How to enjoy motherhood now!

Today, I want to talk about Joy in motherhood. 

I want to talk about to find your joy, how to find fulfillment on your Parenting journey. And also about how to start a therapeutic process if you need it.

To talk about this, I need to come back to my own journey, to those challenging early years.

It is obviously a deeply personal blog post and what I share, what has worked for me might not be what you need.

If you are a parent of a child under 3 or under 6, you know that the early months, the early years can be tough: a baby who doesn't sleep through the night, a toddler who throws tantrums, a new baby and a jealous sibling, the choices we make to go back to work or not and so on...

Fast forward 11 years, I feel that I have learned a lot and sometimes the hard way. I had some rough years when I wasn't even sure I was enjoying motherhood anymore: working part-time and being under paid, the guilt of using childcare, weaning my toddler because I couldn't cope, 2 years of daily tantrums despite being coherent and gentle most of the time, being an angry mama with no support, I went through it all... 

I was also blessed that I had an easy breastfeeding journey. I had a husband who kept us safe and had a good job. We are all in a good health and my children really go along most of the times. 

But being a mother was not easy and straight forward for me.

I had very little support when my children were little. 11 years ago, Gentle parenting was an extreme parenting option (think Attachment parenting and The Continuum concept). I didn't know anyone else who was parenting the same way. We had no Facebook groups to create a virtual village of gentle parents. 

So yes, one of my goals with this blog, my Social media and my courses is to give you a short cut to become the best parent you can be. You don't have to wait for your children to be older to enjoy motherhood now. 

You don't  need to send your children to daycare to be able to cope with everything.

You don't have to become resentful.

You don't have to sacrifice yourself.

You don't need to feel guilty.

But how?

Find what makes you all happy!

It sounds pretty simple but it is the thing I want you to know.

It's your birth right to be fulfilled and contented.

You have a right to do what makes you happy right now.

It doesn't mean that you have to forget about your mum's duties and be selfish but you need to find a happy medium. 

You can enjoy parenthood with your children instead of doing for your children, sacrificing who you are for your children, forgetting who you are to focus on your children.

In the small things and the big things, you can find a happy medium and today I give you permission to check if you have ticked your boxes of happiness.

It is ok not to want to be with your children all the time, no matter their age.

It is ok to revisit your decisions and to change your mind down the line if you don't feel good.

It is ok to take care of yourself. 

Obviously, your children have needs. Basic needs that are your priority too. I am not advising you to neglect your little ones.

To a certain extend, we sacrifice ourselves when we become parents: we wake up in the middle of the night, several times to feed our baby. We care for a sick child for a few days. We forget to shower to calm down a teething baby. We spend our day dropping everyone everywhere. We cook dinner that the children will eat but that we don't like...

But we cannot stay in that self-sacrificing mode forever. 

It's when mutual fulfillment come into the picture. Another blogger has even coined the word "site of mutual fulfillment". Check her blog post too. Thanks to Ashley from Wild.Wood.Childhood for pointing me in that direction.

What help your child and help you too? What makes you a better parent and fulfill your children too?

Some examples

  • my children needed to fall asleep, I needed my downtime so I used to help them to fall asleep while breastfeeding. I knew that if I was leaving the bedroom, they would wake up. At the same time, I wanted my down-time so I used to read on my Kindle next to them, once they were asleep. 
  • They needed gross motor skills but I hated the playground. So we had the Ikea slide next to our floor bed and my daughter used to jump from the slide to the bed for hours while I was reading on the bed (and playing also with her). 
  • My son loved the indoor playground and was happy to go around the climbing modules by himself. I used to go on a quiet day. It was safe, he was happy and I was reading my book.
  • My children love the cinema. We go often, I don't always love the movie but it's my little pleasure to stuff myself with some chocolates while they watch the movie.
  • We used to enjoy some long afternoons of craft activities. I was colouring or drawing while they were doing their own crafts. I didn't feel that I had to create a craft activity for them, we were happy doing our own things along each other.
  • I read my book when they have 20 minutes of screen time
  • I cook a dinner that I like when they have a cheese toasty and the 6 other days of the week, we all eat sausages, fish fingers and whatever I know they will eat. 
  • I select the board games we play with. I don't know why but I really don't like playing Twister with the kids. I thought I would love it as I had good memories of it as a teenager but playing with 2 under 6 was "boring" so I get rid of the board game and we only enjoy board games that all of us love most of the time.
  • I select the books that we can read for bedtime. I read what we both like. 
  • I share the boring parenting tasks with my husband. For example, he doesn't mind to read Superheroes books to my son. I cringe if I have too so we alternate who reads the bedtime stories, that way, my son is happy and I am happy.
  • Basically, we find activities that make everyone happy and that would be 80% of the activities we do together. 
  • then I feel able to cope with 20% of activities that make my children happy. When I know I have to commit to one of those activities (such as going to a birthday party, indoor playground, video game), I counter balance with some self-care for me before or after.
  • You can also check those 100 self-care ideas here (most of them you can do with your children)

I give you permission

Have you read the examples above thinking that you couldn't do that? Do you feel guilty if you think about yourself? Do you feel that it's your duty to craft the perfect childhood for your children?

I am telling you today: ditch the perfect image of motherhood and enjoy the chaos, the imperfection and allow yourself to find joy right now.

I learned the hard way that an unhappy parent is an unhappy child and leads to a unhappy couple too. 

My husband sacrificed himself for a long time to take care, financially, of our family.

While I am grateful, I also know that our family is much happier, safer and contented since he has left his job. It comes with its challenges. We are now both self-employed and we have no financial safety or stability yet but on a day to day basis, we are more fulfilled and our children know and feel it. Therefore, we are a much happier family. And we are amazing examples for our children too. My youngest is creating his own business and sells us toys from his bedroom, creates toys and so on. My daughter is currently writing a book.

Do you feel overwhelmed by your child's behaviour? Not sure how to handle tantrums? You know that Montessori is all about freedom but what about limits?

My Montessori and Gentle Discipline Course will help you to understand your child and to bring peace into your home.

When I have always allowed myself some form of self-care, I was feeling guilty all the time.

If you feel guilty too, if you feel that you don't deserve self-care, if you have unrealistic expectations of motherhood and want to reach perfection, I invite you today to stop and reflect and to ask yourself why?

Some reasons:

  •  you had an idea of motherhood, a fantasy and the reality is not what you were expecting. It's hard to reconcile both ideas but life is chaotic, embrace the mess and ditch the perfect image of motherhood. Your child doesn't need a perfect parent, they will learn from your mistakes as long as you own them and that you thrive to be better. As Winnicot says, you are a good enough mother. Winnicot was my hero way before I became a mother. Saying sorry to my children is something I do easily. Note that it's not a shallow sorry, I work hard to do better and to work on my own issues. 
  • you have issue with self-worth so you don't allow yourself any form of self-care or don't allow yourself any form of fulfillment. Self-esteem issues can come from our own childhood, if our parents had big expectations that we haven't fulfilled. come from past trauma, or we are involved in a relationship that is based on one of the partners having less worth that the other. Often also, we have been raised by loving parents but they raised us with a conditional love: they loved us if we were good at school, they punish us if we were naughty. As adults, we repeat this pattern: I feel good if my children are happy, if my husband is happy, if my boss is happy. Our own happiness is irrelevant as long as others are happy.

Then I would like to invite you to start a therapeutic process, to prepare yourself to become the best version of yourself, whatever it means for you.

Note that you don't have to have gone through a trauma to need therapy. Therapy might mean, a one to one with a psychologist or it might mean going to Yoga every week or taking a bath with a good book. 

CLICK HERE to join our community of 20 000 like minded parents.

How to start a therapeutic process?

Our children are surely our greatest teachers.

In a way, having children can be a wake up call, an eye opener about what is really important and an intense therapy at the same time.

I believe that we need to prepare ourselves, we need to reflect on ourselves and we need to take care of ourselves.

​Whatever it is for you, find what is going to help you on a therapeutic level.

To accomplish anything in life, you need to know yourself & to love yourself as you are. It doesn't mean that you will not change but if you truly love yourself, you will respect yourself, so you will accept who you are and evolve even if it doesn't fit with the society, your parents or partner's expectations. 

How to start a therapeutic process? It is a very individual process but I'm happy to share what has worked for me:

  • I believe that food is our first medicine. What you eat is going to influence how you feel. I did a lot of research about diet and food. For me, sugar was messing up with my hormones levels and my mind was much clearer when I stopped sugar. I did the I quit Sugar diet 6 years ago and it was the beginning of a healthy lifestyle.
  • As a woman, I have noticed that hormones play a big part in my mood. Knowing my cycles  helps me to plan my life around my moods. I also ditch the contraceptive pill as it was messing up with my natural cycle. I recommend you the app "Hormone horoscope" and check what Laura Kypre says about "cycling living". She is currently offering a free online course about how to live according to your cycles.
  • I started to practice yoga when I was pregnant with my first. I have been very irregular but over the last 3 years, I am more diligent. It's not only the yoga but the philosophy behind the physical aspect of yoga that helped me. 
  • I cut through the noise. I stop listening to the news. According to a survey, one of the biggest contributors to daily stress is watching, reading or listening to the news (see here).
  • We curate what we expose ourselves too, in music, news and social media influences.
  • “You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with,” a quote attributed most often to motivational speaker Jim Rohn. So I started to surround myself with positive people and successful people, included parents who would support my parenting style, in real life or online. If you work with people with a negative mindset, another way to surround yourself with positive influence would be to read biography of successful people or people you admire. Reading Montessori will always inspire me and makes me a better mum again and again.
  • I read this book Life in half a second and it was the beginning of a chocking discovery. I had no goal in my life, I had forgotten all my dreams and I was, indeed, sacrificing myself. Please read this book only if you are ready to change. I cried for weeks, listing all  my regrets but I overcame those remorse and regrets and moved forward. This book gives me the desire to have goals again (my youngest was 2 when I read it). This book was such a short-cut to the life we want that I offer it to my friends as a birthday gift.
  • I only discovered Dr Shefali and her book "Conscious Parenting" last year. This book has given me words to explain what I have felt since I am a mother. I can see clearly what are the society expectations, my own parents' expectations and what I project from who my children really are. 
  • I believe that knowledge is key to be a better parent. You need to understand your child's development. I am lucky here that I was working in the field before I had children so for sure, I was confident regarding my knowledge. Still we learn every day and I believe that finding a parenting mentor helps every parent. We are not meant to raise our children alone, we need a village and it's ok to learn to be a parent.
  • I practice gratitude daily. I am especially grateful that we are all healthy. Like many people my age (I am turning 40 this year!), I lost some people to cancer and they were young so I am immensely grateful to be alive.
  • Take this opportunity to address some unresolved childhood issues and traumas. Find a therapist of your choice if you feel that you cannot cope. There is no shame into asking for help and support. Here, it's very a personal choice. I have a background in psychoanalysis but it's probably the most slower therapeutic process ever. I have personally moved away from Freud and his disciples. I invite you to check what is Psych-K, as it is a short-cut that allows you to work on your unconscious self-limited beliefs. It is even funded by the healthcare system in some countries. 

Please, let me know in a comment if this blog post has helped you somehow. If you want to share more tips to start a therapeutic process as a parent, feel free to add your comment too!

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.

  • Jeni says:

    This was a beautiful reflection Carinne. No doubt it would be helpful for many moms who are struggling.

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