Being a mother to a child under three is rewarding, but it can also be a real strain. Here are some tips from experts on how to get the most out of motherhood and it starts with learning to value the experience, feeling that what you're doing is important and finding ways to make it more enjoyable.
Admit you're stressed
Motherhood isn't warm and fuzzy all the time the sooner you realise this, the better off you will be. Removing the pressure to be a perfect mum all the time will make the journey a much smoother one.
"It's okay to feel frustrated, angry or irritable sometimes," says Dr Peter Ubel, a professor of medicine and psychology from the University of Michigan, USA. "You're not a bad parent. It's not even a bad parenting experience. It's just normal."
Get enough shut-eye
We've all heard the saying that money can't buy happiness, but did you know that a good night's sleep just might? The author of a University of Michigan study, Norbert Schwarz, says, "Making $60,000 or more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night."
So how do you factor in a little more shut-eye? Ask your partner, friend or family to help out so you can sleep in.
Is cleaning the house or making the beds really that important? Do you really need to run those errands or can it wait until another day? By reconsidering your priorities you will, more than likely, be able to free up valuable time in your day to spend with your children.
Dr Ubel advises structuring your day to include more of the things that you enjoy, rather than the long lists of jobs you feel you have to get through.
"It's how you spend your time that counts," he says. "If you have any financial flexibility that lets you maximise your family time, use it now. For instance, do you really need to be the one to clean the house? How about paying someone to help out?” It may seem like a luxury, but if it allows you more quality time with your family, it is surely money well spent.
Make the most of now
Your children won't want to sit on your lap forever, so savour every moment and learn to make the most of now. Getting down to your child's level and becoming more engaged with their activities will have positive repercussions for you both.
Sharing the load
During the early years, it's important that both partners take on the child-rearing responsibilities. Learning to keep the lines of communication open is vital (even just discussing how stressed you are can help), as is spending time together.