Tag Archives: shame

5 Practical Ways to Avoid the Mommy Blues

Every mom has her day.  Her really down day.  The I’m hiding in the bathroom, pass me the chocolate before someone gets hurt, harder than anyone could ever imagine, what has become of me, mind-numbingly self-sacrificial day.

And for most moms, that day is….well…almost every day!

If you’re that mom that has just always wanted 1,000 kids, loves getting 3 hours of interrupted sleep (every night for years), laughs while poop is flung from your 2-year-old’s hands directly onto your new silk shirt, after finding that he’s disassembled his diaper and thrown feces all over his room and into his mouth, and if you love having all of your expensive crystal wedding gifts destroyed when the baseball crashed into your china hutch after a particularly rigorous game of indoor t-ball…If you’re that mom, you might as well stop reading this right now.  And secondly, GO BUY ME SOME CHOCOLATE.

But if you’re like most moms of young kids, you may struggle with the mommy blues now and again.  And that’s ok.  But, let me tell you, when I have a bad day and let the mommy blues take over, several things happen.  First, my worst side comes out.  I’m not as kind to my kids (and definitely not as kind to my poor husband).  Next, I retreat into self-pity.  And when I’m there, nothing good ever happens. And lastly, I miss out on the good things happening around me (like the fact that my twins gave each other a big hug for the first time today….because I was depressed that they threw all of their lunch into the trash before eating it).

So, here is my personal, tried-and-true method for how to shut the door on the mommy blues before she becomes a permanent part of your day.  Don’t worry, this isn’t a long list of things you’ll never be able to attain to with your busy schedule.  This is 5 simple steps to help you say “ta-ta” to sadness and “woo hoo” to your actual life.

1.   GET GORGEOUS.  When you pass yourself in the mirror and shudder at the way you look today, it just adds to your feeling depressed and meaningless.  But the truth is, YOU’RE GORGEOUS.  And showing others how pretty you are helps you feel pretty.  And that is actually really important.

Girls, seriously, makeup is your friend.  I don’t care if you don’t know much about putting on makeup, even a quick, 5-min daily routine can help you go from boring to soaring.  My daily staples are tinted moisturizer and light weight powder (from the Aveda “Inner Light” collection), blush (Bare Minerals), mascara (“They’re Real” by Benefit), and a little lipstick (Clinique’s Chubby Sticks are so easy and fun).   If you have more time, throw on some awesome Mac eyeshadow and a fun colored eyeliner from Urban Decay.  For fun makeup tips, look up “A Glittery Life” on YouTube.

I’ve also learned 3 or 4 easy ways to do my hair so that I love the way it looks each day.  (thanks Sock Bun, dry shampoo, and flat iron curls!).  I try not to spend longer than 10 minutes on my hair most days.

Next, I once realized that it only took me 3 minutes longer to put on clothes that I love wearing each day, that flatter my post-four-kids-body and make me feel cute, stylish, and valuable than it did to put on yoga pants and a sweat shirt.  I try not to leave the house in anything that I should only wear at the gym.

Believe me, I don’t have much time to get ready with 4 kids 5 and under, but I don’t need much time.  I can usually get ready each day in 20-30 min.

2.  AESTHETICIZE:  Yes, I just made up that word.  Because I’m cool like that.  Aesthetics in your home are important when you’re there so often as a mom.  I make it a point to open up my blinds first thing in the morning.  When the sunlight is streaming through the windows, somehow it’s easier to feel happy.  🙂  Light a great smelling candle or put some essential oils into a diffuser and make your house smell amazing.  Find one small area of your house to de-clutter each day.  Look on Pinterest and find a way to use the junk you already have to decorate your house and make it feel more homey.  Do whatever it is that makes you love the way your house feels, smells, looks, and tastes (and yes, I DO mean make cookies).

3.  AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE THE PLAGUE:  When you’re having particularly down moments, do not (I repeat DO NOT) spend excessive time looking at your news feeds.  There’s nothing worse that seeing your acquaintances enjoying their incredible cruise to the Bahamas while you’re stuck at home with 8 kids and no money and you can’t even go to the grocery store, let alone a fancy-shmancy cruise!  These days, it’s incredibly easy to compare your life to hundreds of other people’s lives through the help of social media.  And truthfully, you never know what’s actually going on in those people’s lives.  The pictures of their perfect cruise could all be a front to hide the pain that they’re actually experiencing!  So, why torture yourself?  Just avoid social media when you’re down in the dumps.

4.  FIND SOMETHING TO SUCCEED IN:  It’s ok to feel the need to accomplish something each day or to feel successful in some capacity.  And as moms, the feelings of being successful can be few and far between.  For example, by the time you’ve finished 12 loads of laundry, 6 more loads have already stacked up in the dirty clothes hampers.  Or, when you’re successful at paying extra attention to one child, you’ve inadvertently ignored your other kids!  So this is why it’s VITAL to find SOMETHING that you can do to feel successful every day.  I like to write that thing down at the beginning of the day and celebrate when I’ve accomplished it.  It can be anything from painting your nails to changing the sheets on the bed to encouraging your friends to taking an art classse to starting a home-based business.  Do something every day that makes you feel like a raving success.  This is not selfish; this is paramount.

5.  REACH OUT:  Isolation is the biggest threat to us moms.  Having kids is isolating.  Staying at home is isolating.  And when we allow our fears of what someone will think of our messy house or our messy attitudes or our messy lives to cause us to shut out relationships, we might as well be shutting off one of the valves to our heart.  Isolation is detrimental to anyone, and especially to moms.  When you’re feeling blue, don’t turn to social media.  Actually be social.  Call someone.  Text someone.  Beg, borrow, and steal for money to hire a babysitter so that you can go out with some girlfriends, and then be honest about the way you felt today.  Chances are, they’ve felt that way too.  And in that moment of honesty, you’ll get to experience unconditional love, which is something you will never experience if you aren’t honest with others.

I don’t have to live with mommy blues day after day.   It’s just not fair to me or my kids. I don’t want to wait until my kids are out of the house before I am happy again.  But no one has the power to make me happy.  No one has the power but me.

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Shame-Free Parenting

I recently read a booklet, written by a well-known Christian mom, entitled “Everything You Need to Know About How to Get Your Babies to Sleep Through the Night.” She listed 10 strategies that she’s implemented and have worked well for her kids. One morning, while guzzling my 3rd cup of coffee (after a particularly horrific night of poor sleep with my wonderfully fussy twin infants), I opened the booklet, hopeful that this mom’s advice could help me.

The problem was, she used words like “always” and “never” and “without exception” when describing what you should and shouldn’t do to ensure a good night’s sleep for you and your baby. At first, I began to chuckle, recalling the years of sleep deprivation that I’ve endured (and am still enduring) while raising my 4 kids. I rolled my eyes as I realized that I had, over the years, tried to implement each and every one of her suggestions, and yet, very few of them ever proved helpful to me or to my babies. But, here she was, claiming that these strategies WILL work, and implying that, if they don’t work, you are doing something wrong. I grimaced. An ugly aroma had entered the room. It was the stench of shame.

I’d smelled that disgusting odor many times before, after reading well-meaning parenting books who explained, in detail, the ways in which you should handle certain parenting situations (such as sleep-training, potty-training, baby-feeding, etc.). I’ve spent countless hours trying to implement these strategies with my own kids, but guess what? Very few of the strategies have worked exactly the way the book-writers have said they should, if they even worked for my kids at all! And after I read them, I’d smell that stench arise and fill my house.

Please don’t hear me say that I’m against parenting books. I am actually so grateful for the knowledge and wisdom that others offer through such books, and they’ve often given me hope and direction! But, what I don’t like is when authors, pastors, friends, other moms, and bloggers use words like “always,” “never,” and “without exception,” because such absolutes leave no room for individual preferences, personalities, environments, ability levels, and specific temperaments of mother and child.

Saying that “there is only one way to do things” is as preposterous as saying that God only makes one kind of person.

Have you ever eaten at a Mexican food restaurant, and you can still smell the scent of fajitas in your hair and on your clothing after you return home? The problem with scents is that they can follow you. I’ve often carried that shame-stench with me after learning how other parents raise their kids, and feeling like I’ve missed the mark because I (a.) wasn’t able to implement their strategies because I am not good at doing things their way, or (b.) their strategies didn’t work for my kids for one reason or another. Either way, it’s so easy to feel ashamed.

So, as I read that booklet, a righteous indignation rose up in me. I wasn’t angry at the author, I was angry at the stench of shame that affects so many of my mom-sisters. We are trying so hard to be good parents, but when parenting tips are presented to us as absolutes—through books, through blogs, and through friends—and when those tips don’t work for us, shame is heaped upon our heads. And that literally stinks.

Shame stinks. And it makes us reek. And I sure don’t want to be around someone who smells bad. Which is exactly the point. I believe there is a real battle, for parents, over this issue of shame.

The Bible has other ideas of how God has created us to smell.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Whoa, jump back! Did that really say that I am the FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST!? Then, why do I let myself smell like poop? (and I’m not referring to the countless times that a baby has pooped on me—that is, sadly, unavoidable).

Shame keeps me from one of my ultimate callings—smelling so good that I’m attractive to those who are perishing and helping them find the only true way to be saved.

So, what do I do now? How do I wash away the scent of shame, and have a shame-free approach to parenting? You’re probably not interested in reading a 100 page blog entry, so here are a few of my initial, not-very-well-developed thoughts.

  1. I must always remember—each kid is different, and every parent is different. I must be free to be ME and let my kids be free to be THEMSELVES. If I am trying to be just like another mom, my world is hopeless. I will never be just like her. I will always fail.
  1. In order to know how to be myself, I must KNOW MYSELF. I love to take personality tests and to learn as much as I can about my strengths and weaknesses. One of my favorites is the “StrengthFider’s Test.” (www.strengthsfinder.com) It’s up to me to figure out what I’m best at, to capitalize on my strengths, and to be humble and accept God’s help in my weaknesses. (2 Corin. 12:9—“my power is made perfect in weakness.”) Most importantly, though, I need to know who God says that I am. That means, I must learn to listen to His voice above the voices of the authors of parenting books.
  1. In order to help my kids be themselves, I must KNOW MY KIDS. I must put down my phone and my lap-top and really pay attention to them. I like to ask teachers and other friends what they see in my kids. What are their strengths and weaknesses? It’s also important for me to spend time asking God to show me who He has created my kid to be— the deepest part of who he or she is. Then, I can keep that in mind when I’m having a particularly trying time with him or her. I can call him or her up higher. I can remind myself of the gold within each kid.
  1. I’m at my best when I’m SPIRIT-LED. Every kid is different. Every mom is different. I believe we aren’t born with all of the answers because God wants so badly for us to be in relationship with Him. If I could figure it all out on my own, I wouldn’t need Him. I operate at my best when I listen to what He is saying about me, about my kids’ needs, and about each difficult situation. (for more about this, see my blog about this: https://kenandtiffanywilliams.com/2013/03/11/how-a-mom-can-get-through-the-day-god-is-like-a-radio/ )

I guess my options are clear—I can smell like Christ, or I can stink like shame.

I guess it’s up to me.

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