Secrets of a Successful Mom: How to Manage Family Life Smoothly

By Guest Mama: Zara Lewis

If you’ve ever met a successful mom who hasn’t struggled,  she’s either not actually a mom or she’s in absolute denial that she, in fact, isn’t holding it together. And that’s okay – we’ve all got our coping mechanisms.

Taught that failure is the ultimate embarrassment and asking for help a sign of weakness, we tend to stumble and fall. Sometimes we fall so hard that our whole bodies and mind hurt when we try to get up. But once we do – the rise is as sweet as a Magnolia cupcake. But it’s hard, it’s so darn hard.

For all of you amazing moms out there, we get it – I get it. It sometimes feels like you are continuously failing, despite doing all in your power to make things happen. But, you are not failing. There’s no such thing as smooth operating – not when it comes to a family.

You are not alone; we mothers are in this whole jam together. To help you and your journey, we are giving you a few useful tips that will definitely have an impact on your family life.

Remember to Love Yourself

While you may think that you are doing just fine, you are probably not. If you spend more time convincing yourself that “I’ll be okay” than you spend actually being okay – it’s time you change something.

Remembering to love yourself is crucial. If you don’t, you won’t be fit for a functional life and your family will be affected.

Go back to what you used to love doing – writing, painting, DIY, drawing, singing, yoga, etc. – whatever has been relaxing. Go back to reviving your business, and do it from home. Renovate your home office, move from a standstill. You’ll be happy that you have.

What I did was buy one of those electric cargo bikes to blow off some steam and channel stress while working out. I’ve also reached out to my freelance employer and asked for my job back. I’m now 10 pounds fitter and much happier. On my way from work I can do all the shopping, while exercising and contributing to our family budget (again). It’s been only three months.

Establish Boundaries

Yes, you are a wife and mother and, somehow, it goes by default and without saying that you will be the one taking care of everything. Nobody’s denying your strength and capacity, but that’s not the point. The point isn’t to break – the point is to be fulfilled and happy about things that you do.

Don’t let anyone intervene with your “me” time. Ban the kids from your office, have a set workout time, or make a regular coffee date with friends. Let your husband take over while you go “away,” and do the same for him. If you set the rules early on, you’ll actually manage to have some time for yourself.

Know Your Family’s Rhythms

The key to properly designing your day is going with your family’s rhythms. Consider your children’s needs, your peak work hours, your husband’s meetings for the week, etc.

For instance, as I usually take a nap after lunch, I schedule all the work that doesn’t require too much focus for the afternoon and do everything that requires the most mental energy before lunch. If your kids are little, try to get them to sync with you to make your life easier. If, however, they’re already grown, consider all their habits and yours and make a schedule for the upcoming week.

Get Help

These are not the ‘60s and there’s no rule that says spouses, children or hired hands can’t help a mom out.

If you can’t go to your parents or in-laws for help, hire a student, or arrange a babysitting swap with neighbors. Use this time to get focused on your work, your leisure time, or fitness. Ask your spouse and the kids to help with housework or hire someone to come in and clean. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Embrace Routine but Stay Creative

Staying on a routine is very important for both kids and parents. A healthy morning routine is crucial in starting everyone’s day right while other daily routines contribute to an efficient day. Nap time, leisure, self-improvement, work, hobbies, bedtime, dinner, after school, homework – they all benefit from routine.

However, don’t get too attached to routines, otherwise your life will start looking dull and suffocating. Be flexible. Routines change, naps go away, meetings get cancelled, kids become more proficient at chores. Shuffle things around so they benefit your personal, inner routine of, finally, loving yourself.

Dear fellow moms everywhere, your power is grand – don’t ever doubt it for a second. Your kids already believe in you, so it’s time you start believing in yourself. We’re in it together!

Zara Lewis (Twitter: @ZaraELewis) is a mom, fitness & yoga enthusiast and a regular writer for High Style Life. She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of her family and friends. She loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills, because for her parenthood is like going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling and baking.

The First Leon: A Man Child’s Christmas

Mama’s drinking wine tonight because her third child is driving her a little bit insane. Didn’t know I had a third child, did you? You thought I only had two precocious little girls, right? Yes, in addition to them, I also have a man child.

That’s right, I have a 38-year-old man child living in my home, though, to be fair, I usually just refer to him as my husband.

What did he do to force me to reveal his true man child identity? He messed with Mama’s Christmas ornaments. Like he’s the sort of mischievous Elf on the Shelf that bored as hell creative moms have living in their house.

I bought some fun, festive LED-lit letters this week to jazz up our dining room with some Christmas spirit. I left the room for one minute. ONE MINUTE. And this is what I come back to.

He then proceeded to talk about how great it would be if we had a friend named Leon. He was dead serious.

Glass of wine poured.

 

An Uneaten Lunch

A single glimpse of my daughter’s lunch box brought me to tears this morning. It’s just a canvas case, clad in multicolored butterflies, and dirtied by peanut butter and the crayon she once used to proudly write her name on it. I saw just the top of it peeking out of her backpack and a wave of sorrow crashed over me.

Today marks four years since the Sandy Hook shooting. Four years since 26 lives, 20 of them first-graders, were snuffed out in a violent, senseless rampage. At the time, I was a mother of a two-year-old and a 5-week old.

Living in a postpartum daze consumed with diapers, feedings, and sleep schedules, I was somehow able to live for days seemingly unaware of the nightmare that occurred 3 hours from my home. I knew mostly what happened, but, perhaps out of sheer biological defense, I did not allow myself to fully register this cataclysmic tragedy. At a time in my life when a Target commercial could send me into hysterics, my hormones somehow came together to shield me from this event, knowing I was too fragile to handle its gravity.

It was several days after the shooting when reality came crashing down upon me. I happened across a letter written by Nelba Marquez-Greene to her daughter Ana, one of the first graders killed on that day. Her letter was a beautiful tribute to the little girl she would never hold again, but one line struck me to the core.

The layers of this are complex and while we may not agree on all pieces- perhaps we can agree that no parent, grandparent or caregiver should ever again put their child on a school bus only to have their backpack and uneaten lunch returned to them by an FBI agent and police officer- because their child was executed at school.

An uneaten lunch. Ana and her classmates never got to eat their lunch that day. Instead of being greeted by a child’s hug after school, 20 sets of parents were approached by FBI agents holding their children’s uneaten lunch.

For weeks I thought of these lunches. What do you do with an uneaten lunch meant for your child who is no longer on this earth? Do you eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that they couldn’t? Do you save the bag of popcorn as if it is a relic of your lost child? Do you throw it away?

For a few days, I had been able to disconnect myself from this tragedy, perhaps because the very idea of it was unfathomable. I was able to avoid the innocent faces that flashed on my television screen, willing myself to look away and not recall the color of their eyes. The image of an uneaten lunch? That I could not escape.

Parenting is difficult. There are days when I question every decision I make, from what I’ve served for breakfast to how I rushed through a bedtime song. I worry that I’m not giving my children everything they need. I lament that they don’t listen. I complain when they have exhausted my patience. I have made my parental rants, jokes, and self-proclaimed mediocrity part of my personal identity. Today, however, I remind myself that, while parenting is hard, loving my children is the easiest thing I have ever done.

Today, my older daughter is in first grade. She was sent to school, her lunchbox tucked safely away in her almost matching backpack. She was sent to school just like 20 other first graders were sent to school four years ago.

Today, I am a mother who must remain confident that my daughter will come home, as she always does, with her face revealing the evidence of a lunch that was eaten. She will give me kisses that leave me with the light scent of her cherry yogurt, and I will know how truly lucky I am.

Today, I will not get annoyed, as I too often do, that her lunch box is filled with crusts and dirty napkins. My reminder to throw her scraps away at school can wait for another day.

Today, I will be grateful for the privilege of packing a lunch for her again tomorrow.

Holiday Mashup

Mama’s making you feel better tonight with a good old holiday mashup. What’s a holiday mashup you may ask? My living room.

holiday mashup

The family is going to be chopping down a Christmas tree tomorrow, so my husband brought down the ornaments from the attic. Sounds like we’re pretty damn on top of shit, huh? Not if you look closely enough at this picture.

Sure, you’ll see some silver balls and leafy wreaths, but, if you look closely enough, you’ll also see some things that don’t belong.

Maybe you see a painting on the mantle with some hand prints. Those aren’t just any hand prints. Those are turkeys. That there is some old fashioned, homemade Thanksgiving decor. Not too bad. I mean, Thanksgiving was basically a week ago.

Look again. In case you were wondering, we aren’t goth. Typically, one would not enter our living room to find skull-emblazoned lacy throws hanging from the mantle. You won’t find my husband or me rocking heavy black eyeliner and Manic Panic. No, you’ll just find us on the couch consuming booze instead of taking down outdated decorations. That cloth, along with the terrifying booing pumpkin on the mirror, have been up there for a solid six weeks.

So, if you are lamenting the fact that it’s already December and you haven’t decked the halls in your house, yet – have no fear. At least your living room isn’t a holiday smorgasbord.