I have started my own “Happiness Project”. Fans of Gretchen Rubin’s books will recognize the term: I am working to become aware of what ideas and habits make me happy and will in turn make for a happier family. I have already incorporated many of her suggestions such as singing my kids awake in the morning, paying attention to small parenthood moments, always kissing my spouse goodbye. Only, just now–as I folded laundry, listened to my husband bang away at a home improvement project, and watch my children alternate between playing and yelling at each other–did my steps towards happiness crystallize in my mind as a formal project.
All three of my kids are in school this year, which gives me a bit more margin in my day, some time to breathe. What I am learning is that I, as an adult, crave certain routines throughout the day in order to be a great parent. That my happy consists of getting up before my husband and children, having my first cup of coffee by myself, quiet, reading. These 30 minutes of peace set my day on the right track. Remember, my kids are older, and I didn’t start this practice when I had a singleton toddler and infant twins!
Another daily routine that ensures my happiness is having my dinner cooked and in the fridge waiting to be warmed up by 3pm (more details on how I get this done in a future post!) What started as a survival strategy to make sure my husband and I ate a nutritious meal during our seasons of colic, preschool 5pm witching hour, and now after-school sports and activities, has served me well over the last nine years of parenting.
It has taken me years of parenting to figure out what daily routines work for my family. Yes, every parenting book will give you a strategies and suggestions for your children, but what about you ideas to take care of you–the caregiver? Sometimes the standard suggestion of “a night out” is not enough. What do you need to have happen during the day to make it through? Parent self-care is often an afterthought, and it was for me for so many years. But our family life is much smoother when I have put just a few of my needs into our daily routine. Books and blogs inspire and validate these my ideas. I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s and Christine Carter’s books on happiness as a place to start.
I wish I had been self-aware of my happiness and needs for routines when I had younger children at home all day–I made so many mistakes! When our kids were toddlers, my friend proudly wore a t-shirt that said “Happy Mom.” How true! We all need to have happy moms!
Have you started your own happiness project? If not, take a brief, quiet moment to think about what pieces of your daily routine you can add, delete, or tweak to make you a happier parent. Let me know how it works out.
Leslie H. is a tired but happy mom to three loud, active, adventurous children, two of which happen to be twins.