Vagia Campbell, a Respiratory Therapist and mother of two, always wanted children, four or more, in fact. But then the all-consuming reality of parenthood set in. “When you lose the complete luxury of doing something purely selfish, the inability to think for just yourself, that’s suffocation," says Campbell. "Compound that with the feelings society imposes on you as a mother, telling you how you should act and feel. That’s the mommy trap.”
Motherhood is the hardest transition most of us will ever make. Day upon day spent indoors with small children can push even the most prepared mother to the precipice of madness. When parenting becomes about just making it through, counting down the hours until we crawl back under our sheets, something’s got to give.
Here are five tips for breaking free of The Mommy Trap.
“I think moms feel trapped on a daily basis,” says Kelowna-based maternity nurse Liz Hinton, mother of four. Liza Hagusa, owner of Mother Me Postpartum Doula Agency in Burnaby, BC, agrees. She suggests every mom gets outside, even if it’s just for five minutes a day on the front porch. Thirty minutes of adult conversation can also do wonders to perk up a lonely afternoon. If you’re heading to the park, phone or text a friend.Photo: MariaBobrova/iStockphoto
“I cannot stress enough how important it was to have a friend you could say anything to! Everyone needs a lifeline: a place to cry and share without fear of judgment,” urges Campbell. Surface mommy talk can drain us more than anything else. Instead of rehashing kids’ bedtime struggles, Vancouver’s Mothers Unfolding groups have a firm “no baby talk” rule, encouraging mothers to talk about themselves instead of their children, sharing their high and low of each week.Photo: webphotographeer/iStockphoto
“Identify the things you love and pursue them. Do something totally different than being a mom,” recommends Hinton. This may mean re-establishing or maintaining a professional life, riding a horse once a month, joining a poetry workshop or hitting a wine bar with a friend.Photo: AleksandarNakic/iStockphoto
Instead of picking up another celebrity mag consider Susan Maushart’s thoughtful book The Mask of Motherhood or Iris Krasnow’s Surrendering to Motherhood. It will help give words to your experience and the intellectual challenge may be just the thing you need. Let the kids roam the backyard and turn 10 pages. Better yet, grab a pen and write in the margins.Photo: lisathephotographer/iStockphoto
Beat the competition game by nipping comparison in the bud. Instead, foster a circle of honesty: a regular meet-up with a friend or group of moms where the masks are thrown out the window and successes are celebrated.Photo: jhorrocks/iStockphoto
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