My personal theme and goal for this year is happiness. Much like a ba-jillion other people out there, I just want to be happy. But I’ve realized that sometimes, that’s a lot easier said than done. How do you find happiness? What makes one happy? If you have no control over certain things (like, for example, winning the lottery… which would definitely make me happy), how do you obtain the goal?
Here are a few areas I’m going to focus on in my parenting life to try and be a happier mom.
1. Let go of the guilt. (AND MEAN IT!)
I don’t know if it’s a result of getting older, or because I’ve got three kids and have realized that I just can’t do everything and be everything… but I’m seriously going to feel less guilty for the little things this year.
Over the last holiday season, I missed my youngest daughter’s daycare holiday celebration where she and her class sang songs and ate cookies. Yes, I died a little on the inside when someone asked me why I didn’t make it. But then I realized that not being there for that one show (that she won’t remember by next week) will not scar her for life. And it doesn’t define who I am as a parent. It was a moment I couldn’t make due to my other kids’ school concerts, full-time work and a busy schedule. Instead, we spent a whole heck of a lot of time together in our pjs during that holiday break. So, I plan to do my best to let go of the guilt for the rest of this year. It’s just not helpful.
2. Realize that I’m enough.
Motherhood is a powerful thing. (As is fatherhood). Kids just want you. Your attention. Your love. They don’t care if you’re not perfect. I’m enough as I am for my kids. And even though I’m pretty sure that I love them much more than they love me, they think I’m great. Even when we fight, they can be won over eventually by a hug from Mom. If I try to remind myself of that fact, I think it will definitely keep me happy during the rougher times.
3. Take a moment to calm down when the kids make my blood boil.
It’s going to happen, because… kids. They know how to push my buttons and make me react. I’m not proud of the way I’ve handled some of our arguments in the past. (But I’m not dwelling on them either… see point #1.) So going forward, I’m going to try really hard to take a breather when I start feeling like I’m going to yell or fight or lose a little of my control. If I don’t react, I’m pretty sure things won’t escalate. If things don’t escalate, I’m less likely to end up angry and grumpy and annoyed. It’s a win for everyone in the family.
I realized early on in my parenting life how powerful apologies to your kids can be. Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I hurt their feelings. Sometimes they just want to be validated. And despite the fact that I’m REALLY thinking “Mommy wouldn’t yell if you would just put your darn shoes on the first time I ask!!”, saying sorry works out better in the end. I feel like it even brings me and my kids closer to one another, which I imagine will be pretty important during the teen years.
5. Say thank you.
I had an interesting experience one rushed, busy school morning. I was running around trying to get three kids ready for school and daycare, while also getting myself ready for work. For some reason, at least one child is always irrational in my house in the mornings when I have to be somewhere. So, when that happened, my older daughter noticed how frazzled it was making me and decided she felt like being uber-helpful (which doesn’t always happen. She’s a kid.)
On this particular morning, she packed her school bag and her sisters’ and put them down by the front door. She got all their boots and mitts and hats and everything ready so that we wouldn’t have to search around at the last minute. She even helped her 3-year old sister get dressed and brush her teeth. I thanked her profusely for the help and she was as pleased as punch. AND it had a ripple effect. The next thing I knew, my other kids were falling all over themselves trying to be helpful so they’d be thanked too. Parenting win!
6. Be grateful.
Up until recently, I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to the whole gratitude movement. I’m not one to keep a journal and write down what I’m grateful for. As soon as someone tells me to be mindful, my eyes start glazing over because I have no idea what that really means. But I’ve had a few ‘Aha!’ moments lately that have made me really think about perspective. A lot of happiness comes from perspective and realizing just how good things are for you. So this will be the year that I’m more grateful. Oprah tells me it’ll make me happier. Why did it take me so long to listen?
Here’s to being happier, parents!