I first bought the book How to be a Happier Mum by Nicky Arthur when my second child was very young. Under 6 months, it was before my daughters second birthday.
Times were hard and I was stressed. Big time. For almost 3 months my husband was doing a high intensity course and I was on my own with a toddler and an infant. I don’t drive (although I’m very close) and we were in a new place and I was isolated. I made a couple of new friends in that time but I was very lonely and it was difficult.
The sleep thing was hard. Looking back it was wonder week stuff, but I was yet to stumble upon those gems of information. I was at breaking point.
I went for a walk to the shops with my kids in the double pram and bought The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and How to be a Happier Mum by Nicky Arthur at the same time. The NCSS seemed to welcome me with open arms and solutions I could manage. Gently, carefully and with loving kindness my baby and I were going to solve the sleep puzzle together.
The first chapter of How to be a Happier Mum told me that happiness was a choice and only I could make myself happy.
I closed the book. How dare a book tell me that happiness was a choice? All these things in my life were so hard and that book did not know my situation. I was trying my beat goddammit!
So I plodded along with a growing tension in me that manifested into serious anger directed mostly at my partner but also at myself. My children were my only comfort.
I started off slowly by gaining back some ‘me’ time, no kids, no partner, just me. I started off walking sporadically and then regularly and now at week 4 of the c25k running program I’m feeling less stressed and…
Ready to go back to that book.
The problems that plagued my life before are now a distant memory, the baby is now a big walking 1 year old and sleeps better then ever. My husband is working a better schedule and even when he does go away with the Army again I am more confident in my abilities and I have a better support network.
So the roadblocks to my happiness are gone and I’m much more open to suggestions. So I’m reading that book again. And it’s speaking to me. And I would really recommend it to anyone who feels they could be happier as a mother.
But if you don’t have time to read a book, then what are some quick things you can do to make yourself a bit happier?
1. Make happiness your mantra
The more you say “I am happy” out loud the more you will believe it. It’s true. When you look in the mirror next say
- “I am happy.”
- “I deserve happiness.”
- “I give love and I receive love in return.”
2. Give yourself a time out
Often, when children are out of control we are told they need a time out. Now, while I don’t believe in the shaming and exclusion of children that comes with a traditional time out I do believe that when a child is feeling out of control some quiet time to calm down and reflect can be just what the doctor ordered.
So why don’t we do that for ourselves?
The next time you feel like yelling, punishing, screaming or spanking – STOP! Take a deep breath and ask yourself – am I feeling out of control?
Children instinctively imitate their parents. So if they see us as being out of control then their behavior will usually reflect what they see. Taking a minute to cool off and calm down before trying to remedy the situation.
Walk away. Take a deep breath. Calm down. Try again.
3. Give yourself some time off
If you run around and look after everyone and have a perfect home and always put yourself last then it might look good but you won’t be as happy as you could be.
Now I’m not talking about a weekend away with your girlfriends once a week, I’m talking a short time blocked out just for you when you consciously focus on something that will bring you happiness.
When my son was an infant it was watering the garden. 15 minutes where I handed the kids to my husband, or waited until they were asleep at night, walked outside alone and just did. It sounds silly but I found it relaxing.
Now that my baby is now older I run, a few times a week, 30min-1hour. Other people would find it torture but I enjoy it and that’s all that matters.
Point is find something that makes you happy and just do it, for a few minutes a day. Give yourself permission to focus on yourself.
Can’t think of anything? Craft, dance, exercise, cooking, drawing, reading, there are endless possibilities.
4. Focus on your health
If you’re eating junk and you feel like junk is it really a big surprise? After all food is our fuel and our bodies are not trash cans. A good wholesome varied diet rich with fruits, vegetables, proteins, and with few processed foods is ideal.
Many additives have been linked to hyperactivity in children and I know our life has been much easier since eliminating them. The big one was artificial preservatives. My toddler was jumping up and down, biting, squealing, hitting, out of control after eating an ice block. Sure enough the additive alert guide showed that they were full of toxic crap! Take them out of the diet and the behavior stopped.
Many friends of mine have had success with the Failsafe diet especially with infants. A friend recently described her child as being like a ‘wild animal’ during the challenge of a few foods while following the Failsafe plan. It can be really worth trying.
My mood has picked up since I started taking mineral supplements and a pro-biotic.
My son’s mood really picked up after a visit to a good chiropractor. I strongly believe that all babies should see a chiro after birth, birth can put babies little spines seriously out of alignment and a trip to the chiro can alleviate so much pain for them.
Don’t forget the good mood food – dark chocolate
Listen to your body instead of a diet, what do you need? What fuel will keep you going?
5. Don’t rely on others to make you happy
Boyfriends, girl friends, partners, spouses, husbands, wives, even our own children – it’s not their job to make us happy.
My happiness is my responsibly and mine alone.
I share moments of happiness with my children and my husband but ultimately it is up to me to make my own happiness.
If I waited around waiting for someone or something to make me happy there will always be something blocking that. The house is messy, I didn’t get enough sleep, it’s too hot, my Thermomix needs a small repair, all things I could focus on today that would stop me from feeling happy.
Instead – its almost the end of the wet season, my son is almost walking, my husband is home and we can spend time together, I got to sleep a little extra after breakfast, I beat my personal best running this morning. Positive.
I am in control of how I feel. Yes sometimes things happen and you can’t help but feel overwhelmed with how you feel. Grief, sadness, loss, anger, frustration, but ultimately to live a happy life you have to chose to be happy.
I CHOSE TO BE HAPPY, I ACCEPT THAT THERE WILL BE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WILL CAUSE ME TO BE UNHAPPY AND ARE BEYOND MY CONTROL HOWEVER WHENEVER I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACTIVELY CHOSE I WILL CHOSE HAPPINESS.