Welcome to the Refresh Series- a series of posts to refresh and encourage us in motherhood- whether we are in the middle of one season or beginning a new one.
The New Year is upon us and I’m sure even if you haven’t taken a moment to stop and reflect on the past year of your life you’ll have noticed someone else doing so on social media or online. You might be reading this at a different time of year- but the fact remains that we can all do with some refreshment now and then in motherhood- at least I know I could! In these posts this week we will be walking through some ways to give ourselves the breathing room we need for that and some things to think about wherever we are at in our journey of motherhood.
I can think back and see particular points in my motherhood when I was really overwhelmed and needed to stop, and sit, and allow myself to process life without the distraction of technology, the numbness that can come with watching something or the sweet relief of sleep. As great as all of those things can be in their place, they were stopping me from really looking my life in the eyes, reflecting and planning ahead so that I could enjoy my day to day more than I could when I was just going through the necessary parts of life as a mama.
Perhaps you’ve recently had a baby and you’re making your way through the fog that comes with that.
Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by the groundhog nature of your daily life.
Perhaps you are struggling to come to terms with how fast time is moving and how quickly your little ones have grown.
Maybe you want to be able to look after yourself better, and others along the way.
Perhaps you are struggling to find joy in the endless the meal making, bedtimes and washing.
Maybe you are on the cusp of a new season of motherhood, or maybe you’re simply feeling the weight of the responsibility that can be laid on our shoulders.
The thing about motherhood is that there is no ‘right’ way to do it. There are no quick fixes, formulas to follow that will apply 100% to ourselves or to our children. On the whole we aren’t being tested, graded or audited (by anyone but ourselves) and we have to work our way through it hopefully with the support of our families and spouse. It’s a daily process of learning and growing along with our children and doing our best to love and nurture them and ourselves along the way. If we allow it, it can be the most transformative (and challenging) time, but rich with fruit and flourishing along the way, even when we feel like we are walking through the valleys.
But what we will work through in this series is how taking a little time to stop, pause and reflect can help us in our mindset and overflow into our lives.
Make sure you aren’t just thinking about steps as we go along but you actually find somewhere to write them down, whether that’s on a post it note, a notebook or in The Mama Book. You don’t need to have a journal- I love having one space to process all these things but any piece of paper will work to apply to the things we are going through this week. I’m the worst for thinking ‘it’s ok, I can just do it in my head’ but the process of actually writing things and working through it all in writing really helps it to get out of our minds and free up space for living in joy and freedom.
Step 1: Recognise this season.
This doesn’t have to be fancy. Some of us know we are in the newborn stage, or teenage years, but often the shorter changing seasons of school, weather and the rest of it do impact our lives. I know that for us I need to have different focuses and expectations in the winter than in the summer just because of how much time we can or can’t spend outdoors.
Whatever point your life and motherhood is in, it is not going to last forever. I find that both comforting – when bedtimes go awry and challenges come up that I feel will never go away- and sad, because my little ones will never be as little as they are today.
The season you are in is unique, and it won’t happen again, exactly the same. Stopping to look around and see it will help you to be more present and aware of what is going on around you.
I know that soon my little boy will be at school and my youngest at preschool, so I want to enjoy the time I have while they are at home with me more.
Step 2: Check your heart.
I spent years only periodically addressing how I really was, and that lead to living in denial of struggles I was going through for much longer than was necessary. Truly taking time to address where I was emotionally and mentally is really important. This can be simple- write a list of things that you’re currently feeling… hoping… waiting… excited for… and see what comes out. You might have to be brutally honest with yourself.
Try to think about the different areas of your life, your work- whether that includes housework, paid work, looking after your children, your rest- whether you are taking time to relax and play. Think about different relationships and how you are feeling about those – and not just what you are feeling but what your thoughts are behind that.
Step 3: Count the joys right now.
Think back over the past couple of months and count up all the good things, however tiny. As the year turns it’s easy to think of the big things that have been done and places we have been but the small moments of happiness add up to years full of significance too. Whether it’s baking together, cuddles on the sofa or sharing food together you are sure to find good things.
As we have had fewer weekends as a family this year I’m grateful for the times we have had together and the small moments of growing together at home.
Counting and writing down the good things is so significant because it helps us to shape our mindsets for the coming days and year. We can recognise things we want to continue to foster in our lives and also things we might otherwise forget.
Acknowledging the season we are in, recognising how we are doing in the middle of everyday life as it stands and picking out those good bits is the first step towards starting fresh whatever life looks like for us right now. Don’t forget to come back for the next part!