Wisdom from a mum
Kirsty Foster is a mum to three boys (aged 8 years, 5 years and 11 weeks), a qualified ECE and primary school teacher and is training to be a Montessori teacher. She shares her tips for happiness.
Find a happy place
For me, it’s the dog area of our local beach. The dogs are so happy – it’s contagious!
It could be a slow walk, a bike ride, a group fitness class, yoga, or a weight training session. Whatever you enjoy, do it as much as you can. Endorphins are a mum’s best friend.
You are sleep deprived and exhausted and yes, you need a coffee – but can you cut back to one a day? For me, two coffees a day made me anxious and stressed. I couldn’t stop thinking about the millions of jobs I needed to do. I felt out of control and there was no time to enjoy life.
Make a list
I like to go old-school and make a huge list of absolutely everything I have to do. Each day I pick two things off the list and write them on a sticky note. It’s very satisfying throwing out the completed sticky note and crossing things off the big list. But hey... if you don’t get to those things, don’t fret, just add them to tomorrow’s sticky note.
Listen to music
Whenever you’re home have the radio going or your favourite playlist. Music makes you feel happy and it’s good for babies to listen to as well.
Always have a good book or magazine on the go. It’s something relaxing to do when you have a spare minute and is great for unwinding before bedtime.
Relish the good bits
These are happening every day. Don’t neglect them. Log them in your brain by thinking “This is a special moment”. Time flies and one day you’ll thank yourself that you took the time to appreciate them.
Join a coffee or mother’s group. There are other mums out there going through what you’re going through. Talk about your challenges and successes, help and support them. It feels good.
Accept that you are different now
When you look back on life you will realise that the new you is in fact better than the old you.
Ask your partner to look after baby at least once a week while you do something for yourself. And ask them to bluff about how things went when you were gone. If you know baby cried the entire time you were gone then you won’t enjoy yourself next time. It’s only once a week, baby will survive without you!
It’s tempting to eat lots of sugar when sleep deprived as you think it will give you a pick-me-up but it will work against you down the track. Grab a carrot, some celery, a pear, or handful of nuts instead. They’ll give you the nutrition you need and you will feel much happier and in control of your emotions.
Remember you're only human
Accept that you have limitations. You cannot be everything to everyone. It is okay to say no and you are allowed to cry and get angry.
When you’re tired and things are challenging it is natural to worry. But do not tell yourself you are not a good parent. You are trying your best. Tell yourself what you are doing well and seek help for things that are not going well – from books, friends or professionals. Things will get easier!
Understand that babies are not robots
Sometimes they cry and we don’t know why - maybe they’re just itchy? Accept that babies are inconsistent creatures and love them and cherish them.
Have a hobby
If you had a favourite pastime in your old life, try to do it again from time to time. You may even discover a new hobby; enjoy it and don’t feel guilty. You are allowed to have a life too.
Have regular couple time
You don’t have to go out (but if you have the opportunity, take it!) – just take time to cuddle up and watch a movie together. Your baby will thank you for it later – if Mum and Dad are in a good space then baby will be happy too.
Teach your baby how to enjoy her own company
Give her regular time on a play mat from birth. She’ll learn that being by herself is a good thing and it will give her time to develop physical skills at the same time. (It also frees you up to be you and to get stuff done.)
I’m not saying ignore your baby, but simply give her space too.
Enjoy the journey
Take it from me – you blink and they are suddenly eight years old. This is your life and your journey, don’t miss it. Good luck and be happy! ′