I’m staring down the barrel of yet another birthday. They happen WAY too often. Here are the top 10 things I have learned since becoming a mom three short birthdays ago;

10. Throw modesty out the window. I could never go to the bathroom in public places. I would get stage fright. I remember running home from school as fast as I could with my back teeth floating I had to pee so badly. Forget having a BM in public. To this day, I would still rather have a gut ache than relieve myself in a public washroom. Then… enter kids. I now shower with an audience, dress with an audience, toilet with an audience and often with play by play commentary (for a good laugh see conversations with a 2.5 year old) and generally talk very openly about bodies and their functions. This was not my comfort zone. ‘Tis now.

9. There is more to cooking than heat and time. It is no secret that Betty Crocker or Rachel Ray, I am not. I have, until recently, cooked everything at 400F until that slightly sweet yet alarming aroma wafted forth and made its way to the smoke detector and I could ’smell’ that it was done. That was cooking, a means to an end. As it turns out, following directions in a cookbook can really make a yummy meal. I am astounded. Who knew? Adding spices and taking the time to flavor the food makes it even more appealing. I am now learning to cook properly, following in the footsteps of my mum, my mum-in-law and my sister… I am not at their calibre by any stretch, but I can make a mean (and healthy) mac and cheese, and stand back… my salmon is actually edible. Recipes. They are a wonderful thing. Follow them.

8. Feed and exercise all critters regularly – Big and small. Kids need to run around and blow off steam at least once a day, if not twice. So do mummies. An exercised mummy is a happier mummy. We, too, need to blow off steam, it helps equilibrate my patience, my mood and my general sense of well being. Oh, and it’s good for me too. So is a bottle/ glass of red wine by the way. Everything in moderation. And for crying out loud, feed yourself too. We deserve more than the scraps off our children’s plates. Include mummy in all meals. Snacks too.

7. Get out of the house. Activities are important. It’s EASIER to stay inside – oh the horror of getting the kids into their outdoor gear (see posts about the perils of snowsuits and trying to get out of the house). When I was working full-time, I cherished ‘home days’ when I could lounge in my PJs and not have to go anywhere. That was then. This is now. I’m learning: activities are good. They don’t have to be grandiose or massive… ride the bus for one loop, take the subway a couple of stops, walk around the block, go to the library, play with the Thomas table at the toy store, get together with other kids, go to the park, anything to have a change of scenery. We’ve discovered memberships this year too. One to the zoo and one to the Science Center. The membership pays for itself within a couple of visits – and there is no pressure to have our outing be a whole day affair. We’ve gone to the zoo, ridden the Zoomobile around the whole zoo once, then come home. Never left the tram. Girlfriends, get out of the house. It’s worth the extra work.MomDaughter

6. Trust your intuition. We don’t need to be childcare experts – there are enough people out there pontificating from their soapboxes about how wonderful they are, and that their parenting technique is the only way to parent. Well, their way is the only way to parent THEIR child. Your child is YOURS and you need to find a cross-section of information to find the parenting technique that is right for you and your child. Read lots, reach out to other moms, and MAYBE even join a supportive network like Practicalmum.com. We’re all in this together. Let’s work together.

5. Personal Hygiene is more than a second coat of antiperspirant. Easier said than done. Girlfriends -we love to see you, we don’twant to smell you. It is WAY too easy to sidestep the shower to ensure all little people are fed, clothed and ready for the day. I feel so much better when I’m clean, wearing fresh clothes and I’ve passed a comb through the hair. I am the first to bypass the shower in the morning- but there is a direct correlation between my happiness and my hygiene and interestingly, others are most apt to chat with me when I have brushed my teeth. Huh! Somedays, bathing is an accomplishment in itself to celebrate – but we always need a reason to celebrate, right? (*see red wine comment in #8*).

4. Wave the white flag. Other people are qualified to care for my children too. Know when to surrender and wave the white flag. Hang up the supermom cape. I’m not just saying that because I would look more like the Michelin Man than catwoman in a superhero costume. It is important for our children to learn that other people are just as loving and attentive as we are. There is nothing worse than the self-imposed pressure of not being able to leave the children, even for an hour. We need to escape, breathe some oxygen, and refill our tank. These is no shame in asking for help when I’m about to crack. Turns out I am not being judged as an incapable mother – in fact, quite the opposite. People thank me for reaching out and letting them help. People love to help, and we all need to learn to accept help more often.

3. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. I want my house clean and tidy, I want my laundry folded and put away, I want to see my kitchen counter top – but it’s important to know when to give in and get down on the floor to play. Play blocks, fingerpaint, dress-up, dance… if the kids are acting up they are likely trying to get my attention. Why not just give it to them? Laundry will still be there tomorrow. But before I can blink, I know the kids will be starting full days at school and I’ll wonder where the time went. Dusting? Vacuuming? I don’t want pictures of those in my memory scrapbook.

2. My husband is not a moron. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary on some days, he is capable of caring for our children. On his own. He may not notice the mounds of laundry or the dirty dishes in the sink – but he can help and independently take care of the kids. It will just be done differently from the way I do things. And that is okay. SO a red towel turns an entire load of laundry pink. Not the end of the world. I pick my battles, bite my tongue, and appreciate the help my husband is giving me. With less critiquing of his methodology, often he surprises me by doing more.

And the #1 thing I have learned since becoming a mom… drumroll please…

1. I am a smart and capable woman. Even on those days when I think I can’t change one more diaper, or deal with one more spit up, or sidestep one more tantrum… I can.  Just get through the next 5 minutes. Then get through the next 5 minutes after that. We are great mums. Stop following the books, trust your intuition, give yourself a break, hang up your supermom suit, and just get through the next 5 minutes.  Then come back and read #1 again.

The is a guest post from Shelagh Cummins, M.Ed, Practicalmum.com

pm ad buttonShelagh Cummins, M.Ed, is a full time mum and recovering full time teacher who is learning about herself and the wonderous world of parenthood.  Shelagh finds parenting ideas and advice from a growing community of friendly, supportive mums through the practicalmum.com community.  Read, laugh, share, cry and learn alongside Shelagh at www.practicalmum.com and The Minivan Chronicles: Navigating the winding roads of parenthood one speed-bump at a time.