Take some time for yourself. Do what you want to do. It will make you a happier person and a better mom.
Seven children is a lot of kids, to some people.
It's still a lot to me, even though that's how many children I have.
The energy required to feed, clothe, clean, and care for so many people is enough to power a small city.
No wonder I found myself feeling burned out. My life was go, go, go, busy, busy, busy.
I would crash into bed exhausted, although sometimes I was unable to sleep, because I couldn't turn off my brain.
I would wake up with one or more children during the night who felt sick or scared or sleepless.
I would crawl out of bed in the morning because some little person needed me to feed them, or wipe their behind, or stop a squabble.
Is it a surprise that I was unhappy?
One afternoon, after days and weeks and years of fulfilling endless requests and demands, in a torrent of tears, I finally asked myself, "Who am I? What do I want?"
It seems like such a basic question. But in the cloud of mom brain, such thoughts rarely get stage time.
Asking it that day really hit me hard, and I took some serious time to think about it.
"I'm not just a mom," I realized. "I'm a person, a woman who has passions, interests, and pursuits that I've failed to pursue."
Those simple questions became a turning point in my happiness. I realized that ignoring who I am as a person was not helping me or my family to be happy.
Just like I was already doing with my children, I decided to listen to, and fulfill, the things I wanted to do. "Writing? Treadmill? Lunch date? Mom-cation? Of course you can do that!" I told myself.
I began carving out time in my day, week, and month for just me. This was time where I got to do whatever I wanted — time that I used to pursue my passions and interests.
As needed, I asked for help — from my husband, my older children, my friends or neighbors. If needed, I used technology — usually movies. That personal time became more important than my "bad mom" rules about technology use.
Day by day and week by week, I developed a stronger sense of personal identity. I started to tell my children things like, "Mommy is a person too, and she's going to sit down to eat. Get your own spoon."
I began developing systems for chores, study time (I homeschool), and "training classes" (Think: "Children, this is how you properly clean a toilet").
Can you believe it? My children became more responsible and helpful, and less dependent! ;)
And most importantly, I became a happier person, which made me a better mother, wife, and human.
(Originally published, by me, on Thrive Global)