Being a parent is a tough job, and on some days it’s hard to paint on a smile that says you’re loving every minute.
It’s OK to have tough days, but we all want to enjoy motherhood as much as we can. While parenting has its challenges, it also goes by in such a flash.
We do not have to be happy all of the time, in fact some days we may count down the hours until bedtime.
But there are a few simple things you can do right now to be a happier mama.
This doesn’t mean you will magically be able to cope with all of the stresses of motherhood.
However if you take control of your happiness and make a few changes to help you accept life with kids for what it is, then you may find yourself enjoying it a whole lot more!
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How to enjoy motherhood more
Switch off all devices
Take time out from work and the distractions of screens to just spend time together.
Some times we all need to focus on something for work or something we are trying to read on our phones or iPads.
But this certainly makes me more likely to be snappy with the kids, as I get frustrated that they are not allowing me to just sit in peace.
Sometimes it’s better just to surrender to the chaos, give up trying to send that work email and just focus on your kids, without the distractions of screens, for an hour each day.
This is tough if you’re a work at home parent, but one of the keys can be having a routine that programmes in time for you to work as well as quality time with the kids.
Talk to your kids
Sounds obvious of course, but we’re so busy with work, chores and everything else in life we often don’t have time for just a simple conversation.
Ask them questions and listen to what they have to say. Try to make time together where the TV is off and you’re just having a conversation.
When you ask a child about their day at school you will often get a few monosyllabic answers, but it’s important to be persistent as with a little more gently questioning you can often get them to open up.
If they don’t want to talk about their day, ask them something else. Any positive interactions with your child will make you a happier mama.
Get fresh air every day
Being cooped up inside of the house is a recipe for disaster when it comes to stress.
A change of scene can help improve your kids’ behaviour and give you a little space to breathe.
Try to get out every day with your children, even if just for a short walk near your home.
Take a timeout
Pause and count to 10. This often helps you to stop yourself from totally losing your patience.
If you need to leave the room, then walk out of the room.
None of us have an endless supply of patience, or most of us don’t at least. So it’s important to not beat yourself for the times when you do lose your temper.
If the situation is becoming too much, walk away from it, after making sure the kids are safe. Leave the room for five minutes and try to cool down.
There are lots of tips for how to be a calm mama over on this post.
Use the 5:1 relationship ratio
The 5:1 ration was written about by Dr John Gottman, who specialised in marriage and relationships.
It theorises that for every negative interaction, there should be at least five positives ones to make a relationship stable. But this theory can also be applied to or relationship with our kids.
As part of this it’s important to apologise to your kids when you have lost your temper with them and discuss why you may have told them off.
Ultimately this theory is about trying to increase the number of positive interactions you have with your child when compared to the number of negative interactions.
As part of the everyday grind of life it can be easy to fall into a habit of barking orders and scolding your kids for not tidying their room. Remember to set aside time for fun and positive interactions with your kids.
This could be as simple as saying “I love you” or reading a story together.
Make your evenings about self-care
In order to cope with stress in the daytime, it can help to have something to look forward to in the evenings.
If you feel like you are never getting any time for yourself to just relax it can make it very hard to avoid stress during the day with your kids.
Take some time every evening to look after yourself.
Take a bath, read a book, paint your nails, do a face mask or take up a creative hobby such as knitting or sewing.
Whatever you do in the evenings, make it your time to mentally reset.
Hug it out
If everything gets too much it can really help to just stop everything and have a cuddle.
You need to hold the hug for at least six seconds. This does a few things. It reassures your child if you have had to tell them off and it causes a release of oxytocin.
It can help to calm you both down when you’re a little fraught. But also try it when everything is fine. Hugs are free and feel great!
This is something you can do with your child, but can create a bit of a calming activity for you to enjoy together.
If you do manage a few hours in the house to yourself then yoga can be something you do to find a little peace and practice mindfulness.
But if you don’t manage to get any time, the yoga with kids means you’re both getting exercise and it can provide you both with something a little different to do.
There are lots of free yoga for kids and adults videos on YouTube.
Get decent sleep
A good night’s sleep does so much for your mental wellbeing. If you wake up feeling reasonably well rested then it means you’ll have more energy, feel less irritable and cope with challenging situations a lot easier.
If you have a baby then getting a good night’s sleep is pretty tough. There are some tips for helping your baby to sleep for longer over on this post.
If you’re lucky enough have kids who do sleep quite well at night, then you can try the following tips for getting your own rest:
- Avoid alcohol. That glass of wine is tempting but any alcohol can have an impact on restful sleep. Try to have most of the week off from alcohol and just one or two nights where you indulge.
- Try a lavender pillow spray. I was doubtful about this, but it actually works really well. I love this brand of sleep spray.
- Avoid screens before bed. Reading a book before bed can be much more restful for the mind than staring at social media on your smartphone. Try to have a relaxing bedtime routine like you would give your kids.
Plan something fun
Surprise your children with a movie night or a trip out somewhere they will love.
We have to give up a lot of activities we might prefer for fun, such as trips to the cinema, meals out and quiet afternoons exploring local places.
But watching your kids enjoying something they love can be just as good. Plus when you plan fun trips out it gives you something to look forward to.
Head to your local aquarium, visit the beach or go out for a special lunch together somewhere kid-friendly.
Bin the rules
One of the worst things about being a grown-up is all the responsibility and rules. We’re so aware of all the stuff we have to get done and all those rules to do with screen time and sugar.
So once in a while, bin the rules and be silly with your children.
Have a bag of sweets to share and watch a movie instead of doing whatever chores or schoolwork you had to do. Let your kids stay up late with you once in a while.
Every now and then it’s nice to shake up the rules and give everyone a treat. My kids always respond really well to having a little bit of a late night or do something fun that means you get to ditch the chores for a day.