To Be More Joyful: Get a Reality Check

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A close up of a flower with text overlay: 14 Ways to Be More Joyful.

You’re frustrated. You want to be the best mom that you can be. You want to manage your home simply, economically, and efficiently. But somehow things, people, circumstances aren’t cooperating with your master plan. And it is robbing you of joy.

You find yourself angry, impatient, and discontent. What do you do?

Complacency and a feeble shrug of the shoulders is not the answer. Neither is riding rough shod over everyone in the vicinity.

But getting a reality check can be.

Getting Real

One thing that helps me function better as a mom, wife, friend, homemaker, is to come to grips with reality.

I have four boys, under 13 years of age. When you have more than one boy, energy levels multiply exponentially. There are some things I have learned to accept:

  1. It will always be noisy at my house.
  2. The toilets and bathroom floors will rarely be spotless.
  3. Physical activity is going to rule the day over quiet occupations.

Accept the Acceptable

This is all good. (Except for the bathroom part, maybe.)

What makes it not good is if I don’t accept the nature of my household. Sure, we can have established quiet times. Sure, each young man can learn toilet cleaning techniques — and you better believe he will! Sure, each of my boys can learn to keep his hands, legs, feet to himself.

But, I need to have an accurate picture of my reality as a mother of many boys. If I buck the circumstances that aren’t really mine to change, I will find myself disgruntled at best, angry at worst.

I can be a more joyful mom if I embrace the things that make my family unique.

A dad and kids walking down a path in the arboretum. 

Get a reality check.

Consider the following:

  • What are the circumstances in your home that “bug you?” Are they really wrong (in an ethical way) or are they simply annoyances?
  • Are there ways to approach these situations other than how you currently react? Are you setting yourself up for frustration based on how you respond?
  • If you could change something about your “life as MOM,” what would it be? Is it a realistic expectation of yourself, your family, this season of life?

Grow with it.

Obviously, there are aspects of our reality that are unacceptable. * There are always area to improve and grow. Getting an accurate picture of your reality will help you better determine the things that you can change and identify the areas where you and your family can grow.

Wearing rose colored glasses, or seeing things better than they are, is not reality. Neither is the Eeyore way of looking at life. Woe is me….

But if we can think on what is true, accept the acceptable, and grow ourselves and our families in those areas in need of improvement, I think that each of us can find more joy in “life as MOM.”

Where are you bucking the reality of your circumstances? What’s another way of looking at it?

*I am in no way condoning accepting abuse. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, please seek help immediately.

** This is part of the series, 14 Ways To Be More Joyful.

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  1. YES – thank you! I have 2 boys, 10 & 5 — it is always going to be noisy around here!! (and one day I will miss it when its gone)

  2. Great post! I have 2 children 23 months apart, both with ADHD and some anxiety issues. So, it’s frequently NOT smooth sailing around here. I now remind myself frequently what blessings abound in our home. This is reality, and it helps to focus on the positive.

  3. So true!!! Here are two things I have learned in being a mom to my 6 yo boy, 4yo and 2 yo girls: First – anytime I try to live up to other people’s standards rather than my own, I will fail and feel miserable. I have a friend that has more kids than me and drives them crazy trying to keep the house surgically clean. When she visits, I can tell she is just itching to organize toys (and we have a decently tidy house). It took me a long time to be able to say – this is good enough, deal with it. My kids are clean and happy, our house looks like happy kids live here and no one is yelling their face off. Second, whenever I become really irritated and ready to (or having just) yell(ed) at one of my kids, I realize that my biggest problem isnt them – it is me. When I start to hear the pronouns “me, my, I” too much, I know that I am in trouble. I try to do MY schedule, MY to-do list, MY missed exercise session because of a kids who wakes with the chickens, etc. It is a daily struggle to remind myself that they matter most, not the schedule and the to-do list. (It also helps that I FINALLY put us on a cleaning/laundry schedule that really reduces the “I should be doing… ” feeling and gives us SO much more time to be together in a fun way).

    Sorry that is so long…..I havent had any adult contact all day ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I love it when you talk about Joy and remind me of all I’m blessed with. Sure I know, but it’s nice to be arounded and not feel like you are the only one.

    I’m an older mom of one boy. He’s 7. It’s hard because I am the entertainment. lol But most days I wouldn’t trade it for the world and on the off days, I get out art supplies and tell him mommy needs a day to rejuvenate (sp). He understands.

    My house is NOT perfect and neither am I. It took a lot to admit that for a while. Now – it’s just part of the package.


  5. I too expect too much sometimes but my husband really need’s a reality check when it comes to our 2 boy’s.Both are high yield Autistic and he alway’s expects way too much from them.In some way’s they are typical for their age and in other way’s it’s like having 2 two yr old’s. For the lady with infertility,The doctors said I would never have children but God decided I would.I was 35 when I had my 1st, so don’t give up and believe with him all thing’s are possible.

  6. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to rid the children’s bathroom of a lingering urine smell. I can’t stand it and couldn’t figure out why all of my cleaning wasn’t helping at all. Last night my husband discovered our son peeing in the bathroom wicker trash can!!!!! When my husband asked him why he was doing that? He said, “I don’t know”! What?! Really?! Thinking on the positive side my husband to the poor trash can out to the back yard and amazingly the smell is gone :0)

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry…. but that makes me laugh. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So glad you got to the bottom of it.

  7. I have been feeling kind of down on myself the past couple weeks and I know it’s because I’m setting myself up for disappointed and letting the annoyances annoy me more than I should. I hate it and I know I do it and that makes me hate it even more.

  8. I have been so looking forward to this series! I often find myself being upset with myself for being upset, instead of stopping, breathing, and enjoying being a SAHM and raising my son. I don’t want to be an unhappy person, or come off that way when I’m not…just busy, tired, and the To Do list never ends. I’d love to set up some kind of a schedule to do certain chores on certain days. I’m just now getting in freezer cooking and trying to plan my meals out weekly or monthly. There is just not enough hours in the day (or night for that matter!)

    1. There will never be enough hours in the day, I think. Except that God obviously thought 24 was sufficient. So, I’m guessing that means I’m making unimportant things too important?

  9. I personally sought out things that made me feel more patient, then reminded myself “this is not forever.” Someday they will be grown and walking away and I will miss the times when they (woke me at night, wouldn’t get off my lap, etc.). For me, taking care of myself well helps me remain sane and balanced.

    And for those things that I find “unacceptable…” I look for a solution when I have time, but accept that change may be slow or, even, maybe, not possible yet. My 10-month-old is a horrible sleeper — very light sleeper, wakes easily and often. I am searching for some solutions and I realize there may be none. I am only searching because now he is starting to really act tired from his night waking and THAT is unacceptable — I can deal with being tired, he shouldn’t have to. Anyway, those are my random thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. @Kate, We have used a white noise machine in our kids’ rooms when they were/are toddlers to muffle the household noises that would wake them. It works beautifully for us.

  10. Yes, this is something I am reminding myself of constantly. 5 kids & homeschooling means we are here more than a ‘normal’ family would be(normal meaning family that kids go off to school for most of the day) So our home is going to have a little more wear and tear on it and more noise and just more ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sometimes I feel like the man doesn’t get this and that frustrates me too.

    1. It took me YEARS to realize that homeschooling was partly responsible for that “lived in look” we got going here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Great post! I really appreciate how you help us as moms to focus on being joyful in our journey of motherhood!

  12. I don’t even have kids yet, but I needed this reality check! My husband does little things (leaving his clothes around the house, not cleaning up after himself, etc), but I need to take responsibility for my response to the situations. He’s a pretty amazing guy that I’m darn lucky to have and I’d be a lot happier if I’d dwell more on that than the dirty socks on the couch.

  13. This post made me laugh. See, I am an ONLY child and God has blessed my hubby and me with 10 children, all biological. So here is this mom with 6, count ’em, SIX boys!! Boy did I have a LOT to learn!!
    The boys and their near constant activity; the girls and their near constant conversation; the 5 yr old and her endless questions; the 3 yr old and his non-stop noise-making. It could drive a Mom crazy…yes it could. But, I have to make a conscious decision to embrace it all.
    I dreamed all my life of a large family, even as a little girl. So now I have it, and I do my best not to now wish it away. My oldest 2 boys are 22 and 19. and I already miss the days when they were younger. I’m trying to slow down the time before my 3 yr old gets there!
    I try to remind myself how I used to think about how noisy and fun a whole bunch of kids would be and how happy our house would be.
    And now it is my job to make sure it IS that way, and not feel stressed and harassed because of it.
    Sorry for the novel length comment…this is an issue close to my heart.
    Dawn in SC

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Dawn. It’s good to be reminded of all this.

  14. Thank you for reminding me about patience. A quality I used to describe myself as having but lately I could use more of. I am practicing the art of only taking on what I can handle to avoid becoming overwhelmed and finding joy in the little things. Just today when we were walking the dog we discovered a construction site. We decided to watch. Through the noise I found simple pleasure. We did this again at Target when we stopped to tie a shoe and discovered an ant. The dog didn’t really get all the exercise he needed and the shopping took a little longer, but I’m glad I stopped. I hope I remember again tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Parenting!

  15. Thank you for this post today. My daughter who is almost four drives me nuts with all of her questions. I am learning to be patient and to answer her questions appropriately because most of the time she is just trying to engage me in conversation. It’s the questions like, “Where did that come from?” when she was with me at the store where we bought it, that drive me crazy!

    My two year old son gets on my nerves, too, with his “what dat?” questions. Again, I think he’s just trying to get my attention.

    Every morning I pray for patience! At least, my three month old isn’t talking yet!

    1. @Nikki, Count it all joy! Time goes quickly and your children will be grown before you know it. Praise God you have 3 sweet children!

  16. I’d love to able to relay this to my kids. Seems they always want what they don’t have lately..and they have a lot! We just got a puppy, which the begged me for, and last night my girl comes home crying that “she wishes she had this other puppy”… What??? We have this beautiful house, yet they complain they’re rooms are too small. I wonder if its me sending off a vibe because I’m always re-arranging furniture and love looking at other houses…but not because I covet them… how to explain to them?

  17. You said it! I have three kids and sometimes the noise and mess can get to me. Lately, I’ve learned to stop and look around and ask “is there anything actually wrong here?” Usually, the answer is “no.” Just pausing and recalibrating my perspective can lighten my load.

  18. My son’s started having better bathroom habits when they had to clean the bathroom. And if their bad habits didn’t improve, they couldn’t rotate out of that job until the bad was gone. Its amazing how quickly they acquired good habits. Even the younger ones can clean the “throne” on the seat and under the seat with disinfectant wipes…oh and around the base of the toilet.

  19. I would change being able to become a MOM. Infertility is no fun. =(

    1. Oh, Susan. I feel ya. We had three miscarriages back in 1999, and I remember the heartache of no baby. Hang in there!

  20. This hit home for me.
    As the mom to 3 boys, 16, 11 & 3, & wife to one large man child, my house is in a constant state of chaos & physical activity is the norm. I think they are all going to be pro wrestlers when they grow up.

    You helped me realize I just need to take it down a notch & realize my joy!

  21. I have two very quiet girls and one little man who talks from the moment he wakes up until the moment that he cannot hold his eyes open any longer. It is a struggle to not want my son to also be quiet and to realize that not only is he a boy but he is the way that God has made him-and he is fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Speaking of being made, Mama must go now and speak to him about a kind voice.

  22. Just recently discovered your blog- and I’m loving it! This post is great. I have 3 kids- 2 girls ages 6 and 3 and a 2 year old boy, and 2 big dogs. My house is usually pretty noisy, and the minute I vacuum and clean up it’s messed up again. I’m trying to come to grips with that reality and it is very hard for me. I feel like I’m the only one who puts things away or even notices the mess and toys everywhere. Thank you for reminding me that life is life and it’s time to accept what things are annoyances but not a true problem! I’ll keep working on it!

  23. Thank you for your post today… it really speaks to me. I long for the days when I had a LOUD and busy boy! He used to bounce a ball all day long and it would get on my nerves bigtime. Now he is a teenager and can’t stand to be at home. (Actually, he does show up to eat and sleep and does bring friends over but they hightail it to his bedroom upstairs). I know this is just his way of cutting the apron strings and I have to remind myself not to take it personally. Luckily I am in a mom’s group where all our boys are the same age and we can share our feelings. You are sharing today and it will help a lot of moms!! Enjoy all the moments… they are fleeting.

  24. We have two girls and our house is just as noisy. I don’t mind it but my husband does and that bring anxiety. So, how do you handle other’s stress from stressing you out?

  25. OOPS, I didn’t mean to submit yet. Anyway, thank you for reminding me that unrealistic expectations add to my lack of joy.

  26. You are so right! I also have four boys, under the age of 8. I think the thing I have the hardest time accepting is their noisy childishness. Yes, I actually keep expecting (ridiculously) that they will be more mature than their age andQUIETER