I don’t know about you, but one of the most frustrating parts of being a stay-at-home mom for me is the fact that I never, ever feel like I’m the one in control of my life.
I feel like my life is a constant reaction to my children -- either I’m trying to chase them to get them dressed, clean up after their meals, clean up after their crafts, clean up after them in general (seriously, my life is cleaning) or I’m reacting to their behavior by trying to break up fights or teach them to be good people or how to act appropriately. It’s so hard because I feel like I can never even complete a thought in my head before the next thing is happening and I’m off to react to that.
In many ways, I think this is normal of life as an at-home mom with little kids. There is no rhyme or reason to our days most of the time and any time that I have tried to set a “schedule” or make my day what I think it should be, I end up even more frustrated because kids + plans = disaster. I’ve had much more success as a stay-at-home mom just learning that with my personality, I’m better off learning to go with the flow and realize that things will never go as planned when little kids are in the picture.
But still, there is a certain depression that can set in after a while when you feel like your life is spiraling completely out of your own control. Which is why when I came across the idea recently that it’s not necessarily about how my day goes, but how my intention for the day goes, I was intrigued. I may not be able to control everything that happens in my day as a mom, but I can control my own emotions about everything I am reacting to.
I came across this idea in the book, The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith, by Gabrielle Bernstein and at first, I did brush it off as one of those positive-thinking mumbo jumbo books. To be clear, I’m all about positive thinking and I’ve lived long enough to realize that there are certain “coincidences” in life that just can’t be explained away, but I’m also a pretty skeptical person. I mean, babies get cancer and no amount of "intention" stops that, you know? Unfortunately, life isn’t always so simple.
However, there is some very interesting food for thought in books like this, especially when you lead a life mostly spent at home, like I do. Basically, in the book, Bernstein talks about the power of setting an intention for each and every day. And although it sounds incredibly simple, it’s something that I can admit I’ve never actually done. My goal each and every day is just to survive. I mean, seriously. That’s it. If I can put a bra on, have the house look somewhat decent, and have an idea of what to make for dinner, I count that a success. Is that pathetic to admit?
Realizing how pathetically low my standards are and considering that maybe, just maybe, it’s not all new-age nonsense to actually put some thought into how you want your day to go, I gave it a shot. I set a different intention every day for a week as a stay-at-home mom. Some days were the same, but others were not, depending on what I had going on that day. For instance, the days I was home all day with the kids but also had some work deadlines, I set an intention to be “calm” and “productive.” The days I had to take my daughters out on activities, I set my intention to be “engaged.”
And honestly, I was shocked at what a difference setting an intention for my day meant. The days I work from home with no childcare are normally frantic and leave me stressed and drained from trying to do 10,000 things. But with my intention of being “calm” in my mind, I kept returning to that state over and over.
I was surprised to find that the idea that you can set an intention for your day as a stay-at-home mom is actually very powerful. Let’s be clear -- most of what I do on a daily basis still involves reacting to my kids' messes and mayhem. But setting an intention when I first wake up? Well, it changes how those reactions affect me. If I set out to have a "happy" day or a "calm" day or "productive" day, I can keep reverting back to my intention, no matter what happens, like a reset button.
It may sound like a silly idea, but I’m a believer now. Setting an intention for our days as stay-at-home moms can remind us that we are worth it. We are performing real work with real results and it’s worth real intention. I feel like all too often we undervalue ourselves as moms, but realizing that the work I am doing at home and with my children is important and worth setting an intention for the day has helped me tremendously.
And yes, that still means that some days my only “intention” is to make it through until I can sneak ice cream after the kids are in bed. And that’s OK too.
Do you set an intention for your day as a mom?