“A happy family is an earlier heaven.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the boson of my family.” – Thomas Jefferson
I am more happy these days than I’ve ever been in my life and it dawned on me why. It’s in part because of the priceless moments I witness and share with my children and my husband. I look at how my son or daughter cuddle up with their dad and I just beam with joy. I’ve read that kids don’t necessarily make you more happy. Though they add joy to your life, having children tends to also add more stress to your life as well and can put a strain on your marriage and overall well-being. I agree but for me the joy, smiles, love, and laughter that I experience and get from my children far outweighs the stress and challenges of being a mommy (most of the time).
Embrace the little things
If you are feeling overwhelmed by motherhood try to embrace and focus on all the little things that make having children so beautiful and wonderful and yes joyful. For example, the countless hugs and kisses, cuddle-time, the whispers in your ear when you child wants to tell you a secret, the peanut butter and jelly face, watching little one’s dance to their own rhythm, the first of anything, peek-a-boo, Christmas morning, and please fill in your own favorite moments. The list of little joys and precious moments our children give us is endless if you really just take a moment to think about it, to pay attention.
When you’re feeling less joyful about parenthood find something to celebrate or reward yourself for. It could be as small as your child brushing his teeth tonight without you asking, or the fact that your kids still love to kiss and hug you (because they won’t so much as teenagers), or that your child ate his vegetables or tied his shoes or finally can wipe his own butt. Everyday there is something big or small to smile at and be thankful for.
Parenting is serious business but it’s not the military. Parenting can be fun and light-hearted. There is a time and place for being ultra serious but for the most part your interactions with your children should and can be playful, relaxed, and joyfully meaningful. Let’s look at some scenarios where we tend to be overly stern and see how we can shift our gears into relax mode.
- Instead of yelling at your kid to get up in the morning, tickle him or spritz a little cold water on him (this will actually be more fun for you than him.)
- When trying to get your child to eat her vegetables put sprinkles on them (the little bit of sugar won’t hurt.)
- Getting your children to clean up is a big one in most households and is probably responsible for a great number of your battles. Try making it a timed drill. Set a timer and if your kids beat the clock in cleaning up for five consecutive days there’s a reward at the end of the five days. It can be a small reward and then maybe something bigger if they beat the clock 80% of the month (let’s be real some days your kids just aren’t going to cooperate.)
I know I said parenting wasn’t like being in the military but sometimes you do have to pick your battles. They’re really not all worth fighting and having an aneurysm over. Let it go when there’s no real value in an all out war of wills.
Joyful family-time – the new quality time
I know that you’re often too tired to spend the quality time with your child(ren) that you both deserve but when you do find the time and energy make sure it’s a fun time for everyone. Having fun together shouldn’t be stressful or feel burdensome and it won’t if everyone is having fun. And remember quality time isn’t about quantity necessarily. You can have a more meaningful moment with your child in five minutes if you’re fully present and engaged. But do try to carve out larger chunks of time when you can.
Although we all like doing different things for fun we often get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget what that is. My husband has on occasion asked me to come up with something fun for all of us to do as a family and I couldn’t think of anything. Crazy, huh? So I started keeping a list of fun things we can do as a family when we had a few hours or a day to do anything we want. I suggest you think of things you loved to do as a child that you can do with your children now and keep your own list. Here are a few of my own suggestions that you can do as a family or one-on-one:
- Read the tickle monster book. This book is a lot of fun to read with little ones. If you get the gift set it comes with a pair of tickle monster gloves and it never fails to get lots of laughs from my kids.
- Go to the drive-in if you have one in your area. This one reminds me of my childhood and though most drive-ins have closed there are still some around and they offer a great opportunity for nostalgia and family fun.
- Speaking of nostalgia, getting your favorite childhood games and toys to play with your children is a great past-time. Target has a small section of old, classic toys but I would just check online for your childhood favorites. Many of the toys I played with are still made today but only better. For instance, the easy bake oven. Now this one is as much a favorite of most little girls today as it was when I was growing up and I can’t wait to buy one to play with my own daughter when she’s old enough (that’s if I can wait that long.)
- Go to the local Waterpark. I use to love going to the water park as a kid and I still love going down a big water slide or riding the waves of the wave pool.
- Miniature golf has always been one of my favorites.
- Have game night at least once a month complete with fun finger foods and prizes.
- Do a bowling night once a month. Some of the bowling alleys today are a lot more fun and fancier than they were when many of us were growing up, complete with disco music, gourmet bar food and fancy lighting.
- Build or make something together – a model plane, model car, volcano, or a birdhouse. Check Michael’s Arts & Crafts for more ideas. Family projects offer a great way to spend quality time together and teach your kids a valuable skill like how to use a hammer so you don’t have to go over their house every time they need a picture hung when they’re all grown up.
If you’re happy and you know it!
My daughter loves this song and I love singing it to her. It reminds me that it’s possible to feel happy even when you’re overwhelmed. It’s call fully living. Life is full of ups and downs, sunny days and rainy days (hopefully you have more of the former.) I personally am frustrated and overwhelmed more than I care to be but that goes with the territory of parenting. On the flip side I’m happy too because I have a beautiful, healthy, and happy family. It’s the paradox of parenting. It can make you want to pull you hair out one minute and jump for joy in the next, multiple times in the course of any given day.
I say embrace it all.
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands and if you’re ready to kill someone lock yourself in the bathroom and scream for a minute or two and then collect yourself and move on.
Be mad or be sad when the situation warrants it. But most of all be happy because you have reason to be – because you have a family who loves and adores you even if they don’t always show it.
Don’t be afraid to feel what you feel or feel guilty for how you feel. Just because your friends are miserable doesn’t mean you have to be or that you have to downplay you happiness. Instead show your friends the brighter side of life and most importantly remember to see it yourself. Even as I write this it has been raining off and on for three days where I am but the sun always comes out again. And that’s exactly what life gives us – a rainy day here and there or a number of rainy days all together but the sun always shines through again and happy days return.
Just remember to celebrate the priceless moments now because before you know it your children will be grown and gone. Yes there’ll be peace in the house but I guarantee you’ll miss having those crazy kids around.
Tell me how do you have fun as a family and what little things about your children are you most grateful for?