SALT LAKE CITY — Ah, motherhood. There's really nothing quite like experiencing the joys of watching your child grow, learn and discover the world around them. It's a beautiful, magical, one-of-a-kind job.
Most of the time, that is.
If we're being honest, fellow mothers, sometimes this gig is downright exhausting. There are days when I wonder how I make it to bedtime without pulling every single hair from my head.
You know the days of which I speak, right? The ones when the beautiful, happy, miraculous little angels to whom you gave birth suddenly — often with no apparent catalyst — turn into screaming, whining, contradictory monsters.
So what can we do to keep our wits about us?
Put yourself in time out
My mother-in-law often recalls how, as a mother of three spirited young boys, she would find it necessary to lock herself in her bathroom, sit on the floor and let out a few screams and tears of her own. I always chuckled at the thought of my sweet mother-in-law hiding from my husband and his brothers in what is arguably the least-dignified room in the house.
Oh I laughed alright, up until the day I found myself seeking refuge in my own bathroom, Diet Coke in hand, as my children banged on the door until they presumably found themselves bored with the whole tantrum theatrics and moved on to their puzzles.
You know what? After a few moments of alone time, I found in myself the strength and will to open the door, wipe my tears away and dispose of the "kids for sale" sign I'd been working on all afternoon.
Find your 5 minutes of peace throughout the day, whether it be meditating in your own little corner or sitting in your parked car in the garage. These 300 seconds will get you through the most difficult hours, of this I am certain.
As the wife of a graduate student, my budget for all things frivolous is painfully limited. My thoughts are often consumed by the stack of bills laughing at me from my desk, the groceries that seem to run out much faster these days (who knew my 18-month-old would have such an appetite?), and the guilt brought on by my desire for a new pair of heels.
But setting aside a little money and time each week to spend on something that makes you happy is an extremely worthwhile investment. For me, that splurge can be as small as a McDonald's ice cream cone or as extravagant as a pedicure.
In fact, your treat doesn't even need to cost you a cent. Reading your favorite book while soaking in a bubble bath is zero dollars, you know?
Whatever your indulgence may be, make it something that rejuvenates you; something that reminds you that hard work deserves a little reward.
It's completely worth it.
I know, I know, on the daily list of to-dos exercise can be one of the harder tasks to squeeze in. But a little bit of physical activity not only helps a busy mom stay healthy, it can greatly contribute to her happiness as well.
The American Council on Exercise offers a list of tips for moms who want to make exercise a part of their busy routine. Some of those suggestions include scheduling your workouts for the week ahead of time, buying workout DVDs to maximize school and nap time, and joining a gym with a good daycare.
Another tip: Involve your kids in your workouts. Instead of driving to the park, load them in the stroller and run. For the extra ambitious, you could even set up an obstacle course in the yard.
Schedule a monthly night out with girlfriends
This is perhaps the one that takes the most effort, but for me it yields the most effective results. Pencil in one evening a month with the girls and without the children. Go to dinner, see a movie, check out a museum, stay in and gossip over junk food — it's not the activity that matters, it's the off-the-mom-clock time and adult conversation that makes all the difference.
As mothers, we are our own greatest critics. We're going to yell, we're going to lose our temper, and we're most certainly going to feel a little inadequate.
We often see the glowing mothers around us who handle their children with seemingly effortless grace and wonder how it is we were entrusted with our own little people when we fall so short.
But it's time we as mothers cut ourselves some slack and celebrate the things we're doing right. We're keeping humans alive and happy, for crying out loud!
And that, my friends, is no small feat.