When I became pregnant with my first, a life-long dream came true.

I was going to be a mom.

That’s the special thing about the first born, they are the ones who initially make the dream of having children a reality. They are the answer to prayers, the long awaited, the one missing piece of the puzzle. The second child is just as special, the miracle of pregnancy just as precious, and they are an answer to another prayer: a second baby, a sibling, a growing family.

Can we talk about what no one talks about? The unspoken lining of “the dream coming true?” It’s hard. The day to day with a baby (and/or toddler, children) is challenging, both mentally and physically. Baby’s are hard, they are tiring, and they can be frustrating. There are days where I feel so chiseled down it is hard to see above the diapers. And threenagers? There is no reasoning with a three-year old, I assure you. The days are long, but my to-do list is longer, and I all too often have nothing left to give to my husband by 5PM. Your children may be older and your challenges different, but the chiseled feeling is universal. 

Those are the times when I feel joy-deflated and I know I am not showing up the in the best possible way for my kids. They deserve better. When we are not the best version of ourselves, we most certainly cannot be the best mom (wife, or friend for that matter).

The best gift we can give our kids and our families is to take care of ourselves. This may look differently for you than it does for me, but the end result is the same. We are happier. We are more fulfilled. We have more to give.

I can identify 4 things I need to-do daily to feel refreshed, four things that are good for the soul: quiet time, healthy living, dressing up and a break.

1. Quiet time alone. I repeat alone. When I’m able to avoid the TV, the iPhone or the computer and just sit with a book or devotional, I always feel a weight off my shoulder and renewed energy.

2. Healthy living. Who has ever ordered Dominos and then felt like the worst excuse for a human being of all time? When I stay away from the junk and make exercise a priority (by the way, I can come up with every excuse not to hit the gym) I feel confident and have more energy.

4. Dress-up. And when I say ‘up’ I mean ditch the yoga pants. There really is no reason to wear workout clothes unless we are working out, right? When we look good, we feel good. 

5. A break. I love my kids but I need time away from them. A few hours to ourselves can be life-changing. I remember how gratifying it was the first time I drove a car alone after having a baby. So whether it’s your husband taking the kids for the afternoon, a family member staying over, or if you can grab a sitter, get away, get a break. Get a pedicure.

This list may look different for you, but I encourage you to identify your “Me List” and start checking it off on a weekly basis.

The parenting dream can be tough. Let’s take care of ourselves and stay joy-filled. We are better people when we are happy and fulfilled. We are moms. And that is a gift to our families that you just can’t beat.

To living the dream my friends.

Lauren Kauffman

Lauren is a Texan, Missouri-grad, now turned Denverite. She is a mom to two little boys who make her tired. And happy, mostly happy. The phrase "bless your heart" and the word "y'all" are daily parts of her vocabulary. She writes over at Happy Haven Blog http://www.happyhavenblog.blogspot.com/ about her journey creating a happy home and family life. You can also follow her daily adventures at Happy Haven Blog's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Happy-Haven-Blog/668754676586150?ref=bookmarks