I don’t think that I’ve ever been a specifically unhappy mother. But there are definitely times when I’ve been Stressed Out Mom. I’ve also been Frustrated Mom, Perfectionist Mom, and, mostly, Worried Mom. And when I’m all of those versions of myself, I logically know that going down those various emotional rabbit holes won’t do any good for myself or for my family. But, if you’re a parent, I’m sure you know it’s hard to climb out of one.
I’ve been doing lots of thinking lately on learning how to be a happier mom. Less worried. Less concerned. Maybe less (dare I say it) uptight? Ryan and I have been taking a parenting course and from it, along with my own experiences with our kids, I’m developing a “tool kit” of sorts, to pull from when I feel a little underneath it all. And you know what? They work. Like for reals.
I think so much of the work is simply being self-aware as a mother and as a woman, of the moments when you need to check in. There’s so much that rests on a mother’s shoulders daily, and it’s easy to crumple underneath that weight. We need those tools to make the load lighter.
If this is speaking to you, read on for my current favorite secrets to being a happier mom. See if you don’t feel a little lighter after you read through them.
9 Secrets to Being a Happier Mom
Give yourself permission to stop comparing. Comparing and competing with other moms (or comparing your children to other kids!!!) is one hundred percent a recipe for anguish. You are a wonderful mother. Full stop. Your kids are wonderful. There is nothing to be gained by comparison, so choose to love the mother that you are and show your kids that you think they’re perfect, as-is.
Look for the good. I use this one when the kids are having a behaviorally less-than-stellar day. If they do anything, and I mean anything that is constructive, positive, or generally good, I celebrate it. I specifically choose to notice the good, and will help them notice it too. This is a super-useful tool for pulling a whole family out of a funk.
Relinquish control every so often. Mama, you don’t always have to run the show! In fact, it feels really good not to, if you can stand giving up control. Let your partner be in charge of bathtime. Let the kids help you cook. Yes, it will FOR SURE be messier and more time consuming than if you just did it yourself. But if you never let them try then they’ll never learn.
Go be an adult. Go. Leave the house. See your friends. Have lunch by yourself. Do something that has nothing to do with being a mother. Just be a woman. You’ll come back better for it.
Cultivate your relationship with your partner. How easy is it to forget your partner or spouse when your in the parenting trenches? Some days Ryan and I will realize that it’s noon and we haven’t even looked each other in the eye. Make a specific effort to give attention and affection to your spouse. A united front is so much stronger than two individuals. Also, your kiddos will benefit so greatly from seeing a healthy, loving relationship modeled for them consistently.
Pretend you’re the fun mom. If I’m being real, I’m totally not Fun Mom. But I sure can pretend I am, and once I start pretending, it sort of becomes real! Mix it up. Stop for ice cream on the way home. Set up a fort with the couch cushions. Put bubbles in the bathtub. These gestures take so little to give but they are received by our kids with such huge, fervent appreciation.
Ask for help. No mom is an island! You need a tribe, friend. It may mean going out of your comfort zone, but seek out other like-minded moms, families, or friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And help, by the way can mean carpools, playdates, text venting sessions, hot meals, extra bandaids, a glass of wine, or anything in between. Ask for help, and after you get it, pay it forward.
Practice self-care. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a big proponent of self-care, especially for women and moms. Take the time to make sure that you are healthy and happy, and you will be the best version of yourself for your kids. I also believe that modeling self-care and self-love to the next generation is hugely important. Shower. Get dressed. Work out. Eat green things. Journal. Meditate. Whatever you need, do that thing.
Simplify your schedule. Busy mom does not equal good mom. It also does not equal better than any other mom. If you are feeling like you just can’t keep up with your schedule, you’re probably right. Take a look at your family schedule and see where you can simplify. So many times I see overscheduled families because they either just can’t bear to say “no” to an activity, or because there’s this idea that busier = better.
Stop idealizing perfection. Somewhere along the way, we all started hunting for perfection. We all started thinking that if we fed our kids the right thing and signed them up for the right classes and had them wear the right clothes, they’d turn out perfect. And we’d be the perfect parents. Y’all. This endless pursuit of perfection is SO damaging and SO boring! Who wants perfection anyway? Toss that idea out and instead, welcome in skinned knees and spilled milk and tears that turn into laughter and bedtimes that were too late because the night was just too fun. Let down your guard and give yourself a break.
Do you already feel a little lighter just reading all these ideas? I feel lighter every time I use one. I’d love to know if there’s one that particularly speaks to you. I’d ALSO love to know what kind of mom you consider yourself. Like, if I had to label myself, I’d probably be Worried But Trying to Pretend I’m Not Mom. Hahahahaha, leave a comment and let me know! xoxo