In my first year of motherhood, I felt like my life was a replay of the movie Groundhog Day. I started my day by waking up two to three times in the night, nursing my son, sleeping a little, eating a little, doing the laundry, washing the dishes, making dinner—then doing it all-over-again. Some days it got really exciting—well okay, truthfully I’m being a little sarcastic. I would nurse my son, maybe catch a 20 minute nap. Do the laundry. Wash the dishes. Nurse my son. Sneak in a quick shower. Do more laundry. Make dinner. That taking a shower bit—yeah it was a piece of heaven.
Maybe You Still Feel That Way
If you’re a mom, I’m sure you’re probably nodding your head in agreement saying, yeah, I remember those days. It felt like you were stuck on repeat. Maybe it still feels that way to you. You finish the laundry only to have it pile up again. You finish washing and putting away the dishes only to make dinner which in turn makes more dirty dishes. It just seems like you never get ahead.
Or how about when you breathe a sigh of accomplishment after you finally finish putting away all of the laundry?
Yes! It feels soooo good—for about a second—only to have your husband walk in at that exact moment and throw his dirty work shirt in the hamper. Not his fault at all, but it is that bitter reminder telling you that the laundry never gets finished.
Motherhood is hard and we wake up in the morning and do the same things we did yesterday—at least that’s how we feel. Even in our relationships we start to connect with other mothers and conclude, this is motherhood. This is just the way that life is for us at this time. Why? Its comfortable and as mesmerizing as a fidget spinner. We don’t even give a second thought because we all feel the same way—so, it must be true.
But, is it really?
Is this a true picture of motherhood?
I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why.
This is Motherhood
If you notice in my story, there is one thing that is the main character—tasks. The problem with us feeling like motherhood is an endless cycle of monotony, is that we spend all of our time focusing on the tasks. Meanwhile, the things that really matter most to us are…somewhere over there. Frustration and monotony, those feelings of never getting ahead surface because there is a disconnect between our momma heart and our behavior.
Our actions, thoughts and conversations are a reflection of the fact that we’ve exchanged the truth for a lie. We’ve accepted the belief that we have to do these tasks—well because someone has to. In the process we’ve lost the heart of mothering—we get to do it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can break the monotony cycle, keep things in order, all while enjoying being a mother like you always dreamed.
How to Break the Cycle of Monotony—for Good
After I graduated from high school, I pursued a college education. Early on I struggled with deciding what my degree would be because all I truly wanted was to be a wife and a mom. But, I NEVER once dreamed about doing laundry or washing dishes.
I can guess that you probably never dreamed about these either. So why is it that when women think about motherhood, the tasks get our primary attention?
We give it to them.
Remember those things you dreamed about before you became a mom? They are still probably the same today as they were then—but even better. It’s time to take back your dream!
1. Stop giving tasks the lead role.
Stop agreeing with yourself and others by saying—monotony—this is motherhood. The tasks still need to get done, but instead of looking at them as boring tasks or mundane—renew your mind with positive thinking.
For the past two years, we’ve been living in transition. I will be sharing more about this later, but the main point is that we’ve had to live without a lot of things—like an oven. For two years, I have been creatively pulling together healthy meals using a single induction cooktop burner, crockpots, a non-stick griddle, a microwave, a roaster oven, and a grill. I miss having an oven, but I’ve been so grateful for the tools that I do have to prepare healthy meals for my family. Life without an oven—it gets complicated. It takes extra planning and dinners that used to take 30 minutes sometimes take up to over an hour. I know what it’s like to have the convenience of an oven and if I give the task of making dinner the lead role in the story, I get frustrated. If I renew my mind by giving the lead role to thankfulness for what I do have, I feel proud and accomplished. In doing so, I’ve cared for my family—and that is what matters most to me.
2. Establish structure by writing things down.
Structure is sometimes referred to as a schedule. What I like about calling it structure is that it provides boundaries but it isn’t set in stone. Structure allows for creativity and flexibility. Structure is simply writing things down that you need to accomplish, like tasks. Did you know that it’s statistically proven that people who take the time to just write things down actually are more likely to do it?In 2015, a study on goal setting and procrastination was led by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California. The study involved 267 participants and revealed that just by writing down your goals, you are 42 percent more likely to be successful.*
3. Implement Consistency by establishing a rhythm.
Once you figure out what things you need to do, the next step is to start creating a rhythm to those tasks that work well for you and your family. An example of this for me is that every Monday I plan to have a meal with the main course being chicken. There is structure and consistency but—how I make the chicken is up to me.
4. Start running on auto-pilot with what works.
Once you write things down of what you’re doing, then creating a rhythm to consistently doing those things, you want to keep working at it until it just clicks. Once this happens, pretty soon, those tasks start to become more natural and you do them faster. Your family starts to know how things work too. It becomes natural and automated so much that sometimes you just do things and don’t even realize your doing it! The tasks at this point, don’t get your primary attention.
Focusing on Your Dream
When you intentionally transition from task-focused motherhood to living purposefully—
Anxiety and frustration start to disappear.
The time you spend on tasks will be less.
You will feel more accomplished.
Life will no longer feel mundane but it will have meaning.
The cycle of monotony suddenly has no grip and finally, that dream you dreamed so long ago doesn’t become an afterthought. You actually can pursue the things that matter most to you—the enjoyment of being a mom. Will you still feel like motherhood is monotonous? Yes, you will have days when you feel this way. People will still tell you—that’s just the way it is. But, be bold, be brave, and don’t accept it as the truth. Hold those thoughts captive and you’ll be a force to be reckoned with sweet momma.
The SuperMarket Sweep
A mom who is a little further on the journey has modeled this process very well for me. Every week she gets groceries like most of us, but she doesn’t call it grocery shopping—she calls it SuperMarket Sweep just like the game show. When the time comes, she calls out to her kids, “Supermarket Sweep!” and all five of them come running. Yes, I did just say five. They are ages five to twelve. Their mission is to get everything they need in their grocery cart in under 30 minutes! She lets the kids help her in meal planning and also mapping out a plan of attack. The kids look forward to this trip to try and knock off minutes, even seconds, so that they can beat their personal best time.
She NEVER dreamed of being a mom who dragged her kids along with her to get groceries. What she did dream about was being the mom whose kids learned the importance of buying healthy foods, how to stick to a budget and buy only what’s on your list, and best of all—have fun doing it.
It’s not supposed to be this way. You had big dreams and great expectations only to have them smashed by the reality that life is disappointing. What do you do? How can you persevere when you feel like there’s no hope for change. It’s just the way life is—one disappointment after another—right? It feels like…
“You’re not really good at being a stay at home mom.” The words stung as they rolled off my husband’s lips. The hardest part about it—he was right. Our house was a mess—things were scattered everywhere. There was no sense of consistency or fun in our lives. I was emotionally and physically drained. I was…
I would have never imagined using volcanoes as a way to explain to my 2.5 year old what it’s like to get sick. Last week, I was reading his alphabet book and the page with the letter V had a picture of a volcano. Thinking this was an excellent science opportunity, I showed him a…
Some days are tough, that’s true. But the good life is one where your best days outnumber your rough ones. To be honest, there was a time that I used to really struggle focusing on the good days compared to the rough ones. It’s like in the midst of everything, I would often turn inward…
It’s hard being a mom. I hear it and you hear it all the time. It’s a message we’ve taken on fully as moms—the celebration of mom memes, #momlife shirts, and the #motherhoodishard movement. What does it sound and look like? “May your coffee be stronger than your toddler.” “I scream. You scream. We all…
“There was a six car accident on the highway this morning.” Said my husband. I was just waking up when he shared the news with me. Immediately my thoughts went to, “I hope my brother’s okay.” And until I got a text from him saying that he was okay, I couldn’t stop feeling anxious. This…