Ask a mom if she's happier now that she has a child and she'll usually say yes. More times than not, children top the list of the most enjoyable things in life.
I love my children beyond measure -- they bring such joy to my life! But happiness is more than just a smiley feeling. It's also feeling a connection to something larger than yourself. When people are in service to something bigger, they describe their lives as filled with meaning.
This statement may shock you, but to some, the time taking care of children is not the high point of their day. That’s not to say those moms don’t love their child(ren). Being a mom of a young child (especially under age 3) is rich and rewarding (I should know), but it can also be a real strain on your mood (personally true). Feelings vary, but at any given moment, you may be exhausted, frustrated, even angry.
I’m no expert but I think it just takes a little tweak in one’s perspective to attain a more positive view of motherhood.
Admit when you’re frustrated. It’s okay to feel frustrated, angry, tired, or irritable. You're not a bad parent – you’re normal.
Get adequate sleep. Let your husband take over on the weekends so you can catch up on rest. Or skip that late night TV show and hit the sack early. It will make a HUGE difference in the way you feel.
Maximize your priorities. If you can afford it, pay someone to clean your house so that you can enjoy the time with your child(ren). If that’s not an option, determine what’s more important – that the beds are made or coloring with your kids. When they are 20-something, they are not going to remember how clean the house was/wan’t…they’re going to remember the one-on-one times and the bonding.
Savor the moment. If your child asks you to read a book, even a book that you dislike, ask yourself, ‘How long will this last?’ These childhood moments will fly by and before you know it, they will rather be with their friends or too busy to spend time with their mom. Be grateful for the time with him/her. Realize how empty your life would be without these people in it.
Stay connected with your husband. The diapering years require a lot of your attention, and it can take a toll on a marriage. It’s especially important that you don’t lose sight of each other during that time. If you don’t have the money to get a sitter and go out, at least put the kids to bed and watch a movie together. Better yet, open a bottle of wine and sit across the table from one another – talk about your day and give yourself 15 minutes to dream. Even talk about how stressed you are. If you can both just say, 'Raising a kid is hard,' putting it out there diminishes the strain. Little steps easily move onto bigger ones.
Give thanks! Even when your roof is leaking, be thankful for the home you have. When your child is moody and not cooperating, be thankful for all his/her good days. Finances are tight…be thankful that the bills are getting paid. Feeling grateful is a mood booster…a character enhancer. It can be as simple as saying grace each night or going around the table having everyone contribute their high of the day and their low of the day (a game we call “high/low”).
Happiness is a feeling. And feelings follow thoughts – they don’t precede them. And the more you engage in positive thinking, the more enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfillment you’ll have in your life. Motherhood can give us any one of those at any given moment – if not all of them at the same time!