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6 Things I Need to Be a Happier Mom

I am as guilty as any other mother to falling prey to the, "No, I'm fine," martyr mode of motherhood.

How many of us have done it? Scoffed, protested, pushed away offered help, declaring that we were fine, just fine, with our duties as mothers? This is the life we have chosen, especially those of us who are stay-at-home moms, and the last thing we can do is complain, right?

Well, yes and no.

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I'll probably keep complaining with the best of them, but what I've also learned is that if I'm falling into a motherhood funk (and we all have been there), it's also more than likely that it's because I'm not being honest with myself about what I need to do to function properly.

And when I'm not being 100 percent honest with myself about what I need to feel about myself, I'm not giving 100 percent as a mother either. I'm not saying that it's always possible to live a perfect, balanced life, especially as a mother of babies and toddlers, but for me, the first step to getting what I need is to actually admit what I need to be a happier mom. So, (deep breath), here goes nothing:

1. Sneaking in some sort of exercise every day

Period. The end. I need to sweat (and not over how to scrub crayons off of the wall) in a good way every day. It's just not feasible for me to get out of the house on a regular basis or afford a gym membership, so lately, I've been big into free Jillian Michaels videos on YouTube that I can do in 30 minutes or less. The baby weight really isn't budging, but moving my body helps me clear the mom cobwebs in my brain.

2. Downtime

When you're on call 24/7 it can be hard to relax. Even when I tuck into bed at night, I'm never really relaxed. One ear is open, just waiting for kids to wake up (because they usually do). But if I can escape even for 10 minutes and do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it, it's like I've just emerged from a rejuvenating spa visit. OK, maybe not that extreme, but you get the picture.

3. Coffee

It's going to be freshly-ground and in my cup each and every morning, no matter how crazy the kids are being.

There's a lot of things in my life that I know aren't good for me, but coffee is the one thing that I consistently look forward to each and every morning. I have made special mid-week trips with all kids in tow just for a bag of coffee beans, and I make no exceptions about my love for the stuff. It's going to be freshly-ground and in my cup each and every morning, no matter how crazy the kids are being.

4. A tidy house

Like any stay-at-home mom, I fight the long and hard battle against my kids' crap each and every day. And for a long time when I had my first two children, I felt guilty over the amount of cleaning I did every day. Wouldn't a good mom play trains instead of washing the dishes? I would think. Maybe—but this mom would get so anxious that the house was a disaster and she would be staying up all night cleaning it that she finally said screw it, the kids can learn some independent play. I'm not saying I spend every minute cleaning, but I've let go of my guilt of telling my kids every now and then that I need to pick up a bit before I play with them.

5. One day a week without an agenda

I'm a pretty introverted person, so I've found that carving out at least one day of week for the kids and me to just be home with no schedule and no agenda has made a big difference in my stress level. On the flip side, I also need some kind of structure to my week so I don't spend days without ever talking to another grown-up either.

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6. Work

While I've always thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom first, I've also always contributed to my family financially in some way too—first as a nurse and now as a writer. I have to say, working outside of the home (or inside of it) makes me a better mom. I love exercising my brain in different ways, I enjoy being on equal footing with my husband financially, and more often than not, I can dive back into mothering duties with more energy if I'm recharged from a good, productive work session.

What are some of the things you need to do to be a happier mom?

Image via Twenty20/christybrug

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