Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the popular phrase, “enjoy every moment”? If so, try these mantras to overcome mom guilt…From time to time, when I’m wandering through the home decor aisles of a craft store, I’ll see a lovely little sign that says in beautiful, scripty lettering, “Enjoy Every Moment.”
It’s a lovely sentiment, really.
But whenever I read that phrase, I am suddenly filled with a strong desire to gently take the sign off the shelf and THROW those lovely, artistically-rendered words across the store.
Because I think that telling an exhausted mom of young kids (or anyone else, for that matter) to enjoy EVERY moment is a bit much to ask.
Enjoy every single one of the 86,400 seconds you’ll experience each day.
No pressure, right? Enter mom guilt…
No one should have to read that sign and feel inadequate for all the moments she didn’t enjoy yesterday.
I’m here to tell you, mamas, that you do NOT have to enjoy every moment.
I want to make it clear here that I am not a pessimist. On the contrary, I believe there are many wonderful, happy moments to be enjoyed each day. There truly is magic in motherhood; it’s the most amazing, miraculous job in the world, especially when we slow down enough to savor it.
However, despite our best efforts, not every moment of every day of our lives will be enjoyable–especially when many hours of our days are spent with little people who are both unpredictable and demanding.
There are times when we are so exhausted from all the rocking and feeding and whining and playing and refereeing and EVERYTHING else that we want to scream…or cry…or both.
So, little sign in the store, cut us moms some slack. And, moms, give yourself some grace.
You don’t have to smile as you stand over the sink washing out the third pair of poopy underwear of the day and tell yourself, “this is SO fun!”
You don’t have to laugh when all your kids turn up their noses at the dinner you made, and Daddy is working late so there is no one there to appreciate your hard work.
You don’t have to feel all warm and sentimental when all three kids are crying at once (about completely unrelated grievances) and you have no clue where to start in picking up the pieces.
It’s okay not to enjoy those moments. Sure, we’ll look back at them and laugh later, but if you don’t see the humor in the moment, that’s OKAY.
A more realistic goal
Instead of trying to enjoy every moment, I’m setting more realistic goals for myself.
The following revised versions aren’t as catchy as the original. Maybe no one will buy a farmhouse print of them (although wouldn’t that be great!?), but they are certainly a lot more attainable.
So, if you’re like me and feel a little overwhelmed by trying to enjoy every moment, try these mantras instead…
1. Make time each day to do what you love as a mom.
There are so many tasks to do when you’re the mom and household CEO…cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, running kids to and from school and who knows where else…it’s never-ending.
When we’re not careful, these jobs can take up our entire day…leaving us feeling grumpy and overworked.
Ask yourself: When do I enjoy being a mom the most?
Now, make some time today to do those things.
For me, I’m most satisfied in my mothering when I’m reading to my kids and going outside on adventures with them. My favorite time of day is when I snuggle in bed next to my boys and get lost in a book with them. Sharing my love of reading through these stories each night has become somewhat of a sacred ritual for us.
I love being a mom during those moments…so I try to make those moments happen often.
2. This won’t last forever.
Yesterday, I found myself surrounded by crying children. One was mad because I told him he wouldn’t have time to do his favorite learning game on the computer (someone needs to teach him the meaning of the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger”). One was angry because I asked him to wash his hands after using the bathroom…with soap (how dare I???). And the youngest was just whiny and crying because he wasn’t feeling well (poor baby…I can’t blame him for that one). There were piercing wails, whiny cries, and shouts of “you’re mean!” pummeling my ears from all directions. That moment was not enjoyable.
However, five minutes later, we were all contentedly walking down the street…no tears in sight. The hard moments are hard, but they also usually pass quickly. Even epic meltdowns will end eventually.
In the meantime, take a deep breath (or several) and repeat to yourself…”this too shall pass.” I know that doesn’t really make it easier in the moment, but it is true, and it gives me hope when I’m in the thick of things.
Remember, too, that the precious moments of rocking a sleeping baby won’t last forever. Now, that my oldest is in school, I’m realizing all those old ladies who smiled at my boys wistfully and said to me, “It goes so fast” were right. Giving eskimo kisses, bandaging invisible owies, and fighting mud dragons with sticks in the backyard is only a short season of life. Soon, those childhood moments will evolve into adventures with sports teams, driving, dating…and who knows what else. This time won’t last forever…so let’s take time to see the good in today.
3. Hang on to the good moments.
One of my big goals lately has been to make a real effort to focus on the good moments of motherhood.
Sometimes it’s easy to complain about the frustrations of parenting, especially at the end of the day when I’m just. so. tired. I want someone to understand what I’ve been through in the past 12 hours…to celebrate my survival of another day of the greatest challenge I’ve ever undertaken. I want someone to appreciate my efforts (because kids aren’t always the best at saying thank you, right?).
Still, I don’t want negative talk to be the majority of what I say about my kids…even if I wait until they can’t hear me.
I love my three crazy boys to the moon and back, and I really do believe that they are amazing little human beings. I’m proud of their efforts, I’m in awe of their creativity, and I’m melted by their love.
Sure, there are rough moments. We can accept their existence, learn from them, and then let them go.
Let the good moments be the part you remember most. Here are a few ways I’ve tried to hold on to the memory of the good moments:
- tell your spouse the highlight of your day (and ask theirs too!)
- keep a gratitude journal to count your blessings each day
- make a book of funny things your kids say
- take pictures and look back at them frequently (even if you have to scroll through a hundred selfies of your child’s foot to get to the good ones)
The Reality vs. The Ideal
So, mamas, next time you see one of those lovely-but-oh-so-misguided signs and mom guilt starts to creep in, remind yourself that it’s okay not to enjoy every moment.
Because what the little sign in the store doesn’t tell you is that you don’t have to enjoy every moment to have a happy, abundant life. A full life is filled with many emotions.
So let’s not mistakenly try (and fail) to squash every negative feeling in an attempt to be a perfectly happy mom. It won’t work anyway.
Instead, let’s just try more often to notice the many little joys that come our way. Let’s allow the frustrating moments to pass through our lives, and hold on tightly to the many good moments that make us smile.
What do you think? Do you like the sentiment of “enjoy every moment” or are you in the throw-it-across-the-room camp? Tell me in the comments below!