This year has been a big one for me as a mom. I gave birth to my second child in August, and my oldest turned 4 and started preschool. To adjust to the new dynamic in my home, I have found myself focusing on the daily tasks of parenting and letting myself become overwhelmed by the stresses that come with being a mom. Last night, after having a really fun evening with my girls—spontaneous dance parties will do that—I realized I haven't been taking enough time to focus on the joys of parenting. Yes, the previous night was in complete contrast to last night, with my preschooler whining the entire evening and the baby staining my favorite cardigan with spit up, but paying attention to the good night is so much more important and necessary. We need to ask ourselves: why did we have kids? It sure wasn't to complain our way through life and merely "survive" their childhoods. It was to teach these amazing beings how to be happy adults and live fulfilling lives. And I definitely want to teach my girls how to be joyful, not a grumpy curmudgeon. So, I've decided to make a different list of resolutions for the new year. Yes, I still need to lose the baby weight, and I plan to do that too, but I want to increase the joy in my life, and my kids'. Here's how I'm going to do it:
1. Ugly laugh with my kids more
My definition of ugly laugh is the uncontrollable giggling where your face scrunches up and you can't stop the tears from rolling down your wrinkled-up mug. Ugly laughs equal joyful moments in my book—and they're great stress relievers, too!
2. Create new mini traditions for regular daily life
Why do you think the holidays make us feel warm and fuzzy? It's the traditions. I'm not saying we have to try to fit in elaborate crafts or mold food into crazy shapes on a daily basis like you do during the holidays. But little actions can make big impressions on your parent life and your kid's childhood. For example, I plan to make random dance parties with my girls such a regular part of daily life that they won't feel, well, random. Upbeat music plus goofy dance moves always equal a good time. And I've started playing fun, upbeat music during my girls' bath time. We make the bath toys dance and make up new, silly lyrics. How does that not put a smile on your face?
3. Give the ones I love more random hugs
There are conflicting recommendations of how many we should have per day, but many researchers agree there are many reasons why we need hugs for our emotional well-being. Hugs are helpful for the hugger and huggee, so it's a win-win on both sides of the squeeze.
4. Point out the good moments to the whole family
Why should I be the only one who enjoys our wins? When my 4-year-old has a great behavior day, I'm going to praise her like crazy and let her know why. It won't only make her feel proud of her accomplishment, but hey, it will probably make her more likely to repeat it.
5. Vent about parenting stresses and then move on
Of course, there will still be days when all hell breaks loose on the parenting front. But I'm going to do my best to not get caught up in the chaos for an extended period of time. I will talk it out and then step back in line and focus on my joyful mission again.
What resolutions can you make to add more joy to your parenting life? Let us know in the comments section below! Or share your joyful parenting moments with the hashtag #joyfulparenting on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.