Motherhood is messy, imperfect, beautiful, hard work and yet still the greatest gift we will ever have in life. There is so much pressure on mums in the world we currently live in to be superwoman and do it all, to juggle and multi-task and put on an image that they can cope and that they are ok.
But motherhood is about so much more than a perfect, filtered capture.
Motherhood has taught me so much, especially in these last two years since our twin boys were born. When we found out we were having twins in 2017 it felt a bit like a bomb had gone off in our world. After years of trying for a 2nd child and multiple miscarriages we never expected to be told at our 12 week scan that our baby also had a friend in there too! Obviously we were delighted and giggled through the scan but we were also anxious, scared and to be honest we wondered how on earth we would cope and get through it.
Becoming a mother of three (including twins!), has been life changing for me and of course for the whole of our family. For the better of course and I love our journey and the family we have created more than anything, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy. Juggling toddler twins, three children, work, family and friends is not easy and throw in two years of bad sleep (twins love to tag team in the night!), it can lead to irritable parents, complete chaos and very little time for us as a couple.
My husband used to often say I had this little voice in my head telling me to be everything to everyone! How true this is for most mothers. The voice that tells you to be a good mum, and that you aren’t doing or being enough to your kids, hubby, family, work and friends. As I’m sure many of you will fully relate as mothers we are constantly pulled in so many different directions it can be hard to know what to focus on first and the pressure we put ourselves under is immense.
However, I have learnt to let go so much more, that many things will have to wait, that I certainly can’t do it all (crazily and at the expense of my own energy levels I used to think I could!!) but mostly I have had to prioritise my family these last two years, in order to keep a happy home as well as a happy mummy. For this I am truly grateful. Hallelujah, I have finally accepted I am not superwoman.
Finding the time to look after myself is now non negotiable (this often means that other things have had to give, mostly housework!!), and I have had to slow down and do what is right for my whole family as well as myself, and not do what I think I should be doing or what everyone else might be doing. I have learnt how to ask for help or even accept the help that has been offered to me but also most importantly I have learnt how to be kind to myself. Both in my actions and also in the way I talk to myself. My whole family has benefitted from this! I realise that to have a happy home something often has to give and I am at peace with that.
In a sense this feels like a strange blog post to write in a way as surely society tells us that as mothers we should all automatically be happy. And yes of course, most of us are happy as our children are our greatest blessing and happiness in life. BUT, there are many struggles and sacrifices that come with family life and motherhood, which can at time be a constant challenge and juggle. Yes we have everything we have ever dreamed of in our perfectly imperfect little family and this is the image we often want to show to everyone else, but sometimes happiness is a work in progress and doesn’t come automatically just because society tells us it should.
Finding happiness in motherhood often takes time and can be one of our biggest lessons in life.
Expectations from society as a whole can often leave so many mothers feeling that they have an image they need to maintain, and I know I have often felt the pressure (mostly from myself probably) to put on my mask and face the world as I feel the pressure to keep up appearances. Mum guilt is far too common now and I know so many mothers (this includes me) often feel as if they fall short of being the perfect mum. I have often felt that I am not doing or being enough, but I know I am so much happier for learning to let go of so much as well.
The perfect lives that we so often see in the media/social media and on TV and magazines only adds to the pressure to keep up with what we feel society expects from us, and the race to keep up with the ‘busy’ life everyone now leads can often only lead us to feel we are failing and it very often leaves little space for us to truly love or find any time and kindness for ourselves. This can be completely overwhelming and exhausting at times, or at least I have certain found myself feeling this way at times.
I have come to terms with the fact that Motherhood isn’t perfect, that it is ok to slow down, for work to take a back seat and to do things at my own pace, to not worry about what others think and to really to value myself enough to give myself the time I need to recharge my batteries and truly love myself. I now recognize that if I am not filling my cup and boosting my vitality then ultimately life is much harder for me, and ultimately then my family.
You are also worthy of the love you shower on your children. A mother who looks after herself and her needs, who nourishes herself, who takes care of herself and who feeds herself with love, is a mother who is happy. This is the best thing you can do for you and your family!
A mother who is happy, creates a happy and healthy home for the rest of her family.
Your children won’t remember the piles of washing up, the washing in the basket or the toys on the floor but they will remember the memories of the time you have together and how you make them feel. I now try and make it a conscious choice sometimes to choose them instead of my never ending to do list.
This has been one of life’s biggest adventures and journey’s for me, and despite being the biggest surprise, having a large family has brought me more happiness than I had ever dreamed of. I hope that by sharing my experiences with you today, it will help you realise that you are not alone in your struggles and that it will help you to find your happiness in motherhood too.
1.) Slowing down
Having three children has taught me to slow down in life. To really appreciate the simple pleasures and the little moments and this has created the biggest shift for me in how I enjoy my days. I have had to put the brakes on life a little, realise that I really can’t do it all any more, and for this I am certainly happier. Some things now just have to wait and I am ok with that, it isn’t forever and as with anything in family life my priorities are always shifting a little.
It wasn’t an easy journey to adopt this mindset however. At the start I felt like I was failing in some way being at home so much, that my babies weren’t going out for more than a walk or to the park, that my daughter was missing out, work was taking a back seat, and I missed out on social occasions and I felt that at times that life was passing me by. The world can feel a daunting place with young twins in tow, which can feel quite isolating and lonely, and I have definitely felt this overwhelming emotion at times so slowing down naturally felt like the right thing to do. I would reach out to friends and family but in a way that I found manageable.
What I realise now is that my gut feeling to do things my way has been right for us, and my kids got a happier and as a result more loving mum. I have learnt to step back from the many expectations that I have placed on myself (as well as society!) and work out what I really want/need from family life. It doesn’t mean I never have melt downs or find some days so hard that I end in tears but life has certainly felt more manageable and therefore more enjoyable for our whole family.
Do what you and your family need and stick to that, you won’t regret it.
2.) Let the mask down.
I am very fortunate that I haven’t suffered from post-natal depression but there are still the dark days, the days I have hidden behind my happy mask and then had a cry when I got back home. I think sometimes for me this was a necessity, not always to put on a front to others, but more so that if I keep saying I am ok then I will really start to feel that I am. I have felt an overwhelming pressure to not fall apart and to hold it together for my three little people (and my husband of course!) that all rely on me.
What would happen if I fall apart? Who would get everything done? How would I cope? I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing husband, family and good friends but this is a huge pressure on any mum trying to hold it all together. It helped me to share how I feel and my husband and I could do certain things to make my experience easier but no one could take away these feelings completely.
I went on a Kundalini Yoga retreat in Ibiza in Easter this year with the most beautiful group of women, which was a truly life-changing experience for me. I did fall apart, but I learnt that I could be open and honest about my feelings and life experiences without judgement, only love. I learnt to trust that it was ok to be honest and I spoke about my experiences with multiple miscarriage, motherhood, being a mother of three, how the grief I felt after the death of my younger brother affected me as well some of my own health concerns with burnout and adrenal fatigue a number of years back. The next morning one of the ladies on the retreat, who is now a good friend, came down to breakfast and out of no where told me ‘I deserve a f***ing medal’ for everything I have been through. I cried. I had honestly never thought about myself in that way but it felt so good to congratulate myself for what I had been through and how far I had come.
Share how you feel, ask for help when you need it and realise you can still have days where you struggle but this doesn’t mean you are failing! I have learnt that most days something has to give but that thing is very rarely me any more, which leads me on to my final key to happiness in Motherhood. Self-love.
3.) Self love.
Self-love: a Mama’s secret weapon! This is probably my most important step to happiness in Motherhood.
As mothers we are hard-wired to believe that to be a ‘good’ mother we should only think of our children. That our families come first and our role as mother should be all the fulfilment we need. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Neglecting your own needs to focus on being a ‘good’ mother will very rarely work!
Feed yourself up on love and self care by addressing your own needs so that you don’t end up being a mother on a short fuse, or one who will get easily frustrated or burn out on a regular basis and have little to give at the end of the day, to herself, her partner or even her kids.
What works is learning to love yourself. To take that unconditional and abundant love that you pour into your children and turn it in on yourself too.
Self-love for me is about me learning not to beat myself up for the things I haven’t done and instead celebrate what I have done! This is still a work in progress for me, but it means allowing myself to eat a bar of Green & Black’s Ginger Chocolate instead of a workout after a week of sleepless nights. To allow myself a nap at lunch time and learning to realise that life is all about balance, not just health and fitness (although this is still important to me). I have also learnt to realise that self-love is about how I talk to myself as well as the time I take out for myself, choosing to be kind instead of putting pressure on myself to be someone I am not. Realising that my children are happiest with the simple pleasures and not some of the things I think or imagine they should be doing.
I could go on but always remember a healthy and happy mum = healthy and happy children!
It can be hard after many years to remember what makes you happy but start by taking 5 minutes a day to do something for YOU. It might be to eat a nourishing breakfast, sit down with a cuppa, call a friend, meditate, stretch, exercise, read a book or just sit and do nothing!
I hope this helps you or anyone close to you and if you would like to get in touch with any questions I would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org
You are not alone in this motherhood. Let’s all hold each other up and help each other along the way.
Sending so much love to you all, Laura xx
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