We were sitting around the table when I asked him.
Sometimes you just need to hear something plain and simple from a child.
"Son, how can I be a better mom?"
He looked at me with that boyish, sunny grin. So full of life and love.
The kid is beautiful.
"Just"" he shrugged his shoulders sideways, like things really are this easy. "Just be happy."
He's sitting there beaming, not asking for an iPad or a trip to Disney World or a family fun night each week. He's not asking for laundry stacked nicely on his bed or for meals to be home cooked or for glass doors to be free of smudge marks.
The kid just wants a happy mom.
And that's just it, isn't it? A happy mom is what makes a good mom.
Your kids just want a happy mom.
I've thought a lot about that simple conversation I had a few years ago with my eight year old. I've thought about the main things that keep me from being a happy mom and I've discovered three of them.
Three stinkin' reasons that make "happy" feel impossible"¦
1. I feel flat out overwhelmed (stressed).
2. I feel under-equipped (clueless).
3. I feel exhausted (worn slap out).
Thing is, feelings can make problems appear bigger than they really are. When you sit down and look the enemy in the eye you realize they aren't as big or tough as you thought. They aren't insurmountable.
A little bit of organization, inspiration, and motivation will go a long way in overcoming those barriers "¦ which translates into a happier, better mom.
Below are 10 Ways to be a Better Mom, and a 10 week plan for actually doing it.
Week One: De-clutter
Surprised? I'll let you in on a secret. One of the greatest causes of stress in my life is clutter in my home. It's likely the same for you.
Until I deal with unpacked boxes from the last move, paper piles, and dust bunnies, I know I'm never going to stop feeling constantly overwhelmed. Where is the clutter in your home right now? Now image how it would feel for that to be gone. See what I mean? This is step one to being a happy mom!
Take one week to systematically work through each room of the house de-junking, purging and organizing your space. Remember the rule: A place for everything and everything in it's place.
Week Two: Have a Plan for Meal Planning
So sometimes I'm on and sometimes I'm off with the meal planning and this is the next big area that causes stress and tension in my home. This one is actually easy to address "¦ we've just got to set aside a tiny bit of time each week to do it.
This week find a consistent time you can set aside for meal planning. Planning ahead eliminates the stress and pressure to come up with something at the last minute. Plus it means fewer meals out (i.e. cheaper)!
Week Three: Master Your Mornings
So mornings can be absolutely crazy-nuts for us moms! The secret to having a great day is in mastering your mornings "¦ and it's easier than you think.
I've learned so much from other women when it comes to making the most of your mornings. Going from "messy mornings" to "meaningful mornings" takes some intentionality and a little bit of know-how. Crystal Paine brings those things together in her 14 day online course Makeover Your Mornings. This video course BRINGS IT! It is practical and totally doable for the busy mom. Crystal gives you mini coaching sessions each day and an assignment to implement. I recommend this course to every mom who needs to get a grip on her mornings!
Week Four: Beautify and Simplify Your Home
So you've gotten rid of the clutter. Now it's time to simplify and beautify your living space. Let's face it: we all gravitate towards beauty. It's the way God made us. As keepers of our homes, we can create a beautiful, inviting space without spending a penny. (What? Don't believe me? Your Simple Home Handbook: 30 Projects to Help Your Home Breathe convinced me; I bet it will convince you too!)
Begin working through the 30 different projects in the Your Simple Home Handbook. Pick three or four to complete this week and see what a difference they make.
Week Five: Try Freezer Meals
There will be days when your best intentions or well laid plans will get overwritten by an emergency, a chance to serve someone else, or sheer exhaustion. Having a freezer meal ready to go will give you the confidence that it's okay! You're already covered!
So go ahead, this is your week to venture into the world of freezer meals. You won't know if it works for you until you try it.
Week Six: Walk Intimately With God
I think we all know what a meaningful time with the Lord does for our attitude, words, and actions. But sometimes we can be like Martha, so distracted by other things that we simply fail to make time with Him first priority. If that's where you are right now, set a date with the Lord. Find a way to hold yourself accountable, such as working through a daily devotional.
Commit to making a habit of meeting with the Lord first thing every day, before anything else distracts or demands your attention.
Week Seven: Create a Homemaking Binder
Calling all unorganized girls to attention. Ahem. A Homemaking Binder is just what you need to organize your cleaning schedule, finances, family calendar, to-do lists, meal and grocery sheets, and more. Some call this a life management system because that's sort of what it is. You can create one that keeps track of all your personal information, your favorite recipes, your family calendar, whatever you need to stay organized.
Think through what your ideal binder needs to include. Then assimilate the necessary sheets and assemble your binder this week.
Week Eight: Fuel Your Body Well (and your family's)
Now that you're regularly putting food on the table, it's time to focus on making your food choices healthier. What we eat matters. While we all know this, there is so much info out there on best eating practices it can be overwhelming to sort through. Just give me simple, actionable information by people who know what they are talking about! Thankfully, this brand new eCourse does exactly that.
This course will help identify key changes to make regarding dietary habits that will deliver the greatest health impact. Simple and doable. Alternatively, choose a resource of your choice. YES!
Week Nine: Simplify the Wardrobe
Let me just get real for a minute. I can't tell you the number of times I've reached for something in the closet only to find the matching pants weren't clean or mended"¦ or the only clean top I had was a sleeveless one and I hadn't had time to shave my armpits. I mean, this stuff happens. And in case you didn't know, Mom's attitude is a lot happier if she's not wearing pajamas while dropping the kids at school. Yup, it's a scientific fact.
Make a date with your closet this week and start purging. Say goodbye to unwanted clutter, outdated styles, clothes you'll never fit into or mend. See if it doesn't help your attitude "¦ even if it doesn't do anything for the armpits - wink -
Week Ten: Have Fun. Do Something You Love. Or Learn Something New!
Need I say more? Because we need to be stimulated mentally, ahem.
This week, pick a course from Craftsy to do just for fun. Or sign up for music lessons, join a Sewing club, enroll in a photography course, start a blog "¦ the choice is yours and sky's the limit!
So, there you have it- ten practical ways to stop being overwhelmed, become equipped, and nourish your body, soul, and spirit. Ten ways to be a happier, better mom.
Just what those sunny-faced kids of yours ordered.
Now that you've got your plan mapped out, what are you waiting for? Ready"¦set"¦go!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Arabah Joy's website. It has been modified and republished here with permission.