How to Be a Happier Mom
All I’ve ever really wanted in life was to have a family of my own – to be a mom and a wife and live happily ever after. I prayed about it and day dreamed about it for many many years. However, when my dream finally manifested, I came to realize I wasn’t as HAPPY as I thought I was “supposed to be”. Having a young toddler was draining and stressful, and I felt as though my freedom had been ripped from me. After this realization came the guilt that I wasn’t embracing motherhood as every other new mom around me seemed to be doing. Was I the only one feeling like I couldn’t handle it? The answer is NO. So…How to be a happier mom?
What I came to realize (after a lot of therapy and self-reflection) is that the “perfect life” is simply an illusion and happiness can only truly come from within, otherwise we will just keep chasing the illusion – “seeking” happiness in outside scenarios, places, people, etc.
Obviously finding happiness from within is much easier said than done. However, I’ve come up with a list of lifestyle implementations that will help hone in your inner happiness in a realistic and tangible way and help you to be a happier mom.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Recognize Your Feelings
One very important thing to always keep at the forefront of your life is to recognize your feelings and know that you aren’t always going to be happy. You are going to feel frustrated, angry, sad, anxious, and every other possible feeling. That is human nature. Denying your true feelings (and all of them – the good, bad, and the ugly) will only make you more un-happy and create a web of self doubt. Embrace your anger or frustration or sadness, and know that it’s normal and that’s just life. This will help you be at peace with your true self. Don’t feel guilty about negative emotions or thoughts, but recognize them. Just by being aware and recognizing them will help abolish them.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Exercise
Exercise is such an under-rated cure to stress, anxiety, and bad moods. Exercise is one of the few ways to naturally release endorphins and serotonin (the happy cells in your brain). Not only that but it will make you feel accomplished, stronger, and healthier. I usually work out 5 days a week and take a break on the weekends. On Monday mornings, I usually feel like crap and dread the stress of everything I need to accomplish during the week. However, once I hit the gym around 9am, it works every time – my motivation for the day and week just goes through the roof. Incorporating an exercise routine into your week – whether it’s just walking a few days a week or hitting the gym daily, you will notice a huge boost in your overall mood and energy.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Simplify Your Schedule
Trying to be super mom by taking on too much can be debilitating. For a while I was trying to juggle being a part time stay-at-home-mom while continuing my my part-time job all while starting a small online business of my own, as well as managing our home in general with the cleaning, cooking and organizing. I was stressed and overwhelmed. Trying to do everything makes it hard to be great at anything. By eliminating one of those demands (the part-time job), my overall stress and anxiety decreased and it allowed me to focus more on the other more important aspects of my life.
As women, we sometimes have unrealistic expectations for ourselves to prove ourselves “worthy”. Simplifying your life by by hiring a housekeeper, quitting a part-time job, or putting that small business idea on the back burner will free your mind and allow you to be more engaged and calm in what you choose to invest your time into.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Take Time for Yourself Everyday
I don’t know why I feel guilty when I get my nails done or go shopping. Why do we do that to ourselves as women? The reality is we SHOULD treat ourselves and make time for ourselves every day. So whether you hit the gym, get your nails done, go shopping, or read a book, taking time for yourself everyday is a simple way to show yourself some love and bring you peace, which will help make you a happier mom.
How to Be a Happier Mom? A Weekly Ritual to Look Forward to
Every Friday afternoon I look forward to taking my son to our favorite bakery to get their fresh hot pretzels that they only have on the weekends. And on Saturday mornings I take him to Starbucks for pumpkin bread and a latte and then head to the park. These are simple weekly rituals but they bring me joy each time. Having one or two (or several) rituals in your week that you have to look forward to is a simple way to increase your overall happiness.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Journal One Happy Moment a Day
At the end of each day when all of your to-do’s are done, take a moment to write down on notecard an experience (no matter how big or small) from your day in which you either showed gratitude, found peace in, was enjoyable, or you simply saw something that was beautiful and record the details of that moment onto the notecard. Fold it in half and put in a large jug or jar. At the end of the year it is so gratifying to go through the cards and re-live those special little moments. I also like to write the date down so when I read back through them I can more vividly remember that moment.
Here is an example:
“I’m sitting on the balcony at our small condo at the Lake of the Ozarks (Jack’s first trip to the Ozarks) and I’m watching Tommy (my husband) and Jack (my 20 month old) fishing on the shore. Jack is throwing rocks and staying near daddy. It is a beautiful morning. I can hear the birds and the breeze. I’m drinking a protein shake and enjoying this moment.”
The reason why I find this daily practice so beneficial to being a happier mom is that it automatically makes you stop and think about each moment since that could potentially be an “option” for your daily recording. It is such a simple technique toward mindfulness.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Have a Routine
People who have a steady daily routine tend to be happier than those who choose adventure or impulsiveness. When you create routine in your life (by regulating your daily actions) you deactivate your “fight or flight” instincts because you’re no longer confronting the unknown. This is why people who have habitual routines experience so much joy: their fear instincts are turned off long enough for them to actually enjoy something. Ultimately having routine gives you security in the known, which decreases stress and anxiety.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Get Enough Sleep
This one is a no-brainer. But it can be a challenge, especially if you have little ones that don’t sleep well through the night. In which case, I would suggest switching off nights between parents to tend to the little one.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, When you don’t get the 7-9 hours of quality sleep you need, it can heavily influence your outlook on life, energy level, motivation, and emotions.
Even small levels of sleep deprivation over time can chip away at your happiness. You might see that you’re less enthusiastic, more irritable, or have some of the symptoms of feeling persistently sad or empty. All these alterations to your mood can affect not only your individual mental health, but your relationships and family dynamics as well.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Make Time for Friends
This one can be easier said than done when we lead a busy life. We have to take care of the kids, do the laundry, get dinner on the table, go to work, clean the house, drop off and pick up the kids, go grocery shopping, organize the storage room, etc. etc. How can we possibly make time for friends? Prioritizing even just one time a month to meet a friend for happy hour or a cup of coffee can be so therapeutic. It gives you time to relate to each other, vent, and quite honestly, give you re-assurance that you are not alone and that everything you’re going through, so are your friends. Connecting with people is essential to mental health.
How to Be a Happier Mom? Physical Touch
I don’t want to get too mushy but it is as simple as a hug or kiss from the hubby just feels good. Physical touch from someone you love really goes a long way in the happiness department. I really notice it too when I’m lacking any physical affection in my life. It makes me more irritable.
Even just a simple hug releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin tells your amygdala (the fear, anxiety, and aggression headquarters of your brain) to calm down.
Just think about it, when you’re stressed, how much better do you feel when you hold your partner’s hand? You would probably be surprised at how much it will reduce your stress. Increasing the physical touch between you and your partner will have positive effects on your overall relationship as well. So try to be more “lovey-dovey” with the loved ones in your life and see if it increases your happiness level.