Do you often find yourself doing more reactive parenting than intentional parenting? Read on for 6 ways to be a more positive mom and exuding joy and contentment, instead of always getting upset at the latest mess in your house!
The new year has all of us pondering how we’d like to change our lives and what areas could use more of our attention. For me, becoming a better mother is always a priority but accomplishing this goal is a whole lot trickier than most of my resolutions!
Over the years I’ve developed a handful of tools that help me reconnect with my kids, focus on the good and be a better example of happiness and positivity. I try to implement more of these anytime I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed.
1. Make a gratitude list
We all know that being grateful is one of the most effective ways to improve our mood and overall outlook on life. But writing down our blessings can make it even easier to focus on the good.
I’ve taken to keeping a section of my journal to jot down things I’m grateful for, but even a note on your phone would work! They can be as life changing as a sick child’s recovery or as inconsequential as a stranger giving up a parking space. Basically anything positive that gets my attention gets a spot on my gratitude list.
Note: this can be especially helpful for the trying areas of life. Got a teen that’s being hard to deal with? Make a gratitude list specifically about that child. Dealing with lots of house repairs and costly problems? Write down all the things you love about your home!
2. Make eye contact and check in with each child, daily
This is especially tricky with kids who are busy with school and extracurriculars all day or for those of us with large families. But when I find myself reacting negatively to everything and everyone, it’s often because I’ve begun treating my children like tasks instead of like the beautiful little people they are.
Try this next time you’re feeling frazzled or overwhelmed: stop what you’re doing, touch your child and get their attention, look into their eyes and say something uplifting like, “I sure love you!”, “Have I told you lately how great you are?” or “I don’t know what I’d do without you!”.
Not only will you get to see their entire demeanor change for the better but you’ll feel your own attitude lifted as well. (Bonus: this works especially well for children having temper tantrums!)
3. Have family dinner (and share the day’s highlights)
More often than not, we sit down as a family to eat dinner together in the evenings. Sometimes we’re missing a child or two and it’s often a total and complete zoo but it’s one of my favorite times of day!
We decided a few years ago that the best way to hear from each child, while still maintaining some semblance of order, was to ask each member of the family to share a “high” and a “low” from their day. They each get just a minute or two to talk and the one rule is that they can’t use their “low” as a chance to rat out another sibling (i.e. “My low was when Juliet was a jerk to me” isn’t allowed. Ha!).
They all really look forward to having their minute in the spotlight and it’s so cute to hear what they remembered from the day.
4. Make a to-do list of essentials only
Having a hard time feeling like you’re accomplishing anything? Raising small children can feel like a rat race with no end in sight. Try making a to-do list for yourself full of all the things that you regularly get done anyway, and then cross them off!
For example, your list could say: feed kids breakfast, start a load of laundry, change a stinky diaper, get kids dressed, etc. Checking those off can make you feel crazy accomplished and will probably open your eyes to ALL the amazing things you do every day!
Oh, and don’t forget to add one little thing on your list that’s just for you. “Eat a square of chocolate alone in my closet” is one of my favorites. 🙂
5. Don’t make requests you can’t immediately follow through with
How often do you ask a child to complete a task more than once? It’s exhausting, right? When I first heard this piece of advice, I totally rejected it because, after all, kids are supposed to listen and behave the first time, right?
If only it were that simple. When I’m feeling run down or like I’m nagging incessantly, I try to remember this simple rule: If I’m not in a position where I can immediately walk over and help my child complete the task, then I don’t ask them to do it.
For example, if I’m nursing a baby or I’m in the bathroom, in the middle of eating lunch or otherwise unavailable, I try not to ask my kids to do anything difficult. The purpose of this is twofold: 1. I encourage prompt obedience by physically helping the child complete the task and 2. I don’t turn into a crazy banshee who’s just yelling at children all day long.
Note: this really only applies to my younger kids (under 10 or so) because the older ones have mostly learned to obey the first time!
6. Always keep a “fun day” on the calendar
Let’s face it, everyone needs something to look forward to. This is one reason that I love planning vacations ahead of time, like at the first of the year. But even if a big exciting, out-of-town trip isn’t in your near future, you can try scheduling something simple.
Our favorite fun activities include a family bike ride, popcorn and movie nights in the backyard, going to a favorite playground, or a family trip to a trampoline or skate park. Plan something easy and then write it down where everyone can see it. It will help both parents and kids get through the hard days!
Do you have special tactics for bringing out your best self? What did you think about these 6 ways to be a more positive mom??
You might also like this article about the best lessons I’ve learned from being a mom for 15 years!