It happens to all of us as moms at one point or another. We have moments, days, weeks, months, and some of us even years where we feel empty as moms. We stop feeling like our old selves. It can cause us to feel lonely, stressed, frazzled or even depressed.
But we don’t talk about it much do we? We kind of just keep moving along and doing the next thing. And there’s nothing wrong with doing the next thing. Things need to get done, absolutely. But what about if we want more? What if we want to stop feeling empty and start feeling full? Overflowing even?
Once a week my sweet husband watches the kids for me until mid afternoon so I can get a break from “being mom”. Not that I don’t LOVE being mom, but I am other things too. I’m a child of God, a friend, just a human being. I have likes outside of motherhood and things I enjoy doing. The problem is, on these days where I get time off, I find myself not wanting to go. I feel bad for leaving for alone time and often I will say, “I’ll stay here and be with you guys”. After all, when my husband is around, I feel so much less stress with holding it all together and I usually just want to be with him and the boys.
So what happens is, I’ll turn down my free time for more family time. What seems to be the less selfish choice in the moment. The day goes great and I am happy I chose family time. But in a couple days, something happens. I turn into MONSTER MOMMY. The dinosaur lady that has no kind words for anyone, is stressed out of her mind, and “just needs a break!” All because of my “no, I don’t need alone time ever” mentality.
A couple weeks ago, it was time for me to go enjoy some time off and there I was, saying the same old thing. “I think I’ll just stay here Babe, I’d rather be with you guys anyway.” And that’s when my husband said something that has stuck with me. He said, “You are constantly pouring out babe. Even when you don’t realize it, you are giving and serving the kids. They are draining you and you need to be poured back into. You NEED this time.”
This has really opened my eyes. I never really thought of it like that. I mean, sure I know being a mom of littles is a lot of work but I didn’t really think about it the way he explained it. As moms, we are a glass that’s constantly pouring out. If we don’t fill that glass back up, we go empty. And there is NOTHING good left to give.
So, how do we fill up? After all, we can’t just stop our responsibilities. These little people have needs and they aren’t going to just magically go away. Well as I have thought about it, I’ve landed on a couple things, essential things, that fill us up as moms. Things that are pretty much non-negotiables if we want to be not only “not empty” but full-to-the-brim moms.
We need Jesus. We NEED Him. When I’m extra cranky and find myself striving and anxious and frustrated and all the yucky things, it’s usually because I haven’t spent time with Jesus. Do you need to wake up at 5am every day and spend 2 hours in the word with a perfectly styled latte and cute pajamas on like all the instagram photos you see? I don’t think so. I think your time with Jesus needs to look like your time with Jesus. Maybe it does include a pretty latte, cute pajamas and waking up at 5am. Maybe one of those. Maybe none. But I know that you do need to spend time with Him. Jesus HIMSELF got alone and made time to spend in prayer. How much more do we need to be setting time aside to seek Him in our days? I know for me, my time with Jesus has looked very differently depending on my season. He doesn’t care how we come to Him, He just cares that we come to Him.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
Has showering become optional? (LOL!) It may be time for a self-care checkup. This isn’t a plea for more vanity. This isn’t me saying you’re not a “full-to-the-brim mom” if you’re not perfectly dressed and put together.
What I am saying is, just like your littles need to be taken care of, so do you. And last time I checked since becoming an adult, no one’s checking up on me to see how well I’m taking care of myself. It’s our job to make sure we are getting proper nutrition, rest and basic hygiene. Be your own mom sometimes. Do you need a nap? A haircut? Clothes that fit? Maybe you’re not the same size you were pre-kids and so you are holding off on a new pair of jeans until you “lose the baby weight”. Let it go mama. Let it go. Don’t punish yourself by wearing clothes that don’t fit or make you feel bad about yourself because you haven’t reached your goals. Get yourself something that fits you in this very moment, in the beautiful baby-bearing body you have right now.
Just like properly fitting clothes, sometimes a shower can brighten our mood in a way we wouldn’t expect. Sometimes a haircut can cut off that dull feeling we are carrying and lift our spirits. They are little things with a big impact and oh so worth it! When we feel like we are putting our best foot forward, it shows! I know I enjoy my day much more when I get ready and put something on that is clean and is not pajamas. I was laughing with a friend the other day that pre-kids my goal was to “look good”, now it’s more that I just want to look clean, lol! How things change. I think a somewhere between good and clean is a great place to land. No one is expecting you to look like a model while you do mommyhood but I think it says something when we take the time to show how seriously we take our calling as moms. That we show it’s a privilege and a joy outwardly and not just inwardly.
3. Alone time
I know what you’re thinking. “What is alone time? I haven’t had alone time in years!” I totally get it. But sometimes I wonder if we don’t have it because it’s truly not an option or if we don’t have it because we don’t ask for it.
If your problem is that it’s truly not an option for you, I would suggest getting creative. Can you put on a 20 minute show for the kids while you go in your room and have a cup of coffee by yourself? Can you put the kids to bed earlier and get some alone time in that way? Alone time is essential for us but also important for our kids! It’s good for them to have some alone time too (not talking about a newborn here or those with special exceptions). Give them a book or a toy and a quiet spot and train them to spend at least a little time alone and learning to entertain themselves. You don’t have to be the entertainment 24/7, believe me, they will be just fine!
If your hurdle is that you don’t ask for it, ask for it! Ask your husband, a friend, a grandma, hire a sitter. Whatever it takes. The investment may seem like it won’t be worth it but trust me, it keeps Monster Mommy at bay ;)
So those are my suggestions if you find yourself empty today. I pray they encourage you! If you are feeling depressed or just need encouragement, please reach out to a friend or send me an email through the contact page, I would love to encourage you mama. We are in this together!
Here’s to being full-to-the-brim mamas!