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I was a completely overwhelmed mom. Our family had just made a major move from city to country life. The addition of my second child to our family was kicking my butt. My husband was working full-time and going to graduate school.
This all meant that I was having a hard time finding any time for myself in this new world of unending housework and parenting.
Each night I would collapse exhausted on the couch and binge watch Netflix. I felt all my good intentions to get something accomplished in my life burned away by so many small fires I had to put out throughout the day. I did not feel I was steering my ship, or that I was even on it. Instead, I felt like a kayaker in the shipping lane, paddling for my life.I felt like a kayaker in the shipping lane, paddling for my lifeClick To Tweet
Most of all, I felt anxious, depleted, angry, resentful, and guilty for feeling that way about my beautiful life. There were many moments of joyful parenting, of course, but at the end of the day, I did not recognize myself anymore. I felt like less of a person, and more of a stereotype every day: the overwhelmed mom.
So I decided to grab hold of my life and rein in the chaos. Little by little I have been able to carve out my spot. It started with this blog’s namesake, reining, and led to this blog.
Now I want to help all the other overwhelmed moms out there with practical tips for personal growth. We need to keep growing, just as fast as our kids, so we aren’t eclipsed by their shadow. Here’s how to start.
Reconnect With Your Passion
I grew up riding horses. I spent 8-10 hours a day in the summer at the barn, no small feat in 100+ degree weather. During the school year I was there everyday from 3:30pm to 6. I loved it. I was good at it. I felt like I was making a difference in the horses’ lives and their owners’ when I rode other people’s horses.
I competed a little, but mostly my satisfaction came from the daily grind of trying to do something just a little bit better every day. I wasn’t always better but I was building. At the end of my ten plus years of riding, I could look back and see how far I had come. It was immensely satisfying.
But then life got in the way. I moved to various cities, had a busy career, and had babies. All of a sudden I was awash in dirty dishes, diapers, and clothes.
I know I was building something with having a family too, but it’s so hard to wait to see the tangible results of your work. I needed something I could build now, to remind me that I was still capable of it.
When we moved to our new country town, I made it my mission to start riding again. It took me 2 months to get the nerve up to cold call horse trainers for a lesson. See, I used to ride all the time, but now I have no horse, no tack, and no idea if I can still ride. Can you help? I was sure I’d be put on an old nag, or that I would just suck after so many years.
I finally secured a lesson at the barn I grew up riding in. As I stepped out of the car, I nearly passed out from the waft of my childhood. The smell, sweet hay mixed with manure, and the dusty salty taste of sweaty horses, nearly stampeded me. I drank it in like water in the desert, in long gulps. I knew then that I had to make this part of my routine. This was my ship to board.
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You Are Worth the Time
Since that first ride, I leased a horse and have ridden with near-religious consistancy. It’s a 2.5 hour commitment twice a week. It is so much time and so much money that it seems crazy to spend all of that on myself. But it makes me whole.
It is the only time that I am all mine. No one wants anything from me. I am not fulfilling or failing anyone. I have a job — a horse that needs exercise and a good rider — and that’s it.
I can finally feel who I am again which makes me a better mother. I can love my kids without resenting what I’ve lost. Returning home from riding I am happy, energized, and ready to bask in the joys of motherhood instead of wallowing in the difficulties.
It is a lot of time to take just for me, but honestly, it’s an investment in improving the quality of my time with my kids even as I reduce the quantity.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships
It is stunning to me how making the time for this one endeavor has turned me from an overwhelmed mom into an active and engaged person. Feeling competent at something is a rare feeling for a parent. You never really know if what you’re doing as a parent is “right” so you just blunder on through the darkness doing your best.
In reining, I have seen measurable improvement. This has given me the confidence and perspective to do other things that define me a little better in the blur of parenting.Taking time for me helps define me a little better in the blur of parenting.Click To Tweet
I realized I needed more mental stimulation and a creative outlet, so this blog was born. I wanted more control over my health, so I quit sugar. I needed to get into a regular exercise routine so I’d be strong enough to ride, so I started my one-minute workout. I wanted to feel like a more conscientious global citizen , so I lowered my waste output. I needed better daily habits, so I started scheduling everything.
All of these projects were born from nurturing myself. By making this one change, I have been able to rein in so many of the chaotic aspects of my life that were making me feel like an overwhelmed mom. And from that, I have become a far better parent because I have so much more to give to my kids.
Carve out a small piece of the word for yourself and start building. Make sure it’s somewhere you’re not mama, wife, daughter, or friend, you’re just you. You will be amazed at how everything else will naturally improve if you can reconnect with who you are and build back some of the confidence that is naturally lost in motherhood.
I’d love to hear about your passion projects in the comments!
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