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 an issue of 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 unapologetically joyful. Most of those memories happened when I was a kid- because kids really get life. It's true, they are solely focused on their own happiness I mean stick a kid in a room with an empty box and you can watch the magic unfold right in front of your very own eyes.
So, what better version of myself to look back on the as a child. I realized I was happiest when I was traveling, 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" me. But, its true. That was my decision and it was exactly what I needed.
I started a travel blog, began jet-setting off to uncharted new lands, some with my family and a few trips all alone. I dismissed the comments from friends and family doubting my sanity. Asking how I could leave my poor husband with all five of our kids. What they didn't realize is that I married a saint who supported me and was thrilled to know that his wife was on a mission to find her happy again. They also had no idea how empty I was inside nor how badly I needed to make changes for my own personal health. I needed to fill my passion bucket back up!
Over the course of about a year and a half I began re-discovering the things that brought me the most joy. I vowed to honor them, to not lose sight of them even in the midst of rearing a troop full of children and this decision helped not only make me a happy mom, but also a better wife and more fulfilled human too.
Part of this story first appeared on Amber's blog GlobalMunchkins.com.