I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly patient or chilled out mother. Unfortunately, patience is not one of my strengths. Given this, you can see why motherhood kind of threw a spanner in the works for me. Patience is the single most important trait you need. But don’t worry. As I’ve learnt, even the impatient will survive and thrive.
While I always knew I wanted to be a mother – it was actually the thing I wanted most in life – I was also extremely passionate about my career as a magazine editor. When I had my first child, I was the deputy editor at VOGUE Australia. I travelled around the world attending various fashion events (Chanel couture shows, Louis Vuitton fine jewellery launches, Prada exhibitions).
I was in control of my career. When I got stressed, I put my head down, worked hard and for the most part, remained very calm. My impatience even worked wonders in helping me climb to the top end of the magazine’s masthead.
When I became a mother, it was a shock. Suddenly, I couldn’t control the most important thing in my life: my daughter. I couldn’t control when she slept, when she fed, and I couldn’t control my body (both my girls were premature and I hated having no control over going into labour early).
“Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for a reason – it is torture.”
My sense of calm went out the window and suddenly, my impatience wasn’t so helpful. My husband would probably describe me as irrational or crazy during those early years of motherhood. Thank goodness that we can laugh about it now, instead of cry. Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for a reason – it is torture.
Now, as a mother of a three- and almost five-year-old, I’m a little better at my new-ish job as a mother. It helps that I mostly get to sleep through the night. I’ve learnt a little more about how to keep my cool, but I’m also realistic about the fact that being cool, calm and collected 24/7 isn’t going to happen – at least, for me.
So here are the little hacks that help me to keep calm (most of the time):
I didn’t exercise for the first two years of motherhood. I was too exhausted and spent a lot of time pushing my baby girl around in the pram or bouncing her on a fit ball. Eventually, I joined an exercise group in the local park where you could bring your baby. It was wonderful and I now couldn’t imagine a week where I don’t squeeze in some form of exercise (Pilates, Barre Body, a quick run).
I’ve since joined a gym that has a kids’ club and go a few times a week. Every mother needs to exercise, even if it’s a quick jog around the block or a big walk with the pram – it’s my number one tip for keeping calm.
“Every mother needs to exercise, even if it’s a quick jog around the block or a big walk with the pram – it’s my number one tip for keeping calm.”
I did a meditation course with a wonderful woman called Jacqui Lewis from a local studio in Sydney called The Broad Place. Given how quickly my mind is always racing, I find it terribly hard to slow down and focus. I walked in sceptical – how on earth could she slow my mind down? Mission impossible. Or not.
After I was given my mantra, we meditated for 20 minutes (she recommends 20 minutes of meditation twice a day), and I opened my eyes and felt more refreshed than I had in months. Every mother should meditate. Don’t have time? Remember we often resist the things we need most in life. Try your hardest to make time – it’ll change your life and make you a much calmer person.
“Remember we often resist the things we need most in life. Try your hardest to make time – it’ll change your life”
I don’t plan a lot and when I do overschedule, I’ll generally panic and cancel everything last minute. I often remind myself that ‘you can do it all, just not all at once’. Pick what’s important to you and forget the rest. I’m constantly learning about what we can and can’t manage as a family.
I’ll usually have a drink with a girlfriend on a Friday night (we joke that it’s our after-work drinks and throw the kids in the bath while sipping on a champagne). Then most weekends are kept free.
We’re all so shattered after the week that the thought of running around from one social engagement to the next just makes me feel even more exhausted. We prioritise activities (ballet), kids’ parties and time with family or close friends. My favourite way to spend the weekend is pottering around the house. I’m a huge homebody.
“Work out who you really value in life and make time for those who really matter.”
Spend time with people you really value
Work out who you really value in life and make time for those who really matter. I don’t want or need a lot of friends; I barely have time for those I really value. Less is always more. You’ll be a calmer, happier person if you only spend time with people you really value and cherish. Get rid of toxic people! Oh, and while you’re at it, get off social media on the weekend and connect with your nearest and dearest – we all need a break from Facebook and Instagram.
There’s nothing more challenging than trying to calm down a toddler who is throwing an epic tantrum (any tips on teenagers are most welcome!). I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll usually start off calm and then end up yelling (yes, I yell when I’m pushed to my limits).
The problem is, when you yell, the stress levels just go through the roof. The one thing that helps me calm down is a few deep breaths or removing myself from the situation. That’s if you can. Obviously, if you’re in public you can’t just walk away from your child. I also remind myself that every stage is just a phase and it all passes eventually.
Remind yourself daily how lucky you are to be a mother. I’m the first to vent about how hard it can be. The daily grind wears you down. But my gosh, I cannot believe how lucky I am to have two healthy children. When you’re not feeling calm, take a moment to remind yourself of how blessed you are to be a mother. My toddler drives me insane half the time but she’s also the funniest, cheekiest, craziest little human I’ve ever met – always focus on the positives.
Header image – photographer: Jake Terrey