The following guest post is from Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom:
As somebody who’s spent the last few years striving to find more satisfaction and fulfillment in my life as a mom, wife, and woman, I know it’s a long process. Whether it’s the never-ending quest for more patience or trying to rework my life so that I’m more present and less distracted, an awful lot of my happiness goals can seem so…long-term.
Not exactly highly motivating for an impatient sort like me.
But while self-improvement is definitely more akin to a long, long hike than a sprint, that doesn’t mean we can’t take simple, concrete steps to be happier today. Maybe even right now!
The suggestions I’m about to offer are simple, but they aren’t always easy. Still, it’s worth giving them a shot, even if you have to try a few times.
It sounds so simplistic, but when I’m in the beginning stages of a mommy meltdown (or trying to keep my cool while one of the kids is having a meltdown!), I tend to tense up and hold my breath while my shoulders hike up around my ears.
Reminding myself to take three or four deep breaths before reacting in a stressful situation relaxes my body, calms my mind and has has helped me avoid doing or saying something I would have regretted many, many times.
Say you’re sorry.
What? But I’m not sorry. My husband was wrong! My kids were behaving like lunatics! Look, apologizing isn’t the same as letting the other person off the hook for their behavior. In fact, it’s not really about the other person at all – it’s about you owning up to your part in whatever went wrong, even if it doesn’t seem “as bad” as their part.
I always feel a million times better right after I apologize to my husband or kids for flying off the handle or handling something poorly. Plus, an apology often defuses the entire situation…and I’m likely to get one in return.
Reach out to somebody who lifts you up.
Ever heard the saying “misery loves company”? It’s true: if you’re feeling rotten and you call somebody else who’s feeling rotten, you’ll both get off the phone feeling twice as rotten as before. And some friends are just great at keeping you mired in misery even if they aren’t feeling bad themselves – I know you know what I’m talking about.
Next time you’re having a rough day, call the friend who helps you feel lighter and happier after you talk. Venting and commiseration are okay every now and then, but I’d argue that inspiration and laughter are a lot more effective at helping you feel better.
Take a bath.
Or brew a cup of tea. Or go wander around a bookstore. Or, hey, reorganize your junk drawer if that really floats your boat. We all have activities that calm our minds and help us relax, and it’s only too easy to shove them aside during the daily grind.
Culturally, we’ve blown up the concept of “me time” into weekend long spa trips and girlfriend’s getaways, which can feel totally unattainable for moms to pull off. But that doesn’t mean you can’t care for yourself in small, effective ways every day. My personal indulgence is a bath, and when I’m feeling like I really need one, I feel no guilt about taking one – even if it’s the middle of the day.
Reconnect with your kids.
Sometimes it’s the moment that I’m most stressed out and want to hide from my kids that I really need to give them a big hug. It’s only too easy to feel annoyed and irritated with my kids when they’re interrupting “something important” that I feel like I’m supposed to be doing, but how often is what I’m doing really that important? Plus, they may be acting awful precisely because they need my attention!
Don’t make “reconnecting” difficult or complicated: it doesn’t mean you have to plan a field trip or do a craft project together, particularly if those things will add more stress to your day. Instead, try sharing a cuddle on the sofa, read a book together, or just have a quiet chat.
What little things have a big impact on your happiness level?
Meagan Francis is a mother of five, blogger, and the author of four books including the Parenting title The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood (Weldon Owen, April 2011). Meagan is passionate about helping mothers find more satisfaction and live more intentionally, and writes about seeking the happier side of motherhood at her blog The Happiest Mom.