Survival Kit: Motherhood Edition

This morning, at 12:30 am, my almost-3-month-old decided the best birthday gift he could give me would be waking up to eat just as I had FINALLY turned my brain off and fallen asleep.  He continued to give this amazing gift every hour and a half throughout the night… ya know, just in case I forgot what my reason for living was (obvi it’s to take care of him every single hour of every single day 😉 ).

My toddler continued the theme this morning at 8:30 am by throwing the worlds biggest temper tantrum.  He asked for milk.  I pulled the cup down from the cabinet to give him milk.  He considered this a heinous crime against humanity.

Whether you are a mom who works in or out of your home, we all have this in common:  we struggle some days just to survive.  I don’t mean that we are in danger or death each and every day (although, sometimes with the lack of sleep it may seem that way 😉 ).  But we all have our moments, our breaking points, and maybe even those times when we can’t remember who we are outside of being a mom.  This list is for you mamas!  Let’s lift our cold mugs of stale coffee together and toast to survival!

  • Friends.  I’m not talking about the TV show here (although I’m pretty sure that could be considered an essential as well 😉 ).  We were never meant to live in isolation, but for some reason motherhood can become very isolating.  Find a group of women in your age range, at least some of them should be moms too, and check in with them regularly.  Have a play date, let your other parent  watch the kiddos and go grab coffee, join a bible study.  Whatever your group looks like, finding one is so important.  You need a chance to talk with other grown-ups and feel like an adult again.  To talk about your mom struggles and feel understood (because, let’s face it, dads are not always the best at understanding our mama struggles).
  • Caffeine.  Whether you drink coffee, eat espresso beans, down a 5 hour energy, add an IV of caffeine straight to your system, or add some fizz to your afternoon… this is an ESSENTIAL.  Being up all night with babies, or convincing toddlers to GO TO SLEEP is exhausting.  And then actually doing human-like activities during the day and expected to be a coherent and intelligent being… caffeine is the best way to “fake-it-till-ya-make-it”… and by make it I mean make it to bed finally.
  • Grace.  I’m sure you know by now, but you aren’t perfect.  There are days when you are going to yell, maybe say your favorite swear word more than once, and just overall won’t be the most pleasant person to share a room with.  We have ALL been there and will be there again.  Don’t beat yourself up when these days happen.  Learn from them and move on.  But also, remember that your kids are going to have these days too.  Give them some grace, just like you are given grace every day.  How will they ever understand the Father’s grace and love unless you show it to them first (in your own broken way of course.)
  • Alone Time.  Several times in my life I have been asked what my hobby is.  I never know what to say because “sleep” doesn’t really seem to be the answer they are looking for.  But being home this past year I have begun to understand the importance of having something just for me that I enjoy doing without anyone else.  A place to express myself and let all of the stressful things of the day fall away for a bit.  For me, this is blogging or reading (and on a VERY rare occasion, crafting… but it’s very rare and usually turns out that I’ve wasted money and materials on something that can never be displayed because people might go blind if they saw it.)  If you don’t have something already, find something that you enjoy that you can do to invest in yourself.  It might be painting, writing, crafting, decorating, baking, cooking, anything!  And you don’t have to be an expert at it, just do it!  (Although, if you choose baking or cooking it may be important, for the sake of those around you, if you are some-what skilled.)
  • Goldfish.  No matter what age your child is, these lovely fish-shaped crackers are wonderful little bites of salty heaven that create instant happiness as well as a built in edible toy to keep your child out of your hair for possibly 5 minutes (or more, depending on how quickly they consume these delicious bits of cheesy water-dwellers).  You may even get the chance to use the bathroom by yourself!  I do caution you though, bringing these to any body of water (lake, beach, etc..) will most likely end with your toddler wanting to release the fishies to their natural habitat… before catching them again and eating them soggy.

Being a mother is really awesome, really it truly is.  But when it comes down to the day-to-day and we are bombarded with the stresses of being a grown-up, occasionally it comes down to survival.  We can survive a bit better if we carve out some time to be ourselves and not have our identity completely founded in our children.  Maybe we can do even more than survive?

As a current stay at home mom who is making the transition back to working outside the home in just a month, I would LOVE to hear your advice and tips on how to survive the coming season.  Let me know in the comments, or share how I can help encourage you through whatever season you are walking through right now :).Some days survival is all about eating cookies for breakfast.

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