The Tired Mom’s Guide to Living and Parenting with More Joy

Are you truly enjoying your life? Notice, I said LIFE – as in its ENTIRETY. Not simply the occasional summer vacation or other random, happy moment in your life.

Do you justify putting off fully enjoying your life for a “good” reason? Um… maybe after the kids get older?

The truth is, there’s no good reason to delay your joy. To put it off for a more appropriate time. The right time is NOW!

How to live and parent with more joy

I’m not talking about turning into one of those super happy-go-lucky people. You know, those people who never seem to have a bad day. I mean, that’s not a bad thing… but some of us just aren’t wired that way. And that’s OK too!

Some days I wish I could be like that but I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned how to capture the good moments on purpose and not delay really living my life for a “better” time.

There’s a phrase I know you’ve heard – Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once). Though this phrase seems an attempt to justify questionable behavior – I totally get the sentiment.

Enjoy your life to the full and don’t wait to do it because you only get one chance.

This is true. I mean, we only get one shot down here on this earth until we move on, so we should do our best to live it well.


So, why do we find ourselves living a good life but stopping there?

Why do we plan to do the things we really want…

when I …

when they …

when we …?

Related: 51 Easy Ways to be a Fun Mom Even When Your Tired

Stop Putting Off Your Enjoyable Life

Why do we find it so hard sometimes to be spontaneous and just not know what’s coming next? Not having access to life’s map and all the details is hard. And I think it’s human nature, at least for most of us.

Every time we get in the car, my kids always want to know where we’re going, whose’s coming, and what we’ll be doing. And even though I think pretty much the same way; when they do it to me it’s no less annoying. I’m always telling them to relax and enjoy the ride.

I believe that’s what God is whispering to us. Just enjoy the ride of this life. Rest your head on your headrest and stare out the window as His beauty flies past your window. Soak it in. Go with the flow. Don’t wonder where you’re going, but be excited about the ride there.

I’ve learned along the way that my enjoyment is just as important as the work I do each day. Who is it important to? Me, my spouse, my children, my friends, my church, my community, and to God who sent His Son to give me this enjoyable life.

Related: Confessions of a Control Freak and How I Found Freedom

Happy is an Emotion – Joy is a Choice

The actual word enjoy clearly lays out its purpose. The prefix en means to be “in” the cause, place, or state named; confined in.

So enjoy really means to be confined inside of joy. Imagine being confined, sealed off, and protected by joy. Soak that in for a second.

Joy means the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed; or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; the exhilaration of spirits. Happiness; felicity.

I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of being confined in that. Everyday.

But let’s be clear about something – joy isn’t an emotion. It’s a choice and a deeply personal belief that we’re not alone in this life and God is working all the mundane, the crazy, and the just plain disappointing stuff out for our good.

Happiness and joy get mixed up a lot, unfortunately. Happy is an emotion totally dependent on your circumstances. And I’ve lived long enough to know that circumstance we can’t control shouldn’t be the drivers of how much we’re able to enjoy this life.

Life throws a lot of curve balls and joy gives us the ability to tap into the power of experiencing an enjoyable life… no matter what it looks like!

There are also clear mindsets we can adopt that will outright rob you of your enjoyable life! So, to help you actually claim joy for yourself, here are 4 mindsets that are probably stealing your joy right now.

As you read these, allow your heart to be softened to getting and staying free once and for all.

Related: The Truth About Mom Guilt and 4 Steps to Get Rid of it Forever

Mindset #1: Waiting for the Perfect Time

This mindset is probably the most common and far-reaching one. The mentality is simple, “I want to do ____ but” or,  “it’ll be better if I wait until ____”

Many single people wait to travel until they have their future spouse to travel with. Little do they know, their spouse may not be waiting for them in their hometown – but in that land, they’re waiting to see.

Many couples wait for more comfortable finances before they start having children. Little do they know, a business or career opportunity could be waiting to be birthed as a result of being a parent.

The point is, to stop waiting until you move into your dream house before you update your furniture. Stop waiting until you have your own backyard before you go outside to play with your kids. Stop waiting until you feel more comfortable before you start pursuing that dream.

Your joy comes when you do those things you desire – NOW. Many people never got the chance to live their dream because they sat waiting for perfection to come and pick them up. But perfection is always a no-show.

She’ll always leave you sitting sadly on the porch with your suitcase in hand. You don’t need to wait to be picked up anyway. You just need to get up, grab your suitcase and start moving – TODAY.

Related: Present Parenting: Simple Ways to be a More Present Parent Today

Mindset #2: Needing to Control Everything

I am a recovering control freak. My husband might actually take issue with the “recovering” part. But I’m certainly better than where I was!

I’ve learned that control is rooted in fear and from that control sprouts anger, discontentment, and depression. To say the least, control is not good.

This need to control everything and everyone stems from the fear that something’s going to go wrong if we don’t do it our way. We won’t get there on time if we don’t go my way. They won’t be healthy unless they follow my health plan. It won’t get done unless I do it. She won’t get it right unless I teach her.

And all that mindset does is dull the gifts, ability, and drive of your spouse and children. They’ll eventually become resentful of your control and as a result; never have the opportunity to thrive.

A family can’t experience joy if they aren’t allowed to thrive. To thrive means to grow or develop vigorously; to flourish. When we step in to dictate, instruct, and save the day; we rob from them their ability to flourish – to grow vigorously.

And the only way to reverse this mindset is to lay down your crown.

I give you permission to control your decision to not control.

It shows wisdom when we yield to others’ ideas and do it their way. Control has no place in the family. We need to invite collaboration and unity. A democracy instead of a dictatorship.

That’s not to say, you don’t get to be a parent. I’m just talking about the unhealthy compulsion of control. Discipline and boundaries, on the other hand, are necessary components of a family, but that’s another post entirely.

Related: How to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Yelling

Mindset #3: Being a Time Counter vs. a Moment Catcher

This mindset is a type of control but deserves its own category. Think of a time when you had a week off from work or your regular routine. This was vacation time for you and the family. The first day is awesome! You’re letting your hair down as you step foot onto the grounds of Do Whatever You Want Land.

This continues until around day 5 when it suddenly occurs to you that you only have 2 more days left before you have to return to the real world! Your heart starts to beat a little faster and you feel like you’re having a mini panic attack.

And no matter how hard you try, from day 5 until the end, you chunk everything you do into tiny time frames.

Wow, this pool is so nice. Wait! We only have two more hours before the day ends and that means there’s only one day left!

That can go on until the last hour of vacation. This mindset is truly an enemy of your joy because you can’t feel joy while you’re counting the time.

This is a mindset that I’ve always struggled with and the danger of it is really simple – when you count the time, you can’t be present enough to capture the moments.

While you’re swimming in the pool with your kids and allowing your mind to be overtaken with the countdown; you’re missing stuff. The good stuff. And if you’re not careful, this mindset can invade your every day – not just your vacations.

The only way to reverse this mindset is to train yourself to get lost. Not in a physical place – but in the moment you’re in. If you’re putting together a puzzle with your kids, remove all clocks from view and just keep going until it’s done or you and the kids are tired of putting it together.

Related: How to Show Love to Your Children in Their Love Language

Get lost in it and choose to forget what’s next. Pay attention to their faces while they’re trying to fit the wrong pieces in and their excitement when they get one right. Be present to guide them through how to wait for their sister to finish putting in their piece before diving in to put their own.

Smile, laugh, really live.

There is freedom in being present. There is bondage in being torn between your schedule and your moments.

At the end of your life and the end of your children’s lives, there will only be moments. Time won’t matter a bit.

Mindset #4:  Comparison

Comparison always leads to a lack of healthy confidence. You can’t compare a priceless one of a kind painting to anything else. We understand that concept, but don’t understand that each of us is priceless, too. One of a kind creations. We can’t rationally compare ourselves, our lives, or our moments to anyone else’s. But we do – every day.

In order to reverse this mindset, we must learn to see our bodies, our spouses, our kids, our homes, our vacations, and our school routines as unique and made for us and no one else.

The key to joy is keeping your eyes on your own beautiful yard and not letting your eyes wander into your neighbor’s. Sure, there are weeds that pop up from time to time, but those are your weeds. And you work together as a family to rid your yard of them.

But NEVER, ever allow your mind to wander and compare your husband with another woman’s. Or your child with someone else’s. Your family with another family. When we do; their flaws, cracks, blemishes, and imperfections become magnified and eventually repel us.

Related: 2 Strong Enemies of a Strong Marriage

One moment you liked your husband’s quirks, the next you’re annoyed by them. This happens through the seeds of comparison.

Your family isn’t like anyone else’s. And that’s a good thing. It’s through the cracks and imperfections in your family; that God’s light can fully shine through – lighting up the world.

Joy is a decision that is our responsibility to act on and live.

What are some barriers to joy that you’ve experienced and overcome? Leave a comment and let us learn from you!

As moms, we're great at getting things done, but our joy along the way isn't always a priority. Enjoying your life is just as important as living it. Click the image to learn how to reverse the 4 mindsets that are stealing your enjoyable life.As moms, we're great at getting things done, but our joy along the way isn't always a priority. Enjoying your life is just as important as living it. Living an enjoyable life that's richly satisfying is something we all want, but most of us struggle to actually live out in our day to day lives. That's because there are four powerful mindsets that we tend to see life through, that are actually stealing our ability to live enjoyable lives. But we can reverse them!Experiencing more joy in your life can be hard and you need to first change your mindset. Here's how!

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4 years ago

This is such a great reminder! I try to remind myself that we only live once 🙂 we should try to enjoy it while we can!

4 years ago

I loved the idea of being a time counter vs. a moment catcher! I am always thinking forward and rushing thru the present to get to something in the future.

4 years ago

I too am a control freak and in learning to let some of that go I remember that I can only control myself and my actions. I choose to find happiness and joy in whatever life brings. Thank you for sharing this encouraging post!

4 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

Thank you Sarah!! So glad it was helpful.

4 years ago

I too am a control freak and in learning to let some of that go I remember that the only thing I truly can control is me and my actions. I choose to find happiness and joy in whatever life brings! Thank you for sharing this encouraging post!

4 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

Yes, looking for the good always helps.:)

4 years ago

until i rea this post i realize i do those things waiting fot the moment is never a goot time for anything until you actually do it controling everthing yes so much and i have no idea why. i better take notes to change that

4 years ago

I struggle with MIndset #2 and trying to control everything! Even being self-aware about it isn’t helping me but this was a good article to put things into perspective! Thank you!

4 years ago
Reply to  Jenn

Controlling everything for me is birthed out of the fear of things going wrong… as if I’m the only one smart or capable enough to make it right. Lol I find that when I let go, I gain more peace in return. It’s a daily struggle, though.

4 years ago

What a wonderful post, thank you! I really needed this today! And really needed to be reminded of these today (especially the Comparison point!)

4 years ago

Comparison is such a huge one! We’re probably all guilty of the comparison trap at one time or another. Awareness is key. 🙂

4 years ago

This is so spot on… like it’s kind of scary truthfully how much these 4 items are “stealing” my life. As I read about your first point on waiting for the perfect time I nodded along. I do this. Frequently. Then when you mentioned the need for control… well lets just say I’m not even in the recovering stage on that yet. I think I’m going to start working on “not waiting”. Not waiting until my boys are in school; not waiting until everyone’s “older”, etc. Thanks so much for these words of wisdom!

4 years ago

Such a great perspective! I really struggle with giving up control and enjoying the moment, but I’m working on it.

4 years ago

I believe in pursuing your passion even if you have kids. I want my children to grow up learning that nothing should stop you from doing whatever makes you happy.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jaymee

I totally agree Jaymee! I want to be an inspiration to my kids right now and in the future!!

4 years ago

beautifully written post, I am a control freak. Great post, thanks for the crucial reminders

4 years ago

Excellent ideas! I got to “Needing to Control Everything” and just started nodding. That is so me and I know I can do better! Comparison is also something that I, and I believe many, can identify with!

4 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Glad I got you nodding! Lol Awesome!

4 years ago

I love the truths in this! There is no excuse to put off having a joy-filled life right now!

4 years ago

I really enjoying reading your article. I found myself in some of your notes.

4 years ago

Thanks so much Brandi for this post. I loved your point #three. Don’t be a time counter. That’s so me. I feel it all the time. I also loved what you said about focusing on your children’s faces and getting lost in the moment. I’m goal is to work on this. All too often while I should be enjoying the moment I’m thinking about what we will do next. I hate that. I plan to be more present. Thanks so much for being if this to my attention. ❤️ Love it!

4 years ago

The need to control everything- this is was me……a lesson I’ve learnt throughout the past two years. It’s hard but it’s something I’ve come to accept and guess what? Life is more peaceful now

4 years ago
Reply to  Nicole Gore

Yes peace! It’s so much better than the endless frustration of trying to run the world… or just my own! Lol

4 years ago

So many good points here. I definitely need to work on some of them for sure!

4 years ago

This was amazing to read and was exactly what I needed to read today! Yes I want to be confined in joy all day everyday! And I agree Tha\T’ we shouldn’t keep waiting for the perfect time (AKA when we’re ready because we are never going be ready for anything!) great post, girl!

4 years ago
Reply to  Kiara

Thanks Kiara! I appreciate that you enjoyed the post. I totally know the “waiting” issue is a problem for so many people – including me. But I’ve personally known those who found the one thing they were searching for… after they took the leap!

4 years ago

Great points all but number 3 really resonated with me ! I really need to be more conscious about it. Thank you for sharing these great mindset mistakes and changes we need to make.

4 years ago
Reply to  Aditi

Yes Aditi! That’s a big one for me too. One step and one day at a time!

4 years ago

Great post, thank you for the mindful reminders!

4 years ago

Amazing post. I have bookmarked it to read again later. You have packed it full of ideas that deserve time and meditation to absorb.

4 years ago
Reply to  K.C.

Thanks for the kind words and saving this post! I hope it provides encouragement just when you need it! 🙂

4 years ago

I agree that we need to stop waiting for the right moment to do things we enjoy or make us happy. We should live in the moment and enjoy life now!

4 years ago

Comparison is such a big one especially in this era of social media!

4 years ago
Reply to  Jazz

Yes it is, Jazz! It’s such a temptation.

4 years ago

I have been so guilty of all of these…especially playing the comparison game. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

4 years ago

Wow did I need to hear this today. It especially struck a cord with me when you said, “a business or career opportunity could be waiting to be birthed as a result being a parent”. I wouldn’t be blogging right now and pursuing this new career if I hadn’t had children. It’s just amazing to me how God makes things happen in your life at the perfect time. It baffles me how anyone ever doubts Him. Wonderful read!

4 years ago
Reply to  Brittany

I know motherhood was the door-opener for me and this blog, for sure. And yes He does have the perfect timing… even when it doesn’t feel like it!

4 years ago

I am SO BAD about putting things off until the perfect conditions arrive. Spoiler alert: they never do! It’s something I’m constantly trying to get better at. Great post!

4 years ago
Reply to  Heather

Thanks Heather! You’re so right… conditions are never perfect so why not now?!

4 years ago

There are great ways to think and to gain happiness. I do believe that happiness is a choice and that we can either choose to be generally happy, versus letting things take away our happiness.

4 years ago

As a newbie blogger, I started out being so excited and passionate about working on my blog. But as I kept reading and seeing all the other more established blogs, insecurity started creeping in because my blog does not look anywhere near the more successful ones. What started out as something that makes me happy is now starting to feel like a burden. I want to go back to when I was blogging because it gave me joy. I should stop comparing myself to others and just learn in the process.

4 years ago
Reply to  Bellissimamma

Boy have I been there a million times… still am! It’s so tough when you want to be where you see others are. But you already have the answer – get reconnected and recommitted to why you started blogging and let that keep you focused on your own path to success. Whatever that looks like for you.

Great post! I think the waiting game is definitely something that can steal happiness. There is never a perfect time is there… best just get out there and live. Thanks for linking up to the #DreamTeam x

Helen @Talking_Mums
5 years ago

very wise words. I’m a bit of a control freak too, but I’m getting better at letting and enjoying the moment. It’s dangerous for us to compare against others but difficult to refrain from this! Fab post x

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