Have you ever heard the quote, in the end, you’re the only one who can give your kids a happy mom who loves life? It’s actually a variation on a quote from the author Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard, writer of the book Grin & Share It: Raising a Family with a Sense of Humor. In the original quote, it’s phrased in first person:
“In the end, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life.”– Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard, Grin & Share It: Raising a Family with a Sense of Humor
I don’t remember where I first saw or heard the quote (it was probably Instagram or Pinterest), but it really resonated with me. And it actually might have been the phrase that led me to start thinking more about being intentional about being happy and taking care of my own happiness.
To be clear, when I talk about being a “happier mom” or being a “happy mom,” I don’t mean a mom who ignores everything bad, and/or buries her head in the sand about the evils of the world (that’s a link to one of my favorite poems, Good Bones by Maggie Smith). Instead, I mean a mom who tries to focus on the positive, and chooses to be happy (again, to the degree that it’s possible). As with anything, there are a hundred and one caveats here about how happiness isn’t always attainable, and there’s a huge degree of privilege in order to be able to choose happiness, so let us recognize that many caveats exist here, and we’re speaking about the kind of happiness there is still some room for in most of our lives. For most of us, I think we can agree, that there is room to improve on how happy we are, yes?
And I think being a happier mom is important not only because happiness is a good thing for us individually, but because of how it impacts our families.
Read on for more on what happiness is, why it matters, and the idea of “happy mom, happy home” — or, why it’s important for a mom to be happy.
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What is happiness?
When we talk about happiness, we should be clear what we’re referring to.
Happiness is NOT just a fleeting mood.
Some people think happiness refers to a fleeting MOOD. They think it’s a fleeting sensation of enjoyment.
If that were the case, we’d be constantly chasing “happiness” in the form of highs — we’d have to keep eating chocolate, going on (or planning) vacations, and cuddling puppies every few hours. And of course, these things wouldn’t work to induce happiness if we did them constantly. That’s not the kind of happiness we’re after.
(Although if you do want to boost your mood, here are 10 things you can do right now to feel happier!)
Happiness is NOT avoiding negative thoughts.
Some other people think happiness means we AVOID any negative thoughts or feelings, and shun them away.
If that were the case, we’d be constantly running away from “negative thoughts” — we’d ignore our loved ones’ bids to discuss issues, we’d avoid conflict (which can be necessary and even healthy), and we’d refuse to deal with issues. And of course, over time, this would create more negative situations (which we’d then have to continue ignoring!). That’s not the kind of happiness we’re after either.
And also, negative thoughts and generally negative feelings are just as important for us to feel (and for our children to see, for that matter) as positive ones!
(Daniel Tiger’s song, “when you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath, and count to four!” comes to mind as an example of how we should actually be accepting of our own negative feelings and our kids’ negative feelings, and teach ourselves and them to handle them better, instead of shunning them!)
Happiness is deep contentment.
Instead, the happiness we’re after refers to much deeper, more steady feeling of contentment, and gratitude. The kind of happiness we want is a deep happiness.
Either way, happiness is important.
Why it’s important for moms to be happy
Now we ~have to be happy~ too?
Well, no you don’t have to do anything, but in theory, you might want to be happy, or happier. (And if you’re at HappyMomGuide.com, I assume you want to be!)
Here are some reasons I think it’s important for a mom to care about her own happiness…
Why be happy?
Some of the reasons to be a happy mom are about you yourself.
- When we’re happy, we are usually at our best
- When we’re happy, we’re more resilient
- We’re better able to handle what life throws our way (the unexpected)
- We enjoy our lives more and can keep perspective when things aren’t perfect or great
- We feel better and healthier
- Life is more fun
- Happiness and gratitude bring more of the same into our lives!
And of course, there are benefits of us being happy that extend beyond ourselves.
You know the old cliché, Happy Wife, Happy Life? Here’s that quote’s more relevant cousin:
Happy Mom, Happy Home.
This is to say, when we’re happy, everyone else is also happier by extension.
Happy Mom = Happy Home
Happy Mom = Happy Home is a cliché because it’s true:
- Our kids are happier because they see you happy
- We are better equipped to persevere through harder times
- We set an example for our kids that we can choose to be positive
- We are better able to handle the negative emotions (which are just as important), and also better able to teach our kids how to feel those and come through to the other side
- We’re better parents because we’re more patient and able to keep perspective
- Similarly, we’re better partners for the same reasons
- Our spouses or partners are happier because we’re happy
- Our spouses or partners may actually live longer (yes, seriously!).
How to be a happier mom
Ok — so lets say you understand the significance of being a happy mom.
Then… you make a conscious decision that you will work at it. You consciously decide that you can and will be a happier you. And you empower yourself by realizing that you are in charge, and you can be whatever you want.
Now it has to be said. NOT EVERYONE IS ABLE TO JUST SNAP THEIR FINGERS AND BE HAPPIER.
So, so, so many mothers struggle with so many things, from small to the unimaginable. Mamas are people. Thus, most have struggled and/or will struggle at some time with normal heartbreak that makes happiness harder to catch: losses of loved ones, myriad problems in families and lives, mental and physical health issues, family tragedies, life transitions, and so many more things. Many Mamas struggle with sexist and unreasonable family leave policies and/or unrealistic childcare options, and even unsustainable financial situations often resulting from these policies and options. And some mamas are struggling with the unthinkable: consider the families separated at the border, or torn apart by wars.
So yes, this argument that you can simply decide to be happier cannot, does not, will not, apply as a blanket statement to all mothers without respect for their circumstances.
I do think that for MOST of us, we can choose to be happier.
If you’re able to take some ownership of SOME of your happiness — you can be happier. Not every mother in every situation will have this luxury.
But odds are high that if you’re reading this, you might be equipped to take some control of your happiness.
If you recognize that while you love being a mom, there’s always room to improve yourself and how you live in that role, you might be able to make a change.
You can shift your thinking to see being *happy* as something that you can work at.
You can dedicate yourself to being the happiest version of yourself that you can be, and let yourself find joy in your motherhood.
(…That’s literally what this site is about!)
There are a lot of websites, blogs, and groups out there for moms, including some for providing one another with support and resources, but very few communities for moms seeking to empower one another to be happier.
That’s what this site is and will be.
Right now, we’re still building out pages with resources and ways to be a happier mom. In the short term, you can join our Happy Mama Project group on Facebook so you can become part of the Happy Mom Guide community — we’ll share WORDS OF INSPIRATION to be a HAPPIER MOM so that you can think about and focus on being a happier you.
Besides joining us in our group, you can also do the following RIGHT NOW to be a happier mom:
Ways to be a happier mom RIGHT NOW
- Read this post about simple, easy ways to be happier right this minute
- You can, at least to some degree, choose to be happier!
- Do not compare yourself to others.
- Be more intentional about being happier!
- Commit to being grateful every single day.
- Commit to focusing on how lucky you are.
- Know the importance of self-care, and do it.
- You know that being a HAPPY mama will take some effort!
For some mamas, it comes naturally, but others of us, even while we know how blessed and lucky we are, know that happiness can require some “work.”