For the My Motherhood series, we ask different women the same series questions about mindfulness and motherhood to see what works for other women, but also to show how even though we may be different, we are all in this together.
Today we talk to Jenny O'Keefe, mama of 5 and founder of mamatoga.com.
What does your perfect day look like?
My perfect day would definitely involve us all being outside, probably at the lake. I love nothing more than the end of a long day spent on the lake, the kids tired out from swimming and jumping and laughing, a little more tan than they were, hair all tangled from lake water.
Do you have any daily rituals you use to center yourself?
I don’t give myself a time limit, but I try to include some mindfulness or meditation into my day, every day. Sometimes I have actual quiet time where I can carve out twenty minutes, and sometimes it’s just a few minutes in the shower, but giving myself that breath and that time works wonders for me being able to find a center when I need to, and the need definitely comes up a lot.
How do you make time for the different facets of your life?
I have become better skilled at recognizing the flow of our day and adjusting to it accordingly, or maybe it’s more apt to say “seizing the day”. When I see the time there to do certain things, I don’t waste it. When I first became a mother I would find myself paralyzed during naptime because I thought I should be using all of my time wisely when the kids were asleep, but now with five kids I know that you have to embrace all of the time, the downtime, the busy time, the crazy time, and make the most out of all of it. Some days you need more rest, some days you do more work, you just gotta go with that flow and it’ll all get done eventually.
Do you have any special family rituals?
Even if we’re just doing grilled cheese for dinner (which does happen) we sit down, turn everything off, and have dinner together, almost every night. I don’t force conversation, it’s enough to just sit together for that time. There’s usually a bit of chaos with getting everyone in the same room and getting the food on the table but once we are all there we get this moment where it’s like, hey, here we all are together. This is nice.
What is the best advice you have ever given or received about motherhood?
No matter how many baby books you read or how much you think you are prepared, you are learning how to do this motherhood thing as you go along, you are learning as your children are learning, and you are growing as they are growing. Just as you would give a toddler a break when they are learning how to do something new, you have to give yourself a break too. You will be the parent of an 18 year old and it is still the very first time you have been the parent of an 18 year old. It is all a work in progress, and you always have the chance to try your best again.
What is your favorite part of motherhood?
Being a mother has made me totally get over myself. I was always terrified of flying, until the first flight I took with my children, when I realized I had to be brave because of them, that I didn’t want to pass down my irrational fear of flying. So because of them I had to just hold it all together, and I realized I had this strength that I never knew I had, because I had never had to even scrape the surface of it before. And once I found it, I knew I had to pass that along to them.