Ever run into a mother who was filled with joy? Not just when a new baby is welcomed home, but amidst the day to day life of being a mom.
I have to admit, I spend more time lamenting my to-do list than reveling in my vocation as a mother.
This year, I want to change that.
I want ALL of my children to remember me as a happy mother instead of a stressed out, snappy, frazzled nag.
Need some ideas on bringing more joy to your mothering?
I know — it’s HARD! Those of us blessed with small children at home will be hard pressed to find 10 minutes to ourselves to go to the bathroom alone.
Get up earlier and get your prayers started before the children get up.
Be creative – pray together as a family. Teach your children to pray a table blessing or the Angelus at lunch time. Enlist Dad’s help for a few evening prayers.
Ask the intercession of the saints. Many were mothers and can empathize with our challenges.
2. Invest in Your Marriage
Making time to ensure my marriage is a priority makes me a happier woman. Resting in the comfort of knowing my marriage is rock solid soothes my spirit and rejuvenates me. This gives me a boost as a mother.
My relationship with Brett serves as a model for my children. They learn respect and love from watching us together.
3. Kill the Green-Eyed Monster
Jealousy easily poisons the well of motherhood. While reading through some of my favorite blogs, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in other families’ lives and wonder, “Why can’t I do that?”
Seeing photos of beautiful kitchens, adorable children, stellar crafts and even rundowns of what folks wore to church makes me grumpy.
Instead of stewing around my home and making everyone else miserable, I take a deep breath.
I acknowledge my jealousy, allow myself to feel it, then try to move on.
Comparing yourself to others will get you NOWHERE. There’s always going to be someone smarter, more talented, skinnier, or prettier. Don’t climb on that hamster wheel.
4. Simplify Your Schedule
I’m guilty of burning the candle at both ends – working outside the home, teaching the children, writing, and running leave me very few minutes of downtime.
As a result, I can be snappy and crabby. I have a tendency to over-schedule myself and don’t even realize it until I have a calendar chock-full of events.
Take a look at your calendar in a monthly view.
Is it lit up like a Christmas tree, with an event every day? Whittle away until you have some days with NOTHING to do. Relax and relish time with your family.
5. Get More Sleep
As a definite night owl, I struggle with this ALL.THE.TIME! Add in my crazy work schedule, and it’s no wonder you see me on Twitter whining about insomnia.
Get everyone in your house on a schedule of some sort. (I’ve been trying to do this for YEARS!) Strive for an earlier dinner and bedtime for everyone. (Hint – it’s easier to do this in the winter!)
Once everyone is snuggled in their beds, hit the sack yourself instead of staying up late watching Downton Abbey.
Research studies have shown that watching a screen (TV, computer, tablet) excites your brain, making sleep more difficult. Grab your Bible or book, read for a while, then turn in.
6. Declare a Mother’s Sabbath
In Holly Pierlot’s book A Mother’s Rule of Life, she discusses the idea of a Mother’s Sabbath – a day where you leave your home and spend time doing things that make you happy.
Can you hear the angels singing?
Talk it over with your husband and pray about it. Depending on your family’s schedule, you may only be able to fit in a few hours per week.
Keep it on your calendar and stick to it. You’ll come back recharged and ready to tackle motherhood with new energy.
The benefits of exercise are well documented — for me, it has huge psychological perks. When I’m exercising regularly, I’m significantly less grumpy.
Exercise offers me time alone, to get inside my own head, and ditch the stress I carry.
With many small children, being healthy and active is VITAL. I have to keep up with my children, so I’d better have strong legs, ready to run.
Bonus? My daughter Rachel is approaching the age where she’ll be able to run with me. (That’s a secret dream of mine!)
8. Focus on the Big Picture
As I’ve gotten older, this has gotten much easier for me. The things that used to bother me when I was a younger mother (like Abigail unwrapping Christmas presents a few days early one year) seem pretty trivial to me now.
With the right attitude, episodes like The Great Oven Incident become things I can look back on and laugh. Ultimately, if my children and husband are healthy and safe, that’s all I need.
9. Cherish These Moments
As my oldest daughter will soon turn 18, the memories of her baby and toddler stages have faded, giving way to a whole new set of experiences. I’m amazed that this time has gone by so fast.
Stop and CONNECT with your children. When they come to you for a hug, put yourself in their shoes. They’re looking for love from you. They need your affection and approval.
These days of sticky kisses and hugs around my knees won’t last forever, I know. I only wish I could bottle these feelings.
Be sure and take lots of pictures and write things down. Don’t rely on your memory. Your children will delight years from now to look back at how they grew.
Get in the pictures, too — don’t worry about a few grey hairs or a few extra pounds. Your children love you, just as you are.
10. Put Your Family First
One of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa is
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.
Such wise words from a holy woman.
When you’re old and gray, the hours you spent manning the PTA or extra committees at work aren’t going to matter.
Prioritize your life for making homemade ice cream and hour long storytimes at home. These are the things your children’s memories are made of.
Are you a joyful mother? Stop by the comment box to share your best ideas.
Copyright © 2013, Dianna Kennedy