The Happiness Paradox

Recently read in Parenting magazine: Psychologists who study happiness report that while having children is reported by moms to be rewarding and richly enjoyable, in reality taking care of one’s child may not be the high on the list of pleasurable activities.

When psychologists ask moms in a general way if they like spending time with their kids, the overwhelming majority say they do because they’re thinking of the fun activities like reading a book or playing at the park. When they’re specifically asked to describe their actual daily routine, they remember the hours they spent struggling to get their child ready for bed or dealing with the tantrums thrown. This accounts for the discrepancy between moms and experts: selective memory.

Children do bring joy. They bring moments of transcendent delight in which one feels so happy it outweighs all the hard work of raising them. It’s just that children do not increase your average daily enjoyment. And ironically, once you stop expecting motherhood to feel warm and fuzzy all the time, life as a mom gets easier. It really helps to realize that it’s okay to feel frustrated, angry, tired or irritable sometimes. You’re not a bad parent. It’s not even a bad parenting experience. It’s just normal.

Another really interesting thing the study the article quotes found is that making sixty thousand more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night! Wow!

Other things I need to be applying in bigger doses to my daily life are: Structuring my day so I’m doing more things I enjoy… I enjoy blogging/writing, scrapping, photography, reading, connecting with friends, exercising, and doing fun things with my children. I do not enjoy cleaning, being alone for long periods of time, messy rooms, tantrums, whining, crying and disciplining my children.
Upping my level of engagement as I go about the mundane duties…Be active in my participation in my life and notice things the way Aviana does, “Look, the moon is following us all the way to town!”
Appreciate the moment…Instead of trying to go back to sleep, which I can never do anyway, go to the window and worship God before Brielle awakens and while Aviana watches Einstein. Instead of trying to get the kitchen cleaned up while Aviana has a snack, sit and talk with her and enjoy her perspective of life.
Keep it all in perspective…I would not trade this job for anything. This is a hard job, but I can’t imagine how empty my life would be if suddenly I had no children. This precious time is fleeting and will be gone before I know it.
Reconnect with Kevin… my marriage is one of my cornerstones, and the first three years of a child’s life are the most stressful on a marriage. It’s easy to say that I’ll get to this relationship later, when it’s easier. We need to keep in mind some small manageable things we can do to keep our connection strong. Even going to the store together, or twenty minutes of ‘pillow talk’ would be beneficial.
Say thanks… Always give thanks to God the Father for everything. Ephesians 5:20 Thank You for these precious precious children. Thank You for choosing me to be their mama. Thank You that my husband works so hard to provide for us. Thank You for being in the middle of our relationship. Thank You for the wonderful understanding friends You are providing.Thank You for a terrific counselor who knows You. Thank You that I’m feeling so much better these days. Thank You that we have clothes to fold and carpets to vacuum, an indoor bathroom to clean and meals to prepare. Most of all, Thank you for loving us.

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