I always imagined being a mom with a joyful home. But, once you become a mother, you quickly learn that some days are more challenging than others.
Today was one of those days for me.
My 5-month old, Wyatt, must be teething because he wouldn’t nap longer than 20 minutes, and wouldn’t let me set him down for the entire afternoon (my back and feet still ache!).
He’s also been biting.
On just about anything you put in his mouth.
When something like this happens, it starts chipping away at your energy.
And at your thinking abilities.
And at your patience.
Now that I write that last word, I remember that I set a daily “intention” this morning to practice patience. I even asked God for help, despite knowing full well that “patience” is a virtue one should never request in prayer.
(There’s somewhat of a joke in the Christian community that when you ask God for patience, He’ll provide you with “opportunities” to practice it.)
Anyway, my energy and patience were wearing thin, and it was only 3pm. I knew I needed a quick refresh if I wanted to get through the rest of the day without losing it.
So, with my brain turned to mush and my back aching, I set my son down in his room, crying, while I laid down on the floor of our living room and took a couple moments for myself. It took maybe 5-10 minutes for me to get enough of a charge to come up with a game plan.
And without further ado, here are some of my top strategies for refreshing myself (assuming no one is around to take the kids for an hour while I
hide under the covers get out of the house).
6 Tips for a More Joyful Home
1. Treat yourself to something delightful. After re-charging, I started some tea before taking Wyatt from his room. (I do love tea in the afternoon, but if we had ANY kind of pastry in the kitchen, it would have been gone.)
2. Play music. I played Jack Johnson radio. The mood of that station felt like a mellow and pleasant influence on the atmosphere today. And it was!
(Note: Sometimes, I need more than an “influence on the atmosphere”… I need a kick in the pants! That’s when I love choosing music that I CANNOT HELP but sing, dance, or move to. Lately, I’ve been digging “Despacito” (remix), “Bad Liar”, or “Boom Clap” by Lennon and Maisy. Even better if I can listen to these through headphones, so I feel like I’m in my own world for a few minutes.)
3. Dance. With Jack Johnson’s “Times Like These” playing in the background, I slow-danced in the kitchen, holding Wyatt in my arms while the poor, tired little guy just melted into my chest. Ah! Such sweetness! (This, of course, made me feel bad for leaving him in his room earlier. But I try not to linger on guilt too much, so I let that go and moved on.)
[I took this photo today while we were dancing. Seriously, how sweet is he?]
4. Go outside. I then took Wyatt out into the backyard to look at the chickens. For me, going outside is healing. Whether we go to the park, for a walk around the block, or even just in the yard, I find that I can more easily regain perspective this way.
[This was actually taken a couple months ago, during a similar, never-ending afternoon.]
5. Take note of your surroundings and how they affect you. Usually, when I’m worn thin like this, my home is a mess.
Sometimes my heart really just needs things to be tidy (in which case, I’ll absolutely put the kids in front of the TV and take care of my top two housekeeping priorities. It may not be the most enriching activity for them, but I figure they’re getting a sane mom out of it).
Other times, though? My heart just needs to relax and embrace the mess. And on those days, this attitude really sparks joy for me.
[I took this during a 5-minute break when I was able to set him down. See the mess? It didn’t bother me that much today (maybe partly because, miraculously, my kitchen counters were cleared and laundry had been folded).]
6. Treat your kids. I didn’t do this today, but sometimes when I need to cheer up our atmosphere, I’ll surprise my daughter with a special treat. Maybe a scoop of ice cream enjoyed outside, or a trip to Starbucks for a chocolate milk. Simple and sweet.
Whenever I come up against these more challenging days, I try to choose joy. (Certainly doesn’t always happen, but . . . you know . . . I try.)
What are your tried-and-true methods for turning a bad day around and infusing joy into your home?