Recently the news cycle has been so depressing, it’s enough to rob anyone of their joy. Sometimes though, it isn’t what happens in the world that robs us of our joy, but what happens in our homes. Maybe your kids have been passing the same virus back and forth for several weeks. Perhaps that much anticipated family vacation dissolved into one non-stop sibling war only to return home to unending laundry. Or it may not be one specific thing, but just the accumulation of a lot of little things over time that has you dragging through your days like you are trying to swim in a mud puddle.
What happened to that joy you initially felt when you realized you were going to be a mom? Where did the tired but almost giddy feeling when you first saw your kids go? Why does the dream you have had since a little girl of being a wife and mom not fill as fulfilling as you thought it would be?
Satan wants to rob you of your joy in being a mother. He wants you to dread all of the little things that make up being a mom. Satan hopes robbing you of your joy will make you want to spend less time with your children. He wants the lack of joy to sap your strength so you don’t feel up to teaching them about God and what He wants from them and for their lives. Satan wants you to do as little as you can possibly do and still feel like a socially acceptable mom.
God wants the opposite for you. Yes, parenting can be tough and tiring. God has given you one of the biggest blessings and the biggest responsibilities He gives people though – to raise a child and point that child towards a life spent in service to God. So how can you reclaim the joy you once had in being a mother – even if you are having an “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” kind of week and are seriously contemplating the wisdom of moving to Australia?!
There are probably quite a few things you can do, but here are some of my favorites:
- Pull out the baby books and photo albums. Kids love seeing old pictures of themselves when they “were little”. They love hearing about the day they were born. Reliving those happy memories with them, just might remind you how grateful you are to be their mom.
- Take your kids for a walk. If they are stroller age, put down the top so you can see each other and talk. Walk to the local ice cream store, down a trail at the park or along the sidewalks in your neighborhood. Stop and smell the roses along the way. Talk about all of the pretty and interesting things you see. If your kids are a little bit older, try to go at least a mile and a half to two miles. If you can average four days a week of these walks, you will probably begin seeing an increase in your stamina and an improvement in your mood.
- Go to bed early and sleep late. Okay, this is more practical if your kids are on break from school, but let the chores go and go to bed when they do for a couple of nights. Make it a game to see who can stay in bed the longest the next morning. Sleep deprivation can make you feel sad, cranky and lethargic. Getting enough rest usually autocorrects those problems.
- Have an upside down, backwards day. Shake up your routine. Have breakfast for supper. Have ice cream for breakfast. Have a picnic lunch on your living room floor. Have a family campout and sleep in sleeping bags in your den. Stay in pajamas all day. I promise, doing those things on rare occasions will not ruin your child for life. It will make great memories for them and remind you of the fun parts of parenting.
- Read a fun book (or three) to your kids. I really miss the picture books and Junie B Jones days with my daughter. We found picture books that we both thought were funny and I still am tempted to check one out of the library even without a small child at home…just for the joy reading them brings. Take your kids to the library and see who can check out the funniest book. Then read them out loud to each other. A good laugh always seems to lighten the mood.
- Break the rules and watch old tv shows. Im not big on kids watching a lot of television – especially what often passes for tv today. Thankfully, there are now channels and companies like Netflix that give you access to the sitcoms from the sixties and seventies and eighties. Not all of them were great, but there are a few you and your kids will enjoy. If you watched those same shows when you were little, tell your kids about tv in the “olden days” of your childhood! We forget sometimes how quickly things have changed. Your kids will probably be horrified at the Spartan media conditions you had to endure in childhood. This in turn will amuse you to no end.
- Take your kids to church, read them a Bible story, pray with them. Often our joy disappears because we have become disconnected from God. Reconnecting and helping our kids connect to God, might just help you find the energy and joy you have lost.
- Go on a date with your husband. Having the support of your spouse and remembering why you married him can also put a spark back into the rest of your life. I will tell you a secret. Most of us find it difficult to find a present for our husbands. Often we resort to clothes or books. Why not start buying gift cards to restaurants you haven’t tried instead? Then use those cards to have date nights.
- Ask your husband for extra help. I’m fairly convinced many men have a genetic mutation that keeps them from seeing things that obviously need to be done. They will often say, “Just make me a list. I don’t know what needs to be done.” while they are standing by the sink overflowing with dirty dishes. We of course, don’t want to make a list so we don’t become the butt of the inevitable “honey do list” jokes. Instead, just ask your husband if he will “please hop up right now and do such and such because you are beyond exhausted.” Be sure and say “hop up right now” or you will probably end up doing it any way and will then be angry in addition to exhausted.
You may have noticed, I didn’t suggest running away to the beach without your family or getting a job that keeps you away from home for days at a time. Those things might work for you, but they often are not in the best interest of your family. I am afraid they also serve to reinforce the idea that mothering is so miserable, we must escape it as often as possible. Trust me, your children will know if you feel they are a burden in your life and it will break them in ways I can’t totally explain.
If you find after trying some of these ideas for a couple of weeks you are still sad and have no energy, you may have a more serious issue. Please go check with your doctor as it could be a physical or mental health condition that may need some outside help to improve.
You and your family deserve to know the joy in being a family. Make sure you don’t let Satan rob you of your joy one more minute than necessary. Do what you need to do to enjoy the blessing and the responsibility God gave you when you became a mother.