As a mother, you know there is truth to the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
When you are experiencing burn-out or high stress, your children feel it and respond by acting out, which sets off a vicious circle of household tension and general unhappiness. One of the chief contributors to stress for mothers of young children is their loss of a sense of individuality.
The majority of child-rearing experts recommend mothers with small children take regular time to be alone or with peers as a means of asserting and maintaining their respective sense of individuality. They say that healthy escapes from the day-to-day grind of raising children are not only acceptable but crucial to a mother's mental and emotional health.
Think of maintaining your individuality as a form of self-nurture and regard it with as much respect as the nurture of your children. Not only will this help you be happier and more at peace, it will emanate to your children who will respond in kind. There is no reason to believe reaffirming your own identity and caring for your children are mutually exclusive.
Take time every day to be alone, doing whatever it is that most replenishes your energy and nourishes your soul. However, don't stop there. Tune into your own thoughts and feelings from time to time throughout the day, whether you are with your children at the park or in your living room. Breathe deeply and pay attention to your heartbeat. This will help you feel more grounded, even when you are surrounded by chaos. When you observe yourself beginning to panic, or becoming irritable, step back and ask yourself what you need to feel nurtured and to remember who you are as a unique person. It might be as simple as 10 minutes of quiet or a short walk in nature. If you can't give yourself what you need in that moment, tell yourself when you will do it and be sure to follow up.
You might benefit from committing to a weekly activity related to one of your hobbies or passions, such as an art class or book club. Some mothers find it harder than others to carve out time for themselves to reconnect with their unique selves. These women often benefit from having a pre-arranged event to attend.
Remember to spend time with your significant other or adult friends in order to see yourself mirrored by those who know your character. Hire a baby-sitter once a week or every other week and leave the house for an afternoon or evening.
Affirming your individuality does not always require being separate from your children. Try injecting your unique sense of humor into games with your kids. Introduce them to basic versions of your own hobbies, such as dance or crafts.
When you feel whole as a human being, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to nurture and care for your children. Rather than being trapped in a cycle of anxiety and irritation, you will discover you have initiated a cycle of happiness and love.