Relishing the Joy of Motherhood

Parenting can be stressful, but also full of joy

Daughter playing with Mother in the room
Yagi Studio / Getty Images

Let's face it: Motherhood can be stressful. While the position brings with it some of the best perks you can imagine—the fun, the growth, and the love—it can also include a fair amount of work, frustration, and strain.

Juggling your responsibilities as a mom along with the other duties you have can be challenging. Whether you're also a spouse, employee, or volunteer in addition to being a mom, it can be hard to fit everything in. Fortunately, the joyful parts of motherhood can help you deal with those times that are more stress than fun.

One of the best ways for mothers to reduce stress is to cherish the joy of motherhood—to really enjoy your kids and make the most of all the gifts and benefits that come with being a mother. Here are some important things to remember.

Have Fun

Children come with their share of extra work, small (and not-so-small) upsets, and messes, but they are experts at having fun. Whether it’s a toddler reveling in the wonder of bathtime soap bubbles or a teen who is discovering the independence of driving, your kids can supply you with numerous opportunities to take joy in the daily activities you take for granted.

Seeing the world through your children's eyes and experiencing things from a fresh perspective can help you to enjoy the world around you in a fresh way and live each day to its fullest.

This is obvious when your kids reach major milestones such as learning to walk or have special moments like seeing snow for the first time. However, there are many other aspects of your children's lives that you can find joy in as well, like watching them play a sport, helping them learn to cook new foods (even something as commonplace as grilled cheese), or exploring new ideas that you may not have thought of before.

Having fun with your kids can multiply the joy you would normally find in everyday activities.

The key to having fun in the midst of everyday experiences is to slow down. By setting aside distractions and taking time to focus on your kids, you will be able to truly enjoy your time with them. Not only will you have fun together, you'll also be strengthening your bond with your kids.

Enjoy the Gifts of Every Stage

It can be stressful dealing with the tantrums, busyness, and challenges of each age in your child's life, but every age has its own gifts as well. When your toddler smears applesauce (or something worse!) on the walls the minute you turn your back to answer the phone, it’s easy to wish you could fast-forward to a day when you don’t need eyes in the back of your head.

But remembering all that you’d miss—their giggles as they play, the cuddles when they climb into your lap, the way their eyes light up as a dump truck passes on the freeway—can stop those thoughts in their tracks and return you to a more serene place.

Remember That Time Flies

While it can be overwhelming dealing with the needs of an infant or the demands of a toddler, and the clock can seem to stand still when you’re in the throes of potty training, realize that you’ll be amazed by how quickly it all passed. And once it’s gone—it’s gone!

Take a moment to think ahead to the future, when you​'ll be looking back on these days with nostalgia. Keep in mind that the days literally are numbered; today is the first and last day that you'll have with your child at exactly this age, at this moment in time. Reflecting on the brevity of life can help you find your second wind, and with it an extra dose of patience and good humor.

When a mishap does occur, ask yourself if this will still seem like a big deal five years from now. If the answer is no, try to laugh it off and move on.

Create a New Experience for You and Your Kids

One of the things that many women love about being mothers is that they get to relive their childhood—in a way. If you loved your childhood, you can enjoy giving your kids the same wonderful experiences you had, relishing not only their experiences but also your memories.

However, if your childhood wasn’t everything you wish it would have been, you can provide a better experience for your own kids. Not only will this provide them with the care and nurturing they need to thrive, it can also be an opportunity for healing and growth in your own life.

Don’t Forget Your Inner Child

You may find your own playful qualities coming back as you enjoy the day through your children's eyes and develop a deeper sense of gratitude and wonder at life. Whether you’re relishing the beauty of a sunset, rediscovering the addictive fun of Yahtzee, or enjoying any of the many ‘firsts’ that start in infancy and continue through the teenage years, you can learn to enjoy life all over again while your kids are learning for the first time.

By Elizabeth Scott, MS
Elizabeth Scott, MS, is a wellness coach specializing in stress management and quality of life, and the author of "8 Keys to Stress Management."