We have all heard that one cannot pour from an empty cup, however getting to the place where you know what refuels you and then taking the steps to carve out the time and energy for prioritizing those things can seem like an overwhelming task, regardless of the season of parenthood you are in.
The overlooked and sometimes hard truth is that we each need to focus on replenishing our energy and our spirit, that this is a vital commitment that allows us to show up fully for our families.
We wear so many hats as mothers, and our work is never done. We put ourselves last and there is always, always one more thing that we could be doing. When I have an extra thirty minutes to myself, the first thing I am typically thinking of doing is checking off items on the long list of tasks that go along with managing a household, such as a load of laundry, emptying or filling the dishwasher, or running the vacuum without the interference of smaller feet.
Prioritizing mom doesn’t easily or naturally fall as a priority.
I recently heard a question that set me back on my heels a bit.
“If I asked you to make a list of your priorities, how long would it take you to list yourself?”
Think about that for a second. I could rattle off a dozen things on my priority list without taking a breath; in fact, I started listing things in my head before the second piece of that question came out, and I was far from thinking about myself.
With all that goes into parenting and being the CEO of our households, regardless of if you work outside of the home or not, I fully believe that without a reprieve, to help build our balance, our sanity, and ourselves back up, mothers cannot show up and give 100% to the roles we play within our families. Over time, this can directly impact our personal, our spouse’s, and our children’s happiness.
I have visited that space where I am exhausted, overwhelmed, discontent, overextended and unfulfilled. I have felt the pressures of trying to be all of the things to my husband and my daughters, and fallen short – not just with them, but with myself. I have had conversations with nearly every mom I know, and we have all felt this on some level.
Why We’re Exhausted
Perhaps it is not just our bodies and our minds that are tired; perhaps it is our souls that are tired.
When I don’t have enough time to devote to the things that light me up and kindle a fire inside of me, I can become stressed out, angry, and bitter. I crumple under the weight of never being able to catch up, of never being enough, of not prioritizing the things that make me feel lit from within. This thought pattern pulls on my energy reserves harder than a sleepless night.
I’ve never been fond of the old adage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” because it negates any other parent’s emotional temperature as a predictor of a family’s happiness, however, there is truth to it. A mother is more often than not the parent who carries the emotional workload of parenting; women are more often than not not just the wife and mother, but the managers of the household, the children and the schedules.
We cannot create happy homes and happy children without first ensuring that we are feeling taken care of.
Are you experiencing exhaustion, overwhelm, discontent, or a lack of fulfillment? Perhaps it’s not because you need a nap or a vacation – or maybe you need that too – but perhaps it’s because you’re spending too little time on the things that fill you up. Maybe, like me, you aren’t even sure what those things might be.
I show up better for my family when I’ve had thirty minutes to take a walk. I show up better for my family when I escape for an evening to express my creative side. I show up better for my family when I have had the chance to connect with the people in my life who inspire me.
And yes, there are times when carving out time means that I am prioritizing mom over time with my family. There are times when my mom guilt steps in and I feel selfish, when that inner self-critic rises within; I have to talk myself out of that mindset because the guilt around taking time for ourselves can be pervasive. However, ultimately I know that prioritizing myself is essential for my well-being and the health of my family.
Defining Time and Space for You
Personally, I know that self-development and personal growth sets me on fire. Dave Hollis’ quote, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” is one I refer to often. I engage in so many different, better ways in my life, in my relationships and as a mother when I have the time to immerse myself in a great book, a podcast or just have time to work through some goals for myself.
I feel so much more centered and cared for when I can focus on the food that I put in my body, my water intake, and exercise. Even a twenty-minute walk can help put my head in a completely different space. Yoga is my preferred way to both connect with my mind and move my body.
There are so many ways you can replenish and reconnect with yourself; take yourself out for coffee, sign up for an art class at a local studio, take the long way home and listen to a podcast, find fifteen minutes in the day to journal about your goals and your aspirations. These small steps can help you determine what it might be that fills you up. Prioritizing mom doesn’t have to be difficult.
Defining Time and Space for Your Relationships
“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Some of the most emotionally sustaining hours of my life are spent over a dinner table with my closest friends.
Time with my husband, where we’re not discussing who did or who did not run that load of laundry or what the meal plan should look like next week, but talking about our futures and our personal goals for ourselves and our family, nurtures my soul.
Carving out even just an hour to spend with each of my daughters individually once a month allows me to get on their level and connect with each of them in a way that I cannot when their sisters are present.
I recently spent the day with my mother at a spa, and felt more connected to her than ever; the trip had been over two years in the making and we left wondering why we didn’t make time for these sorts of things together more often.
We’re all busy. We all have things to do. But, it’s about prioritizing our choices. We are active masters of our own lives. We would all be in much more positive states of mind if we were intentional in creating sustainable ways to infuse meaningful energy and connection – both with ourselves and with those who are closest to us – into our day-to-day lives.
What can you do to create space for discovering and then prioritizing the things that might give you a kind of different energy than your morning latte, those things that might fill your cup in a much different way?