Parenthood: Synonymous with endless requests, constant “whyyyyyy?”s, and a loss of all privacy.
“Sure, kid. Go ahead and brush your teeth while I take my morning poop. No, really; I don’t need five minutes to myself, ever.”
The early years of parenthood can be particularly exhausting. If you’ve ever felt the youth sucked right out of you by these needy (albeit, cute) little gremlins, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Hobbies? As if we have the time. Adult interaction? Please…with what energy? We’re lucky if at the end of the day we have the patience to even search through Netflix for half an hour, which, face it, is basically the minimum time it takes to find something we really want to commit to. Next thing you know it’s 9:30, so off to bed we go in hopes of getting enough rest before the little people in the next room wake up in the morning needing food or water or something. Does that have “old person” written all over it, or what?
Seriously, though: how do we maintain our youthful bounty if our brows are often furrowed and we want to pull all our hair out? Um, hello wrinkles and female balding! I don’t know about you, but Botox and hair implants are not my favorite options. So how do we deal? Here are 3 simple game-changers that will rock your world, mamas.
1. Make Fun A Priority
If you’re the type-A highly ambitious kind of mom, you know how difficult it can be to shift your focus from hard-set productivity to fun. Sometimes, having fun is something I have to do intentionally, otherwise it simply wouldn’t happen. Why? Because I like to get stuff done. It makes me feel great, knowing I’m one step closer to the goals I’ve set for myself. It wasn’t until several years into marriage and parenting that I realized how horribly boring and unpleasant I’d become when all I did was work. Where was the fun, adventurous girl I’d sworn I’d forever be? I first got a glimpse of her again when I started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and when I began learning to skateboard and surf, despite my fears. Alas, she was still there. She just hadn’t seen the light of day for years.
Having fun should really be a no-brainer, like eating or sleeping or keeping your children alive. It’s seriously that important. So…why is it so hard for grown-ups (parents in particular) to cut loose and have fun? I honestly think we forget. Buried under the frazzled exterior of the serious, responsible, hard-working mom is the spirit of a kid who loves exploring, dreaming, taking risks, and singing at the top of her lungs. A kid who isn’t afraid of getting dirty or coming home with a couple of scraped knees. I like to let this kid out to play. She keeps me young, and helps me connect better with my kids.
2. Keep The Spark Alive
If you have a spouse or partner, don’t leave your relationship on the back-burner, assuming you can just pick right up where you left off once the kids are all grown. It just doesn’t work that way, ever. Find ways to connect on a daily basis. I totally understand there are many days we feel all “touched out” from taking care of our kids (especially the little bitty ones), but our guys still want us, and want us to want them. You know, the way we used to before having kids, making out in the back seat of the car. Or really, making out anywhere. You do remember, right? I’m not saying we can always talk ourselves into being in the mood, but there are certainly some things we can do to help make sex possible on a more regular basis. For those nights when you just know it’s not gonna happen, there are other ways to connect. Other means of physical contact still speak volumes, especially compared to turning the cold shoulder and letting your partner feel unnoticed.
Keep it fun and exciting! Romantic (or dirty;) notes, a squeeze of the butt, a kiss on the neck, a hand on his shoulder or thigh. Make daily talks a habit, and give each other your full attention. Go on mini-adventures together. Explore new hiking trails, try new hobbies together, go to an arcade (gasp–without the kids!); whatever floats your boat. You can also try one of our favorites…go out to dinner in the young people’s part of town and make out next to the car, unfazed by the glaring college folk walking by. I *almost* get embarrassed when my husband of almost nine years exclaims to onlookers,
“We’re in love and we’re getting married!!!”
Remember that before you were parents, you were lovers and friends, setting out together on this journey of life and all the adventure it brings. I hope that’s not too corny…because it’s true, and you know it.
3. Don’t Stop Dreaming and Growing
Remember that girl I mentioned in #1, the one buried under our responsible-mom-selves? Does she have dreams and big hopes for the future? I bet she does. If those dreams were made complete upon becoming a mom, that’s fantastic. Keep encouraging and fulfilling those dreams on a daily basis, which will certainly keep you on your toes and provide plenty of opportunity to grow and learn not only about your family, but about yourself. If those dreams involved other accomplishments as well–a business you want to start, a skill you want to learn, or a career you want to excel in–don’t be afraid to dream, big.
If something isn’t growing, it’s dying. There’s simply no in-between. Are your dreams growing and flourishing, or dwindling and dying? I know firsthand how challenging it can be to take even a little time to nourish our dreams, especially in the early years of parenthood. Sometimes it’s necessary to put the pursuit of certain things on hold for a while, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep growing and investing in ourselves, however that looks for you and your specific goals. Keep in mind the persistence, grit and resilience you show in reaching such goals is being observed by your kids. They are watching, and learning. Keep your priorities in order, and again…don’t forget to incorporate fun!