My mood is deeply and intrinsically tied to the atmosphere of my household.
I never saw the truth in “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” until I became a mom.
The impact my emotions have on my family is immense.
If I’m cranky, short-tempered, anxious, sad-I quite literally see it mirrored in the faces of my family members-especially the tiniest ones.
For a long time, I’ve seen this as a burden.
Why can’t I have bad days?
Why do I always have to be the one to check myself?
Why can’t I be cranky without taking everyone down with me?
And do you know why?
For most of us moms, our family’s attitudes are deeply rooted in ours because we are the center. We’re kinda the ones that keep the Hot Mess Express running (somewhat) smoothly. When it’s time to eat, they look to us. When they’re sick, they look to us. When they get caught up in big emotions, they look to us.
But what I think I’ve mistaken as a burden might actually be an area of power.
Being the biggest influence over the climate of my household is empowering.
It’s my job to set the tone of the day. It’s my job to influence the attitudes and moods of those who look to me.
How incredible is that?
I’ve realized this power is grounding. Of all of the millions of things that occur in a day in which I have no say, the power to influence the tone of my home environment offers a sense of control.
I recently saw an Instagram reel that a family therapist had created. She basically said that parents need to be more like dogs (I know you’re probably like, “What?” But it’s a good analogy). She said usually, without fail, if you walk into a room, your dog goes ballistic. They are so happy to see you. And that’s what we’re supposed to be like with our kids. Any and every time we see our children, we should have a giant smile on our faces, jump up and down, give them hugs and kisses. Because children need to feel delightful-that their very existence brings us vast amounts of joy.
It’s simple, really, isn’t it?
That we should be happy and joyful every time we look upon their little faces.
So, after watching that video clip, I’ve begun attempting to do just that.
When I see them first thing in the morning, I make sure to greet them with big smiles and love before getting my coffee. When they run out of the room and then run back in, I make sure they see how excited I am when they return. When they pop their head out of their shirt when we get dressed in the mornings, I yell, “There he is, thank goodness!” with a smile.
I want them to know how much I delight in them just simply existing.
As adults, it easy to get caught up in battling the mental load of life. I can become distracted, stressed out, rushed.
And that impacts my attitude and mood. And that impacts how present and in-the-moment I am with my children. And then that impacts the entire atmosphere of the home.
I’ve noticed there is a correlation between my children feeling delighted in and thus doing delightful things….and them choosing to do some not-so-delightful things because I’ve made them feel less than delightful and they’re craving connection.
When I begin the day with negativity or aggression, I’m often met with negative actions and aggression.
When I delight in my family, delight is most often mirrored back.
Sometimes that means leaving my emotional and mental burdens at the threshold of my bedroom door and then stepping out as the mama they need me to be.
Sometimes that means mama needs a second to improve my mood with dance parties, a minute break, a moment to breathe, a pause before reacting-thus hopefully showing them different ways to regulate their own emotions.
After all, there are little ones in my charge that are learning how to be a human by watching me.
Flipping the script and working towards a positive home environment isn’t magic. I still have two toddlers and toddlers will be…well, toddlers. It just means that when I am emotionally available and meet them where they are in a way that’s positive and nurturing, we can find equilibrium easier and more quickly than when I fight fire with fire.
I am nowhere near perfect with this yet, but it’s a challenge I am excited to take on. An inviting, nurturing, positive home environment starts with me.
How empowering is that?