“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”
I love this quote. Parenting is a tough gig and some days it can feel as though nothing is going right. But it’s so important to find the good in every day, even if some days it’s more elusive.
I’ve been feeling so much more positive lately, and although that could be attributed to big things such as my healthy pregnancy (I’m now 30 weeks!), making decisions about Rosalie’s future, or the fact that Christmas is on the way, I believe much of it is down to making more of an effort to focus on the good, worry less about the bad, and to find happiness in the simplest of things. In short, I’ve been looking for the good in every day.
Here are some of the ridiculously simple things that have been making me smile, when I remember to take the time to stop and enjoy the moment:
I absolutely love singing. I’m not good at it (sorry family, neighbours and fellow Music with Mummy mums), but I love it! I always like to know the lyrics for songs so that I can sing along. More often than not it’s nursery rhymes or cbeebies theme tunes (thanks ‘I can cook’ and ‘Do you know?’ for your oh so catchy songs) I’m singing these days, but it still puts a smile on my face. The other day I found myself singing “we can be, anything, if we close our eyes and dream”, and thinking, ‘wow, great lyric, what’s that from?’ only to later realise it was the Topsy and Tim theme!
Simply getting out in the fresh air always does Rosalie and I a world of good – we try and make time each day to get outside and enjoy a walk, trip to the park or play in the garden. I feel especially grateful that we have several options of play park close to the house, and that we are so lucky to have the Kennet and Avon Canal on our doorstep; I take it for granted most of the time, but when I stop and think about it I realise we are spoilt here.
A cup of tea
A nice cup of earl grey tea is always sure to put a smile on my face, especially as these days I even mostly get to drink it whilst it’s hot!
A good book
Reading just a few pages of my current Kindle book before I turn out the light helps my brain switch off, so instead of worrying about the day, or tomorrow, or some other far off event, I can fall asleep content.
Reading to Rosalie is one of our favourite activities, and when I stop to appreciate the time we are spending snuggled up together surrounded by books, and seeing how much enjoyment she gets from it, I feel very lucky.
Listening to music
Music is an awesome mood booster; I always put music on when I’m cooking dinner because it’s such a hateful time of day (mundane cooking plus an over-tired and cranky toddler) and it really helps get me through!
Dare I say it, we’ve even started with the Christmas songs! Rosalie has found the Christmas CD in her ‘Now That’s What I Call Disney’ set and wants to listen to it all the time, but I’m totally not complaining!
Hear me out. I have been trying a new ‘thing’ where instead of focusing on the obstacles when I hear the weather forecast or look out of the window in the morning, I’ve been trying to think about the opportunities: rain, think puddle jumping and potential for rainbows; sunshine, think blue skies, crisp walks, exploring nature and coming home and getting cosy with hot chocolate (or sandpits, picnics and play parks if it’s the summer). You get the gist! It’s working anyway; toddlers don’t really care what the weather is doing, Rosalie doesn’t, as long as she’s dressed appropriately, so by overcoming our obsession with what the weather is doing, we can really start to enjoy ourselves.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”
I started a big declutter back in the summer and although it’s a lot of effort, we are starting to reap the rewards. Our loft room had become a dumping ground but now it’s actually a pleasant place to be, to work or to play. Getting rid of clutter does make me feel good.
It’s easy to take hugs for granted when you’re in a loving relationship or have little cuddly people in your life, but when I stop and focus on the hug I get overwhelmed with happiness! That sounds silly. But sometimes after a tough day, a hug from Jim really does make my cares go away. And with Rosalie, having those little arms wrapped around me is just the best feeling in the world. And sometimes, offering a hug to Rosalie can be the best way for her to get over a tantrum, so that definitely puts a smile on my face – parenting win!
I’m not talking about a dance class, or going out dancing; what I’m talking about is crazy, ‘dance like no one’s watching’, leaping about the kitchen/living room dancing. Rosalie has always been a bit of a mover and a shaker, and for a while I would just enjoy watching her, but lately she wants me to join in more, and I want to too! When I do it’s very liberating and puts a genuine smile on my face, however it is definitely not a pretty sight, I am 30 weeks pregnant and suffering from PGP after all.
Sitting down to eat together
We eat together as a family every dinnertime, and sometimes breakfast time too if Rosalie wakes up before Daddy goes to work. I love to hear Rosalie tell Daddy about her day, and to see his reaction when I tell him about funny things she’s said and done. I feel lucky that we can work our routines so that we get this time every day.
Taking a deep breath
Have you noticed how toddlers always want to touch and smell everything? Of course you have! Well, every once in a while I like to take a leaf out of Rosalie’s book and stop to smell something, perhaps the flowers in the garden or on our walk, the fresh laundry, the air after it’s rained, or the meal I’ve just lovingly prepared. Try it, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Over the summer there was a beautiful buddleia flowering in the alley close to our house, on one of our regular routes to walk locally on foot; Rosalie would smell all the blooms within her reach every single time we went past. Sometimes it would be terribly frustrating if we were trying to make an appointment, I’d be thinking ‘every one smells the same, and you’ve smelt these dozens of times before’, but on other occasions, when we had nowhere particular to be, I’d let her go ahead and smell them all, and even lift her to smell some of the higher up ones, just in case they smelt better, or different! Then one day I thought, these must smell really good if Rosalie wants to sniff them every time we pass this bush, and I actually got up close and took a deep breath myself, and do you know what? They smelt amazing.
Stopping to appreciate nature – flowers in the spring and summer, the stunning shades of the leaves at this time of the year – are great mood boosters for me. The beauty in nature is incredible when you take a moment to stop and soak it in.
How much do we look ahead or at our feet when we’re walking around? Most of the time. We hear an aeroplane, we know what it is, we don’t need to look up. We know there are clouds and birds in the sky, we don’t need to look up to see them. I’ve been looking up more when out walking with Rosalie (usually I stop so I don’t trip over…) and I’ve been rewarded with some pretty awesome views through the autumn leaves. We also like to spot pictures in the clouds, and think about where the aeroplanes might be going. It’s good fun to look at the world from a new perspective.
Being a proud parent is sometimes seen as a negative thing, some people hate mothers that go on about how amazing their children are. But I really like feeling proud of Rosalie’s achievements, even if they are the same as every other developing two year old. I am constantly amazed by what she is learning and achieving, and by letting myself feel proud, inwardly and outwardly, I am making myself happy. I guess feeling proud for your child’s accomplishments is also like giving yourself a bit of a pat on the back, for doing a good job of raising this small person, so that’s nice too!
At the end of the day, instead of focusing on the negatives, I try to look back and smile that I a) survived and b) did the best job I could.
It also helps me to end a bad day with a smile if I think about the small successes in an otherwise horrendous day. For example, a few weeks back Rosalie had a massive potty training regression and was literally having accidents left, right and centre, in every room of the house, on the floor and on furniture; she wasn’t even trying to make it to the potty. I was tearing my hair out and in tears some days for want of a solution. After Rosalie was in bed Jim and I would talk about it and by the time it was our bedtime I would go in to check on Rosalie and sit beside her bed, gazing at her peacefully sleeping, and think about the good things that we did, in between cleaning up accidents. The phase lasted less than a week, but forcing myself to see the good moments during that time really got me through. It also made me realise that negative things have a way of taking over, and seeming bigger than they really are, whereas we take the good things for granted unless we make the effort to appreciate them.
Appreciating what’s right in front of you
Essentially, these things are all about taking the time to stop and appreciate what’s right in front of you. Doing this has really helped me to crowd out worry, and just appreciate what I’ve got.
So that’s it, the ways I am finding the good in every day, even if every day isn’t good. Stay strong mamas, we’re all doing an amazing job.