How to be a Happier Mom
- Laugh more
- Make some lists
- Do something productive
- Make time for you
- Take a social media break
- Really listen
- Spend time together
- Don’t go it alone
- Give back
- Plan a trip
- Tune out noise
- Touch often
- Address your health
- Always grow
I am, by nature, a serious person. I love to smile, I love to laugh, but I am usually not the one initiating the humor or smiles.
My default leans toward more pensive thoughts and if you are anything like me, you know that can be a total buzzkill when you are a stressed mom trying to get through her day.
So with three littles running around my house, I naturally kicked into mom-mode and worked hard to rear my children to be respectful, obedient members of society.
But there came a time when I realized I hardly ever smiled anymore and there was little mirth in our home. I loved being a mom, I loved staying home with our children, but something was missing.
I’m not sure when the epiphany happened, but too many times when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see the sparkly-eyed young woman most others saw in public. Looking back at me was the real me, a tired, crease-worn mom who looked desperate for a much-needed pick me up.
Yes, I understand all moms go through this, but it shouldn’t be the norm and for me, it was day and night. Every day. That person in the mirror had lost her joy. She had lost her smile, her laughter. In fact, it had been a long time since she just enjoyed being alive.
And this broke my heart. Because I looked at my children who loved to laugh and be silly, but only amongst themselves. Because mom rarely joined in. Mom didn’t laugh with them much.
Honestly, I think I just forgot to give myself permission. I was so focused on all. the. things. that I felt were important and needed in being a mom that I never realized my girls didn’t need a mom who always stayed on top of things. They needed a mom who enjoyed life. And there was a way to be both.
15 Tips for becoming a happier mom
This is going to vary for each person but I’m going to list some of the things that have helped me and I’m positive something I list here will work for you, too.
1. Learn to laugh and laugh a lot
When I made the decision to laugh more, something changed in me. I was slowly becoming less-stressed and I was, for the first time, truly happy on a daily basis.
This was great for me and my health. But what it did for my kids…
Let me just say, my middle child is our crazy girl. She is so random and spontaneous, I look at her and strive to be more like her every day.
But when I started laughing more, I saw her blossom into this care-free girl that absolutely loved life every moment of every day. I never even noticed how much I had suppressed that part of her. It broke my heart but also encouraged me that I was on the right track and I worked on laughing more every day.
2. Make a list
I will start with saying I am not a list person. Or a schedule person. But there is something about being organized that lifts the stress right off one’s shoulders.
I don’t care if the only list you make is a grocery list, that’s something. But make some sort of a list to help your day feel less chaotic and you’ll start to have more freedom to smile more and enjoy those little moments that tend to get lost when things are in disarray.
If you want some awesome printables to help you stay on track, check out all the ones I offer in the shop. I’m telling you, these are game changers.
3. Do something that helps you feel productive
Whether this is a workout, a shower, meal-prep or filling out that to-do list, do something first thing in the morning to get you in the proper mindset.
For me, it’s a clean kitchen. A made bed. A straightened up living space. A load of laundry in the wash. These little things go a long way towards setting a precedent for my day.
Starting the day making small, productive steps keeps you on a trajectory of more productive steps until you get to the end of the day and realize you’ve accomplished a lot. And that is a really great feeling.
So now matter how tired you are, do something productive. Even if it’s just getting dressed for the day. Even that. It’s a start and sometimes that’s all you need.
4. Take time for you
I cannot emphasize this enough. You can have everything together, laugh all you want and have the most amazing kids, but if you never refill your cup, you will always feel depleted.
This doesn’t have to look complicated. It can be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee while the kids nap. Or reading a good book. Or journaling.
Whatever brings you joy as a person, whatever relaxes you, make sure you take time for it. If not every day, as often as you can.
I know moms always feel like they need to be there for everyone else but you need to meet your needs before you’re fit to meet anyone else’s. And when mom is happy and content, that translates and passes on to our families.
When I started practicing this and made it a priority, there was a marked difference in my spirit and that of my girls. Who will hopefully remember that it’s ok to do when they are moms, too.
5. Take a break from social media
I know that moms can rely on this as a way to communicate with friends and other moms, especially when they have little ones and aren’t able to get out as much.
But social media can zap you of your joy so fast. The positives do not always outweigh the negatives, especially when you are a new mom.
For probably three years of my life I was crippled by what every “expert” thought I should do/be as a mom and the comparison trap was very deep for me.
It wasn’t until the birth of my second child that I realized it was ok to parent my way and to be the mom my girls needed, not the one everyone else and their brother thought I should be.
6. Take time to listen in the moment
When I was overly stressed, I was always looking for ways to unwind and often turned to social media as a means of escape. The problem with this was, I was letting it consume me.
Not only did I not want my kids to always see me with a phone in my hand, but I wanted them to know they were more important than my phone. So when my kids talked to me, I worked at setting my phone down so I could give them my undivided attention.
This simple effort has paid off in dividends. My girls are less apt to whine to get my attention and I find myself getting closer to each of my daughters. This in and of itself brought a happiness to my life I didn’t know I was lacking.
7. Spend time “just being” together
One of my fondest memories as a girl was when my busy dad got down on the floor with my sister and I and played dolls with us for a few minutes.
I was only five years old then but I can still remember how loved I felt that my dad would do something with us just to be with us. He wasn’t letting us tag along on his activities, he was purposefully joining us in ours.
I try to remember that feeling when it comes to my own girls. Sometimes I have had to put aside something I’m working on just to spend a few minutes with my girls in whatever they are doing. I want them to feel as loved as I felt that day.
And every time I do, I always walk away with my love meter in the green and my contentment at an all time high.
8. Don’t feel you need to do it alone
Growing up, my mom was a “task master” when it came to knowing how to keep a house, cook and work hard. By the time I was in Jr High, she had transferred all the day-to-day things to my sisters and I.
I used to think we had it hard until I went over to a few of my friend’s homes where they never had chores. They grew up not even knowing how to boil water and their moms were always so depleted, trying to manage it all.
I quickly grew thankful for a mom who taught us how to be self-reliant and that she was not stressed out all the time, even though she’s one of the busiest women I know. Even to this day.
I knew then that I would raise my children the same way and I have. Our home isn’t always spotless, but it runs smoothly and everyone pitches in. I want my girls to feel they are an integral part of our home and they are.
I often tease them that they’re never moving out because they’re far too valuable to lose. They always role their eyes at me, but the love is there. 🙂
9. Find ways to give back
This is definitely something you have to be intentional with, as being a busy mom can often mean things like this are unintentionally put to the side.
Over a decade ago, my girls and I started going to nursing homes on Fridays. The residents just loved the “cute little girls” and every minute we spent with them was a boost to our hearts.
So much so, that I still go, even though my girls are in school and I often go alone. I always go to be a blessing but those sweet, dear people are more a blessing to me than I am to them.
And I always leave with a smile on my face and my cares melted away.
(If you want to know how you can help at a nursing home, check out this post!)
10. Plan a trip
As a girl, I remember my sister and I washing dishes and talking about what we were packing for camp. Which was weeks away still. But that never stopped us from planning and dreaming and preparing. That was part of the fun!
When I was struggling as a young mom, I needed something to look forward to. So we would make plans and looked forward to them as a family.
Whether it was a trip to the fair, or Nebraska for Thanksgiving, or our Disney Cruise, we made sure to spend time planning and getting excited about it.
Sometimes we just need future plans to pull us from the monotony of day to day life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great way to inject some happiness into our lives that we can benefit from for weeks on end.
11. Tune out the noise
Just like social media can be a drag on one’s worth, so can people/situations we come into contact with on a daily basis.
Learning to avoid things that upset me has gone a long way towards maintaining my happy spirit.
For instance, I never go out shopping in December. Years ago I started doing all my Christmas shopping early or online because once December hits, it’s like people lose their minds and it never fails, I get super irritable when I have to go anywhere in person.
I have even gotten in the habit of using grocery services on a regular basis, because people have seemed more stressed than normal lately and it’s better for my spirit to avoid the stores at this time.
12. Touch and be touched
I read somewhere that you should never be the first to let go if your kids hug you, because you never know how much they might need it. That changed a lot of things for me.
I am usually always in a rush and this has made me slow down, connect and think about the person I’m with instead of all the things I’ve still to do.
I started doing this for my kids but soon found that I needed that touch and connection just as much as they did. And for a family that I thought was already loving and affectionate, we grew even more so.
Which in turn brought me a surprising amount of happiness.
13. Address health problems
If I had only known ten years ago how badly my anemia was affecting me and what it would do to my heart, I would have sought for answers until I got them.
Instead, I put things off, thinking all moms get tired, not realizing it was causing damage that would eventually require major surgery to reverse.
I could have avoided the years of feeling like I was sleeping through life and the brain fog that stunted my capacity to do even the simplest of things.
But I can’t go back and change things. I can only encourage other women to listen to their bodies. That when something doesn’t feel right, keep seeking answers until you’re satisfied you got the right ones. And do not allow yourself to put your health on the back burner.
14. Minimize, minimize, minimize
I will be the first to admit I was a hoarder in the making. There were emotional reasons for my holding on to things, but they were quickly burying me and my happiness.
It took three moves for me to get over it, though. Those boxes and totes of things were like weights around my spirit and even when I couldn’t see them, I could feel their heaviness.
Finally, I determined to spend several hours a day going through it all and I got rid of just about everything.
I’m telling you, it was the single best thing I ever did for myself. Determined to never go back, I rarely hold on to things anymore. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but I most definitely have adopted their ways in many areas of my life.
But maybe you don’t have tons of stuff weighing you down, but you are so busy you don’t have time for yourself or your family. Minimize that schedule and cut out what isn’t essential.
There are so many areas in our lives that we can cut back on, we just need to be honest with ourselves and make the time to minimize.
15. Never stop growing
I’m so proud of my father-in-law. He is nearing retirement but just started learning the banjo. He’s never had the time to learn it but he decided there’s no better time than now. Every night, he practices and learns a bit more.
That’s how I want to be, too. I never want to stop learning, to stagnate and feel there’s nothing else left for me. Because those are the people who stop finding the joy in life.
I meet them in the nursing homes, I meet them at church, I meet them wherever there are people.
I’m not saying you have to study for the rest of your life, but I do want to encourage you to always be looking for something new to work on, to learn. To never stop growing.
Happiness looks different for every person. But there are some universal things that bring the majority of us genuine joy and happiness if we take the time to invest in it.
That’s my encouragement to you. If you are struggling to feel that happiness as a person, as a mom, make some changes today, no matter how small.
Before you know it, you just might find yourself smiling more days than not and that hollowness inside getting smaller and smaller.
About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.