I was just telling Marcus the other day, “I used to dream of the day we’d have a dishwasher. Now we have one and I just complain that it smells funny.”
We’ve moved around a lot and throughout the course of our marriage we’ve experienced a few different humble living situations. We’ve scraped, we’ve bought and sold. And I feel I’ve really come to learn the truth of the principle that gratitude equals happiness.
But like I said, I think the hardest times to be grateful have actually been during the times when we’ve had a little more. Marcus got a solid job, and it got hard not to complain about working conditions and salaries. We got our own nice apartment with a dishwasher and washing machine, and it got hard not to complain about it not being ship shape all the time. We had a baby, and it got hard not to complain about lack of sleep and lack of time.
I saw this in my Facebook feed the other day and I’m so grateful to the woman who shared it. When I was done reading through it I’d completely forgotten about my complaints and I felt how it actively allowed me the space for a little more happiness.
When we get bored and excited for Papa to come home from work we send him selfies.
S with her treasures.Weeeeeeee!
Another selfie for Papa – when are you coming hooooome??
She’s actually not being a ‘scary bear’. Sometimes this is just what a happy face looks like.
Life of having a 1 year old. There are treasures in every drawer, cupboard and box around the apartment. The other day we were at some friends’ house and we couldn’t find our apartment keys. We finally found them in one of their kitchen drawers. I think she’s just trying to make our life more memorable.
Baby’s first ever beach day! I was so worried she’d be eating sand all day – but she didn’t! She was in too big of a hurry to get to the water!
This is her outfit no 2. Marcus lifted her just over the surface so she could splash with her hands but he didn’t notice the big wave before it completely drenched her. So she got her first ocean swim that day too.
Getting on the plane to Copenhagen! Baby was such a pro.
My wedding outfit. I hate posing alone in pictures – this is the only picture Marcus managed to take where I’m not doing an impatient silly face.
Outside the temple. She was in heaven! She made us walk her up and down the stairs a gazillion times – equally excited every time.
Posting this because it’s the only family pictures from that week. And we were all dressed up so pretty. Just forget about the distracted half-smiles.
Because it’s FRIDAY and I’m feeling a little extra happy about an exciting upcoming weekend!
1. Turn chores into parties
At our house there have been an immense number of cleaning parties, laundry parties, cooking parties, packing parties, unpacking parties, diaper-changing parties, bill-paying parties and homework parties. Marcus is right, I am weird. But really! If there’s good music, snacks and a happy spirit, it’s a party, right? And if it’s a party, you can’t help but be happy!
2. Focus on being grateful
Personally, I say a prayer. Even if you don’t believe in God, just for a second, imagine that He does exist and that you have the opportunity to talk to Him for a few minutes. Put it all out there. Give thanks for everything that makes your life good. If you’re doing it right it’ll probably take more than just a few minutes.
3. Get up earlier
I need to get better at this one myself. My mom taught me the beauty of early mornings. You feel happier for getting a head start and there’s just something inspiring about getting up before the day has really begun. My mom always says it feels like you have the world to yourself for a little bit. What better time to set the foundation for a happy day?
4. Smile! Force it if necessary
Seriously! One of the very most effective things I do when I feel frustrated and need to get it together quickly, is turn around, close my eyes and just smile. At nothing. Keep going! Until you slowly feel your anger releasing. Take a deep breath and think of something funny.
Like… remember the time- hahahahaha!
5. Create something
I honestly never feel happier than when I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I think being creative is so much more than just being artsy or musical. I really think it’s simply acting on inspiration. Or even prompting or allowing for inspiration. Reading a book, developing a skill, developing a relationship, writing in your journal, writing a letter, cooking a good meal, even looking out the window and just listening to yourself for a bit.
6. Cry it out
Marcus still doesn’t really believe me on this. But crying really helps?! Seriously, most times when I’m done I can’t even remember why I was angry in the first place. It works best if you don’t cry alone though!
7. Go for a walk
Some alone time in a different scenery really helps you empty your mind and think of something else. I don’t know if this is the case for everyone, but for me I feel like my mind and my thoughts get louder when I’m alone. It’s easier for me to reason with myself and to find solutions to my problems.
8. Be genuine
Nothing makes me feel more insecure than when I’m trying to be something that I’m not. Be happy about who you are and try to make your personality shine through your best features.
9. Think happy thoughts
Any happy little thought?**
Yes! If you’re somewhat like me, you’d be shocked how many negative thoughts you have throughout a day if you pay attention. Do yourself a favor and quickly think about something else when a negative impression sneaks its way inside your head. Allow yourself to see your day through happier and more colorful eyes – it will even make other people like you more!
10. Do something for someone else
This one may be obvious, but boy does it help! And I know what you’re thinking. Some days there just isn’t a sick widow next door who needs a fresh batch of cookies to brighten her day. But that’s okay. Just go over to Facebook and write to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. It’s much less frightening to open up and give compliments to someone in writing. Especially when you imagine their surprised faces when they read the unexpected message. Or try to be the best spouse, parent, sibling, (in-law?), friend to someone that you’ll see that day. It’s never too hard to serve and there are always opportunities.
I made it! We made it! My four weeks of working full-time are over!
Almost two months ago we moved our family back to Stockholm, Sweden where we were married and began our life together. Marcus had just gotten his first post-college job, we had gotten an apartment and we were facing a few months of the hard transitioning from student loans and practically backpacking to finally settling down. It doesn’t sound that hard. But what with moving costs, deposit, buying furniture and all the extra knick-knack such as dishwasher salt, toilet brushes and the likes, it slowly amounts to quite a lot.
So evidently and inevitably, I needed to take a job to help balance our economy. And I wasn’t too excited about it. It’s not that I hate working, but I really had a hard time accepting that I’d have to turn over my baby to someone else during the day, even though it would only have to be for a short period.
I applied for and got a short-term local cleaning job. It was close and it was only four weeks. It was perfect. We worked it out with Marcus’ family to help babysit. We were all set.
The first day was not fun but after that it was surprisingly easy. I left Baby in the morning and came back home, and Baby didn’t really seem to care too much. I really came to like my job and my colleagues. It became a routine. And the month went by quickly.
And yet I hope I’ll never ever have to do it again.
It has definitely been refreshing to have more time to myself and I’m sure if you turn it some certain way you could argue that it’s been healthy for Baby too. But these four weeks have only motivated me to work even harder to avoid ever having to leave my child for a job ever again.
Can I be bold and share some of my reasons?
I took her for granted
The first thing I noticed that was different after I’d started working was how accustomed I’d become to the fact that I only had to take care of my daughter for a few hours every day. On weekends I noticed that I got impatient with her and caught myself counting how many hours were left before I could put her in bed. I’d become used to someone else dealing with the annoying things. Changing her stinky diapers, feeding her when she didn’t want to eat, making her fall asleep and even just giving her my full attention when really I had other things to do. It made me feel really sad that I was considering her a chore rather than a privilege.
And I didn’t really, but subconsciously something had changed.
It scared me once I realized. I don’t want to give myself reason to be annoyed with my kids – especially when it’s not at all their fault.
Frankly, I’m in awe at how so many mothers can work full-time, be the mother of multiple kids and run a home at the same time. The other day I cleaned the bathroom after work. Between having dinner, putting Baby in bed and cleaning up after dinner. I felt so accomplished!
For two years now we’ve moved from one sublet to another. None of the furniture was ours and even when we cleaned it up really nice it still didn’t feel like home. It’s my dream to be able to be in charge of making our apartment feel like home for my family. To make sure it’s nice and clean with dinner on the table when Marcus gets home. Creating a space where it’s easy for my family to feel happy. I think everyone deserves a home like that – and I realize now that it takes a lot of time and energy. If I can provide that service for my family, I’d consider it one of my most prestigious duties.
It didn’t make sense
Probably the weirdest part in all of this was figuring out the babysitting. It seemed so silly to me that I was handing over my full-time job (Baby) to someone else so I could go do a different less meaningful full-time job. I was looking for someone to do a job for me that no one in the world could do as good as I could. I was getting a job because I needed money, but I’d have to pay some of that money to have someone else take care of my child. My child, my first priority and most important job.
I don’t know. It just felt weird. And pointless.
It just felt unnatural
Last but not least, I just wanted to be with my baby. The night before my first day I cried myself to sleep. I kept picturing her confused face as I turned around and walked out the door. I truly truly did not want to leave her.
Although I completely trusted my babysitters, it hurt to know that someone else was rocking her to sleep, feeding her, practicing walking with her, playing with her. That I wasn’t there.
And isn’t that enough? Isn’t simply wanting to a good enough reason to stay at home?
I know that some people don’t have a choice. They just need two incomes. I completely understand – that’s why I just took a job. And I’m just counting my lucky stars now that I don’t need to work full-time right now. I may need to again in the future. But boy, am I gonna try my best to avoid it. Working from home, lowering our costs – anything.
And I really like my job and my colleagues – I’m happy that I can still work evening shifts. I just felt like I was in the wrong place. That I was needed way more in my home. That I could even contribute more to society in my home. By raising a strong family. It weirded me out that somehow someone might think I was being lazy for wanting to work full-time. For choosing my family over a job or a career.
And am I lazy? For wanting to be a stay-at-home-mom? For wanting to be the one who teaches my kids their first words, teaches them to walk. For wanting to be there when they come home from school. For wanting to raise my kids by example and not by theory. For wanting to provide a home where my kids can always find me. Can I be a little cheesy and add, where my kids can come home to the smell of freshly baked bread and private piano lessons by their mom? Is that really too weird?
A couple of times now Marcus has surprised me by walking in the door an hour or two earlier than I expected him. It’s literally Christmas morning. From that moment and until the second when Baby goes from being on fire with energy to uselessly sleepy, it’s family time. And it only lasts for 2-3 hours.
I hope that in a future life the world will be run by people who work from home. If only that would work!
It’s an overwhelming feeling, having a family. Because you realize (hopefully) that the only thing you want in life is to be with them. And all your major decisions are based on how to best support them. I guess I can only speak for myself though.
I definitely have other dreams too. I’d love love love to write and publish a book some day! I would absolutely love to run a family business with Marcus! And I want so bad to finish a good education. But I don’t want any of these more than I want to just spend happy days with my family. Happy blissful days in a green field, under warm blankets, out seeing the world. Does life really get any happier than that?
These pictures are from our family time last night. The grass was newly cut and the sun was out. It was amazing! And what better place to let a baby run wild than a wide open lawn? She was in heaven!
Just had to throw this one in here too. Look who’s standing up (for a few seconds) all on her own!