3 Simple Ways to Be a Happier Mom on Mother’s Day and Every Day!
Okay, Mom, how are you REALLY doing this Mother’s Day? I know you wear a lot of hats and, far too often, put on a lot of faces – masks really – to be what everyone needs you to be. Wouldn’t it be nice to truly BE happy on Mother’s Day? Find out how that just might be possible this year. But don’t wait too long…its almost here!
It’s really not just you. Seriously. Statistics shows that the most stressed out segment of the population in America are middle-aged women. You’re not making it up.
When we’re young Moms, having a new baby makes us the center of attention for a little while. People ask how you’re doing and genuinely express appreciation for the great mom-things you do. Then comes preschool and elementary school when we are just so busy trying to keep everything going that we’re happy for the hand drawn refrigerator art or the piece of pottery the teacher helped our kids make for us. But as our children move into the teen years, the compliments come less often, and the kids aren’t so cute and cuddly – and they talk back, roll their eyes, and have opinions of their own. They are also coming into their own at a low time for Moms, when bodily changes, hormone levels, and a few more lines or wrinkles are screaming for attention. The general state of “well-being” for mom’s during the middle school years reaches its lowest point according to Luther and Ciciolla of Arizona State University. Celebrating you seems to take a back seat to social media and schedules.
So far too often you just work yourself in to the festivities you plan for the other mothers who need attention in your life – your Mom, in-law, grandma or that lonely lady next door. And then your daughters become moms and have mothers-in-laws and who knows what place you may take in that dynamic.
Couple all this with the fact that marital satisfaction during this season of life bottoms out as intimacy is challenged and the desire for romance has so many competitors (Kerestes et al. 2012; Steinberg Silk, 2002). Which of course means that your spouse or significant other feels these same pressures and doesn’t really know how to help you celebrate. It’s that awkward time when everybody knows the holiday is coming but nobody really knows what to do with you and how to make you happy. Get out of town and shut the door on that one!! But wait…
This is not the only hat you wear.
Mom, Wife, Friend, Boss-Coworker, Confidant, Daughter, Sister, Mother of a Student, Scout Leader, Taxi Driver, Hospitality Director, Home Manager, Caregiver, …and the list goes on and on. No wonder the numbers show it’s stressing us out and hurting us more. And making us unhappy, underwhelmed and overwhelmed, and feeling like someone is always disappointed in us or we have let them down.
What if you could be happier? Research is shining some true light on the secret of happiness as we age. It’s called the "Happiness U-Curve". The gist of collective research on the topic is that we start out at a certain happiness level, but as the decades ensue we hit the bottom of the U where we’re hit with two things at once- we aren’t satisfied with our lives and don’t see any way to be satisfied. But then, as we move in the 70’s and 80’s we somehow figure out the formula and our happiness tends to improve.
So, if you want to take change of these years of your life, it’s time to come up with a plan. Well, not only does this research tell us what’s happening in our bodies during midlife, it also tells us the formula for staying engaged in spite of these challenges. Don’t want to stay stuck in the blues on Mother’s Day? Read on.
What seems to make the difference when our happiness levels reset are these attitudes:
Acceptance that this is a normal stage most everyone goes through
That the first thing to change is your attitude toward this season
See your schedule as your best resource and take charge of it!
Notice when you are at your best in all the roles you play and schedule your life accordingly. If you punch a clock there’s no option in your work day so accept it and don’t fight it. But there are a lot of hours that are at your discretion. But first, you have to figure out what you like to do, how you refresh, and what gives you that stress-reducing fix you are looking for.
Now take 10 minutes to make a list of 3 things you want to work into your schedule. NOT SHOULDS – if you don’t like the gym don’t put it down. If you want to take a yoga class instead, then start there. Want to join a book club or a walking club? Play an instrument? Have a movie night? Put it on the list. Do the research. Know when they are offered, how long they last, and who may want to go with you. Prepare your proposed schedule on when these things will fit into your week.
Have a conversation.
I know what you’re getting ready to say. “You don’t understand. Everybody else takes up all my time.” I really do get that making room for yourself realistically requires you to coordinate with others. But it’s not going to happen by itself and, let’s face it, you haven’t really asked for it. You may have taught those you do life with that your needs will quickly take a back seat to theirs so apologize and let them know that from this point on you really mean what you say. Don’t get mad, cry about it, or wish someone else would just stop asking for your time. Advocate for yourself, negotiate for a few hours a week, and stick with it. Remember, you are asking your family to change the way they see you and they may not like it, so it’s up to you to take responsibility for introducing them to this new concept. Be patient with them – and yourself – in this new season. You can do this, just communicate clearly through the process and don’t play the blame game. It’s not their fault if you haven’t calmly communicated specifically what you want. So, start now and watch the room on your calendar reflect your needs as well.
Then really mean it.
Say no when others intrude on your workout time, well-being time with a friend over coffee, or we-time with your spouse. These are not negotiable and are set in stone just like any other work meeting or doctor’s appointment.
Taking these actions now, with gentle words of explanation and without blaming anyone for how you got here, may just result in a happier, healthier you. So start today and add just one thing to your life that’s just for you. It could be the first step to a truly Happy Mother’s Day!