5 tips for a less stressed, regret-free motherhood – even when it seems like there isn’t enough time in the day and that balancing it all feels impossible.
It was one of those days. I had a lengthy list of things I HAD to get done, but I also had three little kids demanding my time and attention.
I felt frustrated, and to be honest, a little resentful of my husband, who got peace, quiet, and a dedicated workspace to get his work done every day. He didn’t have to plan for a babysitter or wonder every day if he was going to be able to have more than five minutes of uninterrupted time to himself in order to finish something.
As much as I love my kids, I was seeing them and their constant needs as interruptions from more important things.
I ended the day feeling like I got nothing done. The untouched checklist nagged at me, but something far more important nagged at me too: I didn’t want my kids to feel pushed aside while mommy worked all day (especially since the “work” was completely distracted anyway).
So the next day, I put just one thing on my to-do list: enjoy motherhood.
Instead of setting myself up for frustration when I was inevitably interrupted, I got down and played with my kids, like a kid. I put my all-important to-do list on the backburner and just enjoyed being my kids’ mom.
It felt so good. It felt like not worrying about the next thing, or what I wasn’t getting done. None of that was relevant.
What mattered was the way my 3-year-old grabbed my face and told me I was her best friend, and how excited my 3rd-grader was to tell me about her art project. It was the way all three of my kids could tell I was really listening to them, and that I was all there.
5 tips for a less stressed, regret-free motherhood
I know there will be days when the checklist nags at me more than that nudge to set everything aside and just focus on what the day naturally brings, and that’s OK. But here are some things that help me keep my perspective on the days when I feel overwhelm creeping into my heart and home:
1. Focus on three good things.
At the end of each day, instead of dwelling on the things I didn’t get to or the things I need to hustle after the next day, I focus on three good things that I accomplished that day. My list includes things like reading to my kids, eating a healthy lunch, writing an encouraging note to my husband, and other simple things we tend to overlook when we think of accomplishments.
2. Cultivate an abundance mindset.
In the moments when I feel like there’s just not enough time in the day, I’m not patient enough, I’m not good enough, or this or that needs to be better, I know it’s time to slow down, take a deep breath, and let go a little. I remind myself that I’m doing my best, and that’s enough. I tell myself that I have enough time to get the most important things done. This helps me shift my perspective to what really is important, and what doesn’t need to be fussed over.
3. Refresh your perspective.
In a popular study in Australia, a hospice nurse interviewed people about their greatest regrets. Number one? They wish they’d lived the life they wanted to instead of worrying about what others expected of them. Number two: they wished they’d worked less and spent more time soaking in their children’s youth and the companionship of their spouses. Stack those things up against your to-do list, and notice the perspective it brings.
4. Think about what you’re filling your days with.
How you manage your time has more impact on your happiness than wealth or material possessions. As Annie Dillard said, how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What are the things that make up your everyday? Will what you’re doing now add value to your life in the future? Are you focusing on the things that make you happy and whole now? Add more of what you love into your days. No one else can do that for you.
5. Make a reverse bucket list.
Take a break from focusing on all the things you want to do, and write down some of the things you have already done, like accomplishments and places you’ve traveled to. This simple writing exercise is a powerful way to cultivate gratitude and keep you in the present. The present is the only place where life actually happens—it’s not in some future checked-off to-do item or goal achieved.
I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I’d spent more time with family instead of hustling after my to-do list, or wishing I’d lived a life that made me happy instead of living up to perceived expectations. The only expectations that really matter are my own. What do I expect of myself? To prioritize genuine moments of connection with the people around me. Because to me, those are the true accomplishments.
If you liked this post you might also enjoy…
- Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom
- How to Find More Joy in Motherhood by Saying Yes to Less
- It’s What I Don’t Do that Makes me the Best Mom I Can Be