Not all moments of motherhood are perfect. Being a mom can be downright hard. Discover how to be a happy mom even in the toughest moments.
“Does it get better?”
It’s the question we all ask, whether we’re first-time moms blown away by this new role, or even seasoned moms facing different challenges.
We hear other moms who won’t stop swooning over their new babies, sleep-deprived and everything. Other friends seem to have “easy” babies who don’t give as much trouble as ours do. Meanwhile, we’re beyond exhausted.
Like many exhausted moms, I couldn’t function on less than eight hours of sleep during those first few months. I was rude with my family, complained more than I coddled, and sometimes downright miserable.
How to be a happy mom
If you can relate, rest assured you’re not alone, friend. And more importantly, how you feel is normal and common.
Just as women develop hemorrhages and diastasis recti after delivering a baby, so too can we feel down and wonder how to be a happy mom.
Don’t feel ashamed to talk about how you feel with your doctor, any more than you wouldn’t be ashamed of other post-partum complications. Complaining doesn’t mean she’ll slap you with a label and send you off with a prescription, but she’ll be better able to guide you on what to do next.
It also doesn’t hurt to talk to others about your feelings, even if it’s to vent about the hardships of motherhood.
In the meantime, what do you do if you’re pining for your old life instead of feeling overjoyed and blessed? How can you manage your emotions on top of your new responsibilities? Take a look at these tips on how to be a happy mom and turn things around:
1. Grieve your expectations
You were hoping so much for a girl. Or you only wanted two kids, not three. Perhaps you weren’t even planning on having kids at all—at least not yet. Or your journey to conceive had been a long one, so you feel ungrateful for complaining about the challenges motherhood has brought.
We don’t give enough weight to the expectations we carry before what eventually befalls us. A pregnant mom might have wanted a girl and feel compelled to bury her resentment or disappointment of having a boy. Or the news of a pregnancy might throw you for a loop when you weren’t even trying to have a baby.
It’s no surprise I was a bit shook up when I learned I was having twins—I cried for a week. This wasn’t in my “plans,” and I worried about our future, from finances to logistics to child care.
All this during a time when I was supposed to be on cloud nine and feel grateful for my predicament.
If you harbored expectations and they weren’t met, give yourself the time to grieve for what isn’t or couldn’t be. You’re not a horrible mom for hoping for something else. These thoughts need to be addressed and accepted, not brushed under the rug.
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2. Understand that things do get better
As a first-time mom, I’d get irritated when anyone would tell me it’ll get better. Really? When? Because when you’re dreading the evenings and wondering whether you’re even fit to be a mom, “it’ll get better” isn’t coming fast enough.
Yet it did, and it will for you, too. Maybe when…
- they sleep through the night (or at least longer chunks of it)
- they can put themselves to sleep
- you have a routine
- they can communicate better
- they become more self-sufficient and independent
- you’re no longer pumping, nursing, or bottle-feeding
- they don’t have colic or gas
- they smile
- your hormones are more balanced
- they take consistent naps
And most importantly, when you’ve adjusted to your new role. Motherhood can be a difficult adjustment. You can’t prepare for this role, regardless of how many books or classes or babysitting you’ve done. Not even if you were a nanny, a nurse, or a teacher.
Imagine being thrown into this predicament that has been called one of the most difficult jobs. It’s hard to see how things can get any better when every week, every night, seems to stretch forever.
But those days and weeks turn into months and you’ll see one day, your baby slept longer than usual. And you now know how to open and fold the darn stroller, toss it in the car, and take your baby for an outing—all on your own.
And when you feel more confident in your abilities, things will become second nature. You’ll find more time to enjoy parenthood and spend time with your little one.
Read the real reasons motherhood is hard.
3. Change your scenery
Recharge yourself during those first crucial weeks and months of welcoming a baby. What can you do to help freshen your environment? You could:
- Have someone watch the baby. Use this time to do whatever you want or need to do: rest, nap, take a shower, eat at a restaurant, read a book, exercise. Asking for help does not mean you’re failing.
- Take the baby for a stroll. Getting fresh air and sun can help change your mood.
- Stay in. Feeling pressured and not confident to take the baby out? Stay indoors. Sometimes bundling him, plus the bag and the stroller is more of a hassle than staying home.
- Talk to other moms. Whether online, over the phone, or in person, discuss the joys and challenges of motherhood with fellow moms.
- Get your partner on board. Dad is a co-parent, not a babysitter. Find ways to get him involved in the household, freeing you up emotionally and physically.
4. Don’t feel guilty about how you feel
You’ll compare yourself to other moms. Moms who have endless patience for their kids or the right balance between parenthood and their other hobbies. Moms who seem so, so happy.
Except… it’s an unfair comparison. We all go through tough times in parenthood, even the ones who never seem like they do. You’re being more honest about your feelings when you say you’re not always happy.
Life with a new baby is tough, and it’s a drastic change from your norm. Even if this isn’t your first, you likely adjusted to a new norm that was interrupted by the change. Try not to get down on yourself about feeling sad. It’s an extra burden on your already heavy load.
5. Choose to make the best with what you have
We’re most unhappy when we continue to pine for what we can’t have. Choose to accept your situation and find the positives instead.
For instance, treat hanging out with your kids as something fun.
They’re not always chores, even if everything we do for them seems like one. Remind yourself that people love visiting babies for reasons you may not be able to appreciate or see. Those gurgling laughs, your baby’s cute face, the comforting way he sleeps in your arms.
Because childhood goes by fast. Sure, the challenges you face will pass as well, but so too will all its joys.
So, use this time to make the most of your situation. Nothing is set in stone. Change your mindset and you may find yourself enjoying the moments with your baby, both the good ones and even the bad.
Feeling the pressure of being a happy mom can add a heavier burden during a vulnerable period in your life. Thankfully, being happy doesn’t have to feel like an elusive goal.
Start by grieving whatever expectations you may have had prior to becoming a mom. Know that things do get better over time, even if it can be hard to see that now. Change your scenery, from doing something new to making sure your partner is supportive.
Don’t feel guilty about how you feel, especially when it seems like you’re the only one who feels that way. And lastly, choose to make the most of what you have. Finding the positive can be all it takes to change the stories you tell yourself about motherhood.
No matter where you are and the circumstances you find yourself in, know that it does get better, mama.
Get more tips on how to be a happy mom:
- Why Motherhood Is Hard for You
- What to Do When You Feel Like You’re Failing as a Parent
- How to Make Mom Friends
- The Biggest Reason Parents Should Have a Life Besides Kids
- 11 Things Moms Do with the First Baby We Don’t Do with the Second
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and sign up for the Motherhood Motivation 5-Day Challenge:
A healthy baby is great, but that doesn’t change the trauma to you to get him or her here! I hate when ppl say that, it not only sweeps the mom’s experience under the rug, but it implies that mom is now her whole identity anyway, so who SHE is, and her transition to adding this new role to that, doesn’t exist or isn’t important. Big help – not. The cleft lip thing is similar, but I for one wouldn’t know what to say that wouldn’t make it sound like I was adding insult to injury. Maybe asking if nursing/feeding was going okay? Moms of clefties, what do you think?
I know, it’s always kind of tough when you don’t know what to say.
I think we need to get over this perpetuated fallacy of motherhood as the defining action for fulfilment and joy. Motherhood is worry, loneliness, annoyance, irritation, anger, pain and stress along with life’s other emotions. Whilst trying to manage the sacrifice and challenge of motherhood we are taught to perceive it as a blessing that not only completes your existence but gives meaning to your life. Rationalising the reality and commercialised fantasy we are sold is as exhausting as it is futile. This is just life
Nina Garcia says
So true Elaine. It’s a bad message to send when we say women need kids to feel fulfilled. There are definitely so many other emotions tied to motherhood, and many are difficult to deal with. I do believe though that we can find joy and grow as mothers, but we shouldn’t turn to our kids to find meaning in our lives. I actually wrote a whole article about not using our kids to feel “complete” if you want to check it out: http://sleepingshouldbeeasy.com/2016/10/23/living-through-your-kids/
Karla Garcia says
Wow this post came to me like a gift l, like a hint. I’ve been feeling so down lately. I had 2 babies after 10 years of having my first 2 and after having the one that’s a toddler now I was ok, but now I also have a 1 year old and it’s super hard, I feel so overwhelmed, it’s like I can’t get anything done. I reminisce on how my life could of been right now if I only had my 2 teenagers, I miss my old life but at the same time I love my lil babies. It’s just hard. Thank u for this post
Nina Garcia says
Hugs, Karla! It’s definitely hard with little ones to take care of, especially after a gap of not having to deal with it for a while. Balancing the two emotions of loving it and struggling at the same time is hard for any mom. <3