There’s something I’ve noticed as I look around lately, and it’s really bothering me.

So many people seem to be struggling to keep up with demands of life that we seem to have lost our happy.

We are all so busy looking over our shoulders (ok Facebook, we’re looking at Facebook) to see what everybody else is up to, we’ve forgotten how to really live our own lives and find joy and gratitude.

Recently somebody I know shared an article along the lines of ‘If your life sucks, it’s your own fault.’ The article was a little out of touch with reality for most struggling mums, but the writer was on the right track with suggesting that gratitude for what we have can breed happiness.

Sometimes life is going to suck and there is not much you can do about it. I won’t suggest that it’s your fault and that you jump on a plane to Paris just because it’s what you’ve always wanted to do. But it did get me thinking about realistic, kid friendly and affordable suggestions that can help you feel as though your life doesn’t completely suck (even though you haven’t yet managed those illusive goals and dreams…)

Find a positive mojo song and turn it up LOUD!

A good song can change your mood. For me at the moment it’s Robbie Williams ‘Love my Life’. The kids know the words by heart. I want them to know they are capable of anything, that it’s ok to make mistakes and be sad and that it’s also ok to love and be proud of yourself despite your mistakes.  Yep, I actually admit to my kids that I make mistakes! Also, every time the kids are shitting me to tears the song reminds me that I actually want them to be strong and inquisitive beings who are not afraid to reach for their dreams and goals and stand up for their beliefs (even if right now their beliefs include cereal being dinner food). Who knew Robbie had so much to offer?

Change the way you look in the mirror

I caught my 5-year-old mimicking me contorting my body as I looked in the mirror to check out how big my bum looked in a pair of shorts. He’s my youngest and whilst part of me thought it was super cute that he was trying to check out his tiny bottom, it made me wonder how often all of my kids have watched me agonise over the size of my behind. We all do it, and while it’s cool to check out the goods and make sure you haven’t sat in something the kids left smeared on the couch, it’s still just a bottom. It’s yours, not Kim K’s. It probably hasn’t changed since yesterday. How much time have I wasted bum gazing? Look in the mirror, appreciate how awesome you are. Say it out loud so the kids can hear and move on lady! With a little luck if you say it often enough the kids might parrot it back to you.

Celebrate the small stuff

I have a memory jar. Any old jar or box will do. We write down the moments that make us happy or grateful and at the end of the year we’ll read them out. Awards, holidays, milestones, in they all go! From something as small as cooking a meal that they all actually ate, to sitting on a beach at sunset playing guitar. It’s the feeling that’s important. On a side note: I added in some of the funny stuff my kids have said and done. There are lots of fart stories. Farts are always funny!

Put the phone down

We’ve heard and read it a bunch of times and thought ‘wow that’s so true, I really should do that!’ I’m the mum who takes a gazillion photos and videos to the point that it drives my kids insane. I’m glad to have the memories to look back on, but was I really there? Probably not, and it’s something I’m working on. I’m also working on having coffee or wine or family get togethers instead of texting how r u? I even let the inner child out last week and hung off of the monkey bars. My 12-year-old was unsure whether to be horrified or amused. I’m going to go ahead and say he secretly loved it, but was super glad I didn’t try to hang upside down!

Take the time

Have you ever had a conversation with somebody and their full attention is not with you? Their eyes are glaze over and they give one word answers. It’s clear other stuff is on their mind or they’re in a rush to be somewhere else. It feels pretty crappy, doesn’t it? This is what I do to my kids while I’m thinking about how I’m going to pay the power bill, or the jobs I have to do tomorrow.  They’re trying to tell me something super important to them and I’m only half listening. It only takes a moment. Stop and look at the half dead grasshopper they brought home from school.  Listen to the story about why Johnny is now their new best friend. Appreciate and fall in love again with a sunset, a view, the big and small wonders of the world. Even if you see it every day, look again through their eyes. I was chatting to my kids today and asked what kind of rewards they wanted on their reward chart, my son said ‘time with you’. Time. Enough said.

I hope what I’m showing my kids is that even though we sometimes struggle and have our bad days, nothing has to be that way forever. Even though I don’t love ironing, bills and incessant arguing over whose mouldy sandwich was left in the back seat of the car I do love my life. Every hard, heartbreaking, mistake ridden, funny, ridiculous loving moment is worth it. And while we won’t be running off to Disneyland or Paris any time soon, we don’t need to compare our lives with anybody else’s, because life is pretty perfect just the way it is.

Author

Heidi is a teacher and single mum of four who goes to gym in order to indulge her love of cheesecake. Raising kids with ADHD and Aspergers is fast, chaotic and often hilarious, but she wouldn't change a thing. Heidi recovers with good chick lit, writing and Netflix after bedtime.

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