I don’t always enjoy motherhood. There, I said it. I try to be a really involved mom with my daughter, and I am fiercely devoted to my family — but the fact is that we just don’t always love the same things. I sometimes struggle with feeling like I’m completely losing myself to motherhood, and that definitely doesn’t help me keep a positive attitude when my daughter asks to play, again. But how do you enjoy motherhood without losing yourself?
5 Tips to Enjoy Motherhood Without Losing Yourself
My daughter is in the ‘pretend play’ stage, which is super fun to observe and watch her grow in her creativity and understanding of the world around her. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that I HATE pretend play.
I am not the Barbie mom, and when my kiddo asks me to play barbies I die a little inside. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but friends, it’s a huge struggle.
It’s sad because when I was her age I was just like her. I was inside my head, dressing up my Barbies, making up elaborate stories about each of them, and using my imagination for hours on end.
But as an adult, my creativity shows up differently than hers. I guess with pretend play I have a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. It’s not fresh and new and exciting, so it just doesn’t get me excited like it does for my daughter. So what do I do? I try my hardest to sway her desire to play Barbies somewhere else — anywhere else! (Want to draw? Read? Go for a walk? Bake?)
Kids see right through us though. Why do they have to be so smart?
So she asks me to play with her over and over and over again until I break down, say yes, and half-heartedly strut my Barbie around the living room while my sweet daughter berates me for not ‘doing it right’.
And then the inner struggle begins.
Guilt that I should enjoy playing with my daughter more.
The feeling that she’s right and I really don’t know how to lighten up and play anymore.
Resentment that I can’t seem to catch and break and do what I want to do.
Worry that we’ll never connect over common interests.
Thoughts that I must be a terrible mom.
It’s not easy to make space to enjoy motherhood when you’re spinning your wheels in your mind, exhausting yourself with negative self-talk, and giving in to the activities that drain your limited stores of creativity energy.
So how do we enjoy motherhood without totally losing ourselves?
Here are 5 ways I’ve found my way out of being the ‘Barbie Mom’ while finding time for both enjoying motherhood and myself too!
Find and list the ways you DO connect with your kids
This is a really powerful exercise to actually SEE the ways you actually do enjoy motherhood and the places where your children are too. Do you love snuggling up reading books? Going out for ice cream? Coloring together? Baking or cooking in the kitchen together? Taking long walks around your neighborhood? Those activities all have value and make just as much as an impact on your kids as playing with Barbies.
Engage in Parallel Play Time
This is easier with older kids, but I’ve been doing this with my daughter since she was about two. Set your child up with their toys or an activity they enjoy, but you don’t. Find something you can do while being near them. I’ve had hour long quilt sessions while my daughter draws or colors. I’ve watched her pretend play while I knit a scarf. And I’ve let her go wild with play doh while I sneak in a chapter of my favorite book. Win win! We each get time doing what we love to do while being close to one another.
Use YOU time as a teaching moment
I want to show my daughter that even as a grown up her needs and desires matter. It’s a lesson that I hope she’ll take to heart as she gets older. I enjoy motherhood more when I am able to incorporate time for myself into each and every day. I come back from time for myself refreshed, energized, and ready to interact and care for my family.
Set timers for the activities you don’t enjoy
There are the days where persistence pays as my child asks me to play Barbies over and over and over again until I give in. But one thing that has made the pretend play more bearable is setting a time limit on the activity. Typically a 10-20 minute timer can make both of us happy. She gets her play time, and I have a set time for when I know it’ll be over. 😉
Try something that’s new for both of you
In Momtography Club we’re talking about the idea of Reset this month – the idea that new experiences can be life-giving and get us excited and motivated each day. What new places can you explore in your town? What new games can you play? What activities can you try together? When you’re tapped out on doing the same things over and over again, sometimes doing something new can invigorate your days in a super simple way.
Learning to enjoy motherhood is sometimes as simple at finding little bits of time for YOU in the day instead of always giving yourself and your time away to others all day long.