Gretchen Rubin once said, “The days are long, but the years are short.” For me, this quote sums up motherhood better than anything else can. Raising children is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, but the time just flies by! Sometimes, during those long days, it can be difficult to forget why we wanted to become mothers in the first place. Whether you are dealing with toddler tantrums or teenage rebellion, the daily struggles can at times overwhelm the best of us. I find that the best cure for being frustrated is to focus on the happy times. Here are a few tips I use for finding joy in motherhood.
Remember the Past, Focus on the Present, and Dream of the Future
When my son was about six months old, I caught myself always wanting him to be older and able to do more things. I realized that I was missing out on the joy of the current stage he was in by wishing for the next. That was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I implemented a rule of remembering the past, focusing on the present, and dreaming of the future. I make myself spend time doing all three.
There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but they must be done in balance with the others. So, allow yourself to relish in the memories of the past when your children were younger. There is certainly joy in these moments. Find even more joy by sharing these stories with your children. My son loves hearing about when he was a baby.
Make yourself focus on the present and enjoy the stages that your children are in today. Be in the moment and have fun with them. Even if the current stage is not the most pleasant, find something good about it and concentrate on that. My son is at a stage where he is playing little league baseball. I find a great deal of joy in watching him play and being the team mom.
Give yourself permission to dream of your children’s futures. We all want our kids to live long and happy lives. It’s ok to imagine what they will be like when they are older. Take time to daydream about their weddings. I can’t go to a graduation or senior day event without thinking of what those days will be like for my son. I find happiness in dreaming of his future.
Watch Your Children Sleep
Kids can be loud, messy, and even downright annoying at times. Yet, there is nothing more precious than a sleeping child, regardless of age! Watching your children sleep is a great time to remember why you love them so much. This simple act can put everything about motherhood in perspective. It will remind you of what’s important in life. Even if only for a minute, take time to watch your children sleep every day. It will help keep those overwhelming feelings at bay. And at the same time, you will be creating some precious memories for yourself to enjoy for years to come.
Get Your Snuggles When You Can
I don’t know of any mom who doesn’t love getting hugs and kisses from her children. I am fortunate that my son loves to cuddle. Usually, at least a couple times per day, he will come to me and want me to snuggle with him. Most kids aren’t this generous with their affections however. So, get those snuggles whenever you can. It is one of the simplest, yet greatest joys of motherhood. So, when your kids are feeling lovey, take advantage. Look for opportunities to get some hugs and kisses. Good times for this are right before they go to sleep or right after they wake up. With older kids, your only chance may be when they are leaving the house or just coming home. Even holding their hands can create special memories for you to cherish. Their snuggles won’t last forever, so enjoy ’em while you can get ’em!
Create One-on-One Time With Each Child
Another simple way for finding joy in motherhood is to spend one-on-one time with each child. If you don’d already have this time built in, you may have to look for ways to create it. It’s not hard, though. Just look for times when it is just you and that child, or find activities that the two of you both enjoy that you can share. Do you have one child that shares your love of old movies: have movie dates. Have a son that likes jigsaw puzzles as much as you do? Set up a table and always have a puzzle in progress you two can work on. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as you take time out to spend with each child one-on-one.
I only have one child, so it is a little bit easier on me than those of you with multiple children. My son and I bake and build Legos together. We also read or watch television together each night before bedtime. On days when my husband has to work but my son is out of school, we have mother-son dates. Sometimes, we will go eat at one of his favorite restaurants, and sometimes we will have a picnic in the living room floor. None of these activities are fancy or expensive, but they are some of my very favorite times in the world.
Take Time to Talk to Your Children
Conversation is a great way to enjoy your time with your children, but sometimes we forget to actually talk to them beyond telling them what to do. Make it a point to have at least one conversation with your children each day. Don’t just ask how their day was. Instead, ask them a series of specific questions about their day. “Who did you eat lunch with today?” “What did you learn in math?” “What did you do in art class?” “Did anything funny happen today?” “What problems did you have today?” These more focused questions will help them to open up and engage in real conversation with you.
And don’t wait until your kids are older to start this. If your children are old enough to put together sentences, they are old enough to have a conversation with. Starting early will actually improve their verbal skills and build their vocabularies. Plus, it will get them in the habit of talking to you about things. So, when they do become teenagers, it will be normal for them to discuss things with you.
Getting your kids in the habit of talking to you will allow you to help them with problems. It will also strengthen the bond between you. Additionally, it will help you to remain close as they grow into teenagers.
Motherhood isn’t easy. Many times, we lose sight of the joy it brings us because the work and stress of it gets in the way. It’s important to remember why we became mothers in the first place though. Do yourself and your children a favor by making happiness a priority every day. Relishing in the joys of motherhood is one way to create your own daily dose of happiness. I hope these tips help you with finding joy in motherhood today.