Parenting children may be holy work but it can also sometimes feel far from enjoyable. In this article, seasoned mom Cindy Singleton shares 15 tips for enjoying motherhood to help us shift our perspective and embrace our calling as a mom, no matter what season of parenting we find ourselves in.
Am I the only woman in the whole world who’s not enjoying motherhood?”
I asked that question countless times while my three daughters were young. When my newborn was difficult, every time my strong-willed preschooler fought me for her independence, and when my teenager pushed every hot button I didn’t know I had, motherhood seemed far from enjoyable.
Being a mom is exhilarating and rewarding, but it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. As any experienced mother will tell you, it’s hard being a mom. Fighting for the hearts of my children was worth every battle scar, but the struggle it required was exhausting. At times, an endless array of disappointments, frustrations, and anxieties made enjoying motherhood feel impossible.
I’ve been out of the parenting trenches for years now, and today I spend time encouraging my three delightful daughters as they raise kids of their own. One of the first things I tell them is this:
“If you’re not enjoying motherhood, don’t be too hard on yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids. You may just need a few tips to help shift your perspective while you fulfill this important and rewarding role.”
15 TIPS FOR ENJOYING MOTHERHOOD
1. Be Present
Moms are busy; that’s a fact. So multitasking and over-committing are natural—and even helpful. But our ability to do a million things at once becomes dangerous if it keeps us from stopping long enough to engage with our kids. Granted, there’s only so much time in a day, but our children deserve the best of us, not what’s left over. Over time disengaged parents produce frustrated children, and frustrated children almost guarantee we won’t enjoy motherhood.
Everyone knows mindlessly scrolling on our phones while our children vie for our attention is not only inconsiderate, but potentially harmful to our long-term relationships with them. But half-listening to our kids while we think about what to cook for supper is just as dangerous. In both cases we are disengaged, and we’re robbing our children of the kind of focused energy that tells them they matter.
I love motherhood, but I have to confess my enjoyment as a mom soared when I made the decision to be present. First, I chose to say no to too many outside commitments, and then I decided to tune in when my children tried to engage with me. Being ‘in the moment’ gave my children the message they were important to me, and they responded favorably.
Engaging with your children is a basic relationship tool that’s easy to neglect. As moms, we have so much on our plates that stopping to look our children in the eyes when they talk to us―and then actually listening to them―can feel like an impossibility. Do it anyway. The rewards will be rich and lasting.
2. Appreciate the Gifts of Each Season
Every stage of parenting has its share of highs and lows. Infancy is filled with sleep deprivation, but who doesn’t love cradling a soft, sweet-smelling baby? The unending questions of a preschooler are exhausting, yet nothing is as precious as a small child’s innocence and trust. Teenagers may be challenging, but they can be our best teachers when they make us reach for black-and-white answers, examine our hypocrisy, and demand real answers for why we believe what we believe.
In every season of a child’s life—even the difficult ones―there are gifts to be found if we look for them. We won’t enjoy every moment, but enjoying motherhood is easier when we focus on the goodness of each season.
3. Remember You’re Building a Friendship
Day-to-day-monotony can steal the joy of even the most devoted mom. When my daughters were young, some days I felt I couldn’t bear to prepare one more meal, chauffeur one more carload of kids, or break up one more sibling squabble. What I couldn’t see then―but appears crystal clear now―is that our everyday-ness was rich with purpose. It built a strong foundation for the deep and delightful friendships my grown daughters and I share today.
Some parenting rewards are evident while your children are still young, while others are reserved for later. That’s worth remembering when you’re digging deep to find the energy to keep on keeping on. On any given day, in the midst of everyday stuff, there’s something happening beneath the surface that can’t be seen. Friendships are being born that will flourish and bring you joy for years to come.
4. Stop Trying to Be the Perfect Mom
One of the stumbling blocks I faced in my quest to enjoy motherhood was comparing myself to other moms. I was constantly trying to morph into an image of the perfect mom that existed only in my mind. In retrospect, I should have invested all that wasted energy into just being me.
Today, social media plays a huge role in convincing moms they’re not good enough. That’s one reason so many moms never fully enjoy motherhood. They’re chasing after images that are nothing more than illusions, convincing themselves they’re simply not good enough. If you’ve measured yourself up to an image and labeled yourself hopeless, you’re probably not enjoying motherhood.
What I wish I’d known as a young mom is that even though I wasn’t perfect, I was good enough. Good enough to be myself. So what if I wasn’t as smart, cool, pretty, or fun as the ‘other moms’? My kids didn’t care. They didn’t even notice. They just wanted their mom.
Let go of the image in your mind that whispers you’re not good enough. Stop trying to be someone else’s version of the perfect mom. Accept who you are and set out to be the best mom you can be. That will set you well on your way to enjoying and embracing motherhood.
5. Embrace the Season You’re In
I can’t wait for my baby to sit up.
That’s where the longing for tomorrow begins, and our wishful thinking can be difficult to stop. I wish my child would hurry and be more independent. Will these teenage years ever end?
Enjoying motherhood is easier when we quit hurrying the next season. Your child will be 7 only once, and a teenager in your home for a brief season. So don’t forget to delight in the joys of being a mom right where you are, and then as the season changes, move forward.
6. Don’t Let a Bad Moment Define Your Journey
It’s hard being a mom, and some moments―or even days, weeks, or months―are especially hard. Considering the disappointments, unpredictability, and anxieties we face as parents, it’s no wonder we blow it. At one time or another, we all do. We say or do things we regret and immediately worry that we’ve turned into a parenting failure.
Enjoying parenthood requires keeping things in perspective. In other words, don’t take yourself too seriously. When a bad moment happens, remember that’s what it was—a moment in time, not a trajectory. Resign to do better, ask forgiveness if you need to, and let the bad moment go. Then start over and anticipate a better day.
7. Don’t Resent the Cost
It’s not unusual for moms to feel the brunt of parenting falls on them. For example, my husband was a great dad, but he didn’t pack our babies’ diaper bags before outings, make sure homework was done, or stay up late to wash soccer uniforms. No matter how helpful he tried to be, he didn’t carry the weight of day-to-day parenting details.
Enjoying motherhood is easier when you own the imbalance. If it costs you more, embrace your role and set out to do it well. Be all in—sans the victim stance—and you’ll be a happier mom.
8. Discover What You Shine in and Be Okay With it
Do PTO fundraisers make you giddy with excitement? Can you cook a masterful grilled cheese? Great! Stake your place in the Mom Hall of Fame and don’t waste another minute fretting over what you’re not good at. None of us can be superior at everything, but we can all be good at something. Enjoy your motherhood by taking delight in what you have to offer.
9. Look For Ways to Say Yes
Moms have countless good reasons to say no to their children’s requests. But finding ways to say yes―especially when “no” is the expected response―is a simple way to help you love being a mom. Find opportunities to give a surprising “yes” answer and watch your enjoyment level rise.
10. See Motherhood as an Opportunity to Re-create Your Own Childhood or Create a New One
My teenage years were tumultuous, so as a young mom I naturally worried about what my own daughters would be like as teenagers. But instead of dreading the future, I chose to take the reins and chart a new path for our family. As a result, not only did our home become a hangout for my daughters’ teen friends, but my girls’ junior high and high school years were some of the most delightful of my life.
If you’re fortunate enough to have happy childhood memories, motherhood provides an opportunity to re-create them for your family. On the other hand, if your childhood was less than desirable, being a mom gives you the privilege of creating for your children what you wish you’d experienced as a child. Either way, be intentional about laying the groundwork for making memories you and your children will cherish for the rest of your lives. The joy those memories will bring is worth every bit of effort it takes to create them now.
11. Remember No One Can Take Your Place
No one else can touch the heart of your child the way you can. No one else’s presence will yield the same influence. When the days are mundane or especially challenging, it’s worth noting that you have a holy calling to fill in your child’s life. Your fulfillment of that calling will eventually determine how much you enjoy motherhood as a mom with grown children.
12. Think of Ways to Have Fun
If you want to enjoy motherhood, create your own fun! You don’t have to have a lot of money. Our family vacations were a blast, but some of my daughters’ favorite memories include family game nights, movie nights on the couch with popcorn, and, when my girls were younger, picnics in the front yard. The internet is filled with ideas, so it’s easy to create moments that will bring you joy.
13. Get Enough Rest
Motherhood is exhausting. Constantly tending to the needs of others takes a lot of physical and emotional energy. For that reason, when my grandchildren were small, I always advised my daughters to nap right along with their little ones. When their kids were older, I encouraged them to take personal days from work or simplify dinner plans so they could get to bed earlier. Getting enough rest is not only good for your physical well-being, but it will go a long way toward helping you enjoy being a mom.
14. Accept Your Kids For Who They Are
No one else in the world is exactly like your child. You can’t borrow someone else’s DNA or squeeze your child into the mold of your friends’ kids. So rather than wishing your kids were more like someone else’s, help them be the best version of who they were created to be. You’ll enjoy them more, and they’ll appreciate having you as their mom.
Life is filled with disappointments, so sprinkle in as many celebrations as you can! Did your daughter bring home a great report card? Celebrate! Did your son get his first hit at bat? Celebrate! Hang pink and red banners for Valentine’s Day, wear patriotic colors on the Fourth of July, and make a big deal out of birthdays. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. The dollar store is a great supplier of inexpensive banners, party plates, and balloons. Your kids won’t remember the party supplies, but they’ll remember the fun you had celebrating life events.
Enjoying motherhood is more than happenstance. It takes thoughtfulness, intentionality, and a little ingenuity to create the kind of mothering journey that will delight you not only while your children are young, but long after they’re grown too. There’s no effort more worthwhile or rewarding than embracing your role as a mom and squeezing all the joy you can out of it.
Which of Cindy’s tips resonated most with you? How might you start to take steps toward enjoying and celebrating the little—even mundane—moments of motherhood? Share your own thoughts and ideas below!
15 SIMPLE WAYS TO ADD JOY TO YOUR DAY IN LESS THAN AN HOUR
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