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How to enjoy being a mom

Posted: September 29, 2015 10:59 a.m.
Updated: September 29, 2015 10:59 a.m.
Lyndsi Frandsen/

There is something about mothering with joy that goes beyond being happy to being deeply fulfilled. Even if the days aren’t necessarily “happy,” it is possible to maintain joy.

About a month ago, I was talking to a dear friend who is a mother to a brand new baby girl, and a very (ahem) rambunctious 3-year-old boy. She was telling me about the kind of days that are quickly becoming her “new normal.” She described days filled with constant diaper changing and potty training. (I won’t get into the sleep deprivation that fills her nights.)

I’m not going to lie — I was exhausted just listening to her. Through her yawns, she rattled off stories that sounded downright awful. When I asked how she was doing (those baby blues are real, people), she said, “I am tired and can’t tell you the last time I took a shower, but being their mom brings me so much joy.” That sincere response was somewhat of an awakening for me … and quickly became a worthy mothering goal.

I don’t think scrubbing potty training remnants from the floor or waking up four times a night make her happy — yet she is joyful. I’ve started to view joy as a “bigger picture” emotion. There is something about mothering with joy that goes beyond being happy to being deeply fulfilled. I have come to the conclusion that, even if the days aren’t necessarily “happy,” it is possible to maintain joy.

Don’t have a good day, make a good day

I don’t know about you, but at our house it’s easy to fall into the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse marathon” trap and, before I know it, the day feels like a complete waste. As a mother, I don’t find it helpful to simply sit around waiting for my days to be good. We can create our own joy and fulfillment by simply planning one little “extra” each day. Whether it is making binoculars from old toilet paper rolls, or simply going on a leaf hunt in the backyard, the joyful moments are the memory makers, and the memory makers are the moments that are just a bit different.

Stay ahead, not behind

My least favorite mornings are the ones when I am unprepared. As a working mom, packing the diaper bag the night before always feels like a little burden has been lifted the next morning. When I was at home all day with my kids, knowing I had made that extra bottle the night before was a tiny relief the next morning. I will never be the mom who can plan out a month of dinners (I think that requires a super power that, sadly, I was not blessed with), but I worry less when I can confidently say I have everything needed to make dinner tomorrow night (even if it’s just grilled cheese).

Put on your kid glasses

I was deeply touched while browsing Instagram the other night. A friend of mine had posted a picture of her darling little boy. The caption referenced her day, which felt like it only consisted of yelling and shortcomings. She vowed to do better tomorrow, but was disappointed thinking about how her child must have felt that day.

But at the end of the night, when she sat down to look at his new preschool pictures, all she saw was happy. It was a positive reminder to her that despite “those days” (and we all have them), she was raising a happy, healthy little boy who has a love for life and sees her for the mother she is constantly striving to be. It is true that we are our own worst critics and, often, if we can try to see ourselves through our children’s eyes, we’d realize we are doing a pretty darn good job.

Celebrate small victories

Instead of lying in bed, going through the mental checklist of everything you didn’t accomplish today, pat yourself on the back for the tiny accomplishments. Never mind the 10 loads of laundry to fold that await you tomorrow — at least they are clean. Your child threw a 15-minute tantrum tonight before bed? Thank goodness it wasn’t 20 minutes like the night before. Our mom “to-do list” will always run on, and never be finished. So, stop beating yourself up and find joy in all that you did accomplish today.

Seek joy

Just a few days ago, a friend posted an uplifting quote on social media. She mentioned how she likes to begin her mornings by taking just a few minutes to read a positive quote or article. It was an idea that seemed right in line with my goal to “mother with joy,” so I adopted it as my own. On those days when you feel like all the joy has been sucked out, seek that joy through other’s positivity. Sometimes we need a pep talk from another mom. Other times, a simple, happy quote can spark your desire to feel joyful, despite feeling defeated. Regardless of the source, it’s OK to find hope through others' bright spots. After all, there will certainly come a time when another fellow mom may need to borrow a bit of sparkle from you.

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