by Myrrhanda Novak Have you ever asked yourself if it’s even possible to be a calm, happy mom? I think every mom has days that feel impossibly chaotic and stressful, and we often end up taking that out on our kids. In our hearts, we all want to engage with our children with patience and kindness, so why do we fall short of our own ideals so often?
In my conversation with best-selling author and parenting expert Ann Douglas, she shares practical advice on how to be a calm (or at least calmer) mom. Here’s some of my favourite lessons from her interview.
1. Accept the reality of your family’s limitations.
If you want to be a happy mom, you have to live within your capacity. If you’re stressed and unhappy most of the time, that’s a pretty clear sign that you are doing too much. We’ve all been there. Our kids can sense our frustration and anxiety, and that affects their mood and behaviour. So, what’s the solution? You need to do fewer activities, or you need to increase your capacity. Say no to things that aren’t a wholehearted yes. Don’t feel guilty for limiting extra-curriculars. Ask for help more. Aim to create a schedule with room to breathe and time for your family to relax and connect.
2. Don’t compare your worst moments with other mom’s social media posts.
As moms, we need to focus on what’s meaningful for our family, and ignore what everyone else is doing. Moming is not a competition, and an impressive Instagram feed does not make someone a better mother. So don’t stress if your weekend was far-less photo worthy than your neighbour’s. Instead, ask yourself if you’re making time for what’s meaningful to you.
3. Grow your village.
You need support mama – parenting was not meant to be done solo. I’m not saying you can’t be a successful single parent, but I am saying single or not, you need a network. Facebook friends don’t count; we need honest, vulnerable people in our life who are willing to tell us when they make mistakes and give non-judgemental support when we share our worst moments.
In our conversation, Ann shares that,
“the only path forward is to work on what is within our control in our individual families while also knowing that we’re going to need to join forces with other parents in order to make things better.”
Ann also shared advice on how to grow your village in the podcast.
4. See hope in even the tough stuff.
Every family goes through challenges, but I know from experience that even the worst tragedies can create opportunities for growth. That doesn’t mean we enjoy the experience, but we can trust that hard times aren’t ruining our kids, instead they have the potential to help them develop resilience and compassion. In her book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, Ann writes that an entirely stress-free childhood is actually not ideal. So, accept the reality of your imperfect life and use the struggles to learn and grow as a family.
5. Ditch the guilt and develop positive self-talk.
Every mom needs a mantra (remember that point in Lessons in resilience from a badass mother?). You’re not going to wake up a perfect mother any time soon, so get used to forgiving yourself and encouraging yourself to fail forward. Ann suggests that when you feel guilt coming in, ask yourself what you would say to a friend in your situation. Was she doing the best she could? Probably. Make your self-talk, or your mantra, something kind and encouraging and stop bullying yourself when you miss the mark.
Remember, there is no one way to be a perfect mom, just a million ways to be a great one. So don’t compare, judge or compete. We are in this together.