It’s all about moms this May, so take a few moments to find ways to treat YOU!
Want to give your family some hints about awesome Mother’s Day gifts? Click here for Shelbie’s Mothers’ Day Gift Guide for all kinds of fun odds and ends!
11 Secrets of Happy Moms
by Christa Melnyk Hines
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” — Dalai Lama
Happiness is an emotion that can come and go, but how do you recapture that bubbly feeling amid the challenges and stresses of parenthood? Here are a few tips from moms for staying positive and feeling good.
1) MOMS NIGHT OUT. Several moms polled for this article agree that moms’ night outs with their friends help them feel more optimistic, and science proves it. Studies find that time bonding with friends boosts your oxytocin level, the natural hormone that reduces stress. Check out mothers’ groups in your area to get your support network going.
2) COMMIT TO HEALTHY LIVING. Making time to care for your body helps you to feel more self-confident and energetic. Exercise, try to get adequate sleep, schedule regular “me” time and make healthy food choices to feel your best.
“I know that when I’m reasonably well-rested and happy, I’m absolutely more patient, energetic and empathetic to everyone in my household,” says Erica Wilson, a mom of one.
3) TAKE TIME FOR PERSONAL PURSUITS. Whether you like surfing Pinterest, training for a 5K or simply taking a warm bubble bath, moments stolen throughout the week contribute to your overall sense of well-being.
“I try to take at least a few minutes a day outside. I close my eyes, take deep breaths and listen to the sounds,” says Melanie Werner, a mom of one.
4) NOURISH YOURSELF. During the rush of the week, you may throw meals together just to get your crew fed. If you enjoy cooking, find a day when you can slow down and relish the preparation. The process of chopping and measuring ingredients is meditative and soothing. If it’s not your favorite thing to do, at least set a pretty table when you can with cheerful flowers to brighten it up.
5) LAUGH. Family life IS funny — learn to see it that way. Kids say hilarious things and all kinds of things happen. Write those gems down and put’em in a jar. Next time you need a lift, read them. Also, look at family videos or photos, head out to a fun event, watch a silly movie or read a humorous book. Let yourself enjoy!
6) GET SPIRITUAL. Studies find that women — and all people — who lean on an inner belief system are happier. Find a connection to spirituality through joining a church, helping others, personal meditation or journaling.
Michelle Hovick, a mom of one, says the “Elevation” church app is one of her favorite spiritual gateways to a mood shift.
7) PRACTICE GRATITUDE. In a gratitude study at Eastern Washington University, researchers found a correlation between gratitude and happiness.
“We have found that grateful individuals tend to be happy individuals and that grateful thinking improves mood,” the researchers report. Try writing down three things you’re thankful for each day — tiny moments count, too!
8) GET YOUR GROOVE ON. Whether she participates in a Jazzercise class or switches on upbeat dance tunes in the kitchen, Jessie Mallicoat, a mom of three, dances.
“If I’m in a bad mood, I put on some ‘dancy’ music and it usually helps,” Mallicoat says. Studies find that dancing boosts the body’s feel-good endorphins. Dancing has even helped reverse depression and increase self-confidence — wow!
9) SET BOUNDARIES. Happier moms make conscious decisions each day about who and what is allowed into their lives. Switching to this way of thinking is empowering. You don’t have to be harsh or hurtful to accomplish this goal. Politely decline invitations that don’t fit with your priorities and limit interactions with negative people.
10) ACCESS GOOD CHILDCARE. Seek reliable childcare in order to feel secure pursuing other interests and work. Having trouble finding a sitter? Check out sittercity.com, care.com or ask other parents for references.
11) AVOID COMPARISON. Parenting philosophies that work well in one family may not work well in another. Thanks to the information highway, there’s no shortage of advice out there.
Decide what works best for your family, i.e. how you want your family to “be.” But careful: spending too much time on social media can make you feel like you don’t quite measure up.
“Being happy with yourself and how you parent is key to accepting other moms and how they parent, which creates a more supportive parenting community all around,” says Mandy Yokim, mom of two.
Freelance journalist, Christa Melnyk Hines and her husband are the parents of two boys. She finds happiness in historical romance novels, sunny days and chocolate chip cookies. She’s the author of Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life.
FIND FRIENDS & SUPPORT IN A MOMS GROUP!
You didn’t mean for it to happen, but it does. Suddenly you’re at home all day with little ones and feeling isolated — sometimes it’s all you can do to just get out of the house! Other moms understand and experience the same thing. That’s why joining a moms club can be so good for you:
Moms Offering Moms Support (aka, MOMS Clubs; momsclub.org) are designed for at-home moms who are looking for outings, activities and friendship for themselves and their little ones. There are dozens of MOMS Clubs in the Greater Cincinnati area, along with MOPS Clubs (Mothers of Preschoolers; mops.org).
Find the friendship and support you desire as a mom! Go to the “Directory” on our website for a list of local mom clubs.
Drop a little hint and let your family know that — YES — you’d love a relaxing massage to get your groove back.
Becoming Mom Pregnancy Spa
5485 Deerfield Blvd., Mason
Purchase a gift certificate of $200 or more and get a complimentary Mom-on-the-Go Manicure, or pick up the My Mom Rocks Spa Package for $149 that includes a massage with hot or cold stone therapy, and a signature pedicure. Get a free heartbeat recording with any HD ultrasound gift certificate, as well.
Identity Hair Salons and Medical Spas
7710 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
8501 Beechmont Ave., Beechmont
Pick up a gift card that allows Mom to choose from a range of services or visit the website to select a spa gift package for her.
Mi Salon Spa
7535 Burlington Pike, Florence
Discounts on three different packages, including the Afternoon of Relaxation (reg. $192, selling for $165), the Essential Pampering (reg. $165, selling for $140), and Take a Break (reg. $100, selling for $85).
Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa
5901 East Galbraith Road, Kenwood
2692 Madison Road, Hyde Park
11330 Princeton Pike, Tri-County
7795 Discovery Drive, West Chester
Mother’s Day specials include $100 gift card for $80, $75 gift card for $60, and $50 gift card for $40 to buy online or in-store.
NVogue Medi Spa and Wellness Center
8988 Cincinnati Dayton Road, West Chester
Head to the website for a list of specials.
NVogue Day Spa
2853 Town Center Blvd., Crestview Hills
Design your own gift card at the website.
Tuscany Spa and Salon
11355 Montgomery Road
Visit the website for specials, or purchase a gift card for a specific package or just a general dollar amount that lets Mom use it how she chooses.
Valenti Salon & Spa
8315 Beechmont Ave.
7459 Wooster Pike
Purchase a gift card or choose from the list of services to get Mom her favorite salon or spa experience.
Woodhouse Day Spa
9370 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
— and —
2808 Turkey Foot Road, Crestview Hills
Show Mom you love her with a gift card for Woodhouse Signature Services, or choose a dollar amount to let her design her own experience.
by Christa Melnyk Hines
We can all relate to certain universal truths about motherhood, as cliché as they’ve become. While it’s boring to hear someone say, “The years are short but the days are long,” it’s just plain, old true. Here are other clichés — urr, truths — that will inspire and sustain you … if you allow them to!
“This too shall pass.”
When you rock a colicky baby at all hours, this comforting mantra is like a blinking light. I still whisper this oft-spoken phrase to myself in times of stress, and it hasn’t let me down yet.
“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Don’t underestimate the value of a supportive network of mommy friends. Take it from me, connecting with other moms offers a pressure release valve when you need to talk out your worries and frustrations, much to the relief of your frequently called-on pediatrician.
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
When steering through a tearful toddler tirade or slogging through sick days, you’ll want nothing more than the clock to skip ahead to a less exhausting time or place. When well-meaning individuals told me, “Enjoy these days — they go so fast,” I wanted to give them a swift kick in the derriere. But I understand why they said it. Those long days are quickly becoming bittersweet memories.
“Mother knows best.”
Know your own heart and mind. I recall standing in line at the store with my 2-week-old son sleeping in his baby carrier. “What a tiny baby,” said an elderly woman behind me. “How old is he?” When I told her, her voice hardened. “In my day, I wouldn’t have left the house until he was at least 6 weeks old.” As a sensitive new mom, admonishments like this bothered me despite following doctor’s recommendations.
“Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.”
You’ll gain a new respect and appreciation for individuality and the word “quirky.” Many kids have curious interests. My son has loved cars since he was 2. Not sexy sports cars, mind you. Cars like the 1988 Ford Taurus station wagon and the AMC Gremlin make his socks go up and down.
“Keep calm and carry on.”
Your ability to remain calm in a crisis may surprise you. I learned this about myself when my youngest was 3. Across the room he chirped, “Look at me, Mommy!” and sure enough he was hanging upside down from the top of the oak mantle of our stone fireplace. “You need to get down,” I said coolly to avoid sudden movement on his part. I walked fast to lift him down. I still shudder, imagining his brains splattered across the floor.
“Mother is the world’s hardest job.”
Emotionally-charged days with screaming kids may drive you to retreat behind closed doors, curl up in a fetal position and sob. You may tell yourself that mothering is too hard and you aren’t getting any of it right. But surrender isn’t an option. You’ll pick yourself up, splash cold water on your face and get back out there.
“No guts, no glory.”
On especially exasperating days, you might fantasize about packing up and abandoning this motherhood mess you got yourself into. But you won’t run away. Children have a distinctive talent for breaking and repairing your heart daily. You won’t think twice about accepting their vise-like hugs and sloppy kisses. You’ll tuck sentimental notes away for safekeeping that sing your praises in childish scrawl, gussied up with stick people holding hands.
“Put on your own oxygen mask first.”
The minute my son arrived on the scene, he naturally became the center of our universe. I forgot how much I still needed to nourish my body and spirit if I was going to be an emotionally stable and healthy mother. Getting out of the house, taking walks, joining a supportive moms’ group and returning to my interests reduced my anxiety levels and helped me feel more content.
In the thick of motherhood, you’ll find these sayings will gently assimilate themselves neatly among life’s forthcoming milestones, tragedies and triumphs. And sooner or later, you’ll turn to congratulate a new mom and out will pop the words you swore you’d never say, “Enjoy these days. They go so fast.”
Christa Melnyk Hines is the mom of two boys. She’s the author of Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life, a resource for moms seeking asylum from isolation and an out-of-whack social life.