Helicopter. Soccer. SAHM. Earthy. Old-School. Free-Range… What kind of mom are you?
The truth is, these parenting “types” rarely do justice to the breadth and complexity of our roles. So, to kick of 2017, we’re asking our contributors to participate in a series we call This Is How I Mom.
Follow along as each writer brings her own unique perspective, experience, and parenting style to life in a personal post. You can also follow her on Instagram as she takes over the RGVMomsBlog feed on the day her post goes live!
Hi, I’m Renee. This is how I mom.
The other day, I had a total meltdown in front of my daughter.
It lasted less than a minute, but she immediately started crying. And I started consoling her. But I didn’t apologize— I just explained. I explained I was frustrated and upset, the same emotions she had felt earlier that day when I refused to let her put Daniel Tiger in the coffee pot.
Keeping it real (is actually really hard).
In that instance, breaking down my emotional breakdown (print that on a t-shirt!) had a little bit to do with teaching empathy and emotional well-being, but it had a lot more to do with keeping sh*t real.
Meaning: I don’t want to wake up every day and put on my “mom face.” I don’t want to be two different people, depending on whether or not I’m with my kid. I don’t want to sugar-coat things because… it’s exhausting.
I think every mom struggles with this. For me, the issue is intensified by the fact that I work part time (from home) while still playing the role of primary caretaker. It’s confusing; when am I “momming” and when am I working? For that matter, when am I doing neither?
Work time, home time, & work-from-home time.
Here’s a typical week day for us, now that my daughter is in preschool:
It’s Monday. Somehow, we’re out the door by 9 and my daughter is at preschool just a few minutes late. She’s wearing shoes AND I remembered her lunch, so #WIN.
As soon as she’s in the arms of her teachers, I head to a coffee shop or co-working space and knock out about 20 cups of coffee and a couple hours of work.
If everything’s going well, I can take my maternal instincts down a notch and just enjoy being me again. It feels really good. Scratch that— it feels awesome.
And the best part? When I pick her up, I’m a way better mom. I’m ready to hang out with my kid and be there for her, whatever she needs. Unless I need to quickly send a super urgent email…which happens a lot… just keeping it real.
It’s a life-long job— don’t skip breaks.
There’s a never-ending list of maintenance and care that comes with raising a kid. I get that now. But what they say is true: If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your kids. (Well, you can, but no one will be happy.)
Emotionally, I’m a mom 24/7. But I also try, every day if I can, to carve out a little piece of time to not be a parent. Even 15 minutes where I’m not doing or thinking about something baby or kid related.
On that note, here are the three most empowering things I’ve said as a mom.
“I need a break.”
Personally, it took me WAY to long to recognize that I cannot be a mom 24/7 without a break. So, my daughter started preschool at 18 months. I NEVER thought I’d do that. Never. But guess what? She’s the only one at home right now, and she needs the socialization. She loves it. I love it. It works for our family. It’s the best decision I’ve made since Velcro shoes.
If you don’t have family around, don’t be afraid to find a sitter you trust, a school you love, or a friend you can swap childcare with. You cannot do it all. I mean, you can, but it sucks.
“I haven’t been to Target in months.”
You know how the parenting books talk about “over-stimulation” as a trigger for tantrums? They’re on to something with that one. I’d just like to add it’s a trigger for both my toddler and for me. So, I stopped buying my daughter toys (except for art supplies). I resist new clothes unless she’s outgrown her current ones. I donate or recycle everything I can. And, finally: I stopped hitting up the One Spot at Target.
The more you simplify, the less your kid will demand (that’s the idea). Having less stuff around me usually means less clutter and less mess. And that makes me feel way less stressed.
Yes, we still have a pile of baby gear in the garage. And my daughter still has too many clothes (thank you, hand-me-downs!), but I’m fighting the clutter battle as best I can. And I think I might be winning…
“Will you be my Mom Wife?”
Nope, I’m not underestimating the role of Dad. Simply being honest: you need a mom wife in your village. Mine happens to be my best friend. We totally lucked out having kids around the same time.
It’s absolutely life-affirming to have someone who fully understands the reality that is mesh undies and breastfeeding and baby boredom. My Mom Wife was the first person I called each of the four nights we did sleep training. My husband couldn’t take it (he’s a sensitive soul), so he would leave the house and I would have my MW on speed dial to talk me through the toughest parts.
Finding a Mom Wife might be tougher than finding a spouse. So, if you have one, never let her go.
Stay tuned for more How I Mom posts from our team of writers!