“Kids do bring joy,” says Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Harvard University and author of “Stumbling on Happiness.” “They bring transcendent moments that outweigh all the hard work. It’s just that children do not increase your average daily enjoyment.”
The article had some really good ideas on how mom’s can increase their hour-to-hour, daily happiness:
Admit when you’re stressed
Ironically, once you stop expecting motherhood to feel warm and fuzzy all the time, life as a mom gets easier. “It’s okay to feel frustrated, angry, or irritable sometimes,” says Dr. Ubel. “You’re not a bad parent. It’s not even a bad parenting experience. It’s just normal.”
Get enough sleep
Most of us know that money can’t buy happiness, but who knew that a good night’s sleep just might? That’s a key finding of that University of Michigan study. “Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night,” says study author Norbert Schwarz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology.
(Re)consider your priorities
It may sound simplistic, but one key to being in a more positive mood is to structure your day so you do more things you enjoy. “It’s how you spend your time, not your money, that counts,” says Dr. Ubel. “If you have any financial flexibility that lets you maximize your family time, use it now. For instance, do you really need to be the one to clean the house? How about paying someone to help out? And if that’s not an option, think about how clean your house really needs to be — do you need to make the beds, or is bed-making time better spent drawing pictures with your kids?”
Go with the flow
Time seems to slow down when you’re doing what you enjoy, whether it’s gardening or running laps. People who experience this level of engagement — which psychologists call “flow” — are happier than people who rarely do. And you’re lucky to have a master of it right before you: your child. “To you and me, every leaf and ant is pretty much the same, but not to a toddler,” says Reivich. “So try to actively notice things as your child does — the ant dragging a piece of bread, for instance.”
Savor the moment
“Take ten seconds every hour to look at what you’re doing from a higher place.” While you’re at it, appreciate what a wonderful child you have — those chubby cheeks, that toothless smile — and share that joy with someone who’ll rejoice in it with you. That’s another way to grab onto the good stuff and prolong your happiness.
Take the long view
If the drudgery is getting to you, think about life without children. “It’s easy to get caught up in the details, but you need to step back and realize how empty your life would be without these people in it,” says Gilbert.
Reconnect with your spouse
A supportive group of friends and family is one of the cornerstones of a happy life, and for many moms, the center of that social circle is their partner. That’s why it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open, especially during the “diaper years” — infancy to age 3 — that experts say are the most stressful on a marriage.
Even discussing how stressed you both are can help. “If you can both just say, ‘Raising a kid is hard,’ putting it out there diminishes the strain,” says Sauer.
Feeling grateful is a mood booster. It can be as simple as saying grace every night or finding new ways to acknowledge others. “When our extended family gets together, we go around the room and say one thing we appreciate about each person,” says Elizabeth Howard, mom of Reilly, 2, in Anaheim, California.
Another effective way is to put what you’re thankful for down on paper: Write the three best things that happened today. Experts say that if you do that every day for two weeks, your feelings of well-being will increase.
Of course, you’ll still have bad days. But at least you’ll be less likely to think there’s something wrong with you. And the more you engage in positive thinking, the more you’ll realize how much happiness is under your control. “I think of happiness as three things — enjoyment, satisfaction, and fulfillment,” says Ryan. “Mothering can give us any one of those at any given moment yep, if not necessarily all of them at the same time!”