Happiness can be elusive in the day-to-day grind of doing all the things. Packing the lunches and the backpacks. Trying to match the last 50 socks that seem to have lost their mates. Tucking the 3-year-old in for the 1000th time in 20 minutes. Listening to a play-by-play of all things Minecraft. These might not be natural happiness builders.
So what’s a mom to do?
If I have learned anything in my 16 years of momming, it’s this. These kids in my house are in no way, shape, or form in charge of my happiness. Thank goodness because that would be a long road to therapy for all of us. My husband is not responsible for it either, darn it, although I did try to pin the whole bring-me-happiness thing on him for quite some time.
Nope, the responsibility for my happiness rests squarely on my own shoulders. I have to decide what on Earth I am going to do to pull myself out of my funk and get my happiness on. Is a mother’s work ever done? I can answer for you, no, it is not.
Fortunately there are some things you can do to change up your perspective and cultivate a little happiness right where you are today, even if you are surrounded by a mountain of unpaired socks. Here are seven realistic ways to be a happier mom.
Spend time with your kids.
This one might seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. Sometimes the right move is to drop everything and just spend some time with your kids, even if they are driving you crazy. Don’t try and multitask cleaning the kitchen and listening to them talk. Instead, take them somewhere new or even take them somewhere old. A trip to the ice cream store can be enough to remind me why we had all these kids in the first place. Look at their sweet sticky faces and remember the joy of being a kid. Play a game of cards or bake something together – unless you find games and baking soul sucking and then you should avoid them at all costs. Instead, choose something you love. Perhaps it’s shooting baskets with your kiddo in the driveway. (I would, personally, hate that.) But the trick here is to choose something YOU love to do and do it with your people.
Ignore your kids.
Sometimes totally ignoring your offspring is the answer. If it has all just been too much togetherness I allow my tribe to go feral and I do my own thing. Now mine are old enough not to set things on fire (probably), if I do this. You may need to put your littles in the trusty care of our friends at the Disney channel. Declare a Peppa Pig marathon and curl up with a good book. Call a friend to sit and chat with you on the deck while your people run amok. Clean a closet just for the satisfaction of it. Guilt is not invited to hang out with you, but coffee and wine sure are.
Eat a bunch of your favorite junk.
Sometimes you just need to treat yourself. I confess a giant vat of homemade mashed potatoes sooths my soul. Nachos, cookie dough, a Starbucks run, all these things are little gifts to me. If I am feeling deprived by life, I fill myself up with ridiculous treats (I’m looking at you Doritos and sour cream) because sometimes food is joy. On the flip side, if your whole life is slothful, you need to get yourself together. Treating your body with a healthy diet may be what it takes to turn it all around. An awesome fruit smoothie, a giant salad with all the things I should be growing in my garden but just buy instead, anything that has all the things we are supposed to eat to nourish our bodies in the way God intended. Again food brings joy, but this time in the form of helping us feel we are getting our act together in some small way, while also erasing the damage from the aforementioned Doritos we ate to cheer ourselves up yesterday.
Refuse to get up off the couch.
Sometimes we just need to rest our bodies in any way we can. When you cannot do even one more chore without losing your mind, sit yourself down. Make up a game where the kids are the waitstaff and you are the customer. Challenge them to make up a new Minecraft world, while you scroll through Facebook without moving anything other than your finger. Physical rest is a balm to the soul.
Get up and move.
There are some days yoga is the only way. I hit my mat, meditate on a little prayer, and move myself back into the happy place. For some of my friends, it’s running (they are insane). Or walking. Or biking. Or whatever exercise gets those endorphins flowing and makes you feel healthy and strong. My mind will resist the idea that it needs to get to the gym, but you cannot do #5 without a little #6. It’s all about balance, my friends. Sometimes you’ve got to move it.
Take a ride in a time-machine.
When all else fails, pretend you have a time-machine. Go back in time and remember how cute your sassy teenager was as a baby. Go ahead in time and picture your full-of-attitude two-year-old leaving your house for college. This trick will help bring a little perspective and appreciation for how fast it all goes, which always helps me remember I do not have a time machine and so I need to live in this moment and suck it up to make it the best it can be.
In the end, it is all about choosing joy. Choosing happiness. Choosing to remember you count, too. Choosing to give yourself the gift of that thing that might turn your day around.
Yup, happiness can be a choice. And most often it is within your power to choose it.
And remember, the gift of happiness really isn’t just a gift for you. Making yourself happy is actually a gift to everyone around you (you’re welcome, kids). “If Mom Isn’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy” isn’t just something written on a magnet on my mom’s fridge. It landed on a magnet for a reason, people. Because like all crazy magnet sayings, it springs from a universal truth. Bring on the happiness for yourself and create happiness for the world (or at least your corner of it).
I’m Amy Betters-Midtvedt and I write along with my friend and former teaching partner Erin over at Hiding in the Closet With Coffee. We write to help find our sanity and our joy and sometimes joy is found hiding out in the closet with our coffee…or hiding out on Facebook…come and join us! You can also find us hiding out over at Instagram, Pinterest and on Twitter. I have been published on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, Babble, Mamalode, Blunt Moms, Parent.co, TODAY Community, Red Tricycle and Sammiches and Psych Meds.