Motherhood is a beautiful and wild ride. We are told these are the good old days and to enjoy every moment but there are days I’m bone tired by lunchtime. How can we enjoy every little moment as mothers when we have dishes, laundry, meals, and caring for the kids? With a never-ending to do list it can seem so impossible to get it all done. Not to mention being happy and awake enough to actually enjoy every moment. I have learned it has to do with being thankful.
Shifting our mindset
I heard a sermon a few years back when I was pregnant with my son Clark, and it completely changed the way I look at things. The sermon was about thankfulness and how to be thankful even in difficult times and circumstances. It is all about our mindset and the way we look at each situation. There were several examples of this, but one resonated with me so strongly because I was complaining about this very thing.
Thankful for the dry bed
Our pastor explained the example something like this:
My wife rolls over and says good morning to me and asks how I slept. I am exhausted, I woke up three times to use the bathroom and it took me longer than normal to fall back asleep. I could tell her how grumpy or frustrated I am, how I want to go back to bed, or complain about getting old. Or I can tell her “Good morning honey, I had a few hours of good sleep, and I woke up in a dry bed!”
I was in the third trimester at that point. I had been complaining to my husband about how many times I had woken up to use the bathroom on the ride to church. This example showed me how such a simple shift in mindset makes something that seems so frustrating less monumental. So, over the past few years I have been trying to implement thankfulness more into my life, especially as a mother.
The late night bath
My husband and I used this mindset a few days ago and it turned a frustrating situation into a sweet moment and changed our evening.
We recently tried a different brand of diapers. I have always wanted to use clean diapers on our son because I don’t want those chemicals and synthetic fragrances interfering with his hormones or future fertility. However, those brands tend to be a bit pricey, so we tried a less expensive brand. After a few days he was a bit red, but I thought it was due to him just having more dirty diapers that day. After a few days it got worse and after a long car ride home (with a wet diaper we didn’t know about) he was miserable.
It was late and he had fallen asleep in the car. I really didn’t want to go through the whole bath time process, so I wiped him down, put some towels down, and put him to bed without a diaper. He woke up a bit later and came into bed with us. Because I was half asleep, I didn’t even think to go get the towels and within five minutes he wet the bed. He starts crying because now he is cold, wet, and in pain again. My husband was actually the one to start using the positive mind set. He took Clark and cleaned him up and put some soft pajamas on him while I fixed the bed. Clark was so restless and just kept crying because he was in pain so Andrew started an oatmeal bath and told me I could just sleep.
This would have been great, but Clark was so tired being put into a bath was the last thing he wanted. So, I joined them in the bathroom and stepped into the tub, pajamas and all. I snuggled Clark for a little while and the waters seemed help a lot. I could have been mad that I was in a tub in a soggy pair of shorts and a t-shirt that was now skintight over my pregnant belly. It was 2:00 am at this point so I could have been furious that I wasn’t asleep.
Instead, I just thought about how he was so content because he could snuggle me, soak, and feel better. I was his happy place in that moment. We had warm water and the ingredients to make a soothing bath, and a washer and dryer that easily took care of wet sheets. I was thankful for the snuggles and it brought me joy to just sit there.
There was a moment when he picked his head up and looked at me with sleep filled eyes. He gave me a drowsy, yet joyful smile and said, “I love you mommy”. Had I been frustrated and grumbling about the soggy clothes that had to be washed and how the schedule for the next day would be off I wouldn’t appreciated those words as much. However, it was such a wonderful moment because I took a step back and saw the beauty in it. I wasn’t frustrated or upset. I had the capacity to be kind and patient and understanding, even though I was exhausted. Sure, it made more work for me, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
Applying the thankfulness in everyday life
There are so many times we as mothers or homemakers can step back and see things with a thankful mindset. That mountain of laundry means we have clean clothes to wear. We also have family members to wear those clothes. We have the ability to clean them with a push of a button. Dishes need to be cleaned because we have food we could eat, a space to prepare it, and dishes that aren’t broken. We get to sweep the floor for the third time today because our toddler is learning how to cook with us and that causes a bit more mess.
Every one of the messes, the crazy moments, the things that seem so frustrating, are often so much less so when we take the time to look at them through the lens of thankfulness. There are so many beautiful moments to be had in our everyday lives. Even when a kid does something silly like spill a whole cup of crackers and crumbs onto the floor. Laugh about it. Have them help sweep it up and use it as a funny or teaching moment. Then move on. It was less than five minutes, and the problem was solved. You both walked away happy, and they didn’t feel like they were in trouble for making a mistake.
Give yourself grace
If you are a mom and homemaker, (possibly also have a job either in or out of the house) you have a lot on your plate. Not every day has to be perfect. Not everything on your list has to be accomplished for you to be a good mom or have done a good job. If there are dishes in the sink, the floors didn’t get swept, and maybe you raised your voice in frustration when that plate of food was dumped, it’s still ok. You haven’t failed your day. There were still things that were done.
When you are working on a task, be it washing the dishes or coloring with crayons, just enjoy that moment. Don’t be thinking about the million other things you have to do. Because then that moment you are living is less beautiful because of the stress your to do list is causing. Just take a breath and give yourself the grace to be fully present in that moment. Knowing it is better to be fully invested then to be stretched so thin you are crawling into bed not remembering a single good moment.
Take time to reflect
It can take time to shift your mindset into one of thankfulness. It is hard to remember to be thankful in the moment, especially if you are overwhelmed, burned out, or upset. Something I try to practice if I haven’t been thankful that day is to sit and reflect on my day. I think over the things that happened that were really sweet moments. The things that brought me joy no matter how small. If you are someone who journals writing these things down is fun because you have reminders of the good things.
Then I think over the things that bothered me the most. Those moments when I lost my cool or didn’t handle a situation with the grace that I should have. I turn those situations over in my mind and try to find a way to shift my mindset to thankfulness. Even if things don’t go my way, I can still be graceful about the way I handle them. I can be thankful for the moment, even just the lesson I could learn at that time.
Reflecting has really helped me because I can see the less-than-ideal situations through a different lens and be prepared. That allows me to already have a reason for thankfulness in mind for the next time that situation arises.
Write little notes to yourself and leave them where you will see them. These little notes should be things that encourage you and remind you to be thankful always. A note for yourself above the toilet reminding you that the potty training is difficult, but it means they are growing. (And in a few weeks, it will all be over). A card taped above the sink saying the dishes may be many, but the mouths are happy, and tummies full. That laundry means memories were made and fun outfits were put together.
These notes can be as long and eloquent, or short and to the point as you want. They can be on yellow sticky notes or in fancy handwriting with calligraphy pens on gorgeous cards adorned with watercolor flowers. Just do what causes you less stress and is a gentle reminder to shift that mindset even during the hard moments.
It will take time to adjust to a different way of looking at things, but it pays off. You will feel more full of joy. There will be less “bad days” because those bad moments didn’t ruin your day. You will go through your days showing grace and being a blessing to those around you.
Did this post help you? If it did it would help me if you passed it along to someone you know who needs some encouragement!