We’re still settling into Fall in my house. I think I’ll be saying that until Christmas time. It’s been a Fall with a lot of change: Hedley started Middle School which has meant more freedom but also more quizzes and tests. Annaliese has started Kindergarten, hopping onto the bus to the other side of Central Park each morning. She’s delighted and completely wiped out by 6 p.m. So as I’m getting Annaliese to bed, my older boys are just gearing up.
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Kids can make you feel full and they can make you feel empty. Full because just by looking them, you’re so full of love and gratitude and you can’t imagine your life without them. Your life has meaning, purpose, and plenty of things to do from the big to the small. You have to fill your closets and cupboards, make sure dinner is served, figure out how to get out of buying them new sneakers (“those are NOT too small! I just bought them”), and work out how to get them where they need to be.
Empty because you’re running on zero at times and don’t get the time for those things that used to fill your soul, like good food, loyal friendships, and reading. Empty because your patience has grown thin. Because you look in your closet and can’t find a single hip thing you want to wear, and remember back to when you spent weekends perusing the sale section at the Gap, surfacing with a couple super cool items for the following week. Empty because you miss some of those things of the past — like feeling sexy, feeling part of a close group that met in the dining hall each night without any need or prior texts or emails. Empty because you miss the peace and simplicity of life as a singleton.
I’m a big believer in tacking challenges by getting my feet wet. I’ve broken too many ambitious resolutions to even believe in what I set out to do.. Two weeks ago, I said I would publish on the site not twice but five times. Well, what do you think happened? Life happened. But rather than beat myself up about it, I am trying to let those little go.
So with all that being said, as my family keeps growing up and presenting me with new challenges, here are 5 ways I think moms can feel a bit happier.
1. Let the small things go. Today at the girls’ school Halloween party, my favorite (old) leather skirt caught a huge tear! I talked to Marielle about it. Look at my skirt, I said. “It’s broken,” she said, “Mommy, that’s not beautiful anymore.” I asked her “Does it matter?” Marielle seldom looks puzzled but this time she did. I then answered my own question: “You know what Marielle, it doesn’t matter because this skirt is a thing. Things don’t matter. People matter.” Marielle loves dresses and headbands and sandals and Halloween costumes and we all love things, sure, but I love them less than I used to because I don’t have the emotional energy to fret when they get damaged! When you let things go, you’re happier because things are always getting lost, ruined, or damaged. A good tip for relieving stress that builds up during the day.
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2) Ignore disinterested people. For some God forsaken reason, my parents raised me to make an effort to be polite and interested in others. When people are not polite and show no interest, it hurts me and puzzles me. I have spent countless days trying to understand why. But there is no answer. Maybe they’re tired, maybe they’re upset over something, maybe they prefer the company of others to yours. OK. Well if you believe in looking fear in the face, that is something you can handle. Because you are loved and you don’t need every single person on the Earth to love you, you only need a few. Make your skin thick enough to deflect these people and porous enough to welcome in the bright souls who generously spoon out bits of kindness.
3. Put less pressure on your kids. Kids are figuring things out and they usually know what you expect. If you just kind of say “ok” when they mess up instead of making a capital case out of it, you pretty much get to the same end point with less drama and sadness. The modern truism is that we need to emphasize effort over achievement, studying hard for the test versus getting 100%. Check back with me in a few but for now, I’m just asking Hedley whether he was prepared for his various little quizzes rather than what he got. We both seem happier than we were a few weeks back when, anxious over all his new challenges, I was hovering too much.
4. Read Books. Reading is a way to escape and bring your mid into a peaceful zone. Even if it’s just 2 pages a day, it can change your outlook. My book club last week appeared shocked when I — yes, me — finished our first book of the year. I’ve completed so few of our books that I was afraid they would boot me out! We had a great chat about it and the book even taught me a few things about life. I feel fuller, less drained, and more inspired than I did before. In case you are interested, it’s called The Signature of All Things and I highly recommend it. It’s also apropos since it is about one woman’s search for happiness and fulfillment.
5. Exercise. I’m a staunch believer in daily exercise of any sort of type for moms. Yoga, swimming, running, walking to get your kid at a brisk pace , you invariably feel refreshed, rejuvenated when you exercise! Try to fit it in somehow. There is no question that the benefits health-wise and spirit-wise are immeasurable. I can think of no better break from the kids than getting to the gym. Question is, how do you work that one out. Every mom has her own set of challenges in this regard, but don’t give up! One thing you will never regret is exercise.
All of these items are in the “easier said than done” category. Sometimes you’re just too busy to read or exercise and too stressed out to let the small things go! But I’ve found that when I can manage to side with these approaches, my days grow lighter and I am truly happier, more confident, and less worried.
What nuggets of advice do you have to share regarding how to be happier as a Mom? Please share them below and thanks so much for following CloudMom!