Smile Big This Year

Want this year to be your best year? Who doesn't?! Here's how to up your happiness factor with a few simple life changes.

Happy woman

Happiness. They say that money can't buy happiness. But what can make your motherhood happier? When you are a stressed out mom, happiness can seem like the holy grail. The good news is that with a few simple life and attitude changes, you can be happier than ever -- and your family will be, too!

So, where do you start?

Stop and enjoy

Moms are always on the go -- tending to their kids' needs, their home, the laundry, meals, dishes. And while they might have help from their partner, it still doesn't quash the feeling that there is always something to do. And that can make the idea of seemingly less significant things seem undoable.

Do them anyway. Play with the kids. Stop and take a walk. Put work aside and bake cookies just because. "I become happier when I remember that my children are only young for a brief time in our lives (theirs and mine) and spending non-task oriented time with them, doing an enjoyable activity or just listening to them is a worthwhile use of my time," says Carissa Brown, mother of four.

Learn to say no

It's so hard to be upbeat all the time when you are constantly doing things that you either don't want to or don't have time to do. Why do you do these things? Most likely because someone asked you to.

If you truly want to be happier, than you need to learn to say no. "Ever notice how the dad?s out there have no problem doing for themselves first? It?'s not because they are selfish -- it'?s because they know how to say ?no?, without feeling guilty or relying on same lame excuse," says Jenn Lee, a life navigation coach.

Let kids be kids

You want them to grow into productive, friendly, mannerly adults who can conduct themselves in any situation. But right now? They are kids. Let them act like it. No, seriously.

Happy moms say that letting their kids act like kids, doing the things kids want to do but are discouraged to (within reason, of course), makes them happy. "One of my tips/tricks for being a happy mom is not sweating the small stuff. I let me kids be kids and it makes all of our lives easier," says mom Kelly Damron. Damron lets her kids jump on beds at home, which leads to lots of laughter. "They love to do it and there is something about being on the bed that invokes creative play in both of them."

Take care of you

A friend of mine always signs her notes to me, "Take care of you," and I didn't get what she meant -- at first. Now I do. As a mother, it's absolutely important to take care of yourself along with everyone else. You matter.

Parenting expert Susan Tordella, author of Raising Able: How Chores Empower Families, says this is an absolute must. "When I ignored my own needs in favor of my four children and husband, I became depressed...Women must take some time for ourselves regularly -- exercise, going out -- away from husband and kids, and engaging others in home maintenance-cleaning and food preparation," says Tordella.

Make things work for you

Sometimes you have to do things because you just have to, but that doesn't that you need to bend yourself for those tasks. Instead, make them work in a way that works for you. "Don't change who you are to fit a task. Instead, change the task to fit your lifestyle. For example, if you dislike meal planning, forget trying to become the Next Food Network Star. Instead, find a quick fix; don't, delegate or do the task in five minutes or less," says Stephanie Vozza, author of The Five-Minute Mom's Club: 105 Tips to Make a Mom's Life Easier.

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