It’s 4:13 AM. Around the world, mothers are awake.
One rocks a newborn baby, exhausted but too mesmerized by her soft breaths and perfect fingers to put her down; just a few moments more.
One throws sheets and towels into the washing machine while the toddler sings loudly from the bathtub, clearly feeling better now.
One types away at a computer, hoping to meet all her work deadlines before the kids wake up and the day starts all over.
One packs a cooler full of snacks for a sunrise hike, while a teenage boy rolls his eyes as she asks for help, only to moments later laugh at a joke she tells.
One listens to the silence, wishing for just one more day with a full house.
Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It’s for those who are willing to give their whole heart to others. From the most chaotic times you can imagine, to the sweetest moments that bring you to tears, motherhood will serve you it all.
Through the good times, and the bad, you can find ways to love motherhood, and rock at it too.
The challenges of motherhood.
The results are in, and yes, motherhood is HARD. Research shows that it’s harder to be a mother today than it was 20 years ago, and that mothers face more hardships than fathers on the parenting journey.
Talk to mothers around the country, and they will tell you the same story. They feel inadequate, they feel tired, and they wish they had more to give to their kids.
Mothers face all kinds of challenges on their parenting journey. We’re going to outline just a few of the many challenges you may face as a mom. But don’t worry, while there are many challenges, the reality is that all of the trials you face are more than worth it in the end. But knowing what obstacles are common for mothers can help you be prepared to tackle them head on, and overcome them.
For mothers, mental health issues are extremely common and challenging. Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and mood swings are all mental health issues many mothers may face. While the statistics vary, at least half of all mothers experience some kind of baby blues or postpartum depression after giving birth. And one in ten mothers face postpartum depression. These mental health challenges are realities for many women, and add extreme challenges to motherhood.
Ask any mother how they’re feeling and the answer is usually TIRED. Sleep deprivation is extremely common for all mothers, especially new mothers, and can directly impact your abilities to function. Chronic sleep deprivation where you’re unable to make up your sleep debt is common for mothers who are up day and night taking care of their babies, unable to sleep for long stretches. Sleep deprivation leads to anxiety, paranoia, cognitive dysfunction, and more.
Judgment from others.
Most mothers out there feel that they’ve been judged for their parenting at one time or another. Whether it’s by family, friends, or strangers, the judgement is real. Being a mom is hard enough without having to look over your shoulder all the time, worried that someone is watching you and passing judgment. And unfortunately, the judgement is there no matter what you do. Work, don’t work, breastfeed, bottle feed...the list goes on and on.
While many moms feel the judgement of others, sometimes the judgement of themselves is even worse. Commonly called “mom guilt” this anxiety and frustration with your abilities it is extremely prevalent in our society. Social media makes comparing ourselves to other moms easy. The media has given us a skewed idea of what mothers should be able to do. These unrealistic expectations lead many moms to feel that they will never be enough, that they’re not all they “should be,” and that they can’t measure up to other mothers. Depression, anxiety, and over-exertion are just some of the side effects of mom guilt.
Self care and self love.
Becoming a mother changes everything about your life, and especially your body. For moms who give birth to their children, their body spends nine months growing and changing, and getting it back to before the baby isn’t easy. And for all moms, the sleep deprivation, the constant time and attention children require, and the lack of time for yourself can take a huge toll. Self-care and self-love are vital elements of a happy and healthy life, but many moms don’t have the time and energy to give themselves the love they deserve.
While moms want to believe that as kids get older, it gets easier, the reality is that older children are just as hard as young kids. Mothers spend time worrying, losing sleep, and exerting energy to be good parents. Difficult children can be discouraging for mothers and add to their worry and stress. Increasing anxiety and strain on moms results in less effective parenting and more difficult day-to-day lives.
Time for marriage or social life.
Every mother will agree that kids are a full-time job. It’s 24/7, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. This leaves little time for spouses or a social life. Many couples find that their marriage is under stress from lack of attention while they are raising children. And single parents similarly find they have no time for social life or dating, because their children take up the bulk of their time. Kids and their care, work, and family obligations almost always come before caring for a marriage or maintaining a social life.
Working (and not working). To be a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom? The reality is, most mothers face criticism either way. And for working mothers, there’s an intense strain of finding time and energy to devote to career and kids. Striking a balance between being a good employee and a good mom is something that mothers around the country struggle with. And the reality is, nobody gets it right 100% of the time.
Why motherhood is matchless.
So, motherhood is hard. It’s exhausting on your body, your mind, your relationships, and your emotions. If it’s so hard, why do women around the world live for the opportunity?
Maybe it’s the smile your child gives you when they recognize your face.
Or, hearing them say the word “mama” for the first time.
Maybe it’s the “I love you” they whisper as they fall asleep.
Or, seeing yourself in their little face.
Maybe it’s hearing them thank you for sacrificing to help them.
Or, seeing them discover a passion, and follow through with their dreams.
Maybe it’s that they always want to hold your hand at the store.
Or, because they go on and on about how much they love your cookies.
Maybe it’s seeing them ace that test, or score that goal.
Or, because when they are hurt, they cry out for you.
Maybe it’s how they crawl into your bed in the middle of the night, just to snuggle.
Or, how you see so much of yourself in their words and actions.
Maybe it’s because you look over at them on a random Tuesday afternoon, and your heart wants to burst with love for them.
There are millions of reasons women thrive and strive for motherhood. Part of the journey is identifying your “why” for motherhood.
How to rock the hardest job in the world.
Motherhood is tough, but so worth it for so many parents. So how do you get through the tough times, and thrive on the joy of mothering? Here are some helpful suggestions about how to truly ROCK motherhood, the hardest job in the world.
Make time for self-care.
It’s crucial to find ways to make time for self-care, and self-love. This seems like an impossible task, but it’s so important for you to fill your cup, so you can give to your kids.
The reality is, you might have to physically schedule time to take care of yourself. Make it an appointment that you can’t break. Scheduling apps or planners can help you feel more organized, and ensure that you actually keep the date you have, with yourself!
Meditation is a great way to take time to relax, self-evaluate, and find love for yourself. This is a great way to take a little bit of time each day, to remind yourself that you are strong, that your body can do amazing things, and that you don’t have to feel so much stress.
Self-care options vary from exercise, getting enough sleep, reading a book, learning a skill, taking a bath, or practicing a hobby. Find things that help fill you up as an individual. Taking time for things that actually help your body and mind rest or get stronger will help your entire family in the long run. You have to make time to take care of yourself, so you’re empowered to help take care of others.
Speak kindly to yourself.
It’s so easy to be critical and judgmental of ourselves, but they key to self-love and self-care is recognizing the things you do well. Make notes of the things you’re doing well instead of focusing on the things you wish you did better. Create mantras for yourself with hopeful and uplifting talk to help your mind focus on things that are positive.
Stop listening to others and know that you are the best mom your kids can have. It’s so easy to take to heart what other people say about you as a parent. It’s important to listen to the right voices; doctors and experts can help you be a safe and successful parent. But the judgements of other people won’t help you become the best mom that your kids need. Your children need YOU, plain and simple. What you offer them is what they need. It’s easier said than done, but you can actively work to compare less, and find more confidence.
A break from social media may be extremely beneficial as you stop listening to the opinions of other people, and stop comparing yourself to other moms. Focusing in on yourself, instead of scrolling by picture-perfect mothers, will help you find confidence inside.
Surround yourself with friends and family who uplift you.
Finding the right people who can help uplift you as a parent is crucial. The people you trust will help steer you when you need help and advice, and will offer support and love the whole time. Attend activities in your area to find other mothers near you, who can become a part of your group.
Get help when you need it.
There are so many resources out there that can help you feel more confident in your parenting. From sleeping and eating classes, to books, websites, to forums, moms can find many resources that will help. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the options out there, just know that help is simply a Google search away. Being a mother means you’re going to be in situations you haven’t been prepared for. Luckily, there are thousands of other professionals and parents out there who can lend a hand.
Find a babysitter and take time away!
The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is so accurate! As a mom, you need to find a babysitter who can help you get a break to get things done, or just to go on a date or relax. Identifying people who can be there to help you with your kids when you need it is crucial to being successful. Family members are great options for babysitters, trusted neighbors and friends, or a more professional caretaker can all be the help you need.
Find things that make you happy.
As a mom, it can be hard to feel like yourself in the midst of parenting. That’s why it’s crucial to find things you love to do, find things that make you laugh, and enjoy small moments during your busy and crazy day.
Find things that make you laugh.
Maybe it’s hilarious YouTube videos. It could be scrolling through Twitter and finding the perfect meme. Instagram accounts all about mom struggles are sure to make your day feel more lighthearted and fun. These popular mom blogs will make you laugh, and make you feel like you have allies and people who relate to you. Finding ways to laugh amidst the chaos is the key to thriving.
Pursue your hobbies.
Maybe you love photography or gardening. Take time to do things that make you happy, and get your kids involved as well! It will help you create moments you will always remember, and maybe get them interested in some of the things you love. Not sure what your hobby is? There are many online quizzes that can help you evaluate. Or, you can always try out a few things and see what sticks!
Use tools to help you remember good times.
Some days, being a parent is all bad. It feels like nothing good is going to happen, and you can’t wait for the kids to go to bed. Document the good days, and some of the bad days too, because before you know it the time will be gone. Keeping a record of your family will help you find happiness today, and in the future.
Chatbooks is a great and simple way for you to keep track of pictures of your family. By connecting to your social media, a simple tap can help you organize and order a photo book. It will also help you be encouraged to take more photos of your kids!
Promptly journals allow you to document the important moments for each of your kids, starting before they are born. With prompts, questions, and spots for photos, you have options to keep track of your children as they grow.
Sometimes it feels like it’s too much, and you may wonder why you decided to do it at all. But one look, one smile, one hug, can make every hard day worth it. Being a mother is finding strength you never imagined you had. It’s feeling love for someone that is deeper than anything else you’ve ever known. It’s long days and longer nights that somehow...fill you up—
Credit for this beautiful article goes to Maddy Low, a young mother, fabulous writer, and overall pretty rad lady.