During this unpredictable year, a great deal of anxiety and pressure has fallen on the shoulders of mothers everywhere. Lockdown measures have disrupted family life in ways that impact every family member’s well-being, and more often than not, it’s Mom who shoulders the responsibility of holding it all together.
For advice, I asked Deborah Ann Davis, a parenting coach and the author of “How to Get Your Happy On: An Awesome Mom Handbook.”
The Epoch Times: This year many curve balls have been thrown at mothers everywhere. How do you think they are doing?
Deborah Ann Davis: Motherhood is an isolating experience already, which intensifies the overwhelm many moms feel. That puts many moms behind an eight ball, even before our world was slammed by the pandemic. Moms are staggering under the impact of their own worries about the pandemic, keeping their children safe, ensuring their kids’ education, running the household, etc. The more help moms have, the better they can handle what life throws at them, but too many moms are doing it all on their own.
The Epoch Times: It’s important for every family that Mom takes care of herself. What simple ways can Mom ensure that she’s not neglecting her own needs as she aims to meet the needs of the rest of the family?
Ms. Davis: Delegate. Have the kids help with chores, which will remove some clutter off Mom’s plate. There may be a training period she’ll have to endure, but in the long run, doing chores together strengthens family bonds. Together you can figure out laundry, menu selection, grocery lists, meal prep, dusting, bed-making, pet care, ironing, cleaning up after meals, etc. It’s not rocket science, and they’re going to have to learn how to do it at some point anyway.
Then, Mom can use that time she freed up for some quality “me time.” Take a walk. Take a bath. Take a nap. Take a pause for the cause. Not only will you be staving off burnout; but you’ll also be modeling the behavior your kiddos need to embrace so they can live sane, healthy lives.
The Epoch Times: Your book “How to Get Your Happy On” sounds like just the thing many mothers could use right now. What inspired you to write this book?
Ms. Davis: 2019 was a nightmare for our little family. My husband needed surgery because he lost the use of his arm, our insurance wouldn’t pay for it, we struggled without his salary because he couldn’t work, I was sick for six weeks and was afraid of getting him sick by taking care of him, my publisher folded, a dog bit me (it was a little dog), and on and on and on. I could feel my resiliency draining, so I knew I had to do something to bring myself back. I started practicing what the research was preaching, and I felt my buoyancy returning.
Suddenly things started to turn around. Our daughter created a GoFundMe page and used it to reach out to friends and family to raise money for my honey’s surgery. We raised enough for the down payment and were able to schedule a very successful operation. The outpouring of love and generosity was a true testament to the positive and supportive way we have moved through life helping those around us.
I wanted all these wonderful people to benefit from what I had learned, so I wrote “How to Get Your Happy On” and tried to send each one of them a copy. I was so thankful, I decided to make it free for the rest of the year, but once the pandemic hit, I made sure anyone who needed it could get a free copy from my website.
The Epoch Times: What simple steps can mothers use to increase their overall happiness during these times?
Ms. Davis: Tip #1: Take care of your body. Eat healthily, stay active every day, and drink water. Every choice we make for our bodies has an automatic mini power boost associated with it.
Tip #2: Count your blessings. List three good things about you, your day, your surroundings, your family, your job, etc. Take note of the good in the people and things around you. Be thankful for every detail.
Tip #3: Stay in the moment. Instead of worrying about the future, or obsessing over something in the past, focus on what you can do today, what you can enjoy today, or what you can listen to today. Center yourself. Meditate. Do a hobby or a puzzle. Spend time with your family. Whatever it is, focus on that moment.
Tip #4: Get in touch with someone. Reconnect with an old friend, call a relative, snuggle up with a loved one and watch a movie, compliment a colleague, joke with the bank teller waiting on you, make a date with your best friend, get a drink with someone special. Pick anybody and make the most of your time with them!
The Epoch Times: What final advice would you give a mom who wants to inject more joy and happiness into life?
Ms. Davis: Scientific research shows you can deliberately generate happy hormones, even when you don’t feel happy. Going through the motions improves your mood. If you don’t believe me, just pretend to do what I tell you, and it will still help you. Try these:
“Sigh of Relief”: Take a deep breath, and exhale it hard, like a sigh of relief. The sensation of relief will be there. Look for it. Mines in my belly, right under my solar plexus.
“Look to the Sky”: Without moving your head, cast your eyes upward for a moment, and then relax. This one is subtler, but I feel my positive sensation inside the center of my upper chest, around my thymus gland area.
“Fake Smile”: When you smile, the movement of your jaw and facial muscles generates a slew of happy hormones. It turns out that if you “fake smile,” your body can’t tell the difference, and generates all those happy hormones anyway. So stretch your lips like you’re grinning ear to ear, and let the hormones flow! These I feel in my belly.
Teach these strategies to your kids so they will have tools to de-escalate themselves. Besides, a fake grin in the middle of an argument interrupts its negative momentum and can turn things around. Less negativity will leave more space for joy and happiness.