Happiness in motherhood comes and goes- as our children give us unprompted compliments, we enjoy a lovely day as a family and then something goes disastrously wrong at just the wrong moment. We come to expect our children’s emotions to go up and down and try to remain as stable a foundation as we can for them- but we can find we have come to a place where we aren’t as joyful as we could be, and our everyday life isn’t automatically prompting that deep seated feeling of contentment and joy in where we are. Whilst there will always be days which are more challenging and we won’t always wake up eager and ready to start the day (at 5am!) there are ways that can help us in bringing back some of our joy in motherhood.
How can we find ways to bring back joy in motherhood?
Refresh our mindset
When we are going about our everyday lives and mundane tasks there is a danger of becoming stuck in one way of thinking. When our weeks start to feel very familiar or when we start to do things habitually and forgetting the reason behind them our mindset can get a bit stuck. This is particularly challenging for me in the winter, when we can easily be inside our house, or at least our village for the majority of our days and the weeks and months have started to blend together as sun sets earlier and rises later. It can be difficult to be joyful when we really need some mental space and a change of scene even, to step back from the day-to-day that we have got stuck in.
I love having habits and rhythms to our weeks to reduce decision fatigue but intentionally going to new places, doing something spontaneously or finding some other way to burst out of the bubble of our usual lives is so helpful. I often overcomplicate this idea by trying to formulate a big plan, to go somewhere particularly exciting or feel like I need to plan ahead in order to do this. In reality all we need is a small change to feel more refreshed and joyful – and this often applies to the little ones as well as to me. Hopping in the car and going to a new park, spontaneously deciding to eat fish and chips instead of cooking and running about on a hillside are easy ways that we can find joy in new ways.
Remembering the big picture
Whilst we are going from place to place, making meals and playing with our little ones sometimes we can get bogged down in ‘what’ we are doing and forgetting the ‘why’. This easily sucks the joy from what we are doing when we are preoccupied with what is next, things we need to remember or what the timings are for the next day. Our roles go so much further than just ticking items off a list, keeping the children happy or healthy even, or keeping them entertained. Our reasons for doing all of these things and our motivation to keep going through the tough days gives us a much bigger and better perspective of how our roles matter to the future of our children and their passions, values and skills as adults.
Spending almost all of my time with my little ones in the last five years I have definitely had lots of times where I have forgotten how much this matters and wished for more time to myself or for the whole motherhood thing to be easier. It can be easy to forget the big picture in the middle of day after day of what seems like the same thing – but if I can stop and remember my purpose and how much I truly do want to be with them, having all these minutes, hours and days to love them and pour into them turns into a gift of time and a way for me to find joy in all of these things. (If you haven’t already done so, print off a copy of the ‘my mama mission’ page from the resources to give yourself some time and space to think through these things)
Counteract comparison by counting the joys
Comparing ourselves with others easy and dangerous trap to fall into. Each day we are interacting with other people, with the internet, with culture as a whole and we come across so many other people and situations that we can compare ourselves and our lives to. Whether it’s the other mothers that we interact with on a day-to-day basis, the perceptions of people’s lives that we see spread across social media channels or modern representations of mamas in the media, on our screens or in films- we can quickly compare and contrast with them and leave feeling discontent.
We do of course really need to exist in community with other people and other mothers, and the solution to this is not to avoid these situations (although unfollowing certain people on social media can be very freeing if you find this particularly challenging), but the way we interact and the way we speak to ourselves is key. If we are already feeling frustrated, tired or unsure, seeing someone else who seems to have everything ‘together’ easily leaves us vulnerable to comparison. It is so easy to see others for tiny snippets of time and to assume that they are succeeding in an area we are struggling with, or that we should be doing something that they are doing- or even that they don’t have any struggles. If we break it down like that we know that surely is not the case, as we all have our struggles but that they differ from person to person.
Making a point to think of, talk about or write down the good parts of your day, or life is such a good way to counteract the tendency to compare. By remembering those great things in our own lives we are focused on the positive in our own lives rather than chasing someone else’s good things. Instead of looking to the left or the right for affirmation about the way we are mothering and failing to find it, looking to those things that we can be grateful for is a simple but effective way to change our mindsets.
Joy in motherhood is both inevitable as we rejoice over our children, and worth fighting for on those harder days or in harder seasons. The perspective from which we approach our mothering makes such a difference to the ways we interact with our little ones and our motivation behind the ways we spend our time and energies. Mothering is a complex and confusing role to have but it’s so worth fighting to make the most of as we go through life with our children.
PS. You can get printable pages to help you write down some of these things and remember them in your everyday motherhood. Click over to the resources page to find the ‘count the joys’ printable and the ‘my mama mission’ to help you work out and remember these things. If you’re struggling through a period of darkness and joyful is something that you can’t even fathom, please talk to someone. You’re not alone and it will get better.