When I first found out I was pregnant with Rupert in March 2015 I was so excited that I didn’t really give the true realities of becoming a mother any real thought. I was just happy to be having a child with the man I love and even though I knew there would be challenging times ahead, I went into it very optimistically. I was so eager that I checked out mommy blogs and was all over Pinterest for inspiration and tips. But even after being armed with all the knowledge nothing, and I mean nothing could prepare me for how the game changed once little Rupert came into the world, and especially since Jasper joined the family. Becoming a mother of two little ones has taught me some valuable lessons and I’d like to share them with you today.
1. IT HUMBLES YOU
From the act of giving birth with everything out on display to the children throwing tantrums in public, motherhood will humble you like no other. I find the most humbling experiences arise when I think I’m in control of a situation, and then very quickly realise that I’m actually not, followed by having to go with the flow and accept the situation for what it is, said public shopping tantrums as an example. These are the times when I want the earth to open up and swallow my entire family whole so that the stares from the judging shoppers can stop, but in reality there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, accept to recognise that the moment will pass and that you’ve been humbled.
2. SELF-CARE IS IMPORTANT
We’ve all heard the quote, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, and there’s nothing that empties your cup faster than being a mother! But if you are constantly depleted of energy and tired, you’ll only end up being moody and irritable and that’s no fun for anyone in the family. It can be difficult to do, but it’s so important to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Heck, even if it’s 10 minutes, but as long as you can find some amount of time to retreat to your own space during the day. It can be such a respite during all those terrible two tantrums. Depending on your budget and your level of support you may even be able to take an entire day for yourself. I rarely have that type of luxury so I treasure the few moments I can squeeze in for myself. Some of the ways that I take care of myself are:
- Creating content, i.e. sitting down and filming YouTube videos, photography or writing for my blog. As much as I’m working towards becoming a full-time blogger, spending time creating content brings me so much joy! Don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly frustrating when I’m learning a new piece of software and I just want to get to the final product, but I find it incredibly satisfying to create something out of nothing and putting it out for the world to see. It stimulates my creative side and generally makes me very happy.
- In March of this year I started doing Yoga and Pilates. It started off as twice per week and it’s now three times per week, every week without fail. Why? Because a strong body leads to a strong mind and overall I’ve found the calming effects of both practices combined with the fitness benefits have helped me so much, especially when it comes to dealing with anxiety related to motherhood. But this is something to share in a different blog post!
Here are a few other ways that you can incorporate self-care into your life:
- Meet with your girlfriends once a month for a nice catch-up, or however often you can manage.
- Join the gym and exercise a few times a week / go for a run.
- Lock yourself in your bedroom while your partner/carer is seeing to the children and read a book and drink your favourite drink.
- See a therapist if you think you need an extra level of care.
- Basically, take some out and do something that brings you joy outside of taking care of your children.
3. LET GO OF CONTROL
If you’re anything like me you’re a bit of a control freak and want everything to go the way you have it planned out in your head: 8:30 breakfast, 9:15 playtime, 10:00 nap time. But there are few things in life that will make you relinquish control as fast as children will. They don’t want to finish their dinner, they want to do everything themselves the way THEY want it done and in their own time, they won’t pick up their toys when you tell them to. Eventually you realise you need to let go, relax and pick your battles because trying to make everything go your way is not only unrealistic, but it’s also the cause of unnecessary anxiety.
4. PATIENCE WILL GET YOU FAR
Related to no 3, being patient is key and if you learn how to practice more of it, the better off you’ll be in the long run. I’ve always struggled at being patient, but again there aren’t many things in life that will teach you to be patient as fast as children will.
5. ENJOY EVERY MOMENT
This is sometimes easier said than done, but it’s so important to enjoy every moment that you have with your children, from the new born stage where all you do is breast feed the entire day and it feels like you’re never going to sleep again to the terrible-twos and then the threenager stage and beyond. While every stage comes with its own challenges, each one also comes with meaningful rewards so be in the moment and enjoy your little one no matter which stage they’re in.
6. THE TRUE MEANING OF THE WORD ‘SACRIFICE’
I feel like I can write an entire book about this one, but from sacrificing your time, your energy, your body, your sleep, your career, and yes, sometimes, even your sanity, motherhood teaches you what it means to sacrifice. Of course these points don’t all apply to all mothers, but there’s definitely a great measure of sacrifice involved once you decide to become a mum. There’s also nothing wrong with is as it teaches you the true meaning of love.
7. SHARE YOUR INTERESTS WITH YOUR CHILD
Way before I had children I always dreamed that I’d be able to share my interests with them one day and that they’d actually enjoy it themselves. Just a few weeks ago, Mike (my husband) suggested that we take the boys out and let them play around taking photos on our old iPhones, while we’d be doing some blog photography. This turned out to be such a great idea that I couldn’t believe we’d not done it any sooner! The boys spent ages taking photos and Rupert, my eldest boy, refused to put the phone down once he got started. Once we’d shown him the basics he just followed Mike around, copying his photo composition, subjects, everything. It was while taking photos for this blog post that we introduced them to photography and now Rupert often gets the phone out himself and takes photos of Jasper and his toys all round the house. If we hadn’t shared our passion for photography with him, he might not have discovered his, so I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that we did and we’ll definitely be sharing more of our interests with him.
8. YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE BUSY DOING SOMETHING
Contrary to what many believe, you don’t always have to have an activity planned. Sometimes it’s okay to just be in each other’s space and enjoy each other’s company, even if it’s, dare I say it, sitting in front of the TV while sharing snacks, kisses and cuddles. As long as no one’s bored, and granted it won’t last for very long, being still with each other is a real joy to be treasured.
Outfit Details: Knitted Top – H&M; Off-White Linen Look Trousers – New Look; Sandals – Zara; Boys T-shirts – H&M
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Hair Extensions: To All My Black Girls – Use Discount Code “Eleanor10” for a saving when you purchase your own.
Motherhood is a continuous journey of discovery and learning which has served to make me a stronger, richer person. I’ve experienced each one of these learnings in their most rawest of forms and for that I’m eternally grateful. I’ve shared them in the hope that they can encourage you, whether you’re newly about to embark on your journey of motherhood or whether you’ve been a mum for a while.
What has motherhood taught you? Let’s discuss in the comments below and share with other mums.
Photography by Alessandra Merlo Photography