Maybe you've heard that happiness is a choice - and that philosophy can apply to many aspects of life, including motherhood. While it's totally normal to feel all sorts of emotions on the roller coaster of motherhood (trust us - we've been there), there are also practical things you can do to that help you feel your best and stay positive.
Discovering how to be a happy mom is a fine balance of managing the things that cause you stress and finding the things that bring you joy. Once you have both of those categories figured out in your daily life, happy motherhood might just become your norm.
Know Your Value
As a mom, you bring so many things to your family every day that are valuable, irreplaceable, and unique to your strengths and passions. Before you start managing stress or finding those nuggets of joy that brighten your day, it's important to understand just how much you matter. Knowing your worth plays a big role in your happiness as a mom.
Try Words of Affirmation
If you thrive by hearing how valuable you are, speak those words to yourself as often as you need. Reminding yourself verbally of all the ways you love, support, and provide for your family is a great way to find motivation for your longest days.
Try thinking of affirmations that are unique to you and not just specific to how you care for your family. Remember, you were a valuable and worthy person long before you became a mom.
Ask Your Family
If you need to hear those motivating and affirming words from your family, it's okay to ask for them. Praise and gratitude from those you serve every day is important and well deserved. Just a simple "thank you" for meals, a hug before bedtime, or a grateful smile can go a long way in reminding you just how much you bring to the table. Let your family know how encouraged you are by their affirming words and actions.
Put a Price on it
Did you know that being a mom amounts to a 98-hour workweek? One survey pointed out that moms work an average of 14 hours a day, 7 days a week strictly on motherhood duties. To put a price on it, that's more than two full-time paychecks. Remember, your motherhood work day might not come with a performance bonus or health benefits, but what you do every day is truly priceless.
Manage Your Stress & Your Schedule
If you're feeling stressed as a mom, a lot of that is likely coming from your long to-do list and hectic schedule. Managing those two parts of your life helps you make room for more things you love, tackle all the tasks swimming around in your head, and discover time for fun moments with your family.
Make a Labeled To-Do List
Looking at your to-do list and seeing the columns of tasks can feel overwhelming. It's helpful to label your daily tasks based on importance or time-sensitivity so you can see what tasks need to be taken care of first or which ones will take the most time.
Try breaking your list down into smaller sub-lists. You might also try highlighting or marking your tasks with different colors to signify what list items are most important and which ones can wait a while. Many family organizing apps also offer to-do list options with things like sub-tasks, tags, or labels.
When you see how much of your to-do list can wait, you'll breathe a sigh of relief. Seeing what's most important helps you prioritize your day and knock out that to-do list with confidence.
Plan for Stress Management
Removing stress from your day probably isn't possible. But planning for how you will respond to that stress is wise. Think of the things that often come up in your day that feel stressful or trigger a stressful response. Then come up with your ideal response for those moments and work toward responding in that way as often as you are able.
You might try deep breathing, pausing for a few seconds to evaluate the situation, and thinking of a positive outcome of the situation. Stress is a part of life, but knowing exactly how you plan to handle it increases your chances of tackling the issue calmly.
Schedule Your Day
A busy schedule is part of mom life, but it doesn't have to be a negative thing at all. A busy schedule that is thoughtfully managed frees up time for fun things, helps you see your day in detail, and helps you make the most of every moment.
Try scheduling your day in time blocks - morning, afternoon, and evening. Jot down everything that needs to be done, what your routine looks like, and any appointments or events that will occur.
Within each block, add one small item that helps you manage stress, find joy, or improve your health. You could add a walk in the morning, a call with your best friend in the afternoon, and a 5 minute meditation routine at night. The point is to see you busy schedule in small doses and include something positive in each one.
Say No More Often
As you're working through that busy schedule each day, you might discover just how much you truly have on your plate. Maybe it's time to start saying "no" to some of the commitments that come your way. Saying no more often frees up your schedule and your mental space to say yes to the things you feel passionate about and truly enjoy. A little margin in your schedule can be an instant happiness boost.
Make Time for Quiet Moments & Breaks
Quiet time looks different for everyone, but it's also super important for every parent. We all need a bit of quiet to reflect, rest, and recharge. Look for pockets of time in your day or week to curate a quiet time that works well for you.
You might use these mom breaks to meditate, read, journal, pray, or just enjoy the silence. Whether it's five minutes or half an hour, quiet time is important for your mental wellness. Look for those little sections of time in your schedule and dedicate them to some quiet time.
Naps count as quiet time and can be a great way to rest your body and recharge your mind.
Take Care of Your Body & Mind
Choosing happiness, even in motherhood, often means working at your physical and mental health so you have the capacity to actually feel that happiness. It's important to care for your body and mind in small, manageable ways, every day.
A little fresh air and sunlight might change your mood and your entire day. Even five minutes outside makes a difference - and it's most beneficial in the morning. After you pour that first cup of coffee in the morning, step outside for a breath of fresh air and a dose of vitamin D.
You might grab the kids for a pre-breakfast stroll or just sit outside while they play for a few minutes. Getting some sunlight in the early morning, before heat and extreme sun exposure takes over, sets the tone for a healthy and happy day for you and your children.
Fuel Your Body
Food is fuel for a busy mom and you need that fuel to keep up with a busy schedule and even busier kids. You might be surviving on half-eaten chicken nuggets from a child's plate some days and that's okay.
The important thing is to look for opportunities to fuel your body as often as you can. Try protein-rich foods - think eggs, lean meat, and protein smoothies - to help you stay full while feeling energized for your day. Keep snacks on hand that are easy to grab on the run like fresh fruit, protein bars, and cheese sticks.
Eat when the kids eat. You've heard moms encouraged to sleep when the baby sleeps, but this mom meal hack is actually helpful. While you're making their meal, make yours too.
Go for a Walk or Workout
Moving your body is one of the best ways to grab some endorphins in the middle of your day. Not only are walks and workouts great for your physical health, but they also improve your mood and contribute to mental wellness.
The key is to go easy on yourself when it comes to movement. Workouts don't have to be perfect and walks don't have to be long. Just ten minutes of moving your body can amp up your happiness during the day. As a busy parent, do what you can when you can and don't aim for perfection.
Learn to Let Go
There are so many things out of our control as parents and the urge to meet that with anger or resentment can be a strong one. But learning to let go of the things you can't control or even the things you can't prioritize right now will help you feel more at peace in your mothering.
For all the things you can do and can control, embrace them. But for the ones you can't, let them go. The super clean house, the Friday nights with girlfriends, and the perfect morning routines will come back to you someday. For now, it's ok to simplify your life and let them wait for you in the future while you focus on the things that need your attention today.
Get Dressed Every Day
It's tempting to stay in comfy clothes or even pajamas when you're facing a full day of staying home with the kids. But the act of getting yourself ready in the morning - not to mention the feeling of being put together and dressed - can help you feel more confident and happy all day long.
Your clothing doesn't need to be office-suitable. A simple pair of jeans and t-shirt might be right for you. The point is to go through the motions of getting ready so you feel mentally prepared for a good day, as well as put on clothing that makes you feel most like yourself, so you start your day with a spark of joy.
Get Out of the House With or Without the Kids
If you're a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom, getting out of the house a couple of times a week is beneficial for you and your children. This doesn't have to be a costly or extravagant thing. The point is to simply break up your day, help kids burn out some energy, and help you maintain your mental health as a mom.
Here are some great ways to get out of the house for a short period of time that won't break the budget:
A weekly trip to the library
An hour at the park
A nature walk or a stroll through the neighborhood
Window shopping in nearby stores or a trip to the mall to just look around
A coffee shop stop or a trip to your local bakery
A tour through your local farmers market
Discount days at museums, small zoos, and historical sites in your local area
If you prefer some alone time while you're out and about, here are some simple things you can do to improve your mood with a little solo trip.
- Go see a movie or a play
- Grab a coffee and read a book at your favorite cafe
- Have lunch by yourself in the park
- Walk quietly through the library with coffee in hand
- Shop around your favorite local spot or department store just for fun
- Go for a drive with your favorite music and enjoy your local scenery
Add Joy to Your Day
As you're managing stress and prioritizing your health, look for small ways to add joy to your day. Little moments you look forward to or small things that make you smile or feel more like yourself go a long way in making your motherhood journey a happy one.
Lean Into Parenting Tasks You Love
For every mom, there are tasks in parenting you dread and tasks you find yourself truly looking forward to. For the parenting moments you actually enjoy, lean into them as often as possible.
If you love preparing meals for your family, make it a joyful experience with fragrant ingredients and soft music. If you enjoy playing with your kids outside, prioritize it for at least a few minutes each day. If you're all about the quiet moments of reading books and feeding babies, try to be present when the opportunity arises and enjoy every second.
Have a Dance Party
Moving your body? Check. Instant mood boost and motivation? Double check. Whether you need to build up some energy, shake off some anger, or celebrate a breakfast with no tantrums, dancing is the way to go. Crank up your favorite song, bust out your best moves, and dance your way into a better mood.
Plan Meals You Love
You know you need to fuel your body with food to keep your energy levels up as a mom, but it's also important to enjoy the things you eat. Plan for meals or snacks you truly love. Try to sit when you eat and take slow bites. Think of the textures, temperature, and taste of your food.
Savor the moment and the meal as often as you can - even if it's just one snack or meal a day that you're able to dedicate so much time and focus to. Food is one of the great joys of life and you deserve to enjoy it.
Make Daily Tasks Fun
Much of motherhood is doing the same tasks on repeat every single day and that can get old fast. So, add some variety and fun to your daily tasks. Crank up music while you clean the kitchen for the third time that day or listen to an audiobook while folding laundry. If you're home with your kids during the day, look for ways to involve them as well. Just mixing things up a little goes a long way in improving your happiness meter.
Talk With Someone You Love
Relationships are a key component for everyone when it comes to happiness. Engaging in and maintaining those relationships can feel challenging (sometimes even impossible) when you're managing a busy family life. But a quick chat over the phone can make a world of difference.
If you're nap-trapped with a baby, you can catch up on the group chat with your girlfriends. While you're loading the dishwasher, play and respond to videos on Marco Polo. If you're feeling tired during the kids' nap but don't want to sleep yourself, it's time to call your bestie for a catch up session. Adult conversation and quality time with people you love adds a double dose of happiness to your day.
Find Something You're Passionate About
Hobbies are the things you don't have to do, but you love to do. From art and creative pursuits to reading and gardening, hobbies add joy to your life. Moms often feel like their homes, bodies, and time are no longer their own, but hobbies help you take back some of the ownership over your life.
Something you're passionate about, that's yours alone, gives you a way to express yourself and find joy in your everyday life. Try a few hobbies out if you need to, but don't give up until you find the thing that makes you feel the most like yourself.
Mom Life Can Be Full of Joy
Making your life happier as a mom isn't about changing your entire life. It's about finding the small things you can do every day that help you feel valued, cared for, and just plain happy. When you find something that adds joy to your day, hold on to it and prioritize it. Not just for your benefit, but for the long-term benefits your happiness will bring to your family.