Category: Encouragement

5 Things That Will Make You A Happier Mom

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It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been in the “mom business” for nearly 5 years now. (Seriously?? I swear she was JUST born!) Since joining “team mom” I’ve had my share of ups and downs. There have been times when I wasn’t enjoying my role as a mother as much as I knew I wanted to and the way my children (and myself!) deserved. Life is far too short to be unhappy (especially when you have so many things to be happy about!). 

So I thought about some of the little things that have helped me to become a happier mom. After some thought, a few scribbles in my notebook, and now the clicking of my keyboard; here is a list of the top 5 things that have contributed to my being a happier mom!

  1. Buy good bras! Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly the secret to happiness, but it’s more of a metaphor about how you take care of yourself. Two pregnancies and nursing two kids for nearly a year each can take a toll on the ta-tas. Bras were an afterthought for a few years. When I was finally ready to hang up the nursing bras I realized that I had absolutely no idea what my new bra size should actually be. My advise; get yourself measured, buy the correct size, and spend a bit extra to get the good bras! It’s a small thing, but as moms we tend to put our own needs on the back-burner in order to put our kid’s needs ahead of our own. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, don’t forget to treat yourself sometimes too. Buy some of that make-up you want, put on that cute outfit sometimes “just because”, and BUY THE GOOD BRAS!
  2. Get out of the house WITHOUT KIDS! Go out with girlfriends. Leave the kids with your husband, meet friends for dinner, have drinks, talk, reminisce, bitch, gossip. Never underestimate the power of a girl’s night out! It really is good for the soul. Also, make dates with your husband. I know not everyone has a ton of extra money for sitters. Get a neighbor to watch your kid for a few hours or find a Parent’s Night Out in your area. Many churches offer them and it’s a great (inexpensive!) way to carve out some one-on-one time.
  3. Take time for your hobbies. Whatever it is you enjoy doing and rejuvenates your wary soul; do it! Reading, blogging, refinishing furniture, scrap-booking, running, yoga. Find what you enjoy and leaves you feeling refreshed and do it. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have interests of your own outside of your kids. I’ve seen this too much and I’ve DONE this before too. Nothing will make you more miserable than not allowing yourself a personal outlet.
  4. Music! I recommend that occasionally you should listen to the music of your youth at ignorant levels. Extra points for singing along at the top of your lungs and dancing. Even more bonus points if the song is explicative laden. Usually I have little ears around me and it tends to affect what and how I listen to music in the car & at home. That’s why sometimes you might pull up next to my minivan at a red light after I’ve dropped my kids off at preschool and hear Beastie Boys or Rage Against the Machine blasting at irresponsible decibel levels. Deal with it.
  5. Be grateful for the blessings in your life. It’s hard to be unhappy when you choose to focus on all of the good things in your life, both big and small. One of my favorite people, Dennis Prager, says, “Yes, there is a ‘secret to happiness’ and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy.” There have been days where nothing seemed to go right and it was a struggle to find a happy place. But then I would notice that I was outside and it was a gorgeous day with white puffy clouds in the sky. Or that I had a coffee and it was exactly what I I needed in that moment. Look for all things, big and small, to be grateful for.

What are some of your secrets for being a happier mom?

But Today I Did Nothing

Today was the first full day of preschool for my kids this school year. After a brief appointment this morning I had nothing planned for the remainder of my child-free afternoon. I typically have lists of to-dos and the 5 hours they are both in preschool 2 days a week are usually crammed full of productivity. But today I did nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no end to the number of things I could have been doing. There are always things to be done around here. There is always laundry and dishes and cleaning and errands and countless other things that require my attention. But today I did nothing.

Instead of my usual productivity, I ate a leisurely lunch without interruption. I wasted time perusing Facebook. I allowed myself to get sucked into an episode of Property Brothers on HGTV. And instead of feeling gloriously liberated by an afternoon of purely selfish laziness, I felt guilty. Guilty that I was doing nothing when there were so many things I could be doing. Guilty that while I had the opportunity to be lazy today my husband is working hard to support our family. I was even feeling guilty that I wasn’t enjoying my lazy time because I was too busy FEELING GUILTY! How ridiculous is that?! Feeling guilty about feeling guilty!

The truth is that every now and then we all need a break. I’m exhausted. You probably are too. And while I’m certainly not going to make a habit of squandering my valuable time by being lazy, some days just call for it. There are many days ahead for me to do all the “stuff”. But today I did nothing, and I can make peace with that.

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Sisterhood of the Second Rate Moms

Since joining the ranks of motherhood nearly 5 years ago I’ve been reminded time and time again about the importance of encouragement and kindness.

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We live in an often cynical world. A world where people frequently allow their own insecurities to rule them and justify their judgmental and unkind behavior. Sadly, this is all too evident among moms. Especially in cyber-world. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, formula feeding moms, breast-feeding moms, helicopter moms, free-range moms, if you potty train too late, if you potty train too soon, if you let your kid eat sugary food, if you only let your kid eat organic locally sourced food, if you spend too much time on yourself, if you let yourself go, if you’re too skinny, if you’re too fat, if you co-sleep, if you use cry-it-out, if you spank, if you don’t spank. DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T!

It’s easy to find someone ready to hurl criticism. Why not be the person ready with a kind word of encouragement and support?

I’m not perfect. Not even close. I’ve judged others and perhaps offered criticism when I should have just offered support. But in the end, that isn’t positive or constructive for anyone. Why is it so difficult for us to just smile and be kind to others? Are we afraid that if we acknowledge that they’re doing something right, than maybe that means we are doing it all wrong? And why do we always believe there is only one correct way of doing things?! We are all different. There are an infinite number of ways to do things. Just because what works for me is different, doesn’t make it any better or worse. Just different.

Motherhood is hard. Like, super hard. The last thing most of us need is someone else feeding our own doubts and insecurities. You don’t have to agree with someone’s particular methods to support their efforts. Sometimes a few kind words can go a long way.

I remember one time when I was struggling with a newborn and a toddler in the grocery store parking lot. I was trying to calm a fussy baby, wrangle a fidgety toddler, and unload groceries. I must have looked particularly defeated that day because a kind lady approached me and said, “You’re doing a really good job. It’s so difficult when they are this young, but it will get easier.” Then she gave me a wink and was on her way. I almost cried. It was exactly what I needed to hear that day.

Conversely, I can remember a time I had taken my flight-risk toddler to the mall play area. I was very pregnant with my youngest at the time and of course feeling hormonal and lousy. In the bustling chaos of a play area covered in tots I lost sight of my own little one. Panic set it. I began dashing around the play area looking for my daughter only to hear someone say “Is that your daughter running through the mall?”. There she was. Halfway down the corridor, tiny blonde hair flowing behind her as she ran barefoot through the mall. In my rush to get my pregnant body to catch up with her, I passed a group of moms standing by the entrance. One of them said (in a tone that was obviously directed at me and intended for me to hear), “Somebody needs to keep a better eye on their kid.” Not what I needed to hear that particular day.

And try to be mindful of the fact that we all have bad days. I would hate for someone to base my entire ability to parent off of a single snapshot of a really bad day I was experiencing. I’ve had moments I was less than proud of when I’ve handled parenting situations like crap. That doesn’t mean I’m a crappy mom, it just means I’m having a crappy moment. It means I’m human. Extend people the same courtesy you would hope they would also bestow upon you.

So this week I have decided to extend a challenge to you.

At some point during the next week, I challenge you to lift up a mom with kind words or a helpful act.

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It can be a stranger or a friend. It can be a small gesture or a grand one. If you feel it is something you can share, please tell us about it in the comments. Also, please feel free to share about a time when someone lifted you up in kindness.

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