Being a mother is one of the most joyous experiences in life. But it can also be insanely overwhelming. Each day, the experience shifts and changes making it a road of constant learning and new territories. There is little outside recognition for your time and effort. You don’t get a raise when you’ve done a good job mothering, there’s no award ceremony at the end of the year that recognizes your achievements, and there’s certainly not a cash bonus for the extra hours you’ve put in. Only you and your circle of friends and family will know what you do each day.

The writer, Mary Anne Radmacher says, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” That is mothering.

It is not easy taking this difficult path of parenting day in and day out, often without even a pat on the back for your work. What you will get is to lock eyes with your baby and share a connection of love that is beyond any tangible reward offered.

Even with this, we mothers can still feel overwhelmed at times. One of my therapy patients once described the feeling she was experiencing in that first year of mothering. She said, “I would be moving from task to task trying to make everything right and I would have this moment of just feeling like I could collapse, like my feet would give underneath me, like a character fainting in a movie.” Yet, we usually don’t faint, we just keep chugging and chugging.

This constant chugging along can begin to take its toll. Here are some tips to help you in the journey of mothering:

1.       Make time for tenderness.

Tenderness is the ultimate “Mom” reward we get, so make time for it. Don’t rush through story time or those moments of cuddling. The most important thing you can do for your child is to make them feel loved. Even though this might not be something you can check off your to-do list, such as a task like folding the laundry is, it is important. If someone puts pressure on you to finish a chore, remind them of where you are directing your time and why. Tenderness will also recharge you and reinforce why you are a mother.

2.       Resolve relationship issues.

When families begin to grow, there becomes a new dynamic within the relationship. No longer are you able to just do whatever you want, whenever you want. Responsibilities and pressures grow which can strain a relationship. You need to keep communicating- don’t let discontent fester. Life Coach, Brian Johnson says, “Unhappiness is like a slow leaking tire. At some point it deflates”. Keep in mind that your partner and you both have the same goals. Set dates with each other- even if all you can afford is a coffee date. If you are unhappy in a relationship, it is a distraction that takes you away from being present with your children and giving them the attention they need.

3.        Get enough sleep and eat healthy.

Getting good sleep and eating healthy will help control major mood swings from throwing you off balance. Catch up on your rest whenever you can. Lower your expectations of what you can accomplish so that rest becomes a priority. Certain vital systems within your body, like your liver, only work effectively when you rest. Along with rest, the body needs good food to keep the energy level high. The food you are putting in your body is fuel- high quality, real foods will sustain you longer.

4.       Seek out help.

You can’t do it all alone. Look at your day and write down the things that make you cranky and the things that overwhelm you. Always ask yourself, “How can I make my day easier?” For example, if dinner time is when you feel most frazzled, try setting aside a cooking day on Sunday afternoon. Write down your menu for the week and prep all the food you will need- veggies chopped, the salad made, meatballs put in the freezer, etc. Your partner can watch the kids and you just made your weekdays easier. Remember: where there is a problem, there is also a solution.

5.       Set aside YOU time- and commit to it.

As a mother, your day revolves around giving to others and making sure everyone is happy. Well, you are a person that deserves to be happy too! Find one exercise class or an art class, whatever it may be that you can go to without the kids, and go every week. Go when it is raining, go when you have company in town, go when you are tired. You get the idea- just go! Don’t let yourself out of the routine or make excuses. When we do something just for ourselves, it sends a powerful message to your brain, that you are important too.

Mothering is a wonderful journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. Keep your mind focused on the big picture and it will make the trip that much more rewarding.