As mothers, we can describe our time spent in the throws of child raising as generally pretty okay but having self-doubt in motherhood is fairly common if not normal for all.
We experience, joy, fatigue, frustration, overwhelm, anger and happiness and one emotion, or a compilation of thoughts that is often in a mother’s world is SELF DOUBT.
The first thing you want to acknowledge is that self-doubt as a mother is in most cases, is a good thing.
Self-doubt, when in a healthy measure, is the understanding in the woman, now a mother, that she may have things wrong.
This outlook while not always feeling good is a place where growth appears.
This is not a post to provide only praise or encouragement, it’s not FLUFF.
This post is going to highlight 5 things you can do, to help yourself to work on, and understand what it required as a mother, what is important and what we often find to be our vulnerabilities.
What is healthy self-doubt in motherhood?
healthy self-doubt is a measure of concern in the back of your mind, it is not anxiety or losing sleep at night mulling over every detail of your motherhood and your actions that day.
Rather, it is the consideration that you may be wrong in some aspects of your mothering.
Now, if you are a member of my child training course, you know that when it comes to child raising, there are standards, and there are ways to achieve the joy-filled day’s many mothers long for but do not know how to reach.
How do you know if your self-doubt is worth acknowledging?
self-doubt in motherhood changes as we grow as mothers.
For a new mother, embracing her first months and years with a first child, her self-doubt will most likely be higher, as we can all admit as mothers, that the learning curve in those first years is steep.
A new mother will have doubt over things that a mother with 10 years under her belt wont, not to say that all self-doubt is removed with time, but rather you find different areas of focus.
Self-doubt equals questioning and questioning can equal growth.
- Self-doubt, while usually overwhelming at first, since a new mother can doubt the basics, can she feed this baby? how will she sleep train or not at all? will she use only organic food? is this routine a good one? should they be rolling already?
- This encourages you to try, try to work it out, try new things, and try what works for you.
As mothers grow, and their children grow up and perhaps the number of children they have increased also, then you realise that many of the things that brought you up short the first time are really quite, inconsequential in the scheme of things.
How you get to a place where you can differentiate between healthy self-doubt and just endless worry which leads to nothing is by knowing yourself.
Habit number 1. KEEP YOURSELF IN CHECK
As your children grow, your self-doubt morphs from physical capabilities to both emotional, mental, and physical.
The self-doubt you have becomes more about you as a person and less about them as a child.
- are you spending enough time with them?
- are you meeting their emotional needs?
- how can you help them?
- do you struggle to understand them?
- are you struggling to relate to them and their interests or personality?
- Do you feel inadequate when it comes to training them and delivering the wisdom they need?
- do you struggle to find time to figure out all of the above?
In order for you to overcome these doubts, you need to know yourself.
- Are you introverted or extroverted?
- Are you easily excited, cheery and bouncy or do you prefer a more serious tone, and while you are happy you don’t tend to bounce?
- What is your love language? (if you don’t know yours you can find out here)
- How do you handle stressful situations? does this affect how you speak/act around to your children in stressful moments/days?
- Do you prefer to talk or listen?
- Do you thrive with a “see how it goes” or are you a planner?
- What are your goals for your motherhood? in one month? six months? or one year? five years?
- which aspect of motherhood makes you feel overwhelmed easily?
once you know yourself, you will find your self-doubts revolve around you, and where you feel you are inadequate.
Everyone has inadequacies, while we may not all share the same ones, thanks to different personalities, we can all agree that due to our personalities and the way we relate to others, to daily life and to situations, we feel we have gaps when it comes to raising our kids.
TO KEEP YOURSELF IN CHECK YOU NEED TO
- know who you are.
- Acknowledge the areas where you feel inadequate in your motherhood.
- Figure out ways you can begin to work on those areas.
WORKING ON THOSE AREAS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL INADEQUATE
You do not need to change yourself, but you may need to change the way you react.
what I am saying is, that if you are introverted, and you have an extroverted child and you feel inadequate in that area then you do not need to become an extrovert.
It would help if you practised your reaction to those moments when you feel you can’t measure up to what your child wants or needs from you over time.
understand that five minutes out of your comfort zone, adopting a little of their energy, or simply giving them a happy thumbs up with a big smile and praise and letting them feel their emotion around you is enough, you are working on your reaction and in time, it will become normal for you.
do you have a child who loves physical touch and while you don’t hate it, its’ not your natural go-to when you need emotional connection?
Again, make a new habit, and work on it, it will feel strange, and more than anything you will probably feel bad about feeling strange, but as a mother, you need to understand that this is your job, to learn, to relearn and to adapt to your children and what they need from you.
knowing who you are, will help you understand your self-doubt, and work on it.
HABIT NUMBER 2: BECOME A GOOD LISTENER
As your children grow from babies to babbling two and three-year-olds, now is your opportunity, to hone a new skill.
Listening gets you far, in motherhood, and in life in general.
When you listen to someone and I mean truly listen.
Not be around while they talk, I mean looking at them, acknowledging them, and making them feel listened to.
As your children get older, this becomes more and more important.
While it is important to converse with your children, and we will talk about that in another habit, you need to know the power of listening to someone.
If you want to know how powerful it is, then next time you meet up with a friend, or talk to your husband, make a mental note to do as little talking as possible and just listen.
while it isn’t something you can do ALL the time at least not with the same person, doing it daily with your children.
we all want to be heard, and so perhaps trying this new habit with another adult is difficult, as we experience pleasure at being able to share either feelings, experiences or opinions on subjects.
when it comes to this listening to your children, you want to allow yourself small times in your day/week to listen, to hear their feelings, their opinions, their experiences and their desires, this will help you to
- help them grow, and when you do speak give them the wisdom they need.
- help you both to feel connected to each other.
- to give you time to see their growth, especially when the days are busy, taking time to practice this crucial habit is going to go a long way in your parenting.
how to listen to your children
- Make yourself available. no phone, nothing in your hands, just sit with them and be silent, they will begin to speak, and here is your cue! listen!
- You can talk back of course, but I like to prompt more talk from them, with a follow-up question, especially if they were interested in what they came and spoke to me about in the first place.
- As your children get older and become teens, this is so important! you need to be available to them, and sometimes it’s not when it suits you, but that the sacrifice of motherhood, and you need to know yourself, understand your reactions and work on making ones.
WHAT YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO, TO LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN
what I do not encourage is allowing your children to dominate your life.
So I encourage listening, but it does not mean you are a slave to your children, who must drop everything at your child’s every whim in order to make them feel good.
If this is a doubt of yours, and you worry you are not spending enough time with your child then,
- take note of these five habits
- assess how much time you are trying to spend with your children, if it is next to none then perhaps your self-doubt is guilt, but if you try and succeed most days in spending quality time with your family, (it doesn’t have to be hours) then you need to let that self-doubt go and stick to the five habits.
what is unhealthy in motherhood, and will burn you out and overwhelm you, is thinking you have to be at your child’s beck and call.
When you are busy, getting done daily tasks that must be done in your home, your children can be around you, but they don’t have to dominate you.
set aside time in the evening or when you can, to sit, and listen to them, for at least 30-45 minutes depending on how many children you have, you can do it as a group, no need to be sitting with one at a time. you can play a game, play cards, or do some drawing.
HABIT # 3: Take time to be slow
As mothers, we can be on the go, all the time.
This means that when we do have a minute, often at the end of the day, in the few moments, we get before succumbing to sleep that we think back on our day and feel like we did our best when it comes to our children.
When it comes to raising children, taking time to be slow, is something both a mother, and her children can benefit from.
you need time to listen, to converse, to watch them, to look at them, to really be in the room with them.
Take a few hours, a morning, an afternoon, an evening, in your week to just be with your children, not prompting them, not setting up activities or trying to knock yourself out being overly creative.
Just, eat breakfast and go for a walk.
Sit and play blocks and read some books.
have that slow time in your day where you are mentally and physically there, to engage with your children.
The world applauds being busy, productive and time spent on self.
Children need connection from their mother to learn, grow in self worth and empathy, a slower life pace encourages that.
Taking the time to slow down is hard.
We have so much to do, and so much to achieve.
We often do these things for our children, telling ourselves that the extra work, the extra stress we suffer is for them to give them better.
Your children do not need these things.
Children remember the food you cooked, the table they ate at, the games you played, the songs you taught them, and the summers spent with you.
In order to live a slower lifestyle, at least while your children are young, you need to have an environment that facilitates it.
you cannot slow your lifestyle down to facilitate the time and attention children need, if you are :
- working out of the home
- constantly cleaning a home with lots of clutter
- not getting up early
- not dealing with feelings of stress and overwhelm
- not monitoring your family’s use of screens
You do not need to provide your children with the best that the world can offer your work.
You need to provide them with the best you as a mother can offer.
HABIT # 4: Acknowledge your children’s behaviour
both good and bad.
Often times we can feel like we are dropping the ball when it comes to childraising as we observe our children.
Often it is because we know deep down that we lack in addressing our children’s behaviour, whether with discipline or praise.
Today’s parenting lingo proves this.
medication for children who struggle to sit still in class.
placing the temper tantrums, the fussiness, and a child’s desire to constantly feel good, through what they eat, how they act and what they want.
We call these the terrible twos, rebellious threes, then there’s “oh he is so cheeky!” as the child spits at his mother.
The parents who feel that all of their child’s feelings should be acknowledged and assessed that these “big feelings” are what drive behaviour and that they are cause and not effect are fooled through the now huge movement of gentle parenting.
All of this is to facilitate one thing.
And that is, that parents don’t like to acknowledge that a child’s behaviour is bad and that fixing it requires them to actually work at fixing it, with consistency and the dreaded word “discipline”
As more mothers spend more and more time away from their children, at earlier and earlier ages.
A child’s behaviour goes unchecked in daycare, school and after-school care, filled with people who are completely unable to correct your children’s behaviour, rather they are there to just get by with it, leaving a gaping hole in your children’s childhood.
Both in bad behaviour which only grows worse, as well as taking a battering to their self-worth and confidence due to lack of genuine praise and encouragement from their number one peer, parents.
Of course, mothers and fathers don’t feel great when they get complaints about children’s behaviour, or they witness it themselves.
But rather than getting up and doing what is necessary to fix that behaviour, with healthy boundaries and discipline, they prefer to hope that the child will eventually grow out of it.
what parents don’t realise is, that children actually desire boundaries, it helps them to feel secure, and it helps them to be able to learn, relate to others, grow skills, and become all-around better people.
Young Children aren’t stupid they are just uncivilised.
A two-year-old can work out your breaking point, and they will push you to it, then they will melt down in an n epic fashion when they don’t get their way.
Your job as a parent is not to live by the rules and feeling of a two, three, four, seven or thirteen-year-old, who are still learning how to manage emotions and reactions.
you are there to provide, rules, consistency, discipline and confidence through praise by taking the time to RAISE your children.
this starts with acknowledging behaviour.
If you feel self-doubt in this area if you feel bad for how they interact with you, or others, if they constantly fight with each other, if they are unkind or selfish then this needs to be addressed.
There is no phase for bad behaviour, it is the natural state of a child.
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HABIT # 5: Create a child-raising environment
In order to be able to take on your self-doubts once you have self-assessed, you need to work on creating a child-raising atmosphere.
habit 1, know yourself, how do you react?
habit two, listening.
habit three, slowing down.
habit four, acknowledging your children’s behaviour.
You need to embark on habit number five, create a child-raising atmosphere.
This means you have a home that allows you to be present most of the time, that encourages play, that allows you to watch and listen to your children, and that is busy without being hectic all the time.
child raising is not you cleaning while your kids watch tv for four hours a day.
You need to create the space, just like an office or a factory creates a functional space to create and sustain creation, you need to do the same with your mind and your home.
Monitor your screen time, both for you and your children.
The easiest way to do this is to time block it.
During my day I have a pre-dinner time block where I allow the tv to be watched.
This is usually for an hour, it is turned off when I call everyone for dinner, and it is not turned back on.
on weekends I am more flexible as I may take on tasks that I need some time for, and so I allow tv, during the quiet time period or even in the morning when I am having a slow coffee and chatting with my husband.
By time blocking I am able to keep track of screen time in my home, there are just certain blocks where it is a big no.
for myself, my computer and phone do not get touched until my afternoon time block, (quiet time)
This way my mornings are productive and more importantly, I am 100% available to my children, to cook with them, read to them, do school work, do chore time, outside time and outings.
To create a child-raising environment you need to:
- be off your phone or any screen during the morning, afternoon (that isn’t set time for your to do so,) and evening before the children go to bed.
- be present, and be available to children to converse and listen.
- you have to self-sacrifice your alone time and quiet times during the busy baby and toddler seasons, to be able to maintain your ability to serve your children and raise them, you need to take measures to help yourself mentally and physically.
- training your children for quiet time.
- waking 30 minutes earlier than them to enjoy some quiet.
- make yourself a slow day in the week to recharge. (time block post)
- Prioritise your sleep, today’s notions of being permanently tired as mothers is not healthy!
- No tv during dinner or any meal!
- No screens in rooms, not only is it unsafe, but it isn’t conducive to a family connection, you need to work on ways you can include screens, (if you want to) while teaching your children healthy habits.
You do not have to be a slave to your children to conquer self-doubt in your motherhood.
Creating an environment serves them and you.
you can be available and it can be sustainable.
you do not have to include your children, especially little ones in every task, you do not need to stop something that needs to get done in your home if someone asks you to read a book.
You can teach them to understand when you can and when you can’t, this creates sustainability in your child-raising lifestyle.
you are not to do everything they ask, and when they ask it, rather you encourage them to be with you, but not to dominate you.
Doing something fun together like baking, playing with play dough or going for walks is great and important for your children, but there are days when you can and days when you can’t and children need to learn this just as much as you need to practice it.
Feeling self-doubt is normal, and the best thing you can do is to try and understand it, and come to terms with the idea that as a mother, your continual growth is essential.
while not all forms of self-doubt need to be acknowledged at all times.
Do not choose to ignore your doubt, but take the time to assess, and using the other four habits, try and find the area you are currently struggling to fulfil and be okay with making effort to work on gaps.
allow your growth to be slow, don’t set yourself impossible standards, work on 1 habit at a time, and take the time to note how you progress and how you can incorporate other practices in your child raising as well.