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Close up of a mother and daughter having fun at home

Being a mom is challenging, so here are three rules for finding happiness even when it’s hard.

1. Do your own thing. Start an at-home business, work out, cook unreasonable meals, read romance novels… it could be anything! Something YOU want to do that makes you feel like you — not just your kids’ mom.

If you have a career you love, you may feel fulfilled in this area, but I think we all have certain things that we used to love to do before we had kids that we’ve put on the back burner.

I have a friend who likes to paint and create art, and she does it, even though she’s a busy homeschooling mom. Another friend is an executive at a major company and she hikes alone or with friends on the weekend. I started an essential oils business while taking care of four kids at home with me 24/7.

These things may take time, but they add to our lives because we have something of our own to work on and feel a sense of purpose, creativity, achievement, and connection. No matter how many kids we have and what our other responsibilities are, we will always be maxed out. The time to do something other than mother will never just show up, we have to make the time and take the time! It’s so worth it, and it sets a great example for our kids as well!

2. Eat one nice meal per day. Sit down and eat something that will make you feel awesome. It could be gluten free, vegan, super healthy something, or cheesy delicious something special, but eat it for your nice meal only if it will make you feel good during and after. It could be any meal, I don’t care if you eat cereal standing over your sink, or sticky kids leftovers for the other meals of the day, take one meal and be selfish.

You can eat with the kids, but consider whether or not to let the toddler sit on your lap for this one. Or eat it while the kids are watching a show, or while your husband puts them to bed, whatever it takes ladies!

3. Self care however YOU want. Bubble baths, massages, and even Netflix and chill aren’t for everyone. I’ve always felt resentful about the self-care recommendations that moms often get: “Take time for yourself! Go for drinks with the girls.” “Just relax! Take a nap.”

I find the sound of suggestions like these somehow condescending, but really it’s just that they’re not things that I particularly enjoy, and what is the point of self care if I don’t enjoy it!? it took me quite a few years of being a mom to discover that my perfect weekly self-care ritual is sleeping in on Saturday morning, then waking up and eating breakfast with my family, before sending my husband and the three bigger kids out to the park for about two hours. While they’re gone I get to decide what to do that will make me feel best.

Sometimes I clean the house! Sometimes I nurse the baby and read a random magazine I find around the house. Sometimes I put the baby down for a nap and sit in the sun outside and do nothing at all. I reciprocate by letting my husband take a long nap while I take the kids out on Saturday afternoon, then I take them with me to the farmers market on Sunday morning for a few hours.

We both get extra sleep and time alone in the house with no one else around. These are perfect self-care scenarios for us, but it took a long time to get there! Give it some thought and talk it over with your partner, friends, or family to see how you can work out a plan to give you back the juice you need to make it through the week.

Find me on Instagram! Check out my family’s homeschool days @thejoyofcaitlin, my daily breakfast that makes me feel awesome @breakfastrevolution, and my love for essential oils @thejoyofcaitlin.oils.

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