I'm not going to lie, turning 40 sucked! I'm 43 now and that was a few years so I definitely have a different perspective about it but at the time I thought it was the worst thing ever. When I was in my 30's, I looked at 40 as a huge milestone in life and not in a good way. I always heard the mind and body go downhill in your 40's and while my body is definitely breaking down and I swear I'm losing my memory, 40 has definitely not been as bad as I expected. Here are a few things I've learned in my short 3 years as a "Forty-Something" and even if you're younger or older, maybe you will agree with me or feel intrigued to incorporate some of these ideas into your life.
1. I Stopped Caring About What Other People Think of Me
I've always been a pretty self-conscious person and have never had much self-confidence. Since my childhood, I've never felt pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, or athletic enough. I was just plain average and for some reason, that always bothered me. Now that I'm 43, I really could care less what others think of me. With the exception of God, my husband and my kids, I have no one to answer to and only need to worry about my little family and doing what's best for us. It's a very liberating feeling to let go of others' expectations and to feel comfortable in your own skin. I'm good with my wrinkles, a few saggy areas and a little more brain fog...it's part of who I am and it could definitely be worse!
2. I Stopped Trying To Be The Perfect Mom
Being a mom is a tough job...it's 24/7, completely emotional and at times, exhausting! When my kids were much younger, I felt the need to be the "perfect mom". I would spend months planning the most "epic" birthday parties, had to volunteer at every opportunity possible, pack the perfect lunches, and dress them impeccably...all while trying to keep myself presentable and completely in control. Not Possible! Now that my kids are teenagers, I realize I don't have to be perfect for them. I want my kids to see a mom who doesn't put value in but cares about her appearance (I want my daughter to know make-up and perfect hair don't make a woman), a mom who occasionally slacks (sometimes it's ok for them to make their own lunches or do their laundry), and a mom who is supportive in all they do but also honest (sometimes you have to give some "Tough Love"). I definitely don't have motherhood completely figured out and I make mistakes everyday but I realize I'm human and my kids need to see me as a real person. They will be parents one day and hopefully won't feel pressured to be perfect but will strive to do their best.
3. I Let Go of Toxic Friendships
I don't do female drama, I never have. I run the other direction from drama mamas, controversy and women who gossip...it's simply not my thing. When I got into my 40's I realized I had a few women in my life who didn't bring joy and happiness but caused me stress. Stress is not something I need in my life (everyday life is stressful enough) and I refuse to deal with drama. It's ok to be friends with everyone but you don't have to let anyone into your life who doesn't bring happiness. Although I might have fewer friendships, I truly value the ones I have and each and every friend brings me joy, support and happiness. We can all use more of that in our lives!
4. It's OK To Have Downtime
Life is full force and busy 24/7. When I was younger I would feel guilty if I took time away from my family. Once a year I'd go on a girls' scrap booking weekend and I would miss my family terribly and feel so guilty about leaving...that is not the case now! I now realize it's good to get away and have time for myself or with my husband. When I get away, my kids actually miss me and truly appreciate what I do for them on a daily basis. They are usually so ready to have me come back home after a weekend away and it makes the family happy to come back together...Absence makes the heart grow fonder. My point is Take Time For Yourself...even if you can't get away for a weekend, take a nap, a bath, a walk, etc. Take time away from your family to take care of you...I promise your family will still be there when you get back and will appreciate you so much more!!!
5. Faith Is More Important Than Anything
My faith has become so much stronger and more important as I've gotten older. I wasn't raised in a house of strong faith and it was something I was introduced to when I met my husband...what a blessing. I stumbled through my youth not really knowing who I could lean on and I have always prayed my children would have a strong relationship with God and know they could lean on Him. Now that I'm older, my faith has become the center of my being and I know I'm always in His hands. It's the most comforting feeling I'll ever know. Again, it lifts a weight off my shoulders to know God has my back!
6. It's OK To Focus On Marriage Over Kids
Once I had kids I thought my entire world revolved around them. I felt I had to be the perfect mom and center each and every minute of my day around my kids...at times that has backfired. Many times over the years, my kids have taken advantage of me and demanded my attention which is not a bad thing but, looking back, I realize I probably enabled them too much. I want my kids to know I love them and fully support them but at the end of the day, when my kids go to college, it's going to be just my hubby and I. I know it's important to cultivate the relationship that I will have the longest in my life...my marriage. My husband has always been and will continue to be my greatest supporter, my best friend and my soulmate and I want my kids to know they should treasure their spouse just as much. They need to feel my love for them but also the love I have for their dad. Now that our kids can stay home alone or are constantly out with friends, we have "date night" once a week and try to have alone time as much as possible. We love every minute we have with each other and I don't feel one ounce of guilt. We are blessed to have a healthy relationship!
7. It's Never Too Late To Change Your Habits
I have always been a creature of habit and a bit OCD. I thrive on routine, schedules and staying within my comfort zone and have a hard time "straying outside of the lines". I'm slowly learning to be flexible with schedules, workouts, eating, etc. Over the years, I've learned life throws curve balls daily and while I used to get frazzled and upset, I'm trying to be more complacent and roll with the punches (the struggle is real). Every week I plan out my days to the hour but no matter how hard I try, there is always something that pops up and throws me off schedule...I'm trying hard to roll with it. While it's a daily struggle and I still get worked up, I'm slowly learning that life isn't perfect and I can work through any challenges!
8. I Can Actually Learn From My Kids
As a mom, I feel I always have to teach my kids about life. Everyday is a learning opportunity for them especially when they are at a young and impressionable age. What I sometimes fail to realize is that I can learn from my kids. Kids are untainted and raw... they possess an innocence I lost a long time ago...I envy their pureness. My kids trust anyone, possess confidence and want to conquer the world, and I wish I could feel that. They have an un-jaded view on life. I love their enthusiasm for the unknown and how they can appreciate the smallest moments in life. Unfortunately those things tend to disappear as life goes on but watching them reminds me to take it all in, slow down and learn to laugh. I am definitely the serious one in the family and my kids are teaching me to let go, lighten up and smile...simple actions but can be so difficult for me to do. I'm getting better and trying to be the "fun" mom and not just the "responsible" mom. It's a daily struggle but I want my kids to remember my laughter and not how organized I am. I pray they always keep their smile and sense of humor and pass it along to their families!
Once again, I don't claim to have the perfect life or even close but I can definitely look back to when I was younger and say I've learned a few things along the way. Life is full of pressure and stress so I like to take time to remember what truly matters...