Thursday, March 7, 2013

30 Days to Being Happier - My Rough Start

Okay, so I have two days of "being happier" behind me now and I have to admit they were terrible failures. My hypothesis was, that by acting happier myself, my family would in turn be happier which would make me truly happier (and not just pretending to be happy) - kind of like "fake it til you make it." Apparently, my husband and kids did not get the memo.

I am pretty sure that happiness might be elusive while you have a 5 year old and a 12 (almost 13) year old living at your house. And if you are one of those woman who say, "love and appreciate them now because they will grow up so fast and you will miss them when they are gone," then I call bullshit. Honestly, you are either completely delusional or you have a full time nanny. Besides, who said they would ever be gone? Seriously, ask my parents - they probably see us more now than when we were in high school and I guarantee they like us more now anyway.

I will admit that I did yell less. But this was simply an act of will. Yesterday afternoon I remember chanting the words, "I will not yell, I will not yell..." over and over under my breath as I walked up the stairs for the tenth time to break up the kids fighting because the little one was "being annoying" while the older one played video games online with his friends. Sure, I could have turned the video games off but that would make my life way more difficult and so I trudged through. I did a little better at bedtime as well, simply leaving the room when my five year old pretended to fight zombies instead of rolling over to go to sleep. The temper tantrum that ensued when I walked out was the same had I yelled however, so not sure who won that round.

I tried really hard with my husband too, overlooking the fact that our darling son was still awake when I got home from my Jr. Women's Club meeting at 9:30 pm as well as unbathed. That turned around to bite me in the ass however, because apparently you have to actually let this stuff go instead of just suppressing it which leads to an angry explosion 24 hours later and tends to make things worse.

As I am having a hard time finding success on my own, I decided to reach out to the ever accessible world on the internet looking for some direction or inspiration. I remember hearing about a 'better wife challenge' at some point and so that is where I decided to start. If you are interested it's called "Loving Him Well" and its quite honestly the biggest load of crap I have ever heard of. It's all about finding out what your husband needs from his wife and being all that - I am pretty sure you had to check your self-esteem and self-worth at the door and turn into his perfect Stefford Wife. No thanks, keep looking...

Then I found a pretty great blog, that had both a 'Be a better spouse challenge' and a 'Be a better parent challenge.' These seemed pretty easy to follow and not too self-deprecating and so I figured I could follow along. My assignment for the first two days with my spouse was to Let Bygones be Bygones (meaning leave the past in the past and not keep bringing it up year after year) and To Accept Them For Who They Are (pretty self-explanatory). I think after our fight yesterday, I pretty much bombed on both. These should be so easy in theory but god are they hard. I will be the first to admit that I want both of these things in return, so why can't I offer my husband the same respect? Clearly, I have some work to do...

On the parenting front, my assignment for day one was "Being present for my kids." I have known for some time that this was an issue for me so I have been trying to work on this one. Basically, the dishes can wait 5 minutes to listen to your kids or even just to snuggle. I swear I have OCD when it comes to a clean house, but I have to remind myself constantly that in the long run that is not as important as my kids. Not to mention that I am constantly reminded of a saying, "Cleaning with kids in the house is like trying to brush your teeth while eating oreos." This is a work in progress for me but a great reminder. It also gives me a chance to take a break, slow down and smile and snuggle which is a great way to be good to myself at the same time. I will need to remember to this much more often.

Day two on the parenting front challenges me to "Punish without anger." Again, this is one of my own goals as well, goes hand in hand with the less yelling thing. This is definitely easier with my five year old because when we count down from 5 to 1, he is usually doing what we asked him to do (or not to do) by the time we get to 1. Although he has begun throwing tantrums lately and his own anger has been getting the best of him. I find hugging and kissing with him as well as refocusing his attention is usually enough. But the tween, that is another story. It's like a test of will with him and an all out battle to see who can hold out longest and be most stubborn. Too bad for him that I have a lot of practice being stubborn and there ain't no way I am giving in. Unfortunately for both of us, this leads to some pretty nasty fights. And it is super hard to punish him because no matter what I say I am going to take away, he turns around and says, "Go ahead, I don't care." And honestly, grounding him is much more of a punishment for me. I truly believe we all benefit from him going to hang out at a friend's house. Typically when the kids misbehave it does make me angry so this is a really hard challenge...

I am trying through all of this to do things each day that make me happy too, like take a bath or get my nails done. Oh yeah, and wine - that has been very helpful :-)

Stay tuned for day three...


  1. there is a great book (and they also have an online course that goes with it) called "Awakening Joy" by James Baraz which indicates that it is joy in our lives, not necessarily "happiness" that we are looking for. Its a good read, which ten steps to leading amore joyful life. You might enjoy reading it :)

  2. I trued the fake it til you make it approach with myself and family. It actually worked and I started to genuinely feel my mood lift. My husband took it as a sign that I was having an affair. I dont laugh any more.