A friend recently sent me a video that shows a Mom’s “normal day”. It’s filled with diapers, spills, errands, cleaning and keeping the kids alive. Then at the end, it shows the same day through the eyes of a child. It shows all of the positive things that happened that day. Zooming fast in the grocery cart, singing, kisses and love. Naturally I watched it and sobbed thinking about our life. Not that I feel like my days are terrible, but it made me think about my attitude toward our normal life. When I am not consciously trying to have positive experiences with my kids, am I like the Mom in the video? Does my daughter watch me frowning or groaning when I have to clean up spills or change diapers? Do I reflect on the day with my husband and only recall the negatives?
Have you ever noticed that we start out positive? Children see the good. They are loving and curious and kind. Then life happens, I guess and we just become more and more negative.
I recently posted about being peaceful and I feel like in the moment I have been more aware of finding the calm and the peace, but somehow it doesn’t last. At the end of the day I am still exhausted and tend to think about things that went “wrong” or what didn’t get done that I had intended to do. Let’s be real, days with a toddler and baby can be long and it’s easy to complain. Also, completely changing your way of thinking definitely does not happen overnight. I was reading recently about ways to hardwire your brain for happiness. A few things resonated with me, but most of all was the idea that we are wired with a “negativity bias”. Our brains find it easier to hold on to negative experiences rather than positive ones. To combat this, the suggestion is to stay aware and focus on the positive experiences all around you. It sounds simple and so easy, yet it takes a lot of work to do so. After reading this I decided to make a real effort NOT to complain or be negative (especially at or in front of my kids). At night I reflect on my day and make sure that I remember some of the positive things. Even if initially it seems negative, I try to find the “silver lining” in it all.
Take today as an example (it happens to be my birthday)…. if I decided to only remember the negative parts I would say that I didn’t have a very good birthday…. The baby ended up in bed with me around 4am. My toddler woke up screaming at 5. I only got 3 sips of my morning coffee before it got cold. We completely failed at doing an art project and I ended up scrubbing red paint of the kitchen floor as if I was cleaning up a crime scene… the list goes on and on.
In reality I had a wonderful birthday! I just remembered to focus on the positives. I began the day with all of the people who I love the most snuggling in bed. My daughter came in bathroom and sang Happy Birthday to me 7 times while I did my hair. Although, I missed my morning coffee I stopped at my favorite coffee cart on the way to surprise a great friend (and birthday buddy) for lunch. My daughter was being her amazing little talkative self making me so proud of her, and my son’s smiles lit up the room all day. Both kids napped well, and then in the afternoon we did projects. Miss independent decided to paint her own feet (and a large portion of herself and the kitchen) for our footprint project but she was SO proud of herself.
Focusing on the positives and not complaining takes time to do. It doesn’t feel as natural and negatives constantly creep up. Slowly, however, I am making this change. It sounds weird, but allowing myself to enjoy and really live in the positive almost feels like I am cheating on my own life. Coming out of this negative fog that life has dragged me into is very refreshing. Being a Mom is the center of it all. They are my reason for making changes in my life that I never knew I needed to make. I don’t ever want my kids to remember me being negative, especially for no good reason. I want them to grow up and be thoughtful and aware and kind. I want them to know that there is good everywhere if they choose to look for it. I want to be a source of good for them. I will be better for them.