Seeking joy is new for me. I blame it on being a Capricorn–we’re all about accomplishing things, climbing up the mountain, working hard to achieve more. Which is probably why “working” on joy is so what I need.
There are many wonderful books out there about joy and how to uncover it. But in the interest of mini-resolutions and starting small, here are the simple places I’m finding joy.
1) Going to bed early
For the first time since becoming a parent, I’m getting to bed before midnight. Because there’s no way I can be the parent I want to be when I am exhausted. I have no idea why this didn’t occur to me earlier.
2) Making my bed every morning
Back when I had a newborn and my mom stayed a month to help me, she would make my bed every morning. She makes it PERFECTLY–wrinkles in the sheets don’t stand a chance with her. Back then, taking time to make my bed seemed like a time luxury I couldn’t afford. But this is a new season, and having a beautifully made bed is a wonderful thing.
Hannah Marcotti puts it perfectly in her Making Space Cleanse:
“Making your bed is a gift from your present self to your future self.”
3) Drinking lemon water and tea
(Especially in place of my nightly glass of wine.) Another little step inspired by Hannah that feels like a gift to myself with every sip.
4) Getting out of the house on Saturday mornings
My husband works out from 10:30–noon every Saturday morning. Which was making Saturdays feel like a “6th workday” for me and the kids–leaving us all resentful and cranky. This month, I’ve started slipping out at 8am for a yoga class and coffee/writing/wandering. Carving out those 2 hours for myself has made a world of difference in how I feel the entire weekend.
5) Letting go of my to-do list and being present with my children
I started noticing that things fell apart just after breakfast every day. I would be in the kitchen dealing with the meal aftermath and yelling “go in the playroom–I’ll be there in a minute” over and over again. Inevitably, I’d finally stop doing dishes (in a huff) once someone started crying over something.
I’m learning to look at those parts of the day that always end up with yelling and crying and trying different strategies. In this case, I’ve learned that if I leave the dishes and just sit with the boys while they do Legos or trains or whatever, no one cries or fights.
The even more amazing part is, once I give them my full attention–even if I’m just sitting with my coffee and observing them–I can usually slip off and finish the dishes or do a quick email check without anyone falling apart.
By giving them attention up front, it changes the result. And it’s teaching me that there is value in just sitting and being.
6) Giving thanks, and teaching my children to do the same
This is the root of joy.