8 Ways to Be a Happier Mom

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By: , – By Theo Pauline Nestor, of Woman's Day
7/25/2011 6:00 AM   :  10 comments   :  10,826 Views

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While our greatest hope is for our children to turn into happy adults, most of us moms grit our teeth a fair amount on the road there. After we hustle our kids off to soccer practice, shop for dinner and hunt down the perfect kindergarten, we are left with little inspiration to model the one thing we most wish for our children: happiness. It’s not that we don’t want to be happy. It’s more a question of how to fit it into our schedule. Read on for some practical tips from parenting experts on how to move "be happy" to the top of your to-do list.

1. Be Yourself
Much of our stress and irritation as parents comes from trying to live up to impossible standards. “Mothers universally feel that they ‘are never good enough,’” says Meg Meeker, MD, author of The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity. A lot of these feelings of inadequacy come from comparing ourselves with other moms and competing in ways both small (bringing an elaborate dish to the potluck) and large (pushing our kids to achieve on the playing field). “It's tempting to look around us to see if we measure up with other moms,” says Meagan Francis, author of The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood, “but when we're comparing our private lives to somebody else's public game face, we're not getting a very accurate picture.” Francis adds that the best way to be a happy mom—and a good mom—is to be yourself. “Don't try to be anyone else's version of what a good mother should be,” Francis says. “Be the best version of who you are, and your children will recognize that and learn from it." Think about your own strengths and work them into your everyday life as a mom. Maybe sewing costumes isn't your thing, but you love to bake. This Halloween, buy costumes even though all the other moms are making theirs, and instead bake a batch of cookies to munch on while you all get ready to go trick-or-treating. When you play up your strengths as a parent, you are bound to have more fun and be happier.

2. Pencil in Solitude
Routinely setting aside time to go for a walk, write in a journal or read a book is one simple way you can raise your daily happiness quotient. “Mothers contend with so much stimulation during the day that life becomes overwhelming. From kids crying and older children needing homework help to answering cell phones and replying to emails, mothers can feel as though their nervous system is becoming fried,” says Dr. Meeker. Solitude is a necessity for our mental health. “Solitude achieves two very important purposes,” Dr. Meeker explains. “First, it allows mothers to quiet the 'noise' in their lives so that they can refresh themselves and hear themselves think. It allows our nervous system to slow down and become quieter so that we can recharge mentally, physically and emotionally. Second, solitude gives us a reprieve from giving. No woman can sustain constant giving to other humans (even if they are children) without a break.” If you don’t have even a half-hour to yourself each day, it may be time to reassess your to-do list. For example, do the brownies for this year's bake sale really need to be made from scratch? Probably not—and by opting for the easier method, you can carve out a little bit of time for yourself.

3. Practice “Slow Family Time”
Slowing down the rush of family life has been one of the keys to happiness for Tsh Oxenreider, creator of SimpleMom.net and author of Organized Simplicity. “For our family,” Oxenreider says, “we’ve defined slowing down as ‘moving together at a deliberate and unhurried pace.’ When we slow down, we're able to choose how to spend the 24 hours in each day, and therefore find more meaning in our activities.” Oxenreider achieves this by planning activities around family life, not the other way around: “Each Sunday, my husband and I meet to talk about our upcoming week. It only takes 30 minutes, but that brief connection gives us a chance to look at our calendars and decide how many evenings we'll schedule out of the house, how we can help each other with upcoming tasks and how to dictate our commitments, instead of letting our commitments dictate us." For other families, “slow family time” might mean leaving unstructured time in your schedule or simply hanging out with your kids at home with no particular plans or goal in mind.

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Comments

  • 10
    I firm believer in not overscheduling! Our daughters can only do a couple of activities at a time. I'm lucky that I have a very involved husband who helps out a lot around the house and with our daughters. In the last couple of weeks I have decided to make more me time which includes my fitness routine and I am much happier and less stressed! - 7/28/2011   11:22:45 AM
  • 9
    I'm learning in order to be a happier mom later, it's necessary to take time with the kids NOW and be the best example you can for them in all areas of life. I found out this morning my 19 year old son has sleep apnea-I'm sure his 300 pound body is part of that-while he is old enough now to make his own choices, I do have my regrets for not steering him in the right direction healthwise. So yep, hang out with the kids, but don't forget to make time for lots of active hanging out & not just going to Burger King! - 7/26/2011   10:17:16 AM
  • KGARBACK
    8
    I ALWAYS ENJOYED BEING A MOM -- LOTS OF HARD WORK, BUT LOOK AT THE PAYOFF!!! CAN'T WAIT TO BECOME A GRANDMA!!! - 7/26/2011   4:13:46 AM
  • 7
    I love that my five children are grown now. I love silence. - 7/26/2011   12:27:48 AM
  • 6
    My me time is the gym. Gives me the solitude, even though there are more people around me. We are still trying to find time for our kids, even though it is summer time. My husband works the night shift so its difficult to carve any time. We are trying. - 7/25/2011   2:29:08 PM
  • 5
    i absolutely LOVED this article! some of the tips i currently utilize and they DO WORK! others i am definitely implementing in our lifestyles...like the official no work day and the outsourcing chores and other activities to my children. i definitely think this article should be printed out or favorited among mothers with busy, younger children and/or teens! - 7/25/2011   9:54:09 AM
  • 4
    Weekends we would pack our baskets and go to the
    creek for a swim, play cricket, maybe a BarBQ,
    play games (video, scrabble,cards), or simply relax
    and order out dinner. Whatever we do it is always
    a fun time. - 7/25/2011   9:22:39 AM
  • 3
    We enjoy having family time & spur of the moment weekend mini vacations. - 7/25/2011   8:53:57 AM
  • 2
    Mom comes #1 in my house. Ahead of my son. If mama ain't happy, no one is happy. - 7/25/2011   8:24:45 AM
  • 1
    In our house, we love "unstructured family time". This allows us to spend time together doing whatever we are in the mood for; hiking, bike riding, or playing cards. We don't like an over scheduled weekend! - 7/25/2011   7:18:12 AM

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