Choosing joy

Well, this post is off to a great start. I just wrote the whole thing and then deleted it. Waah. The irony, is that it’s all about choosing to be happy she says while crying into her laptop

So anyway, here goes. Let’s try that again.

I’ve mentioned it a bit on here recently but I feel like we've been through a tough little season. With Jet’s behaviour, everyone being over tired and a few regressions with Nova. Nothing major but all added together it’s made quite a negative household.

Growing up one of my favourite films was Pollyanna (anyone else? It’s a bloody classic, good old Hayley Mills) in it she does something called ‘The Glad Game’ where she lists things she’s grateful for. I grew up with 3 sisters and if anyone mentioned something they were grateful for we’d chime back with ‘Alright, Pollyanna’ teasing each other for their eager gratitude.

But, I think Pollyanna was on to something.

It all started last week, I’ve already written about it but to cut a long story short Jet was ill and so wasn’t able to go to nursery (his one full day a week that he goes) I had a backlog of work and what not that I’d been saving for that day and so it came as such a blow that he coudn’t go. I had a real ‘life’s unfair’ moment.

I realised in that moment that I’d fallen into a rut recently. Focusing on all the sacrifices of motherhood rather than its many many blessings. Envying friends without children enjoying lie ins and relaxing weekends, Actor friends heading off on tours, and other freelance parents with more childcare than us sitting in coffee shops nailing their snacks and to-do lists.

The thing is, we can all list the things we don’t have, what if we started listing what we do have? That sounds like much a much happier list to me.

And so since then, I’ve been working on changing my mindset. To choose joy. To seek out the fun in the everyday, mundane moments. And it’s kinda changed my life (or at least the last 10 days!)

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I also wanted to put that new mindset into my parenting as well. In the last 7 months, since Nova’s arrival, I’ve seen my patience completely diminish. I think, in fact, its been my hardest adjustment to life as a mum of two. I was a pretty patient parent when I only had one baby, but with two children taking up so much brain capacity, mixed in with tiredness, baby brain etc etc my patience has been non-existent. And so with Jet particularly testing his boundaries recently I knew some thing needed to change.

So here’s a few things I’ve done, to choose joy in my parenting:

  • See the world through his eyes. It goes without saying that all these suggestions are easier said than done but I’m trying to do them and I’m seeing a change. I was calling and calling to Jet the other day in the park, trying to race home before some friends were arriving. Jet was stood stock still miles away from me as I kept shouting his name. Over the past few months I would’ve marched over and grabbed his hand and pulled him back to the buggy, frustrated that yet again I was speaking to a brick wall. Instead I took a breath and walked calmly over to him. I crouched down to his level and saw that through the hedge he was watching a couple playing tennis. I mean, who has time to listen to their shouty mum when there’s an exciting tennis match going on? I stayed and watched with him for a moment, then explained that our friends were arriving and we walked to the buggy back hand in hand.

  • Distract with fun. On this same park trip (it was an eventful one!) Jet was getting more and more tired and fed up as we walked home. He wanted a carry but I was already holding his discarded scooter and pushing Nova in the buggy. Again, I’m ashamed to say over the last few weeks I would’ve found myself snapping at him, picking him up and marching us all back home. Ending so many fun trips out with a tearful walk home. But instead we set out on a squirrel hunt, making sure each new tree we inspected was in the right direction to get us a step closer to home.

  • Find humour in his behaviour. He’s been giving me a lot of indignant ‘N0!’s at the moment and rather than letting it wind me up I’m imagining telling him about it when he’s older, telling him about the time he broke down in to a full tantrum in the middle of Asda because I unwrapped his biscuit for him.

  • This too shall pass. A popular parenting motto, reminding you that in what ever stage you’re in, it is just a stage, whether good or bad. Although, side note, I totes thought this was a quote from Lord of The Rings initially, maybe because it’s got a bit of a ‘Wizard, You shall not pass’ vibe. But, ignoring the LoTR confusion I find this motto so helpful. Sleepless nights, tantrums, dirty nappies, food thrown on the floor- it will all pass and our babies will be grown up and they won’t need to hold our hand to cross the street, or come to us to kiss their knee when they fall and I know I’ll wish I could do it all again.

And then in my own life I’m trying to stop and acknowledge each day little (or big) things that I’m grateful for. To see how full my life really is.

So, really, what I’m saying is super simple and you’re probably reading this thinking that it’s all pretty obvious and something that you already do. But for me, to choose to be grateful, to choose to see how full my life is has made my life feel full.

I started with Pollyanna, so let’s end with another film reference. The line in About Time that leaves me a weeping mess every time.

‘I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.’

- Richard Curtis, you get me every time.