When we find joy in motherhood, the days are so much better. But what happens when we can’t find that joy we’re looking for? In my post, I’m sharing 5 helpful ways to find joy in motherhood (and life in general)!
I always knew that I wanted to stay at home with my kids. I wanted to be able to fix them food, teach them their first words, see their first steps, be there when they got hurt and give them hugs and kisses throughout the day. Thankfully, this has been a reality for me and I’ve been able to do all of these things and more.
What no one told me, or maybe I didn’t believe if they did, was that finding joy in motherhood every single day can be hard. Some days are really, really easy! But most days are full of routine and errands and cooking and cleaning and homework and mediating sibling squabbles. *phew!* Other days are flat out rough. No one listens. Every request to do something is met with resistance. Schedules are basically flushed down the toilet. Nothing goes right. Kids don’t nap. I could go on, but I’m guessing if you’re reading this post, you know what I mean. *wink*
So what do we do when finding joy in motherhood is hard? How can we set ourselves up for joy? I want to share some ideas with you today. You might already be implementing some of these things in your life right now. If so, rock on! Keep on doing them! Or maybe you were doing them, but fell off the wagon a bit and need a boost back up. (Not a mom? These suggestions are still useful as ways for you to bring more joy to your life in all areas, not just motherhood.)
Know your values and limits
When you stop and think for a minute, what would you say your values are as a mother? If I had to guess, they are probably similar to mine: keep my kids fed, clean, healthy and happy. Within each of those areas though, I have limits. For example, I have limits on my time. I don’t have time to fix gourmet, ultra healthy meals every day. Sometimes we have pizza or french toast for dinner. Does this make me a bad mom? No. It makes me a realistic mom who knows her limits in this particular area of motherhood.
The reason understanding my values and limits brings me joy is that I don’t have to beat myself up when I’m not able to do what I think I should be doing. When you know your values and limits, you don’t have to worry about comparing yourself to anyone else because you know you’re doing what’s right for you and your family.
Be true to yourself
A few years into motherhood, I had lost myself. What did I like to do? What did I do when I wasn’t “being a mom”? The truth was, being a mom was tiring and sometimes *gasp* I didn’t like it. Buried under the diapers, lack of sleep, endless cleaning and responding to “mommy” every 3 seconds, I didn’t really know who I was. My husband, seeing my frustration, encouraged me to think about what made me “me”. In doing this, I was able to pick a handful of things about myself that I could incorporate into motherhood.
For example, I like crafts and activities. So I started coming up with crafts and activities for my kids to do. I was able to use my creativity to create something (which brought me joy) that in turn, my kids were able to do that made them happy (bringing me more joy). If being true to yourself is an area you’re struggling in when it comes to motherhood, ask yourself: what makes me feel like myself and how can I incorporate that into motherhood?
Be willing to say “no”
I understand that putting this into practice is not that easy for many people. We want to be liked and we like to feel needed. A few years ago, I went to a class by Nicole Carpenter from MOMentity about how to get more done in your day. One of her biggest tips was to learn how to say NO. You may have heard the idea that “if you’re saying yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something (or someone) else”. This goes back to knowing your values and limits.
How does this help us have joy in motherhood? When our plate isn’t full of things we said yes to because we felt obligated, we have room to say yes to the things we want to say yes to: going on a field trip with your child, taking your kids to the park, baking a treat for a friend, preparing for a surprise party. If you get asked to help out with bringing food to an event and you really can’t do it, say no. If a friend or family member wants you to spend money on something you can’t or don’t want to do, say no. The next time you get asked to do something and feel obligated to say yes, take a pause. Ask yourself if it aligns with your values and limits and if it doesn’t, have the courage to say no and stand by your choice.
Make intentional decisions
How often do we, as mothers, react (positively or negatively) to something our children have done without really thinking about it? For example, one day I noticed something about myself: I had gotten into the habit that when my kids would ask for my attention (“mom look at this picture I drew”), I would glance in their direction and say something generic like, “cool” or “good job”, before going to back what I was doing. I was more focused on my task than actually noticing what they were showing me. When I realized what I was doing, I decided to make a better effort to physically stop what I was doing, walk over to them, actually look at whatever they were showing me and then look them in the eye when I replied. (Obviously, this isn’t feasible 100% of the time but you catch my meaning.)
My decision to be intentional about my response has brought me more joy in motherhood because I am in the moment with them. They have something they want to share with me and my response matters to them. Being intentional takes work, energy and practice. If you feel this is an area you could improve in, take it one step at a time. Start with giving your kids genuine responses to what they are sharing with you and go from there. I promise your desire to be more intentional will bring you joy from those small moments.
Make time for self care
I am a huge advocate for self care. Quite often, one of the first things to go in motherhood is taking care of ourselves. We think, “I’ll take some time for myself when everyone else is taken care of.” Spoiler alert: There will always be someone who needs you. If you continue to give, give, give, without refilling your well, eventually you will run dry. Self care is one way you can help yourself help others. What it means to you may be completely different than what it means to someone else. The important thing is that you do it. (I have a whole post dedicated to how to protect your self care time and I think it’s a must read for all women, not only moms.)
By taking care of yourself, you will have more energy to do some of the other things I talked about in this post, such as being intentional and having courage to say no. This will allow you to better uphold your values and limits. Additionally, you will feel more like you when you implement self care into your life.
In sharing each of these tips with you, my goal is to encourage you and remind you that you are doing great. I truly believe you’re doing your best and want to keep doing your best, otherwise you wouldn’t be taking the time to read this post.
Speaking of self-care, how would you like to win a little something to do just that? I’ve joined up with some other awesome mom bloggers who also believe in the importance of self care to offer you a $100 SpaFinder Gift Card, just in time for Mother’s Day!
To enter, complete the items below. Giveaway runs from today, 5/1/19 thru next Wednesday, 5/8/19. Good luck!