Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My motherhood 'To-Do List'

I realize that motherhood can't simply be explained in a to-do list. So much of motherhood is based off of emotion, reaction, gut, and spirit. 

I know myself well enough to know that I am motivated by lists. I like to be able to physically see what I can get done to be more productive in a day. I like being able to see what is on tap for the day and make things happen. It makes me feel good when something is completed. 

Motherhood, of course, is different. But I do feel like there are certain things that I try to do everyday because some habits are good for the soul. It also helps me stay centered when things get off balance. I have a bit of a mental to-do list that I try to remember daily with my kids. These aren't actually tasks, they're mental reminders of connection with my kids and separation from outside noise. These are also not always 'checked off', but I do try to focus on these connections whenever I can. 

If I had a motherhood to-do list, it would look like this:

+ good mornings are important, it most certainly can help set the tone for a day. A warm greeting, rub on the back, or big hug for each child. I also sometimes ask how they slept or if they had any good dreams. Usually not much comes from that, but occasionally I hear about a remembered dream. It takes seconds, but they need to know I am grateful for their existence and a warm embrace helps elevate my mood, too. I try to do this for everyone regardless of the night or morning I am having. 

+ good nights are just as important as good mornings. The day could have been a complete crap show... but if I try to regain a connection -no matter how exhausted I am - in the last 10 minutes before they're asleep, I feel like at least they have something positive for the day. We always tuck our kiddos in with a hug and kiss. I also try to revisit something positive from the day to remind them of so they go to bed with those thoughts. Of course, every goodnight is a little different and there are days where my tank is too empty to muster up the conversation, but I always keep these thoughts in my mind. 

+ I read somewhere a long time ago that children should receive affection at least 7 times a day.  I have no idea how or what doctor came up with this random number, but it resonated with me because it makes sense in my mommy brain. Security and love is something we all want and for a child I could see how it boosts confidence and overall mood. Usually, this isn't something I have to think about - we are an affectionate family and hugs are given quite freely between everyone. But when the days are busy and full, this can be a bit harder to do. This is an area where we also rely on community - prior to the pandemic, my kiddos could hug their teachers, friends, and extended family. I also feel that when I am upset with my kid for something, a few moments to regroup and a hug can help calm us both. I don't sit around and count how many times I have hugged my kid - but if I feel like I haven't made a connection with them all day, I try to be purposeful to give them a hug or kiss.

+ Have a conversation with eye contact. This one seems obvious, but I was surprised when I realized how often I am doing something else when I am talking to my kids. Cutting food, rushing around to get somewhere, folding laundry, cleaning their room... multitasking is such a huge part of parenting, so I try to make sure I connect to my kids with eye contact. I am obviously not a doctor, but I do know that when I am talking to a friend, if they are looking at me I feel like they care more about me and what I am saying. I want my kids to feel that, too, even if the conversation is about a monster truck that transforms into a strange looking robot. The little things will become the big things someday. Of course not every coversation has eye contact... but I try to make that connection at some point every day - even with my babies and their babbling.

+ Focus on the few minutes before any goodbye. Along with a good morning, I personally feel that a rushed, chaotic, short tempered, or angry 'good bye' is detrimental. I try to use the drive to school to positively energize us all. Talk about good things or sing and dance. Obviously, this is not always attainable, but it's worth the conscious effort. I feel that a child being dropped off a few minutes late to avoid the chaos is better than them being on time with a flustered and overwhelming goodbye. The minutes leading up to any goodbye are always important. I always tell them I love them.

Like I said, motherhood is obviously so much more than checking off a to-do list. But I have learned if I can try to remember these 5 mental things and a few other things, it makes me feel like we have happier and smoother days. It's for me as much as it is for my kids. These are less of a checklist and more of a habit as time goes on - and unlike my daily to-do list, I don't write them down. 

Motherhood is truly so complex, but at the core of it all, I want my kids to feel my love for them.

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