I don’t know about you mamas, but I feel like I swing between two states of being. In the first, I’m in the middle of the ocean, riding life’s wild waves on my paddle board completely in charge of where I’m going, soaking in every moment with gratitude and courage. But suddenly, I’m in the second. This state of being is commonly referred to as a “funk." When I am here, I am still in the middle of the ocean. But this time, I’m just floating along without a board, a paddle or a clear sense of direction, which makes me prone to predators in the sea.
In neither state am I drowning, which is good. I think drowning would be depression — and I don’t think I’ve been there. However, just breaking out of a funk is so, so hard. Motherhood is a constant state of chaos. It’s easy to start floating along in survival mode, and in the beginning it even feels good. A little bit of “eff it” can go a long way for a mother’s sanity. However, once you get stuck in a constant state of “eff it” you start losing your grip on life. You start noticing that things aren’t going the way you wished. You (or at least I) become more prone to poor food choices, lazy parenting habits and tend to get behind on the basics.
Once you are behind, there is this sense that you have to fix it all. You have to pick a day and start eating 100% all organic while adding in a workout, discontinuing yelling and iPads while scrubbing the baseboards and dusting the blinds. This list can be so overwhelming that you lay your head back into float position, and just keep floating. I’ve done that a time or two. It’s easier here, when I’m just floating. But, it is not happier.
I feel happiest, and can achieve way way more when I’m on my board. I’m happy to tell you that when you fall off — when life gets too crazy, when “extra” things are going on beyond the ordinary chaos, when the monotony of the routine gets the best of you — you can still make progress. In the midst of chaos, you can move toward a happier, more fulfilled you. Even when you’re behind. Even when things are not going as planned. Even when you don’t have one waking second of alone time. When I sense my life getting out of balance now, I try (not always successfully) to redirect before I end up completely off my board without a paddle.
One stroke in the right direction makes all the change in the world. If you want to eat healthier – start with breakfast. Make it your goal to just eat a healthy breakfast each day for the next week. Or if you’re like me and you’re struggling to get your workouts in, do what I did this morning and make your goal just to get up and dressed for a workout. (I ended up doing the workout because what else does one do dressed for a workout at 5:15 am??). Or cut ONE bad habit out of your life. SMALL goals, even teensy-tiny goals lead to small actions, and small actions lead to really big change.
Instead of trying to get back on your board and paddle to shore all in a day, just start swimming. That’s really how this blog started anyway. I have lots of book ideas, and a few half-written drafts. The idea of a book was so cumbersome I never finished one, so I decided to just start writing. Here and now, the quick stuff. Take an hour a week (or lately, month) and write something. ANYTHING.
Those small steps will turn into bigger ones over time. And in the meantime they will make you feel powerful, returning your sense of “you-ness” and your belief that you can do anything you put your mind to.
Megan Brammeier is a mom of 3, advertising creative director and aspiring children's book author who shares humble ramblings of parenthood on her blog, Please Bring Coffee.