4 Ways to Take the Drudgery Out of Motherhood

The following is a guest post written by Jamie Martin of Steady Mom and Simple Homeschool.

Nobody ever said motherhood would be easy, yet I’m probably not the only one who has found that some seasons challenge us beyond what we anticipated. Did we really know what we were signing up for? Are monotony and the mundane meant to be our lifelong companions?

Though we may not say so, sometimes we miss aspects of our life before motherhood. I remember weekend days when my husband and I would look at each other, after sleeping in, and ask, “What do you want to do today?”

I’d welcome a bit of that boredom now. Or even just a full night’s sleep.

Thankfully we can take practical steps to highlight what we love about motherhood and shed some of those burdens we carry. 

Here are four ideas.

1. Clean less.

Yes, you really can clean less. Our level of cleanliness is optional, though we sometimes don’t want to admit it. We may say we “have to” do so-and-so, but all those “have-to’s” represent choices we have made.

Though many women seem to believe otherwise, perfectionism is not a virtue. It does not serve our families. I’ve written previously about my experiment with once-a-month cleaning and about the foundational for cleaning less – decluttering. When we tear down the idol of the “perfect” home, we discover more time for the things we love.

2. Find out what drains and what fuels you.

Someone who is self-employed typically focuses the majority of their time on what they do best and what they love. They try to minimize the rest. As women in charge of our own schedules at home, we can do the same.

Ask yourself, “What fuels and what drains me?” Personally, I dislike running errands and grocery shopping. I still have to do these tasks from time to time, but I opt out when I can. Thankfully, my husband shops for our weekly food each Sunday.

It isn’t selfish to keep ourselves fueled instead of drained. As we invest in ourselves we become better, more patient mamas for our little people. That’s a win-win for everyone in the home.

3. Learn how to dream again.

Becoming a mom means that we lay ourselves and our rights down. That is right and good – for a time. But not forever.

God wants to give us new dreams for our lives – inspiration for our families and passion for our mission in life! Put these dreams (yes, even the silly ones) in writing somewhere. Brainstorm and be specific.

4. Guard your thoughts.

Negative thinking tends to creep over us subtly. Without awareness, we find resentment instead of joy for our mothering journey.

Guarding our thoughts leads to contentment instead. Which would you prefer?

This doesn’t mean that we’ll never have a bad day again; our challenges serve a purpose – they make us women of strength, endurance, and patience. Women of purpose. But paying attention to our thoughts helps us notice when we need to change our focus.

I want hard-working mamas to think of motherhood as their dream job instead of drudgery.

For this reason, I wrote my latest e-book, Mindset for Moms: From Mundane to Marvelous Thinking in Just 30 Days. It contains 30 short entries, perfect for busy mamas to read, each one highlighting a way we can transform our thinking and our lives.

The lessons highlighted in the e-book come from the pain and joy of my personal experience. Lessons that have taken me years to learn, you can learn in days – 30 days, to be exact.

A Special Offer for Keeper of the Home readers:

Any Keeper of the Home reader who buys Mindset for Moms in any format (PDF, Kindle, Nook, or iTunes) can receive a FREE PDF version of my first book, Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood (a $9 value!). Stephanie reviewed Steady Days two years ago, if you’d like to read more about it.

To take advantage of this offer, simply send me an email after your purchase with the subject line “I bought Mindset for Moms” and I’ll respond within a few days with your free copy of Steady Days. Offer valid through March 31, 2012.

Tell me: Has the drudgery of motherhood ever overwhelmed you? What strategies do you use to keep hold of the positive and release the negative?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom and serves as editor of Simple Homeschool.

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Comments

  1. Good day! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you’ve got right here on this post. I shall be coming back to your blog for more soon. I are always looking for fun activities to do. Nice stuff, simply great! I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you weblog post.It’s a big responsibility being a mommy! Thankyou for your input on the issue! It is for sure appreciated.

  2. Great post! I can tell you that there will be light at the end of the tunnel! My kids are all grown and I have 7 grandchildren, and I finally get to reap the benefits of the hard work. It has been 30 years in the making!
    Hang in there ladies!

  3. SoCalLynn says:

    I love being a mother, and I was blessed to become a stay at home mom 12 years ago. I have loved every minute of it, but as my youngest daughter gets older and will begin high school (home school) next year, I am in that stage of wondering, what next? I left my former profession as a paralegal and haven’t kept current, and really have zero desire to return to that field, so I need to start dreaming now and see if I can’t start working toward something entirely new, at age 50+!

  4. I really can relate to these great 4 recommendations. I know when I get stuck in the grind of monotony I usually need to start picking up on one of these points. It helps to shake things up a bit, or think about a new goal, or sometimes take a day “off” of the household duties that never leave us. Thanks for putting it so well!

  5. A wise woman once told me “parenting is not convenient.” It was before she had children of her own. She even claims not to have remembered saying this, but I’ve thought of it often when up with babies or now, when I’m not in the mood to be mama.

    Who knew she’d become the super mama guru she is today? I did! I had an inkling way back then. xoxo

  6. I was there a month ago but now things are on the upswing. I’ve been treating myself to more date nights with my spouse, mom’s night’s out, and more one-on-one time with my kids. My husband and I split up the kids and just have some good ‘ol quality time. It has been wonderful!

  7. This was such an unexpected and wonderful read. I almost skipped it because of the title, as I rarely feel the drudgery of motherhood. Probably because I’m doing 3 of the 4 great ideas you highlighted. Off to start dreaming and make it 4 of 4. Thanks, Jamie!

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post, even though I am not yet a mother. It was a great reminder that perfectionism is not equal to godliness. Sometimes even us busy not-yet-moms need to clean less and focus more on what really matters. Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. Just this morning I was overwhelmed.

    -I have a cold, and it’s that time of the month again.
    -Dishes had piled up (oh, how i miss a dishwasher).
    -The two boys (18 mos; 1 year) were in need of continual diaper and clothing changes.
    -My 3 and a half year old was refusing her oatmeal and on the prowl for snacks.
    -When we all four of us finally tried to have playtime, there was another dirty diaper requiring a fresh set of clothes, I needed another bathroom break, and my daughter gave up on us, resorting to quiet playtime by herself.

    I longed for personal space and a quiet moment. I felt the resentment building.

    When these moments and days strike, as they inevitably do, I find it best to focus my energy on connecting through play. I can’t give up on this, even if it fails at first (as it did today).

    Once we are reconnected, we all feel better. Through play and laughter, we all end up releasing our tensions.

    • “When these moments and days strike, as they inevitably do, I find it best to focus my energy on connecting through play.”

      Such great advice, Amanda!

      jamie

  10. Each stage of parenting holds new joys and challenges. So many moms struggle with even low-grade depression or guilt and feel that they have no where to turn. I am a firm believer (though it is a learning process) in learning to get our own needs met; getting ourselves fed and filled so we have something to pour out into others lives.

  11. As Katherine said, remembering that feelings are fleeting and will inevitably change helps keep me from being so negative when the thought of one more load of laundry makes me groan.

    • “remembering that feelings are fleeting and will inevitably change helps keep me from being so negative”

      This is really powerful and true, Steph. Often we need to just carry on and wait them out and feelings begin to change on their own.

      jamie

  12. I find it always goes back to the Biblical command to “take every thought captive.” My thoughts rule my emotions, not the other way around, and God provides me with everything I need to be successful in capturing my runaway negative thinking. I struggle the most on days when I haven’t had my morning quiet time and I have our family over scheduled. I try to avoid that situation altogether but when it sneaks up on me, I have to intentionally stop myself and pray for a renewed right perspective, a sense of gratefulness for all the ways I am blessed and a clear set of priorities for what absolutely has to be done and what I just need to let go of. Thanks for posting on this topic.

    Brenda – mom to 3 boys, 10, 8 & 6

    • @Brenda
      thanks for you comment. today, this post was helpful, but what really struck a cord with me was your comment about “take every thought captive”. i need to remember that i’m doing everything for the Glory of the Lord God and when i let me thoughts get grumpy and out of shape, then my emotions soon follow. again, thanks!

  13. My house is always in a state of mess and dog hair. I try to keep on top of things, but it never happens. If I cleaned less, you would have to shovel us out within a week. I really don’t see how living in constant squalor would prevent me from being drained. If anything, it makes me feel like a failure, stresses me out and frustrated me because we can never find anything. I could scrub the whole house down to perfect spotlessness and an hour later it barely looks like I did anything.

    • I reached a turning point in my motherhood when I finally made peace with being an introvert–which meant admitting that what drains me is being around other people, including my child. I’ve been a much more joyful, compassionate, engaged mom since I started carving out regular alone time.

  14. I love the idea of once a month cleaning. I’m thinking I may give this a try! How have I not thought of this before? :)

  15. I am reading Mindset forMoms! It has already been such a blessing to me…I am regaining my joy as a mom. The biggest step for me so far has been not giving breath to negative thoughts & feelings and instead purposefully speaking and writing positive thoughts and praises for my kiddos. (and husband!)

    Thank you!

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Heidi! It’s amazing how some small changes like what you’ve mentioned can result in such a great payoff!

      jamie

  16. Yes! Thank you for this post! I am a new mom to a three month old girl and I am very lucky to stay at home. But I’ve been struggling…A LOT…with my new routine. It has been a difficult transition from working full time as a nurse to carrying for an infant full time. On my worst days, I get to feeling down and end up sitting on the couch watching tv all day. But I just noticed that my attitude is completely different when I kept myself very busy all day. I felt peace and a sense of accomplishment. Choosing a new attitude also helps me tremendously. We have been in a stressful living situation with a new baby and starting a new farm over the past year. I try and tell myself that no matter how stressful I think my life is, it can always be worse :). Also, knowing that I need alone time at the end of the day to refill my motherhood tank helps too. There are many days that I don’t get any alone time, but I know they will start coming more consistently. And when motherhood really gets me down, I pray. I pray all those prayers that I had a couple years ago when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to have children and then all my new prayers since Clara was born. Your posts have been really speaking to this new momma, keep it up!

    • This really resonates with me. I completely understand where you are coming from. I was a full time nurse until my first was born and really struggled with adapting to being at home all day… Not motherhood, but just the extreme change of pace in my new routine. I loved my job… The social aspect of it, the challenges, the patients, the whole thing… And I really missed it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my little guy and knew without a doubt that I wanted to be home with him, but I still missed it.

      Fast forward 6 years and I have 4 young kids (with another due in the few months). I’ve come a long way in finding that balance. Like you, I really need to keep busy. I become a little stir-crazy if I don’t get out and do things :-)

      Balance for me includes attending a women’s Bible study (with childcare provided) weekly, frequent playdays with friends with kids, and continuing to work on a very part-time basis (evening only) after taking my year of maternity leave.

      Motherhood is the best and those little people fill your heart like nothing else can. Take the time you need to find your balance and your routine.

      God Bless.

    • Take care of yourself and hang in there, Jamie! You’ll find your new rhythm unfolding as you just relax and allow it to. Clara is blessed to have you, and vice versa I’m sure!

      jamie

  17. Thanks for this post. It was just what I needed. I have an 8 month old who has stopped sleeping through the night. I think the sleep deprivation really gets to me, but these are some great reminders.

  18. This happens to me on occasion. It helps me to remember that the feelings are usually cyclical and temporary- that “oh I can’t do this for another day” feeling will pass. In those times I try to look at where I am spending my time and energy, to see if it is life-giving to me. Sometimes I need to cut back on our normal routine and add something in that revives me.

  19. I am due with my first child in May, so while I don’t have kids of my own just yet, I am a full time nanny for two little boys during the work week. I can see how the routine of motherhood can become somewhat mundane and how negative thoughts can creep in while we are least aware. This is a great post with some great reminders. Thanks!