Mom Writes First

30: How to Create More JOY (yes, joy!) in Your Life!

June 23, 2022 Jen Larimore
Mom Writes First
30: How to Create More JOY (yes, joy!) in Your Life!
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 30--Welcome to Mom First! This podcast helps working moms ditch the overwhelm and stress so they are happier and more fulfilled each day. You have a lot going on, and I get that you are a Mom First--and so much more too! 

Come with me on this episode, where I share my personal journey and mission to create more joy in my life and to inspire other moms (including working moms) to do the same. 

Yes, I know you have a lot on your plate. Same, Girl, same! I know the meal prep, commute, laundry, and zoom meetings feel endless. And that every free minute you devote to your kids. 

And I'm here to tell you that if you want your kids to grow up to live lives full of happiness, connection, and meaning. Then guess what!? You go first!

Here I'll share with you how I came to this realization, and what I did about during a time when I was really struggling. You'll learn specific ways to implement a joy practice in your life and create more joy on purpose. Let's go! 

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Between the commute, the zoom meetings, meal prep, laundry, and all the kids’ activities, who has time for joy? The answer to that question is, you, you my friend, you have time for joy. You deserve joy. And on this episode I’m going to give you a quick primer on how to make it happen. Are you ready, let’s go? 

Today’s episode, I’m taking you straight to the purpose of this whole podcast. I started this podcast to create more joy in my own life.

Look, I’m a working mom just like so many of you. As moms, we are all spread super thin. This week I had to just straight up buy 2 of my kids new swimsuits, because I cannot find their swimsuits currently. They are lost somewhere in our house, or car, or at the cabin. Who knows? Could be anywhere! And I’m the go to whenever anyone can’t find anything. How’s it work at your house? Is that one of your jobs too? 

Between work, the commute, the zoom meetings, the meal prep, the laundry, and all the running for kids activities, it seemed like I hardly ever had time or space for joy in my life. Last summer and fall, I was in a pretty rough spot. I had gotten everything I had ever wanted. An incredible husband and 5 beautiful, healthy, kind, hilarious, smart, awesome kids. A meaningful job! A house, even a cabin. Are you kidding me? But I had hit this spot where I was like super numb. I was so incredibly happy when I was with my kids, but beyond that I could hardly feel anything. In the past, if this had ever happened, I would throw myself into more of something–more work, more activities, more projects. But none of that was working this time. I just couldn’t feel happy or joyful, unless I was just with my kids. And even that could only last so long, right, because they hae other things to do and its not their job to make me happy. 

And in fact, that’s really just what happened. In the Summer and Fall of 2021, things were really beginning to open back up after the pandemic, kids were going back to school, baby to daycare fulltime, activities were pretty much back in full swing, and I was–just like–number. 

It was like, somehow in all of the hullabaloo of pandemic, and the working through the pandemic sometimes ridiculous hours, the eschool, and adding a puppy and baby human to our family–it was like I lost myself. 

I knew that for me, for my marriage, for my family, I needed to get to the bottom of what was happening. And so, I tried a bunch of things. I started seeing a therapist every other week. That didn’t help me with this. I exercised. It didn’t help. I ate better. It didn’t help. I cut back on nursing a bit once my daughter turned 1 and that didn’t help–thinking more sleep and less stress from that would help. I started using my PTO at work, thinking I just needed a break it didn’t help. Even if things got better during the break, i’d feel the same way when I went back. 

In fact, to be honest, those things, it was almost like doing them and still feeling this way, made things worse. I regularly felt like if just one more thing went wrong, I would melt into a puddle of tears on the floor. 

And not only did I have that numbness and struggle with feel exhausted and burnt out. But I also felt so guilty and ashamed for feeling that way. I had so much appreciation for every person and everything in my life. And yet, my feelings weren’t reflecting that. My attitude was not where I wanted it. So, for a while, I really beat myself up about that. 

And obviously that didn’t help! Have any of you ever experienced that?

Again, I knew that there had to be something more. I have this belief, that we are meant to be here, on this planet. With the people that we are with. That we are meant to be here to experience. To create. To love and be loved. To give generously and to receive with appreciation and an open heart. To be joyfilled. To have fun. To play. 

Because honestly, at the end of the day, what else is there. You can have billions of dollars. You can have sacrificed your health and mind for a cause. You could have even saved lives. But if you did not live your own life. If you did not love. If you did not joy. If you did not appreciat that sparkle in your child’s eye. If you did not hold on tight for all the snuggles. If you did not take the time and opportunity to make those memories with your kids. If you did not do those things. Then what was it worth. If you were unhappy. If you were miserable. 

And so I had this belief. This belief that we are here to experience happiness and joy. To have love and be loved. To create, to play–to feel joy! To have joy, connection, meaning. All of that. 

And yet–I was not living into that belief. There was this huge disconnect. 

I watched my kids so closely that fall. They were so excited for everything that was happening as the world was opening back up. And I knew that if I wanted to be the kind of mom that I wanted for them, that I had to shake things up for myself. I realized that if I wanted them to live lives full of meaning, connection, and joy, I was going to have to do that too. I had to set the example. I had to show them how. I had to go first. 

And so that’s what I did. 

And I started with joy. I started by deciding that I was going to do things out of joy everyday and that I was going to do that regardless of what I looked like, what others thought, or how it made others feel. I was just going to do it. If it meant looking dumb, making a fool of myself… if it meant late nights and rejection. If people cared too much or not at all, I just didn’t care anymore. I was going to do it. 

I made that decision in October 2021. And I’ve been taking small steps in that direction of joy–creating more and more joy each day. And my life has changed so much since then. It feels like 3 years. Its not even been 1. 

And, what I want you to know… because I hear your brain already coming up with all the excuses right now.  even while doing that, even while creating the joy, I’m still working full time. I’m still moming all the time. And I say that not because I’m super mom. Eww gross. I’m not a fan of that term. I say it because I want you to see that it is possible to be a mom–even a mom that wears a lot of hats–and still have joy at the same time. 

And here’s how I did it. How I am doing it. 

  1. I managed my own mind. The first step in managing your mind is to bring a lot of awareness to the thoughts running through your mind. Thoughts that are at the forefront and thoughts that are in the background. All the thoughts. . I did and still do a lot of thought work. I manage my mind every day. I do mind dumps. I express my thoughts through art. I journal. I do something like that every day. You need to get the thoughts out of your head and down on paper and look at htem. 
  2. Examine your thoughts. Once they are out, you need to look at them. Examine them. And decide are those thoughts serving you. Are they helping to create more of what you want in your life. For most of us, no, we have a lot of thoughts that frankly are not that useful. 
  3. So then I started choosing better thoughts. And I know that sounds like a mind hack or a quick fix, but its not. You choose better thoughts when you choose a thought that is closer to teh thought you want to have than where you are now and it is also a thought that you believe. So for example. One thought that I regularly had last fall was around time, and not having enough time. So a thought I used on purpose then, when I had a lot of time scarcity was, actually a lot of people would say that I have plenty of time to get done what I needed to get done. And I’d think about how it was so much easier for me to get things done as a working mom than the generations before me. Zoom, cell phones, email. Its actually kind of incredible now. 
  4. I increase my mental resilience. I enrolled in a program designed to build my mental fitness. Just like we build our physical fitness. We need to build our mental fitness. And so every day, I did my mental fitness reps (just like you do push ups at a gym). These reps that I did, were called PQ reps, and they came from a guy named Shirzad Chamine. And he talks about them in detail in his book Positive Intelligence. They are super simple and easy to do , and essentially what they do is give you almost like a little mini meditative moment that helps to ground you back into your body. You can do one of these reps anywhere. All you need to do is experience and notice your physical body. So, place your hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in. Feel the rise of your chest as your breath in. Notice how the air feels coming into your lungs. Press lightly on your chest with your hand. Notice how your fingertips feel against your skin or your clothes. Now exhale. Notice how your chest moves. Notice the temperature of air as it moves through your body and out your nose. This is just one example of a way in which you can strengthen your own mental fitness. You cand do this throughout the day. Whenever you feel that you need to be calmer. Or even better do it regularly throughout the day to keep yourself charged up for all that the day is going to bring to you. The more often you do this, the more you will build your mental fitness. I’ve noticed that this has two main benefits for me. First, it helps me to be more resilient. My reservoirs are fuller. I can handle more of what the day tosses at me. Second, it helps me to be more deliberate with my own thoughts, words, and actions. I become less reactionary and more discerning. 
  5. Add bites of joy throughout my day. These are just simple little things that bring joy to my day. And when I do them, I really appreciate them. My 10 minutes of yoga. I love how that feels in my body. My favorite tea or favorite drink. The smell of coffee. Sometimes I smell people’s coffee. Is that weird? Seriously, I can’t drink it but I love how it smells. Playing with my little girls’ hair, I just love her curls. Lighting a candle. Giving a hug. I do these on purpose. And when I do them. I make sure I am fully present. With my senses. For more examples or ideas on how to add small bits of joy throughout the day, be sure to check out the “call to joy” series in this podcast, dropping every Tuesday. 
  6. And finally schedule all the joy. And make it your top priority. Schedule it first. The things that bring me joy. And help me feel better, happier. I schedule those first. Those come before work. Those come before exercise. Those come even before–my kids. Now two or three years ago, I would have felt guilty saying that. Selfish even. Not anymore. Because I think about the example I am trying to set for them. And I know that if want them to be happy. I need to set that example. I need to be joyful too. That’s our job. That’s what we do as moms. We go first. 

Okay my friends. Thank you for this episode. If this resonated with you, be sure to head over to the Mom First Podcast page on facebook. Can’t wait to see you there! 

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