Modern motherhood is not easy: the pressure on 21st century mums is perhaps bigger than on any other generation of mothers previously. Still, there are many things we can do to keep our happiness levels up. Here’s how:
1. Stop trying to be perfect
Nobody is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect mother, since every mother is different, and every child’s needs are different. Aim at being a good mother instead – happy, thriving children mean you’re doing just fine.
2. Don’t compare yourself (and your children) to others
This is actually not that easy, since it is through comparison to others that we get some reassurance that we’re doing ok. Problems start though when you catch yourself worrying that your friends’ babies are already walking/talking/potty trained etc, while yours isn’t. Or that the next door neighbour’s children are so well-behaved, her house is always so tidy, and how dare she look so thin anyway. We are all individuals and therefore we should all be different.
3. If you don’t like something, change it
If you’re not happy with certain things in your life, do something about them. Change them. If you’re not happy with your appearance for example, you could simply change your diet, your wardrobe, your hairstyle, your lifestyle… If your child is not happy in nursery or school, try to find another one and see if it makes a difference. If you feel like your friends are letting you down – well, perhaps it’s time to make some new ones.
4. If you can’t change it, accept it
Certain things just cannot be changed – if there’s nothing you can do about something, you’re just going to have to accept it. Family can’t be changed (but husbands/partners can be). Some illnesses or conditions can’t be changed (but you can arm yourself with as much information as possible to cope better). Life is not always fair, but don’t waste time being upset about it. Concentrate on the good things instead.
5. Stop putting your own needs aside
The spectrum between selfish and selfless is very wide, and yet for a mother it seems like a fine line. You may easily end up losing yourself while taking care of babies or small children, since the job is very demanding. Make sure to implement some me-time in your schedule; if not daily, at least on a weekly basis. Put your feet up, meet with your friends, go for a massage, pursue your passion, take up a class… it will be worth it.
6. Notice the beauty in small things
Little things in life are really the big things. Happiness is your baby smiling at you, a glorious sunset, your partner’s arms around you… and the laundry being done, of course.
7. Never be afraid to ask for help
There is a lot of pressure on women to comply with the 21st century ideal of “wonderwoman” – the one who is beautiful, a terrific mother, a loving wife, a great housewife, a career woman, and also has a well-rounded social life. How is this all possible?? The answer is simple – it’s not. And don’t ever fool yourself into believing that you can do all of these on your own. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help: get a babysitter for a few hours, get a cleaner if you can afford one, your husband can do the washing up, and non-iron shirts are a must-have.
8. Don’t act like everything is fine if it isn’t
Parenting is a huge and draining task – sometimes we all get a bit too tired, or exhausted, or fall apart spectacularly, like a two-year-old having a meltdown. And that’s absolutely normal. Acknowledge it if things get too much. You don’t have to pretend to be strong, and always say “I’m fine”. Cry if you have to – we are blessed with the ability of crying to ease emotional overwhelm; this is nature’s design to keep our sanity.
9. Instead of focusing on problems, focus on their solutions
Problems are a natural accompaniment to life – everybody has problems; but it can make a real difference how you think about them. You can focus on the problem and be weighed down by it, or you can focus on the possible solutions and discover the light at the end of the tunnel.
Smiling can instantly lift your mood, and that of others around you. There’s really nothing else to say about this – smile and the world will smile with you.
Being happy feels awesome, it’s good for your health, for your relationships, and of course it’s the best thing you can do for your children. Life is not perfect and things don’t always go according to plan – but you can always choose to be happy.