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Whew that’s a tough one!
The thing is - everyone seems to think that as a stay home mom, you get to just lounge around watching Netflix while your kid plays. Maybe one day that might be true, but, for the first several years, you are working your butt off.
I had no idea how demanding parenthood could be. I literally worked - showing houses and signing contracts - up until the day my daughter was born. She shook my world.
Suddenly, I was home all day with her. I didn’t want to miss a beat. That first smile, the first time she reached for something, every gurgle... I wanted it all. All my clients got referred out. I would be the best mom to her - nothing else mattered.
Then, within a couple days after my husband went back to work, I was SO LONELY.
There was no one home to talk to. Just the baby... and she couldn’t talk back. All my friends had jobs, so I couldn't call anyone. Just me and baby. Just baby and me.
Day in. Day out.
The monotony was dreary, and, even worse, I was pouring out my loneliness on my husband when he got home from work. Talking a thousand words a minute. He would get so overwhelmed!
His responses were never enough. We would fight, and I’d go to bed sad, frustrated, exhausted. Wake up. Do it again.
Does this sound familiar?
The thing is, if you want to raise happy well adjusted children, you have to be happy and well adjusted yourself.
But how can you be happy when you are trudging through every day?
Don’t worry. There’s actually quite a few things you can do to be a happier mom every day, and some things you should stop doing right now.
Don't wait to be happy
First and foremost, you should stop telling yourself that you will be happy when/if <insert some event here>.
It’s easy to fall into that trap of “today is rough, but soon it’ll get better”. That’s really not helpful. Instead, try to take a deep breath and do something today that can bring some joy to your life right now.
On very bad days, I pull a box of brownie mix from the pantry, and make it with my toddler. She stands next to me on her learning tower (AKA the greatest invention ever - this is the one I use), and helps to mix the batter.
We laugh and make a mess and lick the bowl. I try to set the phone somewhere so we can film the whole thing. We watch ourselves on the video while it bakes, and then stuff our faces with chocolate.
It’s really hard to feel down when you are licking chocolate batter off a spoon and watching your kid enjoying one too.
Find your thing that you can do anytime that always makes you happy. Keep that in your back pocket for those days when nothing seems to go right.
There is something very refreshing about being outdoors. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the sound of birdsong or all the vitamin D from the sun.
Maybe it’s just that you can’t see the mountain of dishes and laundry that seems to grow at an alarming rate.
Whatever it is, it’s good for you. No matter the age of your child (yes even if you are still pregnant), going for a walk or even just sitting outside is good for your soul.
I live in one of the hottest cities in the country with oppressive humidity practically year round. Being outside isn’t always enjoyable.
So I make it a point to go outside for the brief time when it is. Even a 10 minute evening walk around the block is enough to boost my mood noticeably.
Bonus: it’s great for wearing out the kids too!
Have One Daily Outing
Not more than one, you over-achiever you! This is one of those things that can easily backfire if you try to do too much.
You’re more likely to get burned out and exhausted if you try for two or more a day.
If you don’t get out at all, then you are stuck looking at four walls all day with no human interaction. Don’t do that to yourself.
Get some memberships, if you can, to zoos, playscapes, museums. Anywhere you can go regularly without paying for that’s fun for you and your little one.
Check Groupon regularly to see if there are any deals for certain indoor playgrounds near you, or check Facebook for special activities or events that week.
Make a plan, and do your best to stick to it. Choose a time of day that works best for you, and go!
Getting out of the house gives you and your little one a change of scenery and interaction with other people.
If you are visiting a zoo or museum, it’s also a chance for your child to learn something, which can be very fulfilling to you as a parent too!
Go Through Your Pictures
We all know you are on your phone all day. That’s cool. But how often do you go through and look at those old pictures and watch those old videos?
You should. We tend to only document the happy times and talk about the bad times. You might have taken a dozen pictures of your baby playing and laughing, but when hubby comes home all you talk about is that huge mess you had to clean.
That’s not right.
I can’t tell you not to talk about how tired and overwhelmed you felt today. But maybe try to remember that there were happy times today too.
They are stored beautifully on your phone, so open them up and enjoy them. You’ll be glad you did.
Give Yourself a Break
If not physically, then mentally. Don’t get down on yourself, because you did zero tummy time this week or because it’s 7 o’clock and you’ve completely forgotten to make dinner. It’s ok. Really it is.
If you are constantly running a monologue in your head about how you need to be better, do better, how badly you’ve already screwed everything up, you are making a difficult job even harder. Make a conscious effort to stop.
Instead, try to focus on something else. Telling you to think positive is practically useless right? You know that, if you could, you would. But maybe it would help if you played music at home. Turned on an audiobook. Drown that voice so you can give yourself a chance to elevate your mood.
Just remember, your child will not remember all those little things you are stressed out about. None of those little things matter. So, give yourself a break mama. You are doing a great job!
I didn’t realize how stressed out Facebook was making me until I quit using it.
There’s something inherently depressing about reading a bunch of inflammatory news articles, and reading snippets from all of my “friends” day to day lives.
People always have a way of venting about crappy stuff that’s happening to them or sharing how they are #soblessed and really none of it makes you feel any better about your day.
You don’t get any of the endorphins that’s you’d have from actually talking to any of these people. Your "social interaction" just sucks hours out of your day and replaces it with... well, not a whole lot.
When I quit FB, I was suddenly gifted more time in my day! From not being bombarded with divisive news and shares, the world feels brighter.
And, since my friends know that I quit, they actually will call me to tell me about things that are going on with them. We have real conversations! Totally worth it.
See the world through your babies eyes
Sometimes it just takes a new perspective to help you feel like a happier mom. Children see the world as a new shining place, and everything is fascinating!
My daughter once spent an hour tearing up construction paper and gluing the bits onto another piece of paper.
Through adult eyes, it’s a meaningless task designed to occupy the kid while you do something else.
But if you take a minute and see it through her eyes, you realize that wow! Glue is really sticky. That piece looks like a banana. And hey! Tearing paper is way harder than it seems!
The point is, if you can take an interest in these little things that bring your child joy, you’ll find that you are happier too!
It really is easy to get bogged down trudging through each day. Hopefully, these tips help you keep your chin up and be a happier mom.
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