Motherhood should be about joyful thriving rather than exhaustion and depletion.
As a mother of 2, and one of the most influential and powerful women in the world according to Forbes, Arianna Huffington could easily have become just another depleted, unfulfilled, stressed out personality. Instead, she took the path less traveled, choosing well-being over busy-ness, and introspection over constant stimulation. She shares her findings in the book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
Her lessons can easily be applied to motherhood, an intense period of life where so many women experience both profound joy and fulfillment, but also extreme exhaustion, lack of self-care, and, all too often, depression and negativity. Here are 10 ways moms can learn to thrive.
1. Love trumps to-do lists: We all have a lot to do. Laundry, work, shopping, eating, home improvement, the list goes on. Add to all of it taking care of young children, and 18 hours a day seem like a drop in the ocean in the face of an ever increasing to do list. But none of it will matter 20 years from now, when your children are grown and have flown the nest. At the end of the day, children need to be loved and nourished. That is what makes a significant, positive difference in the world. Anything else isn’t nearly as important.
2. Motherhood and exhaustion aren’t mutually inclusive: While mothers usually don’t get to sleep in and sitting is often a luxury, exhaustion shouldn’t be part of the deal. In fact, it can actually backfire on us, turning us into snappy, impatient, less loving parents. When overtiredness takes over your life, take a step back, and see what can be postponed or eliminated from your routine to allow yourself to rest.
3. Put your oxygen mask on first: Mothers will often cancel doctor’s appointments and spa getaways to take care of the kids. Yes, children come first, but only as long as their parents aren’t falling apart. Everyone needs alone time and self-care. It’s not selfishness, but self-preservation.
4. Don’t be a “mombie”: Many parents spend hours after the kids are in bed scrolling through their Facebook feed in a zombie like state. After all, it’s the only time they have where they are completely alone, and no one tries to snatch the phone from their hands! But social media steals precious hours one could spend sleeping and resting. In the evening, set your devices to airplane mode, and enjoy some well deserved downtime with your eyes closed.
5. Replace your devices with community: Moms are often drawn to social media because they get to interact with other adults. No grown up should spend all her time with small children only. We all need community. Instead of staying cooped up at home, go for adventures at the park, at parent-child classes, and anywhere you’re bound to interact with like minded adults.
6. Read motivating, positive parenting articles: Few things are more motivating than parenting experts who both know what you’re feeling right now, and what you could do to be the best parent you can be. Figure out which are your favorites (mine is Laura Markham, and countless peaceful parenting moms and dads), and regularly check out their blogs, social media pages, and books.
7. Understand that you know your child best: Don’t get gray hair listening to strangers who are much too eager to tell you how you’re messing up your children. You know your kids best! Listen to your gut. If you and your kids and happy breastfeeding into toddlerhood, or sharing a family bed, don’t listen to outsiders who tell you you’re raising entitled little brats.
8. See life through your children’s eyes: Take the time to relax and forget about your worries, and see life through your children’s eyes. Squeal at rainbows, jump in puddles, throw rocks in the pond, and smell the flowers.
9. Learn to enjoy peace and quiet: Children are noisy, all the time, and it’s easy to learn to live with overstimulation. But meditation can do wonders to rewire your brain and teach you to operate with more inner peace and calm. Take time every day to close your eyes and be alone with yourself. Empty your mind, and watch yourself become a more patient, compassionate mom.
10. Give back to mothers in need: When you find a mom who is struggling, offer to help. Watch her child so she can go to her appointments alone. Help her fold laundry while you chat. Bring her a meal.
Thriving is not for high achieving executives, athletes, and celebrities. Moms everywhere can thrive too, and in turn be the parent they know they can be. You can start anytime.
Originally published at medium.com