Have you heard the saying, ‘The days are long but the years are short.’
I sure have- a lot over the years as a mom!
It’s an interesting phrase, well-intentioned at best, a summary statement on motherhood-it’s intense, there’s challenges and stress, but overall, raising a child goes fast!
Here’s something to consider-what if those long days are boring and you’re losing your mind with the mundane activities?
Does it make the years seem longer too?
Boredom is part of the landscape of mothering. And we feel it in different ways. Some days in motherhood are boring, repetitive, and isolating.
Even when you’re super busy, with a never-ending to-do list, you can feel bored.
And having these feelings doesn’t mean you love your child any less.
You can feel bored with motherhood and appreciate being a mother and love your child.
Often, in the therapy hour, my office feels like a confessional-moms share feelings and thoughts that would seem taboo in any other setting.
Such as, “I hate playing with my child.”
“I’m so bored with taking care of my child. Every day is the same. I would never say it to my friends because they seem to enjoy it. I should be grateful I can stay at home. ”
And more often than you know,
“Some days I’m so bored and tired of caring for everyone and everything, I just want to get in the car and drive away.”
As a mom of four girls for almost two decades (doesn’t seem real as I write that, the years seem fast at this point!) I have had similar thoughts and feelings and I’m sure you’ve had them as well.
I’ve often wondered to myself, were the mothers of previous generations bored?
Did they ever feel as is part of themselves-the I in the self-were lost in the we-of the mom?
How did previous generations of mothers deal with boredom?
I believe boredom is a signal, an inner piece of wisdom to pay attention to.
Boredom is a feeling, a call to action to pay attention to the part of you that’s been ignored, put on hold, placed to the side, believing that your needs were less than or not important as your responsibilities to your children, work and family.
When you feel bored, I want you to think about five practical things to keep in mind:
Let Go of Guilt. Just because you have a feeling, reaction, or experience, doesn’t mean you don’t love or appreciate your child. Allow yourself to have a feeling, unpleasant as it may be, and let go of the judgment. Instead of seeing boredom as a failure or shortcoming, be compassionate with yourself, and see the feeling as just that-a feeling. Because the reality is, we are more than just our feelings, or what we experience in a moment in time.
Feelings Lead Us to Self-Awareness. Feelings are indications of what you may need to manage and take care of yourself. When you experience a feeling, such as boredom, take a curious approach and start by asking yourself:
- When was the last time you had fun?
- How are you taking care of yourself?
- Do you have enough support?
- If there was one thing that could improve how your feeling, what could you do?
- Go deeper: what does your boredom let you know about yourself?
And remember, this is key: just because you have a feeling or a thought, it is one part of you at this moment and you are defined by so much more than this snapshot or experience in time.
Find Activities that Create Joy and Happiness. Being a mom often means your days are filled, giving to everyone else, with little energy or time left over for yourself. I get it, I really do! An antidote to boredom in motherhood is knowing the activities that bring you joy and happiness. Maybe after reading that, you’re thinking-“Right, but I can’t even think of what brings me joy, it’s been so long. Or, “What used to bring me joy and happiness seems impossible now.” Here’s what I want you to know-In understand, only you can know and find activities that bring you joy and happiness. What works for me, or a friend or someone else, may not work for you. As you go about your day, when you have a thought about what you would like to do, write it down. Keep a list of activities or things you’d like to do, so when you do feel bored, you can look over the list and engage in an activity that breaks the boredom.
Don’t Stay Stuck in Boredom. When you feel bored, don’t, I repeat, don’t put yourself down. We all feel bored at one point or another. Allow boredom to be a neutral emotion-neither good, nor bad. Instead, boredom informs us to pay attention and do something different. Boredom is actually an important process. For example, when kids feel bored, it’s an opportunity to create structure, self-motivated interest, and can help with creative problem-solving. When I was growing up, when I felt bored, it wasn’t my mom’s job to keep me entertained, it was my responsibility to find something to do. There’s a lot to be said for allowing not only our children but ourselves experience boredom. As it is a chance to pay attention and do something creative and that interests us.
Don’t Compare Yourself. A common activity to engage in when we feel bored (for adults and children) is to start scrolling through social media or use screen time. I’ve worked with many moms who when they feel bored, scroll through social media, and begin going down the slippery slope of comparing oneself to the images and stories on feeds. Remember this: what we see on social media is often not accurate. Instead, it’s intentionally crafted and curated content showing of one’s best self and life that may not be fully representative of the entire story. It’s a snapshot, a moment in time. So hold off on comparing yourself and your life to what you see. Use social media to inspire and help you connect with others. If you find yourself feeling worse about yourself, your life, and your choices, it may be in your best interest to take a break and find another activity to do.
And remember, boredom is different than busy. You can feel busy, with so much to do, and still, feel bored.
Let boredom be the signal to take care of yourself in different ways that only you can know.
© Dr. Claire Nicogossian @2019