I’ve used journaling throughout many periods of my life, and there’s no doubt that as a mum it’s been one of my favourite wellbeing activities. I try to journal as often as I can; that precious few minutes of the day when I put my pink pen to tea-stained paper and just write. I write for me, for my sanity, for my nourishment -- and it is nourishing. I write for my eyes only; like no-one is watching. Allow me to explain why this element is so important.
For my eyes only
The reason it’s important for me - and dare I say you - to acknowledge that my journal is for my eyes only is because it gives me permission to be brutally honest. The act of journaling is therapeutic but the act of journaling with fearless authenticity is transformational.
It isn’t always easy to share with people (or even ourselves sometimes) what’s in our hearts and minds, in fact when we first become mums it can be downright scary to say it aloud. So write it, write it as if you’ll burn it afterwards. Write it for your eyes only, take that first step towards sharing your feelings with your journal and you’ll be stepping in the right direction towards being your true self.
Perhaps this is too tough still, perhaps you aren’t ready; it’s OK. Start small, start with the other suggestions below. Don’t allow your worries or your doubts to put off starting something so wonderful for you. However you choose to journal is good enough. You are good enough.
Starting your journal with at least one gratitude is a really beautiful way to start your journey of journaling. For one thing it makes starting it easier. But more importantly, the positive effects of gratitude are really important to your wellbeing and health. That’s right, studies show that people who practise gratitude report less aches and pains*. It’s also known to reduce feelings of depression and other negative emotions such as frustration and regret.
Try starting with just one gratitude per day and build up to more. Here are some grateful prompts for your journal should you need some ideas:
“I’m grateful for my home, and my sofa. I’m grateful I get to curl up on it most nights at 8pm with netflix or a good book”
“I’m grateful for my friends, how I can really be myself around them”
“I’m grateful for the sun, the tingle of it as it warms my face”
“I’m grateful for my body, how it gave life to my boy and sustained him for months”
I could list more but this is about you, what are you grateful for? Write it down.
This is something that us women, us mums, just do not do enough. We’re experts at examining the things that we didn’t do well; our failures, our weaknesses, our bad mood or the crappy tone we used. We’re great at wishing we had done better, regretting our choices and of feeling like we just haven’t done enough.
This has to change.
You, me; we are amazing. We’re raising small people - actual small people, and that’s no small thing. It’s huge. But you’re also more than that: you’re a daughter, friend, member of the community, you have acquired a unique set of skills in your life that make you you. You’re one of a kind and what’s more, I am certain that you did a better job as a mum today than you think. So again, write it down. Write down something -- or lots of things that you did well today. I’m not talking “I finished writing a book today” type of accomplishments, I’m talking “I had a warm shower today” kind of accomplishments. It might seem insignificant but how difficult is it to have a shower when you have a newborn?
The act of focusing on our accomplishments, no matter how seemingly small is another way of taking a positive look at our day -- and life. It encourages you to seek out the good things you did instead of thinking through all the so called mistakes.
When you write this stuff down, you start to feel it; you start to feel like the winner that you truly are.
Get to know you; the new, real you
Motherhood changes you. It changes your relationships, your marriage, your values, your work, your sense of worth, your body, your brain. Our transition to motherhood is the biggest we have ever - and will ever go through. I call it becoming your mother self. This new amazing person has gone through so much change that she’s often a little lost, a little unsure. We need to get to know our new self; who we are as mothers.
Using your journal as an opportunity to explore your mother self is an amazing gift. The sooner you recognise that you’ve changed and start to learn how, then the sooner you can rise up as the new version of you with strength and clarity.
Take your time, be gentle; but be relentless in your exploration of your new self. Your mother self will thank you, I am certain of it.
I hope these journal ideas help you to start - or deepen - your journey of journaling. I encourage you to make writing in your journal a daily ritual, go somewhere sacred - your bed, sofa, window, garden? And just write. Write your accomplishments, your gratitudes or absolutely anything that comes to your mind. Explore the real you by writing for your eyes only and have fun exploring motherhood through the power of your own words.
Go journal mama, you’re worth it.