The other day I was at the park and noticed a mother’s shirt which declared “Tired as a Mother.” I liked the stylish t-shirt but then started to think about how true this saying was — and yet, why is this so true? Previous generations of mothers didn’t seem to be quite so frantic as we are today. Indeed, they weren’t tautly tied to technology and rigid calendars which nowadays result in our running around guzzling coffee and focusing on our lack of sleep.
Our society has slowly adapted to our wealth and free time, allowing us to cater to our families on a level never before known in the history of the world. As mothers today, are we over-stretched and over-committed to such an extent that we don’t even notice that our lifestyle is not so nourishing? Why do we persist? And how can we make changes?
The fact is being a parent is tiring and this calling is not for the weak. The great news is the Christ wants to renew your life — especially mothers and fathers — and to help you grow not only as a person but also in holiness! Our Lord doesn’t want us living in a zombie state of parenting exhaustion. Rather, He wants to set us free from the burdens and weight of this world. Here are some suggestions to help that happen.
- Put your phone down and regulate your screen time. As parents we might be keenly aware of our children’s screen use, but we may not be regulating our own. It is important to keep our personal screen use in check. A few years ago, I discovered a habit I was developing while watching Netflix™. I was compelled to binge-watch for hours on end. Research focused on teens shows that watching TV, computer, and phone screens at bedtime (besides being a time sucker), stimulate the brain and reduces ability to sleep. Parents fall into this trap too. We can easily stay up until the wee hours of the night lost in a fantasy story instead of getting a good night’s sleep that will enable us to deal better with life the next day. So try to avoid using technology at night, and if you must use your phone, turn on night-view.
- Turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance and your strength. “Come Holy Spirit.” We need to set aside time to pray and consider invoking the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance. How often do we need to make critical decisions while fatigued from a poor night’s sleep? These decisions greatly impact our family and career. Learn to trust the Holy Spirit and start to discover the blessings of invoking a Spirit-led life.
- This is a race not a sprint. How are you running your race? Motherhood is not a sprint! Let’s be honest. It is easy to think the purpose of parenting is to “anticipate the needs of the child” with quick sippy cup access, snacks on hand, and toys in your back pocket. The reality is that the calling of parenting is a long and often slow journey that requires prayer, patience, and perspective. I have been parenting almost twenty years and I still have (God willing) fifteen more years of young ones at home. We need to set a realistic perspective on our parenting style so that we do not burn out, become resentful or over-taxed. Only through prayer, patience and a healthy perspective on your life can you identify and face potential areas of burnout and feeling over-taxed.
- Catholic motherhood and fatherhood is a calling, not a Pinterest™ post. Take the Pinterest-perfect pressure off yourself! Your birthday parties don’t need to be approved by Martha Stewart to be fun for your child. Pick what is most important and let others know that friends and relationship with family is most important. Make your home warm and inviting! Does the thought of people “stopping by” stress you out? Consider taking the pressure off and reset your expectations. I promise you relationships are far more rewarding than needing to be perfect.
- Be friendly and be open to the Lord’s plans! A warm smile, kind actions, and thoughtfulness go far in life! I remember being at the park as a new mom and praying that a friend would fall from the sky! I didn’t have friends who were moms and I can recall that lonely feeling. Looking back, I can say that starting my playgroup filled my days and provided me with great friendships. This is also true within our mom circles at schools, in our parish, and even in neighborhoods. Say hello often and consider that this will grow your circle. My mom always states that the best advice she ever got as a mother was, “Make your world a bigger place if it feels too small.”
- Balance is key. Balance sleep, prayer, work, recreation, and relaxation and make time for renewal with family members and loved ones. If you don’t take time out for you, you will be like a dry well, with little to other to offer others. Parenthood can suck you dry. Without healthy outlets and a healthy rhythm, you can be left feeling dreadfully out of balance!
- Growth is slow. “We need to be patient with everyone, but first with ourselves,” St. Francis de Sales wrote. It is important to ponder how often we get discouraged by our failings or those of our families such that we forget to even try again. Each day is an opportunity for growth. If you fit this image, I highly suggest that you reset your priorities through prayer and include the Sacrament of Confession. This sacrament is a parent’s dream. It removes sin and especially guilt for our faults and failings. It leads us to start anew in becoming the Christian we long to be!
- Welcome Jesus in. It is easy to think that going to Mass on Sundays is how we live out our faith. However, the key to growth in faith rests in our home life and how we welcome Jesus there! Home is where the stings from harsh words hurt deepest and the pains of brokenness can last for generations. Keeping Jesus close in our home is the real answer. So please consider the Enthronement to the Sacred Heart to welcome Jesus into your home life. To learn more, visit WelcomeHisHeart.com.
- Forgive and forget. Reminiscing can induce laughter, happy memories or pain. Allow yourself to experience the freedom that the Lord wants to offer through forgiveness and healing. What are you holding onto that might be complicating your parenting? Are you upset with your parents or your in-laws? Do you hyper-focus on what they are doing or not doing? This can lead to hurts and wounds that are deep and can leave you feeling paralyzed. Take time to ask the Holy Spirit how to forgive and forget.
- Community of love. If you are feeling alone and isolated, take steps in building an authentic community of love. Set up date-night swaps, family picnics at the park, Bible studies, prayer groups or just a simple play group. You can start to build a team of individuals – a mutual support system in difficult times.
May the Lord be our strength and help us to become the Catholic parents He desires us to be. Amen.
Copyright 2019 Emily Jaminet