How to Grow Happy Kids
I love the way RUOK Day makes it OK to ask someone else if they are feeling OK mentally. But what about asking ourselves too? I remember feeling depressed after having my babies, and although each mum has a unique experience, I’m pretty sure every mum can relate to feeling down after having a baby! In Kirstin Bouse’s book The Conscious Mother, it says that a happy mum makes happy kids, and that it takes a village to raise a mum so she can raise her child. I was only 19 when I had my first baby- I was isolated, sleep deprived, and was unable to access my village. This was a recipe for depression! I found that as time went on and my baby turned one, and I was getting proper sleep, got a car, and was consequently better able to access my village, that I started to feel a bit better. All mums want happy kids. So if the experts say that a happy mum makes happy kids, how can we make ourselves happy? My youngest is almost four, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m getting sleep, it’s easier to get out, socialise, and finally I have learned how to be assertive and set boundaries. Of course my life isn't perfect, and motherhood is HARD WORK, but my default mood is happy. My secret to being a happy mum, is by having positive thoughts. Your thoughts affect your feelings. I am in control over what I think about. I create a positive life through positive thoughts. There can be many circumstances that make it almost impossible to think positive thoughts, like total sleep deprivation! Another example, from my experience, is when you are surrounded by negativity through a lack of boundaries.
Your mind is like a garden
I like to think of my mind as a little garden that needs nurturing and protecting. There are bricks all around the outside, which allow good things in and keep bad things out. I allow positive thoughts in and keep negative thoughts out. This little garden is in the middle of a field of weeds, which are like negative thoughts. If I see a weed in my little garden I will pull it out while it is small, so it doesn’t become a big problem for me in the future. If I start to think negative thoughts, I get rid of them straight away, like a weed.
If I hear there is a chance of a storm on the horizon, I don't spend all my time imagining all the things that could go wrong. Instead I choose to be grateful for the sunshine I can feel right now, and imagine all the good things that I want to happen, like harvesting my beautiful, fresh garlic. I use my thought energy to imagine all the things I want to go right in my life, because your thoughts become your life.
I need to be aware of what I'm responsible for, which also means knowing what I'm NOT responsible for! My biggest responsibility in this season is to be a happy mum so I can have happy kids. I’m not responsible for the happiness of any person outside my little family, because each adult is responsible for their own thoughts and their own happiness. This doesn't mean I don't like to do nice things for others, it means I give when I can and when I want to, out of freedom, not out of obligation or guilt.
Avoid snails and bees
I don’t tolerate snails in my garden! If I catch a snail munching on my plants, my little helper Elijah removes the snails and puts them far away from the garden bed. I don’t stop to think about whether the snail will be offended or not, because the reality is that there is a whole big, wide, open field out there for the snail to live. It doesn't need to encroach on my garden, because it will do damage there! I don’t stop to think of what the bees flying past me think about what I just did to the snail. Besides, those judgemental bees don’t have to live my life, and quite frankly can just buzz off ;) I don't waste my thoughts being angry at the snail or worrying about what others think of me. Sometimes we need to occasionally unsubscribe to the negative people in our lives, who cause us damage. When you surround yourself with negative people, this makes you an unhappy mum, which makes unhappy kids.
Hang out with earthworms
After it rains, there is an abundance of earthworms that crawl in to my garden shed. These earthworms will feed, nourish and encourage my garden to grow! So my little helper Elijah searches for the earthworms like little treasures and liberally sprinkles them over the garden. We need to actively seek out positive, healthy people and surround ourselves with them. The earthworms in my life are my village, my special friends, and groups that encourage, help and support me to grow.
Ways to think positive thoughts
I also feed my little garden with homemade compost to help it grow. This is like injecting positive thoughts in to my mind. Some of my favourite ways to feed my mind with good thoughts are:
-Hanging out with inspiring people
-Reading someone else's wise words in a book (or listening to them on an audio book)
-Following social media pages on inspirational quotes or positive thoughts
-A heart to heart chat with a good friend
These things flush the stale negative thoughts out and fill my mind with positive thoughts and make me feel happy.
The secret to having happy kids is by being a happy mum
Make self care your priority! Make your mental health a priority. Do what you have to do! You're not alone- many mums feel down for different reasons. See a counsellor, GP, psychologist, do a course, read a book on happiness, set boundaries, get more sleep, remind yourself this season is temporary, avoid snails and bees, and fight for your mental health by doing everything in your power to look after yourself. Do what you have to do to be a happy mum, so you can have happy kids! So the recipe for happy kids is: be a happy mum, and do stuff with your kids. That is parenting in a nutshell! How do you look after your mental health? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments :)