The key to being a happy mother.

Ok I so I don’t actually know what one thing is key to making a mother happy. I am inclined to think it is probably different for every single one.

But for me, its frame of mind.

While we all love and adore the little humans we grew within our own bodies, treasure them, and think they are perfect, it is sometimes easy to fall into the ‘what about me?’ habit.

To be happier sometimes we need to ‘forget about me.’

Not forever just just ‘for now.’

Theres this thing that happens when we have kids, where people used to care about how WE are, if WE are happy, if WE are receiving enough attention, care and love. But the very minute a baby is born there is a switch. People begin to think things like ‘stop complaining’ ‘you’re so slefish’ ‘get over it’ and ‘toughen up’ when we make mention of OUR sleepless nights, OUR boredom, OUR pains over a teething child, and OUR lack of happiness.

And after all, you’ve got a beautiful child, why would’nt you be happy???

And it isn’t that you’re not happy with your child, it’s your unhappy with the switch. And really its not something you ever thought about pre-child. The change from once being the ‘important’one. I think it happens to all of us at varying levels, depending on how we were before pregnancy and babies.

So frame of mind.

My way of thinking is that ‘YES I AM VERY IMPORTANT.’

BUT…….

I must act like I am not.

Think – important.

Act- unimportant.

So what does that mean and how does it work? Well….My actions must put my children’s needs before my own. THEY need food, THEY need sleep. THEY need entertainment-maybe not need, but everything goes smoother when they’re happy, so…… yes ‘need.’- I cut out all thoughts of ‘I don’t want to right now.’

For example, I may be totally exhausted and tired, just dozed off to sleep and then all of a sudden you hear that ‘Mum?…Mummy……’ (you know the one…) I USED to think ‘omg, really?…why now?…’and get that frustrated feeling, slowly drag myself out of bed, stumble to the ‘noisy’ one and hurry to get them back to sleep. Now I don’t allow myself to think those things. I get up, see to my kids, give them an extra hug, ask if they’d like a drink….get back into bed and try again. There will always be time.

I can sleep tomorrow. Or the day after that. My baby needs me and what’s more important than that? I eventually get some sleep, it will happen and I need not frustrate myself now. Carrying frustration around on your shoulders is a very heavy burden to bear and tends to lead to resentment. And it just goes downhill from there. I may not want to get up up each morning and would love to sleep in, BUT I am needed. So I hop up, make the toast, grab a coffee and chat quietly with my kids while I try to wake up.

The way we THINK is a massive part of how we ACT.

Something my father used to tell me when I was younger was that “No child chose to be here. The parents chose that. Your child owes you nothing and YOU owe your child everything.” I’m not talking about clothes and toys either. But time, attention and love.

He also used to say “you must drop everything if your kids need you. Listen to them now. Not later.”

And my grandmother used to say “With every child you have, you become less important. Your are not first anymore, you come second after your first, third after your second….” and so on.

I’m pretty far down our food chain as I’ve found that husbands and partners tend to be somewhere around first too. Over time I’ve kind of blended those little bits of information into my own version.

Dinner time for us is the best way for me to describe it. I dish out dinner for all my kids first. Then Glen and then I serve myself what ever is left. I take the plates to the table in the same order as well. Molly and Violet get their plates and drink of water first, then Sophie and Bella, then Glen. I will then take my plate to the table and feed Buddy who sits in his chair next to me. If I have to wait until he’s done to get my first mouthful….so be it.

So literally I am at the bottom of our food chain. The ACT of making sure all my children are happy and fed is me putting them first. Making sure I ate at all is THINKING that I am important…. that last sentence is quite depressing! Just know it wasn’t meant to sound like that!! I mean that I am important and need food too, but my children are first priority. I am priority, just not ‘up there’ on the list…did I just make it worse?

Anywho….

Every child born has needs. LOTS of them. We do become second the moment we have a baby, we are just that little bit less important. Our baby needs us in every way shape and form. We are their very life force, without us they could not and would not survive. Which in turn makes us VERY important.

THINK like that. WE are so desperately important to our child’s very life that we must sometimes put ourselves first, in order to be the best possible mother for THEM. Perhaps not first but to squish right in there, make a tad bit of room and fight for our right to be ‘looked after’ too. WE must get some sleep in oder to perform properly day in day out. WE must eat right and healthy to last as long as possible for the welfare of our kids. WE must get some time to ourselves to recuperate and breathe and get a bit of happiness. Happiness that comes from being a PERSON not just a parent.

You also need to know which of your rights are worth fighting for. I commented on a friend’s status last night which got me thinking for ages. Last year I made the decision to stop watching neighbours.

I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you think about the fact that I’ve been watching it since I was a breast-fed bub on the lounge with my mum, and that I loved Carl and Susan like they were my imaginary adopted parents…well you see that I LOVED the show, it was like a part of my life. A daily thing I committed myself to, a ritual.

Plus it is the only thing I ever watched on tv….

The stress and frustration it caused me calling out ‘SHHHHH, be quiet for just a minute!….What did they just say? Wait until the adds to talk. No I’m not getting you a drink this very second, just wait two secs….” got unbearable…..I began thinking things like “How come I can’t just watch this ONE half hour show? Do I really ask for a lot? Just leave me alone for 5 seconds!!! What about ME???” I was cranky and annoyed and upset that I was so unimportant.

So I gave up neighbours.

And I actually don’t mind as much as I thought I would. A tv show was not really in the scheme of things, important, it didn’t help me be a better mother (I’m telling myself that…)It just wasn’t worth fighting for.

On the other hand…my weekly ‘time out’ IS so worth fighting for. If I didn’t physically pick up the car keys, hand bag and start heading for the door, I doubt Glen would ‘suggest’ that I go out for a couple of hours alone. It isn’t something I would even THINK about giving up for the sake of my mind frame.

Thats MY time and I’m keeping it. It is important to me, and it is important to the way I parent. It may only be a couple of hours but I come back having MISSED my kids, feeling fresh and renewed and ready for another week.

I don’t always get this time EVERY week, but I know I haven’t fought hard enough if I miss out on it. I’ve also learned that I can MAKE time for myself. I make sure my kids are all snuggled up and sleeping by quarter to 8 at the latest. The ACT of having a good bed time is vital to their behaviour the next day and is good for them in general. But it also means that I get some quiet time each night. I THINK that’s good for me too, my time.

Having a good routine is good for them, but also makes my job a whole lot easier.

So THINK important. ACT unimportant.

Our kids must always come first. Above all else it is our responsiblity to care and love and nurture them. They are ours and they do NEED us. We must ACT like they do.

We’re big and ugly enough to look after ourselves now, our parents did they best they could with us and now it is our turn to be there for our children.

One day they will be grown and probably not want any interference from us at all. We’ll be the ones banging on their doors to let us in, the ones HOPING they’ll interrupt our favorite shows with a mere phone call. We will beg they let THEIR own children stay with us so we can now ‘appreciate’ all the things we may not have with our own.

One day we won’t be ‘needed’ so let’s make the most of it.

Hug your baby 5 minutes longer; your bladder control will be better.

Read just one more story; 10 minutes less sleep can’t kill.

Stare at your sleeping angel just a moment more; your tummy can’t growl any louder.

Skip neighbours just one more night because laughing with your kids is better than hushing them.

Well it’s helped make me a happier mum.

What makes you happy???

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