Though children bring more peace and joy than we ever imagined, sometimes the day-to-day routine can feel anything but that. It’s generally more along the lines of “a whirlwind”, “nerve wracking”, and “utterly exhausting”.
Mothering children (especially ones younger than three years old) is the most amazing thing you’ll do in life – but has also been proven to put a damper on your mood. You may find yourself losing your patience at the drop of a hat or bickering with your spouse more often. Parents of young kids deal with increased negative emotions on a day to day basis.
In fact, studies have shown taking care of children does not rank at the top of most women’s pleasurable activities. Though it seems surprising, and you may disagree, when women were asked to rank daily activities according to their enjoyment, eating, watching TV, and even exercising ranked in ahead of child care. Feeling this way does not need to produce feelings of guilt or sadness. It does not change the fact that you love your children immensely. The simple fact is while children increase your quality of life in the big picture, their daily care may not calculate into your personal enjoyment.
But don’t fret; by learning to dwell on the positive attributes of motherhood you can beat those pesky blues. Being a mother is incredibly important, so remind yourself of that daily, and find ways to make your role more enjoyable. In doing so you will not only find more joy in life, but you will become a more effective parent as well. Here are some ideas for adding happiness into your daily routine.
- Catch a few extra Z’s
A study at the University of Michigan found that an extra hour of sleep per night provides more happiness than adding 60,000 to your annual income. That’s pretty astounding! Convince your husband to get up with the children on Saturday so you can get a little extra sleep, or take naps with your children during the day. Though it’s tempting to tackle housework or plop down on the sofa to watch TV while the kids sleep, your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for taking a quick snooze.
- Focus on what’s really important
It’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong things. While having an immaculately clean house and a gourmet dinner on the table by five o’clock are wonderful goals, keep in mind how fleeting your days with youngsters are. You will never remember how good your dinner tasted, but memories of hide and seek will plant themselves in your heart forever.
- Be honest with yourself
At some point you have to accept the fact that motherhood is not always a bed of roses. Once you come to terms with that idea, you’ll find your life drastically improves. It’s completely normal to have days where you’re short on patience, cranky, and tired. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad parent. We’re all human. Once you understand that fact, and stop pouring the guilt on yourself, you’ll be able to recover from those bad moods much quicker.
- Don’t neglect date night
The “diaper years” (0-3) are the most stressful ones on a marriage. It’s easy to brush marital problems off and tell yourself you’ll deal with them later, but doing so is destructive. A better option is focusing on small, realistic things you can do to keep you and your spouse united during these difficult years. Date night doesn’t have to require hiring a babysitter, or even leaving the house. It can be something as simple as setting aside one night a week to play a favorite game or eat a treat together after the children have gone to bed.
- Express Gratitude
One of the most effective ways to turn your perspective around is to create a gratitude journal. Every night before hitting the pillow, jot down a few positive things that happened during your day. It can range from acts of service from a friend or neighbor, watching your favorite television show, or something funny your kid did that brought you joy. You’ll find that focusing on the positive aspects of each day will increase your sense of well-being.
Most people think of happiness as a feeling that is happenstance, rather than something we seek ourselves. Yet feelings arise from thoughts – and we are in control of the thoughts that ruminate in our minds. Strive to seek quality experiences with your children each day and relish the insights you learn from each other.
Feature image via daveparker