By Mona Ismaeil
Close your eyes and picture a ‘mother’. What do you see? An overly exhausted woman, clothes and hair a total mess, yelling and chasing her children around the house. She’s trying to juggle housework, activities, cooking, cleaning and somehow she is supposed greet her husband looking lovely when he comes home.
Society’s definition of a mother: NOUNS – a do-it-all nurse, maid, chef, chauffer, teacher, psychologist, etc.
Can’t we just be how the dictionary defines us? Not really! How easy would it be to give birth to a child and leave it at that! The birth part is hard but its just 9 months of work, then your job is over! However simpler, it is far less rewarding!
Unless there are extenuating circumstances we, as mothers choose how we live our lives. Of course our children are not robots and we have to be flexible but we can choose to have certain routines that allow us to live a life as well.
The first few months after Manessa was born, I struggled with myself. Although I was totally in love with motherhood, I had lost ‘Mona’ or at least I thought I had. I used her as an excuse for everything ‘I didn’t have time to do’.
I was lucky that my husband, Mohamed has always encouraged me to do things I love. He knew that I had been an athlete my whole life and giving that up was probably the hardest thing I ever did. Seeing my body transform was difficult. I didn’t even look that different and perhaps others wouldn’t see it but I did. It’s all I saw. He committed to a healthy lifestyle with me and we took turns going to the gym. He often checked that I was going each and every day. I know; I’m a lucky lady.
About 4 months ago I decided to be a MomME and do it guilt free. What is a ‘MomME? I coined this term when I was thinking about how I could take care of my family ,as well as myself.
You have to be a ‘Mom’ first. I truly believe that it is our job to put our children first. I am and will always be a Mom before anything else. My daughter’s wants and needs come before mine and I believe that Allah (swt) has created us that way.
You’ll notice that although ‘ME’ comes second, it is ALL CAPS! It signifies importance, you can’t ignore it. It is impossible for you to care for your family if you have not cared for yourself. How can you run after them if you have not eaten properly? How can you make them laugh, if you feel down and unappreciated? HOW?
Although guilt is a mother’s worst enemy, I will tell you how to be a ‘MomME’ guilt free!
This means routines for yourself, and your family. If that means you have a schedule on the fridge with meals, naps, activities, etc. Do that! By having your children on routines, you will be able to have time for yourself too.
Manessa wakes up around 8:00am, the time before that is all mine. I choose to wake up earlier and do my workouts then or when she naps.
Teach your child to be independent. There is no shame in wanting to eat your food hot or at the same time as the rest of your family.
As soon as Manessa was old enough to eat solid foods, I taught her to eat on her own. Basically, I put the food on her chair tray and left her to figure it out. Yes, it was messy but I was more willing to clean up her mess, than to eat my cold meal alone.
Do chores while children are awake. Engage your children in ‘helping’ you around the house. Make it a game. Have an appreciation system for them. Notice I said appreciation not reward. This of course shouldn’t take away from authentic play time but it will help you have more time for you.
Manessa LOVES to help me around the house. She loves to help with laundry. She loves to feel useful and claps for herself when she finishes a task. I still get to be with her, engage with her in conversation, she is learning and as a bonus, I get my chores done!
Use down time wisely
After the kids are asleep we are tempted to plop down on the couch and do nothing. If you choose to do that, you will feel guilty the next day that you didn’t do anything for yourself and wasted your evening. Have a plan each day for what you will do once the children go to bed. It can be a movie with your husband, a shower, a bubble bath, catching up on your favourite online lectures (I love Yousef Estes), giving yourself a mani/pedi, reading, writing, anything at all.
I try to use my down time after Manessa sleeps to work on my business Modern Hejab. I make myself some tea, find an awesome lecture to listen to and start working. Sometimes, I shut that down a bit early and have a bath, paint my nails or read a book.
Looks are important
How you look on the outside reflects how you feel on the inside. Take some time to go through your wardrobe and anything that doesn’t make you feel like a strong, beautiful mother and wife needs to go! Although it takes time, get dressed on purpose when you go out, even if it’s for groceries. Find some new fashion tips to revamping your wardrobe without having to buy new clothes. I love to follow www.hashtaghijab.com she puts together so many outfits.
Remember that although you are a mother and wife you are YOU. You owe it to yourself and your family. Nobody can do this but you!
About the author:
Mona Ismaeil is mother to a sweet little toddler, owner at Modern Hejab and a blogger.