Yesterday was one of those days where it was just hard. Not hard in the sense that our schedule was packed or the kids were up all night or because a pile of laundry lurked in the laundry room needing to be folded. Yesterday was hard, because it was a difficult day emotionally.
The kids seemed to make bad choices left and right. I caught myself losing my patience way more than normal. I barely reached deadlines for work on time. Just when one little stopped crying, the other tripped over a truck and the crying commenced all over again. Bowls of cereal spilled all over the counter and onto the floor.
All of these situations happen on a daily basis and are seeming mundane and ordinary in and of themselves; however, when combined together at the same time…it truly gave me a challenge for the day.
I texted my husband and said “I feel like I’m not doing anything well today.” Even though I felt like I was failing, he reassured me (as he always does) that I was doing fine and it’s okay to have an off day. Before he had to run, he sent me a final text simply saying: “Remember to smile.”
I love when he does that — giving me three simple words that switch around the rest of the afternoon. With those words I was reminded to have joy in the midst of the mundane that I experience on a daily basis. I am in charge of my attitude when facing a trying day, so here are a few things that can help us find joy in the midst of the mundane.
1. Your children are a gift.
I am truly thankful for my children. If you have been following me for long or know me well, you know about the infertility (and secondary infertility) that my husband and I have experienced. In the midst of infertility treatments, ovarian cancer, losing an ovary and multiple surgeries, I can truly say that I do not take my children or my pregnancies for granted. Even on my most trying days, I sit back, look at my children, and remember how grateful I am that I get to be their momma and raise them alongside of my husband — even with all the challenges that come along with those roles!
2. You have a support system.
Regardless of if you are a stay-at-home-mom, work-from-home-mom, working momma, or some other combination, parenting undoubtedly carries a set of challenges unique to your situation. Remember that your spouse is on your team and cheering for you and your success. Maybe you find encouragement from your siblings, parents or your best friend. Maybe its a mentor from church or work. No matter who it is, find those people who can encourage you on the days you are struggling and don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements when you need them! A simple word of encouragement from those you trust can help you recalibrate and move forward with your day.
3. Your situation could be worse.
I hesitated writing this one, because it seems so cliche…however, I honestly think this is true and it helps me to refocus my attitude when I’m having a hard time. For me, I think about the days before we had children and I remember how much we longed for children. We could still be in the same situation 7 years later, as many women battle infertility for that long or more. Acknowledge when you are having a difficult time, but also think about how blessed you are that things are as good as they currently are.
4. Count your blessings.
When I find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed, I honestly do start counting my blessings. I have a husband who loves me and tirelessly serves my children and I without hesitation. In a world where so many marriages are struggling, I feel so blessed and grateful to have a strong, faithful husband by my side to do life with.
We have family who loves us without abandon. While we would like to be closer geographically to them, both sides share their love and compassion for us even with the distance.
We have a home that is filled with things, but also with love. The toys and clutter that I clean up (on what seems like an hourly basis) represents the abundance that we have been blessed with. When I find myself frustrated with cleaning up messes, I remember that memories and quality time are being created through each craft, invention, sports game, or obstacle course that come along with the mess.
I realize counting your blessings is also cliche, but I know how much quickly I am to complain about things in life than reflecting on what good things we have going for us. My friend, Gloria Furman, has written a great book about finding the Glimpses of Grace while you carry out life’s daily activities in your home.
5. Take it one [activity] at a time.
When we were about to add #3 to our family, I realized we would have 3 kids, age 4 and under. One of my friends had just added their third child a couple months earlier. She now had 3 kids, ages 3 and under). So I asked her what suggestions she had when adding a third child into the mix. She said: “Just take it one feeding at a time.”
When recovering from a c-section, establishing milk supply, having a our preschooler in a new school, and caring for a clingy 1 year old, this advice made all the difference in the world. It helped me to reduce the amount of stress I put on myself (and subsequently the kids) when I set mini-goals to accomplish between each of the newborn’s feedings. Some days, it was change both kids diapers and take a shower. Some days it was simply to throw the laundry in the dyer. As we got more accustomed to managing three kids, things got easier to manage; however, the “take it one feeding at a time” advice helped me remain focused on the most important things at the time. My “activity” switched from feedings to other units: preschool pick-up, naptime, lunch, breakfast, etc.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember to simply take things one step at a time. Maybe you need to focus on the time from when you get out of bed until you get all the kids off to school. Or maybe you need to focus on doing your best until naptime when you can take a little bit to recharge your batteries and take a mental break. Whatever your time frame might be, remember to look at things with little goals and you will set yourself up for success.
6. You are not superwoman.
As parents we want to do everything right. We also want to be able to do everything. I think moms in particular want to serve their kids and husbands so well that we often beat ourselves up when we don’t do “everything right.” Add Facebook and Pinterest to the equation and it’s uber-easy to compare yourself to what other moms seem to be accomplishing. Face it…every mom or parent has hard days–just like you. Everyone gets stuck in the challenges of the difficult, as well as the challenges of the mundane. Remember that you don’t have to do it all. In fact, you can’t do it all…and do it all well. Seek to serve well in your gifts and strengths. Remember your kids love you no matter what and are the best examples of grace-givers I know. (Don’t forget to give yourself some grace as well!)
When the mundane seems overwhelming, remember to look at the things above in order to find joy in the midst of the mundane. This simple change of paradigm can make all the difference in how you interact with your emotions, your children, your spouse, and those around you on a daily basis.
How do you experience joy in the midst of the mundane? What have you found helpful? Feel free to share in the comments below.