The Duty to be Happy
You, as the mom, the captain of your family enterprise, have a duty to be happy. Duty is a strong word for it, but that’s exactly what it is. When we are parents, our personal happiness is a responsibility, not a luxury.
Of course we moms are happy. Our children are our greatest joy and we are willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary in exchange for the privilege of being a parent. The thing is, though, that sometimes we sacrifice activities and relationships - sleep, exercise, friendships –that recharge and refuel us. Without them, no matter how fulfilling our lives as mothers may be, we can end up feeling like we’re treading water.
So Moms, here’s a call to action to attend to your personal happiness. Think of it, like we do, as The Trickle-Down Theory of Familial Happiness: happy self = happy spouse = happy marriage = happy kids. If you are unhappy, or if your spouse is unhappy, it can suck the life out of you and your marriage. You can wind up taking the whole ship down with you.
We know this isn’t easy. Most days the three of us can barely manage to take our shoes off before collapsing into bed, let alone think deep thoughts and implement major life changes. But it can be done! Here is our BPYM Guide to Happiness: How to Live Happily Ever After in Four Easy Steps (Ha!):
Step One: Make a happiness shortlist. Figure out the top three activities that really and truly recharge you. Is it book club, exercise, time alone, happy hour…sleep? What do you need on a daily, weekly, annual basis to make you feel like you’re living a life?
Step Two: Your spouse gets to make a list, too. Because if he isn’t happy, you won’t be either.
Step Three: Compare notes. Help each other to have it all. Let each other know what you need and be generous with the Get Out of Jail Free Cards.
Step Four: Figure out what needs to give. To make time for the happiness essentials, you need to cut back on other areas. First on the chopping block are extreme parenting and other perfectionist behaviors. The Mommy Chip can go haywire like HAL the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, propelling us into high cost, low value activities done in the name of “giving our kids the best.” But massive birthday parties and immaculate homes don’t necessarily equip our kids for a lifetime of success. A happy mom just might. Be ruthless. Be lazy. Use your time and energy on those activities that truly enrich your life or that of your family.
As Mark Twain once wrote, “Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.”