There is a ton of stuff written on the internet about how to do motherhood, amiright?
There is plenty written about how difficult modern parenting is, about the different styles of parenting (Helicopter versus Free Range versus whatever else they’ve come up with this week), and about how to manage stress, time and picky eaters, the PTA and every other stinkin’ thing that’s out there.
But what about happiness? What about how to be a happier mom, a happier parent?
I think moms often overlook the importance of happiness, push it aside. Think about it. We get so sucked in to the obligations and the day-to-day grind that we overlook something so simple - yet something so important – as parental happiness.
So, let’s talk about that. I am not all-knowing…I’m just a mom trying to raise good kids and make it through the day…but I do have some thoughts on how moms can get a head start on happiness:
Let go of the idea of perfection
You can’t be a perfect parent. You aren’t perfect (I know, newsflash!) and neither are your kids. Embrace the notion of “good enough” because sometimes, good enough is the best you can aim for…you know what I mean. We all have those days.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think of your parenting or what you should be doing. I know, I know…we all have that friend whose life looks perfect on Facebook and Instagram but mothering is one of those times when it’s best to keep our eyes on our own paper.
You will not be perfect. “Perfect” and “motherhood” should never be used in the same sentence. Never, ever, ever. Besides, those cutesy poo Instagram snaps probably have a large pile of dirty laundry just out of the camera’s reach and that adorable smiling child probably picked her nose or threw a tantrum 30 seconds after the picture was snapped…at least it makes me feel better to think so!
Spend time away from your kids
It’s impossible to be a happy mom without being a happy person. As much as we love our small humans, you can’t be “on” as a mom 24/7 without getting burned out. As dreamy as a spa day or weekend getaway sans kids sounds, those are once in a while events.
Work to find time in your day (or at least your week) to do something for yourself that doesn’t involve carting your kids around or being “on” for them. Don’t get me wrong, being physically present for your kids is extremely important but so is self-care. Don’t be afraid to write your “me time” in your planner just like you would any commitment – and stick to it.
One of my most restorative ways of getting a break from my kids is to tell my husband and kids that I’m off the clock. I grab a book and a cup of tea or a nice glass of wine and I retreat to my bedroom for an hour or so. This is something I have to coordinate with my husband although I have been guilty of the desperate “I’m dropping everything because I need a break, so don’t come in here” move. I get less interruptions (see also little fingers wiggling underneath my door if I try to plan ahead a little.
And yes, I lock the door. #NoShameNoGuilt
Think about what you REALLY want
No seriously. What do you REALLY want? Do you want to stay home with your kids? Do you want to have a career? A job where you make ends meet and help your family financially? Do you want to go back to school, to finish that degree you never started or get an advanced degree? Switch gears? Work part time? Work from home? A combination of all of these things?
I’m at a crossroads and trying to figure out what my life is going to look like a year from now and what will make me the happiest. Is it full-time work outside my home? Is it a part-time job somewhere that will give me some extra cash but not necessarily career satisfaction? Do I need career satisfaction? Going back to school to do something TOTALLY different? Will I become burned out by staying at home and working from home? Other things besides my happiness are factoring into this equation, of course, but I am making my happiness a priority.
You should, too.
Find a way to not do what you don’t have time to do or simply don’t like to do. If you can afford to hire cleaning help, do it, even if it’s just an occasional treat. Try meal-delivery service or even curbside grocery service, where you select your groceries online and have someone load your order into your car.
You don’t have to go into the store. That’s huge!
Buy cookies and brownies for kid’s parties premade at the bakery instead of baking from scratch or even baking from a mix. Don’t feel guilty about cutting corners or taking short cuts. We’re talking about your time and your well-being. If your “mom tasks” are getting in the way of your happiness and you have the resources to remove some of them from your plate, then do. Also consider swapping tasks or services with other moms.
Remember YOU are the mom
That statement might sound kind of basic but remembering you are the mom (and a good one at that) goes a long way toward your happiness and well-being. You are the mom. Not your mom, not your kid’s teacher, not the other moms in your community, not the parenting manuals. You.
You won’t always do it right but you won’t always do it wrong. You love your kids and you spend a lot of your time making things better for your family. Not second-guessing yourself will life a surprising amount of weight from your shoulders – try it.
No one is happy all the time and there is no universal recipe for happiness. Everyone is wired differently, but taking steps to take care of yourself will make you a happier person. And if you’re a happier person you will be a happier and better mom.
At least that’s the idea.