I hope all of you beautiful moms had a happy Mother’s Day on Sunday! We had a nice low key day and it was fun being spoiled by my crew. I was getting Kole ready for school this morning and he said “well.. are you sad mom? Your special day is over.” Ha! Harsh right? I looked at the breakfast dishes and thought yup.. back to reality. ;)
I’m going to detour quickly just today from home decor, organization and fashion so pop back in for my next post if you come here solely for those things! I’ve been a mom now for over 15 years and while I hardly feel like that has made me an expert on the subject (right.. ha) I do feel like I have learned and grown so much since I brought my first sweet baby girl home from the hospital. I was thinking a lot last week about motherhood and the ups and downs I’ve had throughout the years and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s this: if you are a happy person, truly happy inside, you will be able to give your kids all that they need to be happy and feel loved and successful. It’s really all about getting in a good place with yourself so that you can endlessly give back to your kids. In the past 10 plus years I’ve been blogging I often get asked how I always seem to be so happy. I assure you I have my not so sunny days! We all do. But overall.. I really am genuinly happy and there are things I work hard to prioritize that help me stay positive every day. I’ve seen other happy moms with these same habits and wanted to share them with you. We’ve all heard these things before, but if you’re a mom and are struggling right now (we have all struggled at one point or another!) really focusing on one or two of these things might help. These habits have all helped me immensely in this journey of motherhood and have made me a better person overall.
1 – Pursue a hobby/passion/outlet – It’s so easy to lose yourself once you become a mom. Being a mom is 24/7.. it never stops! You need an outlet that is just for YOU. Not something that involves your kids or spouse. When my girls were around 2 and 4 years old I felt so lost. I was a stay at home mom and I loved it, but it was hard being home with my little girls all day and Kenny was so busy at work. I had always loved writing and taking pictures so I started blogging as a fun outlet in the evenings when my girls were asleep and Kenny was still working. I also spent their nap time scrapbooking as a creative outlet and I joined a gym with a great daycare and started taking aerobics classes a few times a week because in high school and college I loved dancing. I looked forward to those outlets every day and when I was doing those things I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. Doing things I loved each day gave me a boost so that the rest of the time when I was on mom duty I was happy and in a good mood and could handle all the things my girls dished out. 9 princess dress outfit changes a day? Pulling your sister’s hair? Fishy crackers all over the floor? No biggie.. bring it on. ;) What do you love to do that makes you feel excited and alive? Take a salsa or tennis class, bake desserts, try out for a part in a community play.. whatever it is that brings you joy and happiness outside of being a mom – do it! You can’t wait for when things “calm down.” Things NEVER calm down when you have kids (another truth I’ve learned!). Schedule time in your calendar for your hobby/outlet and then stick to that appointment for yourself like you would for a doctor appointment! It doesn’t mean you don’t prioritize your kids. You can be completely there for them and still have something for yourself. You might have to cut out some TV time or a little sleep (unless those are your happy outlets.. ha!) but you can make it happen if you care enough to make it happen.
Life with my girls before little brother came along. :)
(I know some of you originally found me because of my early scrapbooking posts!)
2 – Stay productive – Everyone might not feel this way, but I know for me that I’m so much happier when I feel productive. Days when I accomplish something are always good days for me and as a direct result of my good day I’m more patient and upbeat with my kids. It doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as cleaning out a junk drawer. I just feel happy when I feel like I’ve accomplished something that I care about so I make sure to plan my day and always allow time for the to-do’s that are important to me. I don’t mean just being busy and putting out fires all day! Cleaning the kitchen for the 6th time doesn’t count. :) I mean setting aside time to focus and get something done that is on my goal/priority list so that when I’m spending the rest of the day doing mom activities I still feel accomplished. Not that the mundane mom duties aren’t important! They are. But sometimes they can feel.. mundane. :)
(Now that my kids are in school this is easier, but when they were little we would always have “nap/quiet time” in the afternoon and they went to bed earlier at night so I used those times to accomplish things that were important to me. I would also organize our home while my kids were playing in the same room they were in. I was spending time with them while also getting something done that was important to me.)
3 – Exercise – Honestly moving every day even if it’s just for 20 minutes makes such a HUGE difference for me when it comes to my mood. That endorphin rush is real! I love to start my day with a quick walk/run or exercise class or something. It immediately puts me in a better mood and makes me happy. We all know that when we look and feel better about ourselves we behave better to the people around us. When my girls were little I loved taking them for walks in our jogging stroller (seriously a good jogging stroller is the best investment you can make when you have small kids!). Fresh air also does wonders for your mood.
Ellie and I went on walks every morning. Getting outside was a huge help to me in those early years of motherhood!
Really all of my kids lived in jogging strollers. :)
The best for me is when I can exercise with a friend or two which leads me to my next tip..
4 – Prioritize time with friends – Moms.. this is HUGE. It’s so important to surround yourself with friends who are going through similar mom struggles. Spending time laughing and venting with close friends about the ups and downs of life with kids is hands down the best therapy out there! You can gain so many ideas from each other and more than anything it just helps to know that you’re normal! You’re not going crazy.. your struggles are real and common to most moms. Spending time with friends is such a happiness boost and I can always tell by my mood when I’ve gone too long without girlfriend time. If you don’t have a close circle of mom friends get out of your comfort zone and create one! When I quit teaching to stay home with Ellie I was so lonely. We had just moved into a new city and a new neighborhood and all of the friends I had made in San Diego were working. I had seen young kids in our neighborhood but didn’t know anyone. Feeling depressed and lonely one day I made flyers. Flyers you guys! I’m not kidding. Although I kind of wish I was. ;) I hung them on all of the mailboxes in our neighborhood and delivered them door to door. They said “If you have kids come to the cul – de – sac at 4:00 on Thursday! Kids can play and moms can chat!” I was SO nervous no one would come! I took Ellie who was about 14 months old at the time and went to the cul-de-sac Thursday at 4:00 and to my relief 4 other moms came with small kids! We all met and had so much fun getting to know each other while the kids played. We decided we’d meet the next Thursday too. People in the neighborhood saw us and started hearing about our group in the cul-de-sac and before long we had about 15 moms and over 30 kids meeting once a week for the neighborhood play date. We met every Thursday for years! We all became close friends and even though now most of us have moved out of that neighborhood we still keep in touch and get so excited to see each other.
(I couldn’t find a picture of us all in the cul-de-sac even though I know I have one! But this was dinner with a few of my neighborhood mom friends over 10 years ago. We also started doing moms night out once every other month too!)
I honestly think about our playgroup and can’t believe I dared to initiate it all! But I did and having mom friends when my kids were little truly saved me. I really believe that you get back from this world what you put into it so get out there and make new friends. Invite someone to lunch or invite a couple of moms to meet you at a local park.. make flyers if you have to! Just put yourself out there, find your tribe and then be there for them and their kids. Because they will be there for you and yours and having close friends like that will bring a lot of happiness into your life. (On a side note.. it’s so important to choose your friends wisely! Spend time with people who work hard, are positive and uplifting and who truly want what’s best for you and your kids. Stay away from moms who are all about gossip, competition and negativity.)
So grateful for all of my amazing friends!
Me with 3 of my besties. We thought we deserved pedicures and diet cokes last week for mother’s day. I think we were right. :)
5 – Prioritize your marriage – This is so important and can be such a struggle when you have kids. It’s so easy to lose sight of the relationship you and your husband have with each other when kids come into the picture. They have a way of taking over and monopolizing every minute of your life! There’s the obvious solution to schedule date nights but I think it’s also important to find other ways to squeeze in alone time with your spouse. Kenny and I have always loved going on walks or hikes together. We try to fit in a quick walk whenever we can. Sometimes it’s on a week night during a quick 50 minute break in-between driving our kids to activities. Sometimes it’s early on a Saturday morning before our teenage girls wake up while Kole watches cartoons. Whenever we have to run quick errands on weekends we go with each other and leave the kids home as much as we can. Any extra time we can sneak in together is precious because with three kids we are usually in divide and conquer mode going in different directions. Costco runs are more fun with each other and just spending any time together to laugh and talk and not think about the kids is a good thing! We were just talking today about how we need to schedule more quick over night trips together on weekends. It’s hard to get away when you have kids and so many activities going on. We’ve found the key is scheduling it in advance and then prioritizing it. If you can’t afford a sitter work out a trade with a close friend. We used to do that a lot when my girls were little!
Getting together with other couples is also something we want to prioritize more. So nice to take a night off from being mom and dad and just relaxing with couple friends!
6 – Take care of yourself – I feel more strongly about this every year! It really is just re-iterating the things I mentioned above, but honestly.. you can only be the best mom to your kids if you feel good yourself. Drink water, exercise, get enough sleep (my constant struggle I’m trying to prioritize this year!), make time for things you love. If you don’t do things like this often you might feel a little selfish when you start prioritizing yourself. Moms are used to taking care of everyone else first. But I promise.. the more you focus on fitting in the things you need to feel happy the more you’ll see what a positive impact it has on your whole family. You’ll be less snappy and won’t feel exhausted and resentful when so many things fall on you. Because let’s face it.. a lot falls on mom every day! Tell yourself that when you’re taking care of yourself you are really taking care of your family too because you absolutely are. You’ll be able to give them your best self instead of your tired, overworked exhausted self.
I try to take a bubble bath once a week! (Usually on Friday nights.) It’s one of my favorite ways to relax.
I light my candles and dim the lights and just soak. :) I always feel so happy and relaxed after a hot bath!
7 – Don’t compare – This is hard to do but honestly the quicker you learn to not compare yourself to other moms the happier you’ll be. No good comes from comparison! Everyone is different with different life situations and different kids and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s so important to focus on what you’re doing right and take the pressure off of yourself! I have a good friend who fixes her kids a big homemade breakfast every day. Eggs, pancakes.. all the things! My kids have been raised on cereal and instant oatmeal and get homemade breakfast on special weekends when dad is in the mood to cook. :) I feel no shame! And while my friend is certainly a better cook than I am, I don’t think she’s a better mom because she cooks more. We are both good moms in different ways. My kids might not wake up to a homemade meal every morning, but they do wake up to a huge hug and smile and a note in their lunch box and they know how much they mean to me. Just love your kids! Be there for them. Do the best that you can and don’t worry about what other moms are doing. Blogs and IG and Pinterest are so great for ideas and inspiration but if you’re following moms who make you feel like you aren’t doing a good job stop following them. Stay in your lane and focus on being the best mom you can. Comparison will never make you happy. Or make you a better mom. It’s not about being a “perfect mom” anyway.. it’s about being the perfect mom for your kids and only YOU can do that.
8 – Focus on the positive – Every single day is full of ups and downs. It’s completely up to us to decide what to focus on. I’m so grateful my mom was a positive, upbeat person and focused a lot on gratitude when I was growing up because it’s something that comes easily for me now. You know the movie “Inside Out” with the cute girl Riley who moves to a new city and her emotions are the characters? We love that movie and every time we watch it my kids tease me about being so much like “Joy” – always trying to cheer everyone up and point out the bright side of every situation. (We have jokes about who everyone else in that movie represents in our family too. :) I’m sure I annoy my kids that way but I feel like it’s something they have to learn! This blog is called Sunny Side Up for a reason. ;) I really think focusing on the positive is so important if you want to be truly happy. I went through a really hard season before we had kids when my husband was in law school and we were living on the east coast. I was teaching school and working jobs after school to keep us out of debt. Kenny was studying around the clock and I was so homesick for my family and friends and life before we moved. I decided to keep a gratitude journal because I felt so depressed and negative and it helped me immensely! I know gratitude journals sound cheesy but you guys.. I’m not kidding. Actually having to write down things you are grateful for really helps shift your focus. Life is full of difficult and sad things but it’s also full of fun and wonderful things. So is motherhood. Choose every day to focus on the positive things. It’s a choice you have to deliberately make. I recently bought this gratitude journal (it’s my current favorite) if you think something like that might help you.
Gratitude jars are also great if you want to involve your kids in focusing on one thing they are grateful for each day.
9 – Establish routines and teach your kids to pitch in – Moms have a million things on their plates every day and we all know how hard it is to focus when the house is a mess and there is no order. Also kids thrive on routine (especially young kids) so if you’re feeling like your mornings, days or evenings are stressful, take some time to look at your schedule and create some routines and order for your day. It’s amazing how just getting a routine down for something like laundry can be life changing for your sanity! I’ve had to do this so many times and as my kids get older and our schedule changes I have to keep tweaking our home routines so that there is a flow to our day and things get done around the house. It’s hard to teach kids to help around the house because we (meaning all moms) can usually do it so much faster and better, but I’m telling you.. you have to take the time to teach them! Now that my kids are older and I’m working more it is such a life saver to have their help with cleaning and laundry. Plus kids need to learn those skills for when they have their own homes someday. These expectation charts I shared on my blog last summer are a perfect way to get your kids helping around the house and summer is a great time to start if this is something you feel like you need more of in your life! There have been many times that re-adjusting our routines and getting my kids to pitch in and help more has made all the difference for me and my mood! And mom’s mood usually sets the tone. :)
Anything that becomes a struggle I create a routine for! This was my system for dealing with outfit drama every morning with my girls when they were younger. :)
Our Daily Expectation Charts! The one on the left is for younger kids and the one on the right is for older kids. You can download them for free here. I’m definitely printing these out again in a few weeks when my kids get out of school. We loved using them last summer. I guess I should say I loved using them last summer. Not sure if my kids were as enthusiastic as I was about them. ;)
10 – Spend quality fun time with your kids – This is such an obvious thing to do but I’m always amazed at how hard it can be to carve out quality FUN time with each of my kids. Between all of the school stuff and activities and work and “Did you eat your breakfast? Clean your room! Start your homework!” There are SO many things to keep track of and so many things we have to nag our kids about all day. I really have to focus every day on just relaxing and looking for time to spend with my kids having fun with them. Sometimes we can do a special lunch or go on vacation, but mostly it’s important to find little pockets during regular, ordinary days when you can connect on their level. For me this usually means listening to hip hop music in the car with my teenager and dancing together (trying to ignore all side glances at the stop light) or watching a quick TV show with Ad on the couch because she’s my child who loves to just be together and cuddle. Or playing ball with Kole for 10 minutes in the hallway and listening with my FULL attention about his latest favorite video game and how he dominated level 4. It’s not always easy! Sometimes it’s hard to stop and cuddle on the couch when there is a sink full of dishes and I could care less about Plants vs. Zombies! But I love my kids and they need my time and attention. Even though I don’t always enjoy the things they enjoy, getting on their level and showing them that I care about them and the things they care about is what builds a good relationship with them. Plus just laughing and having fun with my kids takes the stress out of the every day. Laughing, talking, hugging, spending quality time with them.. often it’s in those moments that I really enjoy my role as a mom and feel so grateful for my kids.
Couldn’t love these 3 more!
One other truth I’ve learned over the past 15 years?
They grow up pretty fast!
So you might as well buckle up and enjoy the journey. :)
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