For many women, juggling between being a mother and a wife is not really a juggling act. Often, we choose to drop one of those roles. Yes, that’s right, many of us find that it’s hard to be a great mother and wife and so we think “The kids are young and need all the love and care we can give them, my husband is an adult, surely, he can take care of himself for a few years”. And so we put the “wife” part of ourselves away and focus instead on our kids.
The thing is, unless your marriage puts you and your children in danger through spousal abuse or neglect, that you cannot truly be a great mother if you are also unable to be a good wife. Why is this the case? Beyond their physical needs, children also need to grow up in a loving and happy family. Children from a stable and loving home learn to have healthy relationships when they grow up. This doesn’t mean that children from non-stable homes can’t have healthy relationships when they grow up, but it’s harder as they don’t have the advantages of seeing and being able to model positive family and relationship behaviours, nor do they benefit from the advice, time and attention which 2 loving and committed parents can give.
So for all these reasons, you need to make sure that you and your husband have a great relationship so that you can be a great mother to your kids. In practical terms, if you’ve been putting your kids ahead of your needs and your husband’s needs, then you need to find a way to prioritise yourself and your relationship with your husband too.
Don’t Feel Guilty
The absolute first thing which you must get over is the sense of guilt you are bound to feel. Just because your world does not revolve around your children’s needs doesn’t mean that you are a bad mother and that you don’t love them enough. Understand what their needs are and what their wants are. Examples of needs would be; getting to school on time, eating nutritious, balanced meals, having you be there emotionally and physically at the end of the day to talk about how things went and to understand if they need your help or support. Wants are things like “I want mummy to sleep with me every night, I want to eat the special dish which takes 3 hours to make instead of chicken with noodles even though mummy is exhausted, I want mummy to drive me to school every morning instead of taking the school bus”.
Fulfill the needs your kids have, and some of the wants too if you have the time and energy for them. But if you don’t, or if you are giving up large parts of who you are and neglecting your husband on a regular basis, then don’t feel guilty if you can’t do everything your kids want you to.
Don’t Run on Empty
Most mothers give and give and give. They wake up early, they send their kids to school, they make meals, they work, they are there at the end of the day, they are there in the middle of the night and at any time of the day. You run on full emergency mode, prepared to drop everything to deal with whatever crisis might happen to occur.
When you give all your time, effort, energy and focus to your kids, you will eventually start running on empty. You know that feeling where you are simply surviving on adrenaline and sheer will power to get through the day? Yes, this is running on empty and many women do this not only for a few days, but for years until their kids grow up.
But the problem with running on empty is, that when the kids are grown up and gone, you look around and realise that your life has become empty too. Your husband and you may no longer share the intimacy that you used to, you haven’t kept up with your friends and interests and you literally experience the infamous “empty nest” syndrome.
Don’t Do Everything for Your Kids
Here’s the kicker, we think our kids need us, but they don’t need us for everything. Your kids can go to sleep by themselves, they can wake up early to take the bus to school, they can do their homework on their own and it is perfectly okay to let them read a book or watch an hour of TV at the end of the day when they’ve finished their homework.
So teach them to do things for themselves and to become more independent. You achieve 2 things when you do this. First, you demonstrate your trust in your children and help them achieve independence and learn new skills. They become more confident and have better self-esteem when this happens. Second, you free up some time for yourself and your spouse.
Say Yes to Dates with Your Husband
How many mothers have stopped going on dates with their husbands? Not the special “once a year on your anniversary” types of dates, but the ones where you meet up for lunch, or catch a movie together, go for a jog together in the morning? We either defer these because we say that our kids want us to be there for them, or we feel too exhausted to make the effort to do more than just collapse in bed at the end of the day.
Make time for your husband. Spend 1 or 2 hours with your husband each day. It could be in the evenings when your kids have gone to bed, it could be in the morning after dropping them off at school and before work, or lunch a few times a week. Spend the time talking to each other and not about family duties or your kids’ schedules.
Make time to exercise. It will make you feel better and look better. You’ll be healthier, have more energy and all those endorphins will give life a more positive spin too.
Spend Time with Your Friends
You need to re-charge yourself too. Sometimes, spending time with friends is a great way to remember who you are as a person – not as a mother or a wife only. So make time to go out with friends, keep in touch and don’t forget who you really are under all the roles which you have acquired over the years.
Rediscover Your Passions
Don’t neglect your hobbies and interests. If you’ve always loved photography, don’t put the camera away, take it out, practice on your family, or on your own. Sign up for courses you love, if you don’t have time for a classroom course, then consider online courses which you can fit into your schedule anytime. Continue to take an interest in your passions and the inspiration they give you means that you will find that have more to give to your children and your spouse.
Tags: Growing your relationship /Intimacy