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What Makes You Joyful?

snow fishmama
I’ve been thinking about this idea of “Joyful Motherhood.” I want my kids to remember me as being cheerful and not nagging. Patient instead of crabby. Pleasant rather than grouchy.

I want to be

  • able to keep it together when there’s paint on the floor — and the table — and the baby.
  • one to keep my cool when the toddler with the incessantly running nose wants to climb in my lap while I’m trying to do something that requires both hands.
  • willing to calmly and quietly correct the child who refuses to obey without a huge tantrum (his, not mine).
  • ready to lovingly encourage the big boy who doesn’t want to do his spelling work.
How do we remain above the fray? How do we stay even-tempered? How can we have joy amidst the piles of dishes, mountains of laundry, and multitudes of needs? I’m thinking about this.
And, I thought I would ask you.
What do you do (or not do) that helps you be joyful in your life as MOM?
Please don’t be shy! Each of us has something that the rest of us can learn from. I look forward to hearing what you think and do and are. Let’s talk about it in the comments section.
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Comments

  1. Courtney says:

    I want to be that mom you described, and it’s really hard on my own. I now see where my kid gets her selfish tendencies. With correcting and encouraging, I find even the briefest prayers help me before I try to fix it on my own. Much better having the God of the universe covering my back than trying to go it alone! And chocolate. It has a powerful soothing effect on bad moods (mine, not kiddo’s). I keep stashes of it in the freezer, pantry and candy drawers. Great stuff. Also, for me, I try to remember that I would learn more from a friend who walks beside me than from a tyrant who barks orders. When it comes to our talks over tantrums or bad attitudes, if I go in laying down the law in no uncertain terms, I can see a little light go out of her eyes. But if I talk to her from the perspective of “been there, done that” she’s more open to putting it behind her and trying to do the right thing.

    Don’t know if that’s the stuff that makes me joyful … but it keeps me sane in the midst of turmoil.

  2. FishMama says:

    Amen!

    God, chocolate and perspective taking. Sounds like a great recipe on the road to joyful motherhood.

  3. The other night I was thinking this very thing… we have been over-stressed lately and both my husband and I were being short with the kids. I said, to heck with this, if I gotta finish these projects tonight, I’m gonna do it to some awesome music. So I pulled up our i tunes and picked all my favorites. We don’t have it hooked up to our stereo, (a great idea by the way FishMama) but we do have some speakers on our computer that were sufficient. Hearing all my favorites and worshiping God and singing those words to Him really calmed me and gave me perspective. My heart was filled with joy and singing and even some silly dancing in my hallway as I finished our paint project. Good songs with good words can really change my attitude and calm my fretting heart.

  4. FishMama says:

    Music does soothe the savage beast, doesn’t it? Great reminder, Shari!

  5. Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" says:

    I do two things.

    I take some time for myslef every afternoon. I get the kids fed, the little ones down to nap and the older kids involved in something quiet. Then I will have my lunch and read a little. That quiet moment in hte middle of the day really help to recharge my batteries.

    I am a big fan of bedtimes. All the kids are to bed by 8:30, then I am able to quickly pick up the house and tie up lose ends. Then around 10 or so I will take a long hot bath with a book, or maybe watch some TV with my hubby, or maybe a little romancing.

    It is good to be quiet and alone and do something for yourself that recharges your batteries.

    (just one caution, don’t get too caught up in recharging your batteries that you neglect the needs of others. That happened way, way too much in this world)

  6. FishMama says:

    Excellent inspiration and advice, Aimee.

    Thanks for your input, ladies. I’m going to implement it all today. How about a bubble bath with chocolate and good music and a grace-filled book?

    Looking forward to more great ideas!

  7. Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" says:

    oh wow, I just read my comment, I swear I really do know how to write and speak Enghish properly…I guess I forgot to prof read my comment! **blushing**

  8. Some of the things that help me are having enough rest, keeping organized so that I can prioritize, some Bible/devotional time, and time to relax occasionally. Of course with small children there are times when none of that happens!
    My biggest problem is that I can get caught up in my projects or “to-do” list, and then get impatient with the kids interruptions. I have had to learn to let some things go, or rearrange priorities. I can then stop and read a book or “play animals” with my toddler. One day I may have time to clean my house and do my various projects and I will wish I still had those interruptions!
    The other thing that I have found for the “heat of the moment” times is this: When I am frustrated with one of the kids, before I speak, I take a breath and say their name. This gives me just enough time to respond appropriately and calmly instead of speaking sharply or loudly.
    Oh, and the chocolate suggestion is great! I will have to test that one– maybe today. :)

  9. While I’m commenting, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. Your posts are practical, encouraging and challenging. I don’t always take the time to comment, but I hope to participate a bit more often. Some things you’ve already mentioned in previous posts are helpful in keeping me calm. Listening to some good music, sitting down with a refreshing drink, stepping away from the “normal” routine for a little while, and doing something for someone else are all great ideas to implement often!

  10. Bethany says:

    Not that I don’t still lose it because I do….but when my kids make huge messes or do something that upsets me I try to find the funny things I can in the moment. I keep a camera close at hand and have pictures of cheerios smashed in my carpet, poop on walls, playdough in every corner of my kitchen and all sorts of various mishaps. Many times the messes are just kids being kids….not that I don’t correct them when I know they know better but the taking a picture helps me to not be as upset and see the humor in the situation….plus when they are 15 and I ask them to sweep the kitchen and they whine I figure I can pull out the pics and laugh and tell them it is time to payback. ha ha. I also journal and write a lot of the messes they do or in the midst of busy stressful weeks and finding the humor in those times helps me to relax and have a right perspective. In light of eternity toilet paper all over the bathroom or having to go to the store with two different shoes on their feet (because they didn’t put them where they belonged) doesn’t really matter and not worth getting upset over.

    I say all this but there are times when my patience is low and I lose it and am not joyful in trials or towards my kiddos….but what an opportunity to show them that I too make mistakes and am a sinner and it provides a time to demonstrate asking for forgiveness.

    PS I like the chocolate idea too

  11. FishMama says:

    Such great ideas, everybody!

    Anna, excellent reminder that there will be plenty of time to clean the house once the kids are bigger.

    Janell, thanks for your kind words and encouragement!

    I just took a few photos of such mishaps, Bethany, so I can relate. Finding the humor in the situation is so helpful.

  12. DotBlogger says:

    Something I think about is the fact that my daughter really is a person. With feelings. With emotions. Creating memories. Understanding character.

    I’m not so much concerned about myself, but about her. Do I want HER to have a rude mommy? A short-tempered friend? A snappy conversationlist? After all, she is learning from me.

    What happens to my feelings when my girl friend has had a bad day and and isn’t showing her best side (like we all do now and then, right!?). I know it’s temporary and we forive. But my feelings and emotions have a rollercoaster day. Is that how I want my daughter to feel every single day? No way.

    So I try to keep my grouchy days to a minimum. Try to offer up smiles and happy dances daily. Extend patient tones of voices.
    Be joyfully friendly. Joyfully motherly.

    For her sake. And her sake is my sake.

  13. I try to S*L*O*W down and live in the moment. This is a challenge for me. For some reason I always seem to be racing to the next item on the ‘never ending list’! I also work on eye contact with my children (I have six little ones). When they want to share something, ask me a question, tell me a joke etc… I stop and look into their eyes and I SMILE :)

    I also occasionally recite the words, “I never did mind about the little things”. I can’t remember the name of the movie where I heard that….

    Another fun thing that my children like is if we have ‘singing day’. The only means of communication is by singing. I tend to do some funny opera voices, but it’s very cute when you have five boys and they are all singing to you and each other….IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO YELL AT YOUR CHILDREN WHEN YOU ARE SINGING. You should try it for fun one day. I even occasionally answer the phone by saying, “This is a happy home”. I just make it true.
    I also say little prayers throughout the day and I do eat chocolate!

  14. Mrs. Querido says:

    I’m with you, but I find that lack of sleep is a major contributor to the “Cranky Mama” I don’t want to be! So I am working on going to bed at a decent hour (if the baby doesn’t wake up…lol!). Which is very hard for me, because I am SO a night owl and I love the stillness the late evening brings. Such peace…sigh. But then I wake up the next morning and I am so behind on my day—then I feel rushed and out of step. I really need to go to bed earlier…lol!

    Oh, getting a good book and reading for a brief break in motherhood. Does wonders for me!

    Great post!

    Blessings!

    Mrs. Q

  15. I’m now a mom to two grown children, and I have to tell you what gives me joy today — I have two wonderful grown children who are good, productive, polite members of society. When you get to the other side of motherhood, you suddenly realize that that was your goal the entire time — to create good, loving, responsible adult people. And it brings such joy to your heart when you realize, despite all your imperfections as a mother to young children (and teenagers!), that there’s actual proof that you did the best you could do — and it all came out OK.

  16. Bridget says:

    My morning quiet time seems to keep me more peaceful all day. I notice a big difference when I do not make it a priority first thing in the morning. I am much more prone to yell when I have not spent time with the Lord and in His Word.

    P.S. I love dotblogger’s comment!

  17. lseiter says:

    I really needed this post today. Thank you, Jesica! I struggle the most with finding joy when my husband is traveling and I am short on sleep, patience and adult conversation. Today is one of those days and the comments here have given me some inspiration! This is what I like best about blogs, and especially posts like yours today. Tips are nice and I really use them, but I think the internet has the potential to connect us through our struggles as well as our joys and remind us that we are not alone.

    Like some other women wrote, sneaking some quiet space and time to meditate, breathe and ask for some divine inspiration helps me to be more present in the little moments. Also, I do a little “shout out” to God in the 10seconds between when I hear my little ones call for me in the morning and when my feet hit the floor…something along the lines of “Dear God, fill me with your peace today and help me to find the joy with my boys.” (I have three.) Also, women friends, my mom and a husband who lift me up and love me even when I am less than perfect are key!

    Finally, the little ache in my heart as I see my boys grow knowing I am through with having babies (we struggled through years of infertility) stops me in my tracks and is a great motivator! Keep up the great work!

  18. FishMama says:

    I’ve been so blessed by all y’all’s input! Thank you so much for chiming in and being so open! Love it!

  19. Stephanie@AHighandNobleCalling says:

    I love all the input here!

    I find that I can keep my joy when I do not overschedule myself. I am a “to do” person and have a tendency to overcommit myself, then I become overwhelmed and it just goes downhill from there! Not just with outside commitments, but also with home projects.

    I make sure I keep a calendar and I purposely mark off days that I do not want to plan anything at all (except to be a wife and mommy). I also always seek my husbands input, he seems to know better than I do what I can and cannot handle and helps me to discern what to say yes to and what to say no to!

    Eliminating the busyness in my life has gone a long way to keeping me a joyful mama!

  20. Briana Almengor says:

    I needed a day to think about it. :) Here are a few things I thought of:

    1. Shut the computer

    2. Don’t answer the phone

    3. Stop what I’m doing or at least pause and just watch/listen to them play and try to take it in as deeply as I can, knowing these moments are passing quickly.

    4. Take pictures

    5. Tickle, tickle, tickle. Who doesn’t smile when they hear a baby/child laughing. IT’s infectious.

    6. Put down whatever I’m doing and read to them.

    7. Pray A LOT “Help me, Lord. Help me, Lord.”

    8. Actually read those verses I have on my cabinets that may have been put there to specifically help me in this area of fighting for joy/perspective in the midst of parenting.

    9. Get outside with my kids. When I’m outside, I don’t have to fight as much the temptation to be on the computer, answer the phone, clean, etc. I just get to enjoy God’s gifts to me of my children and His creation.

    10. (B/c I couldn’t just leave it at 9) Give them to Papi (that’s Spanish for Dad) and get a breather. Breaks are absolutely necessary but only truly restore joy when they’re GOd given breaks rather than ones we’ve stolen for ourselves.

  21. FishMama says:

    Thank you ALL! What a blessing this was.

    In honor of you, I’m hosting a Chocolate Party this weekend. Hope you’ll come!

  22. I am going to be brutally honest and admit that I struggle to find joy in the day-to-day. :( I start off on a good note, but then the kids (4 and 2) fight constantly and it wears on my nerves, to the point where I snap at the kids and am grouchy with them. I am 10 weeks from having #3 and I know I will be even more frazzled after that. *sigh* I love my kids dearly and find them to be funny, smart, creative individuals that I love spending time with. Mostly I enjoy spending time with them separately, but that’s hard to do when we live in an area without any family, very few friends, and my husband travels a lot for work. I wish I knew of a way to get the kids to play nicely together instead of whining and picking fights over the silliest thing. I know my siblings and I fought a lot growing up, and now we’re all really close, but I can relate to my mom right about now. :)

    As far as unwinding, I am doing a lot of reading right now before the baby arrives, and I try to exercise daily, too. That helps give me good endorphins, at least. :) I’ll have to try the chocolate! My sister swears by a stash in her kitchen, but that’s too much temptation for this pregnant mama. ;)

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