As much as being a mum is the most important and rewarding job in the world for many of us, we can often feel our lives are “out of whack”. We can feel unbalanced, stressed or uninspired with the things we need to do. Even when we are successfully ticking off our to-do lists, we can feel de-energised or unmotivated.
Research over many decades and cultures has shown that all of us have 3 core needs which provide us with motivation to carry out our activities, pursue our goals, and keep us psychologically healthy. According to the “Theory of Self-Determination”, these are:
- Competence - feeling capable in what we choose to do
- Autonomy - A feeling of control over our lives
- Relatedness – needing to connect with others
Often, if something is not right in your life, it is that one of these 3 things are out of step.
Take competence, for instance. Mums often feel unsure about our parenting skills. Just as we feel like we have mastered the baby stage, they grow into toddlers. You might be confused about your child’s mystery stomach pains, or what the rules are for the iPad they got for Christmas. Fortunately, there are so many sources of information out there for us extend our knowledge and foster our confidence through books, blogs, parenting courses and our mummy networks. Then we can celebrate our new-found capabilities and how far we have come!
To autonomy. As mums, there are many things we feel we HAVE to do, making us feel like our lives are not our own. But we can determine WHEN or HOW jobs are done. Or, we can relate the uninspiring task to the bigger picture of our lives. Rather than WHAT you are doing, consider WHY you are doing it. Cleaning the house might be your least favourite pastime, but if you like the sense of calm and order in the house that follows, then you can choose to focus on that good feeling to motivate you to scrub the bath!
Lastly, relatedness. Being a mum in the early days, months and years can feel isolating, our romantic relationships can suffer and we have less time to connect with friends. At Flourishing Mothers, we would suggest prioritising your relationships, since they are such a fundamental part of being human! Give your partner a hug, go to your playgroup, go for a walk with a girlfriend and get that babysitter (your baby will survive). You’ll feel so much better!
So, as you go about your daily life, ask yourself if any of these 3 needs are out of balance for you. Then coach yourself by brainstorming how might you then go about feeling more capable, in control and connected!
Adapted by Flourishing Mothers from the work of E. Deci & R. Ryan.