Before the label of motherhood became attached to the foundation of my skin, I was first a writer.

Journaling

More specifically, I wrote in my journal. I bled through my pen during the points of my life that were both the hardest and the most joyful. The act of writing has saved me more times than I can count.

I wrote when my dad had his stroke and during his recovery. I wrote during my dark lows of postpartum depression and anxiety after the births of my daughters. I wrote when I had a miscarriage. I wrote during the joys, too: of when I finished graduate school with a master’s in creative writing, when I married my partner, when I first found out I was pregnant.

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The Benefits of Journaling

In a past life before kids, I used to facilitate journal therapy groups. I worked with brain injury survivors in an outpatient rehabilitation center. I saw in participants what I knew to always be true: journaling is therapeutic. It helps regulate stress, softens emotional blows, and serves as an outlet for our feelings.

Research abounds supporting the benefits of journaling. James W. Pennebaker is most known for his studies on how journaling improves physical and psychological health. Below are a few guidelines I follow in my own journaling practice, as well as a list of journal prompts that have helped me in my never-ending quest for emotional stability as a mother.

Guidelines for Journaling

While there is no right or wrong way to journal, here are some guidelines I follow:

  • Date every entry. It’s valuable to be able to know when you wrote an entry to see where you were at during a certain point in your life, whether last week, last year, or 10 years ago.
  • Keep what you write. Your journals are invaluable copies of your own personal history.
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t judge yourself or your writing. Silence the inner critic and don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or mistakes. Just write.
  • Tell yourself the truth. You’ll get the most out of your journaling if you write what’s honestly inside your heart and on your mind.
  • Write about the difficult experiences or feelings AND the positive ones. Both are equally important.
  • Protect your privacy and store your journal in a safe place.
  • Write as often as you can. There are no set rules to how often you “should” write. Put the pen to paper when you feel inspired, when you’re hurting, when you’re celebrating, when you need a moment to yourself to relax. It’s all valuable.

Journal Prompts For Mothers

These are springboards to get you started in your journaling. Some may call to you and others may not. Listen to your inner voice and write the truth on your heart.

  1. Today I feel as a mother…
  2. The qualities I appreciate the most in myself as a mother are…
  3. My life as a mother is a journey to…
  4. My family takes good care of me because…
  5. My family challenges me because…
  6. The part of my day I look forward to the most is…
  7. The most dreaded part of my day is…
  8. Self-care to me as a mother is…
  9. When I was young, I wanted to…
  10. A friendship I truly value is…
  11. Some of the thoughts I think over and over are…
  12. When my children push me too hard, I…
  13. Today, one thing I want from life is…
  14. My home life is…
  15. I forgive myself for…
  16. One thing I need to allow more of in my life is…
  17. Motherhood has changed me by…
  18. I have learned from my children to…
  19. The dreams I have for my children are…
  20. My relationship with my partner has changed since becoming a mother because…
  21. My favorite time of day with my children is…
  22. The hardest part about being a mother is…
  23. The most rewarding part about being a mother is…
  24. I feel loved when…
  25. I am grateful for my family because…

 

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Kelly is a native Californian and has lived up and down the coast, from Santa Cruz to San Francisco to San Diego and has now made her permanent home in Newbury Park. She has a masters in creative writing from San Francisco State University and finds solace and strength in writing about the vulnerability of being a mother. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, gardening, reading and all things cheese--especially a good blue or cheddar. She is married to an amazingly supportive husband and is a stay at home mom to her two wild daughters.

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