Why is it that moms feel SOOOO guilty about taking care of themselves? It is like we have some predetermined genetic condition where when we bear children our desire to care for ourselves completely disappears.
How I learned to be a Happy Mom
When I had my first son at 20 years old, I was barely an adult myself. It was scary and confusing and completely transformational. I dove in head first with the goal of being the very best mom I could be. To me that meant 100% self sacrifice.
What I wish I knew then was that being a good mom doesn’t mean giving up on yourself.
I recently discovered a fascinating truth- that to be a good mom you need to be a happy mom. And, being a happy mom means you have to take care of your own needs too.
The problem for me was… I sort of forgot how to be happy. Sad right? But, the world had my back and I happened upon an article that changed my life.
The article appeared in “O” magazine and it listed 5 things happy people do.
It stated that happy people:
1) find their most golden self,
2) they design their lives to bring in joy,
3) they avoid “if only” fantasies,
4) they put best friends first and
5) they allow themselves to be happy.
I realized that I did none of those things.
I think we (us women) lose ourselves when we get married and have kids. I think becoming a mom is such a consuming and transformational change we completely lose sight of our own desires and wants. We only have the energy (and barely any at that) to focus on the needs of our children, right?
After reading this article I felt empowered. Maybe it was okay for me to be happy too. Now don’t get me wrong my kids and my husband bring immense joy to my life. But, there was always a sliver of unhappiness lurking around caused, no doubt, by my own self neglect. From me not being honest with myself or my family about what truly made me happy.
So, I set out to find my own happiness. I thought back to the times I remembered being the happiest in my life. Most of those memories happened when I was a kid- because kids really get life. Kids are pretty much solely focused on their own happiness. So, what better version of myself to look back on the as a child. I realized I was happiest when I was horseback riding, listening to music, dancing, curling up with a good book, sitting by a warm fire, taking walks, hopping on a bike, writing or day dreaming. Now guess how many of those activities I was doing as an adult?
That’s right zip, zilch, nada. So, at that moment I vowed to make a life changing decision. I would pour my focus into ensuring my own happiness. Go ahead, gasp, hyperventilate, “gurrl no you di’nt” to me. But, its true. That was my decision and it was exactly what I needed.
This was about a year ago. One of the first things I did was quit my day job. I was scared to death to tell my husband. But, being the amazing supportive man he is he told me he would support me 100%. He would rather have a happy wife than money. And, he said we could always live with less.
So, I started this here blog to give myself an outlet to write, daydream & connect with amazing people like you. I started turning off the tv and turning up the music. I had dance parties with my kids and I booked a trip to Tanque Verde Ranch (read about that awesome place here) so I could get back on a horse again. I even booked a vacation sans my hubby and kids to visit my sister in Europe! And, it was totally worth it! (see pics of Prague here)
Sounds nuts right? But, guess what. The world continued to revolve, life as I knew it did not end. We didn’t go bankrupt and I didn’t fail. In fact it was the opposite. LIFE BEGAN!!!
I am happier than I have felt in years. My marriage its better than ever and I am more present with my kids.
So, the lesson learned is simple- “put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others”. When we take care of ourselves as mothers we have more energy to take care of our spouses and our children.
So, ask yourself. Are you doing what makes you happy? Do you remember what it is that truly brings you joy? And, then I dare you to go and chase after that happiness because not only will it fulfill you but it will empower you, strengthen your marriage and help you be a better mother.
How do you make sure you are taking care of your own happiness.
Tell me in the comments below.
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Love that article! It was such a leap to quit your job and I applaud you! My goal was to not work during school holidays and weekends a they are for the kids and time passes by too fast. To be able to attend school assemblies and sports days is fantastic and my girls know they are important to me. That is my way of being happy,and money comes in little trickles with some computer work, my website and making haynets for horses.
You are doing such an inspirational job, keep it up, it is great reading your blog!
Mama Munchkin says
You are too sweet Jane. Sounds like you are rockin’ motherhood as well. It does mean the world to our kids when we show up and are present. Couldn’t agree with you more.
Danielle Greco says
Love this post!! I’m so glad I read this just months before we are going to try to start having kiddos. It’ll probably eliminate some mommy guilt for me, so thank you. One of my biggest fears is that I will lose myself when I have kids, and that I won’t be able to blog anymore. Your blog reminds me I can do it all and be happy and an amazing mommy! Thanks for sharing this 🙂
– Danielle Greco
Nicole Hank says
I love this post! I had this same epiphany last year and started my Instagram @FitFoodieFamily because I love to cook but rarely made the time to do it because something had to give when life got crazy, right?!. But after getting back into my passion last year, I realized that I don’t need to give up the things I love, I just needed to re-prioritize. Now I’m expanding my love for cooking and health into a career and I never imagined that it was even possible to make it happen. Your love for travel is contagious, keep up the great blog posts!
Mama Munchkin says
Yes, EXACTLY… it’s all about priorities! So, happy that you figured out a way to keep cooking and so excited to see where it leads you 🙂
Louise @ Travel the Unbeaten Path says
Oh Amber, this is the best thing I’ve read in a while. I learned that one the hard way too, after spending most of my baby’s first year chronically sick from being exhausted and sleep deprived. And gosh, same with my job situation. Having supporting men in our lives is beyond a blessing. I’m so bummed we missed each other out there in AZ, but I hope we do get to sit and grab a cup of coffee some day… with our without our littles 🙂
Mama Munchkin says
Likewise… would love to get together. We are out that way quite often actually so I am positive eventually we will make it happen!!