Secrets to Being a Happy Mom or Dad 1 of 8
1: Hitting the Road (Together)
Now that we have a brood of four (with #5 on the way), vacations are no longer relaxing. They're taxing. Yet going on them is the key to my happiness as a parent. The problems begin before we even leave the house. With four kids and two adults? We practically need a shoehorn and a tub of Vaseline just to get everything loaded into our car. If packing is unpleasant, hauling three toddlers and a 9-year-old through the mountains is flat-out cruel and unusual punishment. And don't even get me started on the potty breaks. Our days are jam-packed with action, and with that action comes lots of gear, which means that yours truly doubles as a sherpa, loaded like a freight train as I negotiate the climb down the condo steps and traverse the hot, splintered planks of the boardwalk only to arrive at the beach, upon which many a toddler meltdown will take place. Read how all of this actually increases John's happiness
Secrets to Being a Happy Mom or Dad 2 of 8
2: Mommy Time-Outs
Back in the day, I was a fairly heavy user of time-out as a discipline tool. Then, one day I realized it wasnt the kid who needed a time-out; it was me.
Id always presented time-out as an opportunity, not a punishment. The idea wasnt to make the kid feel bad, it was to give her a chance to catch her breath, re-center, and come back to our activity ready to participate. Actually sounds pretty good, right?
Turns out, I need those time-outs even more than my daughters do. As soon as I notice Im starting to feel overwhelmed or testy, I put myself in time-out. I disappear to my bedroom for a minute, or two, or five. I lie down, take a few deep breaths, rub a cats belly. Sometimes Ill read a poem or jot a note in my journal. I just give myself a little break.
Read how Sierras kids respond to her mommy time-outs
Secrets to Being a Happy Mom or Dad 3 of 8
3: My Husband (Can't Speak for Yours)
I have no doubt that if I had to raise my children alone, I could do it, but I just know it wouldnt be nearly as joyful as raising them with my husband. Theres something about delighting in watching our daughter grow together, and seeing the happiness she brings to Rick, that makes my heart smile every day.
I spend the majority of the day with our daughter, but Rick is a shining example of how much quality counts over quantity.
The things that have me tearing out my hair at the end of the day (I dont like to go potty and I dont like chicken anymore and I dont like kisses and Read this book ... again ... again ... again) have him singing with laughter during their mornings and evenings together.
Read more about how Merediths husbands parenting style makes her happy
Secrets to Being a Happy Mom or Dad 4 of 8
Each time after giving birth, I fell immediately and madly in love with my kids, so much so that I couldnt stand to be away from them. My arms felt empty when my newborns werent cradled against me. I longed for their tiny bodies during my 10-minute showers. During those early weeks of each of my kids lives, I could honestly say — and as a feminist, I said it with much reluctance — my babies completed me.
Then the babies got older.
A profound love is still there for my kids — I shouldnt have to even say that. But the milky sweet honeymoon is definitely over. Im infatuated with my babies until Im not. And then I call in for backup. With no reluctance whatsoever, I say that childcare is what completes me now.
Read how Madelines kids respond to daycare
Secrets to Being a Happy Mom or Dad 5 of 8
5: Mommy Friends
When I had my first daughter, I was really young. Raised with the notion that you dont discuss your weaknesses or failings, I was not accustomed to confiding to friends that I was having trouble with my baby sleeping through the night or when I was worried she was getting sick again. Because I was so young, I didnt have any friends that had kids. But once I started to work at a parenting magazine, I met many moms that I related to, and my friendships with other mothers began to blossom. It has been invaluable.
Along the way I learned that nothing replaces commiserating with another mother who has been there through ear infections, sleepless nights, and discipline issues. And contrary to what I thought as a young mother, the more you can open up and confide in your fellow mothers, as opposed to holding back and pretending that everything is fine when facing a challenge, the more free you become and the happier you are as a parent.
Read how Danielles mom friend community has grown online
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Part of the process of leaning into motherhood has been about knowing when to take care of myself and when to surrender to the primacy of my childrens needs.
My kids seem happiest when theyve got relatively undivided attention. Putting aside other responsibilities when I can lets me focus on being with my children, experiencing and enjoying our time together. Since I have stuff to do a lot of the time, I am usually not at my maximum mom happiness. (Hence the complaining.) But when I know Im going to be spending a chunk of time with my kids, I try to think about what else is on my plate, because I know that the more I can clear it, the more fun well have together. Its not something I can do always, or even often. But the moments I can surrender to the full monty of motherhood are the moments it brings me the most joy.
Read how Rebecca juggles blogging and motherhood
Secrets to Being a Happy Mom or Dad 7 of 8
7: My Mom's Group
There are nine of us total in my moms group, all with kids born within a month of each other. I have plenty of other friends, but for me there is something so special about going through the same madness together month after month. Any time I think Im struggling with some unique mix of crazy, it turns out Im not alone.
We originally met when our babies were six months old. I picked up a like-minded, friendly mom while shopping for chemical-free sunscreen at Target one day — she had three friends with babies, one of them had another friend with a baby the same age, I had a friend who had given birth within two weeks of me in the end, there were nine of us, and nearly three years later, were still together.
Read what Heather and her mom group are talking about now that their kids are toddlers
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