have 5 essentials that we must to do daily to live this new, better life:
1. Shut off electronics at least 1 1/2 hour before the household’s earliest bedtime--and keep them out of sleeping spaces.
2. Use topical magnesium spray. (Ingested magnesium isn’t nearly as efficacious.) The easiest way to do this is with an epsom-salt soak. MJ, our daughter, and I soak our feet each evening as part of our electronics-free time. (MJ needs more magnesium to keep his headaches down, so he also uses a magnesium spray, which can be purchased or made at home.)
3. Increased physical activity. (Do any activity that you enjoy, but when movement is aligned with breathing, as in yoga or Tai Chi, it can double as silence/meditation.)
4. Silence/meditation. (This brings your attention to the present moment, to observe from a place of detachment. After steady practice, you find a state of calm that you can more easily call to mind when disturbances and agitation arise during the day.)
5. Education/personal development. (Focus on anything you like … anything. The point is to make constant incremental improvement in some aspect of your life. Eventually, you start thinking in whole new ways and getting more creative in everyday problem solving.)
When we do numbers 1 and 2, we fall asleep faster and have better-quality sleep. Then it’s easier to get up when the alarm goes off, which makes numbers 3–5 even easier to do.
Thanks to implementing these strategies, something has shifted in us.
We are hopeful and have found new purpose. We examine everything in our lives, improving what works and eliminating what doesn’t. We are more fully present for everyone. We are kinder, gentler, more understanding. We are better models for our children, who also behave better, sleep better, and are more cheerful.
It all started with the Miracle Morning and sleeping smarter.
- Stephanie R.S. Stringham
You read the title of this blog post and probably wondered what the heck is wrong with this woman. How can I find joy in frustrating moments? I'm a mom, and there is so much to do, where is the joy in my to do list?
Well, I'm here to tell you that there is plenty of joy to be found. The key lever in discovering this joy is in how you look at the situation. I know it is hard. With all the demands on our plates as moms, it is a challenge to remember to slow down and be joyful. The beautiful thing is we have a choice in everything we do and with that choice comes the opportunity to find joy.
For example, your children make a mess in the living room after you have cleaned up. When my kids make these kinds of choices, it infuriates me. I mean, they just saw me cleaning up and here they go creating a mess. It is frustrating and hard to get past, but at that moment I have a choice to make. I can scream at them for what they just did, or I can take a few breaths to calm down and look for some joy at the moment. When I give the situation a fresh look, I see my children playing creatively, safely and happily. I realize I can use this moment to teach them how to clean up their mess and how to help mommy when she is cleaning.
It doesn't happen seamlessly every time. There are times when I blow up and just let my rage take over. However, I keep those moments to a minimum.
I want my children to have happy memories of their time with me. Life does happen, so all of our times together won't be happy ones, but I can make a choice to find happiness more often than not.
Finding your Joy in Frustrating Moments
1. Release expectations that everything must be perfect.
Just because you cleaned the house doesn't mean it has to be spic and span. Know that there is beauty in the imperfections, and by releasing your expectations, you are allowing more joy to come your way.
2. Take a deep breath before making a choice.
When you feel your body tensing and the frustration boiling, take a deep breath. Let the breath bring relaxation into your body. Wait until that breath is released before making choices.
3. Look for moments of joy.
Purposefully look for the moments of happiness. Make an effort to look for the laughter and the happiness at the moment.
You have a choice whether to be joyful or to be frustrated. What choice will you make?
- Elly Blanco
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Soul Mama Blog
Blog to help mamas, on their journey: with the various parts of motherhood and life.