HOW TO BE A HAPPIER MOM - PART ONE
Updated: Sep 21, 2019
At the time writing this, we have three children under five years old. Life is an absolute circus, but is our circus and I am loving it. In the midst of it all I sometimes have to be intentional about happiness.
It is so easy to get into a rut and find yourself unhappy - it's uncanny how unhappiness can almost sneak up on us. A mom is like the thermometer of the home. If we are happy, the home will be happy. This is an immense privilege and responsibility. Here are some ways in which you can consciously be happier:
In her book No More Perfect Moms, Jill Savage says that we shouldn't compare our insides with someone else's outsides. What a revelation! We only see what others allow us to see - especially on social media. We don't see what their homes look like on a Saturday afternoon, we don't see what they have for dinner on a normal weeknight.
I don't know why we are socialised into having to pretend that our children are only good and that our lives are perfect and that we have it all together, when it isn't a reality for anyone of us. We all feel like we're going to lose it sometimes. Some of us are just better at hiding it.
You are not the only mom who has ever stood in the kitchen with kids running around and dishes piled high and loud noises and tears have filled your eyes as you wondered what happened to happy. It’s okay. For real. I know those moments hurt and can make you feel like you just want to throw your hands in the air and that sometimes you just want a break and sometimes just a hug or to be loved and told you matter. - Rachel Martin
This morning I was pushing my youngest up and down in the garden in his stroller, trying to get him to sleep. We had a horrible night. He had been whining all morning and my husband and I had to take turns holding him so that we could get anything done.
As I was walking up and down, I kept thinking about the million things that still need to be done and what I need to do first while he is sleeping. My older kids had been playing everywhere and the house was a mess. I couldn't help thinking that THIS wasn't what I thought motherhood was going to be like.
The truth is that for many of us, motherhood looks very different from the way we imagined. It is ok to be disappointed and to mourn that. But we have to accept what it is. The good, the bad and the ugly. The moment we stop wanting something else, we will be able to fully enjoy what we have right in front of us.
You know. I think the truth is that sometimes we just need to acknowledge that there are seasons in our life that are just hard work. Motherhood being one of them. Especially those years when they’re all under five - Rachel Martin
LET GO OF PERFECTION
You have children. Your home won't ever be perfectly clean or tidy and your children won't always behave. They are going to embarrass you and let you down at times. They are going to make a mess and perhaps even spill something on your new outfit. And you may not have time to blow wave your hair for a very long time. It's ok. We're all struggling right now and it will get better again. Embrace the imperfection of this time.
It is okay if things get messy. Perfect parenthood is a dangerous myth. - Lizanne du Plessis in Raising Happy Children
Not only do your children need quality time, you need it too! Get down on the floor and play with them! Try to let go of your to-do list for just a moment and be present with them.
LET GO OF THE THINGS YOU CAN'T CONTROL
Do whatever you can and let go of the rest. It is that simple. Perhaps consider making a list of the things that are most important and aim for those.
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
If the beds aren't made every day or if you eat sandwiches for dinner, don't let it get to you. Rather enjoy time with your family.
MAKE TIME FOR YOUR HUSBAND
Mama, you and Hubby are a team. Take care of him. You need him.
My husband and I are both quality time people, so it comes pretty easy to us, but I can tell you that if it hadn't been for my special times with my husband, I might have gone out of my mind completely - long ago already.
To every mom doing it alone: you're an absolute rock star. I have no idea how you do it!
You really don't have to do it all alone. For the things that are just too much, get help. There is no shame in asking. If you have family or friends that's great, but there is also paid options if you don't have someone close by.
We are very blessed to have my parents around the corner and they have been a tremendous help.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This means something different for every one of us. Don't forget and let yourself go completely.
Do not lose yourself in motherhood. Don’t lose sight of your dreams, your passions, and all the things that make you super unique. Burying all of that can lead to resentment of motherhood. So find time to run, paint, sing, create, write, or whatever your passion truly is. Moms need outlets. And sometimes it means taking a bit longer hot shower and letting the hot water tank run out. - Rachel Martin
I recently went through a time where I was experiencing gaps in my memory. Not like going staring at the fridge trying to remember what I was there for - more like not remembering whether I had applied my makeup or said something to someone. I felt foggy. It was scary!
My brain was simply overloaded. I work full-time, I was trying to get my blog started, I was preparing for a lecture that I had to present. I was listening to audio books while driving, watching YouTube videos while doing admin. It was all too much.
I decided to take a weekend break from social media and thinking and planning for my blog. It was miraculous! I could think clearly again! Too much technology isn't good, dear Mama. Too much multi-tasking comes at a price.
My first two children were easy when it came to sleep, but just when you think you have it all figured out... my third was the worst! We eventually gave up and did sleep training when he was a year old.
It was with him that I realised how important sleep really is. I knew I was always tired, but it wasn't until I had gotten a few nights of good sleep that I realised how different I feel when less tired. I felt more energetic and happier - and there I thought that I was coping pretty good without it.
I am one of those people who cannot stand staying in the home all the time. I feel trapped very quickly. Going out of the home - even if it's more of an effort with the kids - is an absolute lifesaver for me.
Just getting a bit of sun and some Vitamin D goes a long way towards feeling better.
This article explains the happy hormones and how to boost them naturally.
Dopamine - your brain's reward system
Serotonin - a mood booster
Oxytocin - the love hormone
Estrogen - keeps mood steady
Progesterone - helps with sleep and prevents anxiety
DO WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE
You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you. - Alexander Den Heijer
Remember the things that make you come alive and do them, even if it is once a month, even in some diluted form, just do some of it. It makes a huge difference.
This season is only temporary. The good and the bad. There is a blog post by Catherine Dietrich that I must have read a million times since becoming a mom. She writes about how hard the thirties can be for a new mom, but that the forties are coming and that we're going to have time for ourselves again. She also reminds us that we shouldn't wish away this magical time. Go ahead and read that post, such encouragement!
As I started writing this post I realised that there is much more to say than I thought. Stay posted for the sequel of HOW TO BE A HAPPIER MOM.