The Not-So-Happy Mom
Your best friend is telling you a funny story of her toddler’s latest antics. Your children are older and seem to be mostly past their funny antics phase. That’s ok, because there are lots of other great moments ahead for you and your kids . . . learning to drive, first dates, college prep, etc. Still, you feel like your life is a little stale, your mothering a little routine. Of course, you love your kids, and you love being a mom . . . but you feel like something is missing. Here is what you can do to turn this around.
1. Shake up your parenting routine. If you have been a conservative parent who follows a set daily schedule, each day, every day, then it’s time to do something fresh and new with and for your family. For example, on July 1st, announce to your kids that, since they are out of school for the summer, you have decided to take a few days off work so that you and your family can head, spur-of-the-moment, to Washington, D.C. to celebrate Independence Day at the capitol. Or spontaneously decide that Saturday is “red day”: you and your kids will seek out red things to wear, to eat, etc. Go to the grocery store with your kids to find healthy options (i.e., strawberries, tomatoes, and cherries) and a few not-so-healthy options (i.e., hot dogs, cherry nut ice cream, and red licorice). Or go camping, hiking, or engage in some other outdoor family fun that takes you away from your familiar places and routines.
2. Partner with another parent, especially one with a very different parenting style, for a two-family activity. Do you have an artsy friend who loves to take her kids to an outdoor arts and jazz festival in a neighboring state each year? Perhaps your family can share that experience with them.
3. Engage your kids in sharing dialogue. How do they feel about their lives? Are they happy? What is the funniest thing that has happened to them lately? And the saddest? Is there anything you can do to help them? Sometimes, by spending time bonding with your kids, you will learn things that surprise you and will renew your zest as well.
4. Set a new, exciting goal to share with your kids. Make sure the goal is embraced by all. Such a goal may be to exhibit one significant, random act of kindness to a stranger each week; to play one harmless practical joke on the neighborhood prankster each month (perhaps your family and the prankster may enjoy the back-and-forth of this); or to learn a new and fun skill together (i.e., throwing pottery).
5. If you are currently a full-time stay-at-home mom, you may consider adding some volunteer or paid work to your schedule. If you currently work outside the home, consider cutting back your work hours to increase your focus on home or volunteerism.
6. If you have tried all these steps and remain dissatisfied, you should visit with a mother support group or counselor. You may just need to talk your way through your feelings and have your experience validated as normal.
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