How to be a happier mum – 10 tips

 

There is a saying exchanged amongst married men that goes something like this:  Happy wife, happy life! The chances are you have heard it. And perhaps there is some truth to it -the men obviously think so. But what happens when kids come along? Does the code change?

I believe that happy kids = happy mum; and happy mum = happy hubby; and happy hubby = happy family; and happy family = happy life. Sounds simple enough right? But there’s something wrong with this order. The evidence strongly suggests that kids respond positively to happy parents. If they sense frustration, conflict or despondence, this can have a knock-on effect to their self-esteem as well as their behaviour. We need to be happy within ourselves first. So, how to be a happier mum?

Parenting is a tough gig. It’s tough for both men and women but I think it’s especially hard for mums, as we tend to place more pressure and expectations on ourselves. In the majority of cases, gender roles still apply and if one parent is staying at home, it’s usually the woman. Whether you’re a SAHM or a working mum or, or like me a WAHM, there are things that you can do to be happier. Here are my top 10 tips

1. Sense of humour

A sense of humour is the essential ingredient to happy mothering. Most new parents smile a lot in the early months. Babies are fascinating subjects and provide endless amusement. But such postnatal bliss can be hard to maintain. Life stresses invariably get in the way and after the honeymoon period is over, that explosive nappy at exactly the wrong time doesn’t seem very funny any more.

Try to maintain a sense of humour in the midst of the chaos. Laugh often and laugh lots. Most importantly, laugh at yourself  – the kids will love it. To use a rule often applied to babies, sleep promotes sleep (although I am sure some of you will disagree), laughter is contagious – the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.

2. Connection

Connection is critical to enjoying motherhood. Being a SAHM is sometimes lonely and often isolating. And on particularly challenging days it can involve interminable clock watching! If you’ve gone from a job that involved social interaction, to full-time mothering, it’s a massive adjustment. Phone a friend, or better still, make a local friend. Proximity counts during witching hour. Find someone who shares the same interests, like an afternoon walk or wine (personally I prefer the latter) and kill those last two hours of the day together.

3. Play to your strengths

While it’s true that children don’t come with instruction manuals, mothers are born with instincts. Learn to trust your gut and ignore the rest. Play to your strengths. When you feel good at something, you feel valued and it reinforces you’re contribution and importance.  Everyone has an Achilles heel (mine is night-time settling – lucky my hubby is good at this!) but focus less on your weaknesses and more on your strengths.

4. Slow down

Amongst the noise of the parenting landscape, it’s important to take time to be still and present. Get back to nature and create a nature trail; watch your daughter observe the snail moving slowly and purposefully across the path; don’t always be in a rush to get to the next thing.

5. Dispense with the guilt

Honour your choices, whatever they may be. If something’s not working, examine the source and then make a change – don’t let guilt overwhelm you. A small part may be inevitable but don’t be weighed down by it. It’s unhelpful and toxic.

6. Celebrate the small steps

Small victories equals big impact, be it sleeping through the night, learning to wipe their own bottom, or discovering a new way to disguise vegetables. Too often we are clouded by what seems to be going wrong. It’s important to acknowledge the progress that is being made, even the small stuff. I have a gratitude ritual that – I know –sounds very Oprah-esque but it works. Before I go to sleep I reflect on the things that have gone right. It helps me to remember that there is ALWAYS something positive that happened during the day and many reasons to be grateful.

7. Be gentle to yourself

Give back to yourself for a change and have a mental health day. Write it on the calendar, set a reminder on your iPhone, and sync it to all your gadgets.  Make it HAPPEN! Sometimes we need to schedule something in order for it to happen. You need a day of self-replenishment every month, so no more excuses.  You deserve it.

8. A good dose of Vitamin D

Rays of sunshine are the perfect antidote to mothering stress and fatigue. It’s amazing how something so simple as a walk, be it alone, or strolling with your pram, can enhance your mood instantly. Make it a regular part of your day. Vitamin D is gold.

9. Don’t try to be the perfect mum

Amongst the phrases I hear often is: “I am not the mum I thought I’d be.” The myth that a mother needs to be everything for their child to flourish is simply that – a myth. It’s a natural and healthy instinct to want to do the best for your kids. But it becomes unhealthy when you strive to live up to an ideal that doesn’t exist. Know yourself, BE your self, and do it confidently.

10. Set your own standards

Finally, don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t measure your happiness against what you think you see. Perception and reality are different things. This quote by Theodore Roosevelt sums it up beautifully. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Be your wonderful self; be confident, and be happy. And remember that you are making a vital contribution to important lives.

What else would you add to this list? My top 10 tips for surviving motherhood are coming soon!

 

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34 thoughts on “How to be a happier mum – 10 tips

  1. This is such a great article. One to stick on the fridge when your having one of those days. No doubt when I’m in a great mood my kids are well behaved, when I’m short with them they yell back all day.

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  2. Thanks so much Jacqui. I am glad it resonated with you. It’s true that kids react to our mood, and if we are in a negative one, they sense it acutely. They also tend to know when you’re most vulnerable. Best to ‘fake it till you make it’ when you’re having one of those days….!

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  3. Having had a whole day yesterday that would’ve been best consigned to the parenting dustbin, this was just what need to read this morning and that quote is firmly lodged in my brain for evermore! Ta!!! x

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    • So glad you got something out of this post Leoarna. Love the idea of a ‘parenting dustbin’….a place where scraps go that don’t even make it to the compost!! We all have those. Best thing to do is take the trash out and you’re on clean slate again xx

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    • YES!! Free time means different things to different people. It doesn’t matter what you do with that time, so long as it’s how you really want to spend your time. And a big ‘agree’ to chocolate as well. I am very committed to making THAT part of every day! 🙂

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      • I am pretty ruthless with my free time. I feel that I have to be – self preservation becomes one of THE most important thing with motherhood! A lot of my friends do not have children and have been upset/ angry/ offended by my not attending events but I can’t afford to wear that. I’ve got to get myself happy, defuse and then I can be there for my family better.
        xx

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      • LOVE it! You know, I am going to take that approach on board. I am naturally a “people pleaser” and I struggle to say no to people. But the downside of this is it usually comes at a cost to my own mental health. Self-preservation really is the most important aspect of motherhood. If we fall apart, the whole family comes tumbling down. Thanks for the reminder x

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      • Yeah really. I mean, I am for my husband and my bubba and myself. And to friends that are on the same page – but that’s all I can do! I owe myself to be happy and know my limitations. I like drawing more than going out so that is what I do!
        And if I have to go out – I’ll draw while I am out!

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  4. Hi Michaela. Such a great list. I think I’ll print it out and refer to it every now and then. I do try to do all of these things and be as positive as I can be, but some days can get on top of you. I have been feeling a little down tonight because I feel like I did so much running around today, just housework, making meals, washing etc that I feel I didn’t get to spend quality time with the kids. I need to remind myself that not everything has to be perfect and to just slow down and enjoy my babies.

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    • Thanks so much Renee. It’s so true that some days can get on top of you. We all have those but I guess it’s important to have a lot of space in between days like these. Domesticity is a necessary evil isn’t it? Sometimes I just wish I had more time to “mother” instead of all the chores that exist alongside it. Today I did a little test. Usually I do spot cleaning throughout the whole day, but this can mean I feel like I am tidying up ALL DAY LONG! So, today, i just let it pile up. And then a friend came over in the afternoon, and I enjoyed her company so much that I altered my dinner plans to casual pasta. Now, my house looked like a bomb had gone of it in by the time hubby got home. But, we conquered it together and order was restored (well, for today anyway). The point is sometimes its ok to let things go….and indeed, sometimes it’s just plain necessary 🙂 Thanks for your comments and enjoy your babies xx

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  5. I don’t think I can add anything, it’s such a comprehensive list! I always try to remember that though the days are long the years are short. Having hobbies/pursuits outside the home help keep me energised. x

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    • Yes, and some days are particularly LONG! But it’s true that they are only little for such a short time. It’s very important to remember this. And yes, personal pursuits outside the home are very nourishing xx

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  6. Loved this Michaela!! I have had my mum visiting the last few days so it’s been a good opportunity for me to let go of a few things. It’s also shown me that sometimes I probably do rush a bit, just for the sake of getting things done! Like washing up when the kids haven’t even finished their breakfast….DISASTER! I shall be stopping this prcatice immediately, what does it matter if the bowls sit in the sink for another 20mins! haha xx

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    • LOL! Yes, I imagine that washing up when the kids haven’t finished breakfast would yet would be slightly disastrous! Glad you enjoyed this post, and thanks for commenting x

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  7. Love these tips Michaela. Totally on board with no 1. I have lost count at the number of times I had to laugh when things go wrong otherwise I will crumple in heap and cry. Another tip which you may have indirectly covered is SLEEP. Very important. Lack of sleep = grumpy mum = no amount of coffee will make her day better
    🙂

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    • Yes, so true!! SLEEP – it is essential. And coffee is a poor substitute. I have to say that I prioritise sleep over lots of things, especially in the newborn days. I would often say no to going out at night time as getting a good night’s sleep was more important. I am still tired, but these days I can manage staying up past 8pm!! 🙂

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  8. I found you through iVillage. 🙂 I really enjoyed this post, and I agree with your family equations and all your great suggestions! As a homeschooling mom of three, I think having proper time in the evening with my husband (or just alone) is of the utmost importance for my happiness; it gives me a chance to recharge from the day.

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    • Thanks Valerie, so glad you stopped by. You raise a really good point about creating space for quality time with your husband. And I bet you need that space after a day of home schooling. You must be very efficient and organised to home school 3 kids. Amazing stuff 🙂

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  9. Great tips, Michaela. I also concentrate on living mindfully. Just enjoying the moment as the moment occurs and not thinking or worrying about all the other things. This way, when I’m with my kids, I am 100% with my kids and when I’m cooking dinner, I’m enjoying the smells and tastes of cooking (and the interactions I have with my children throughout) rather than worrying about the outcome. I’m finding much less accumulative stress this way. It helps me a lot.

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    • Thanks Anna. I love what you say about enjoying the moment rather than worrying about the outcome. I have been reading up a lot on mindfulness lately and I have found it has helped me too. Although I can’t say I am able to concentrate on the smells and tastes of cooking, as I usually have a baby on my hip and another two at my feet. Cooking time is just about minimising risk! I’d love to hear more of your thoughts and experiences on this. Am thinking about writing about it more in a future post. Maybe I could seek your input? Have you heard of Carl Honore? I just ordered his book about slow parenting. I can’t wait to get stuck into it 🙂

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      • I haven’t heard of him. I read ‘Headspace’ by Andy Puddicombe (sp?) It’s been just wonderful – it’s not specifically about parenting, though. it’s just about a different approach to life that anyone can use. He’s got a website, too. It’s http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/. I’ve found it invaluable, and I think that my changed approach to life has had a really profound and positive effect on the experience of life for my husband and children, too.

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  10. I guess a man need to believe in the saying ‘No life without wife’..:) Well, woman are the lifeblood of this organism called family and they have to manage a couple of things together. Thanks for sharing these wonder tips. I think a woman with a sense of humor is the sexiest and nothing less than a blessing for family. Loved this post!

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