03/08/2013 02:51 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2013

Happy Mamas Raise Happier Kids


My three happy ragamuffins

When my nanny arrived this morning, I had a moment of embarrassed horror as I looked around my disheveled house and my three little ragamuffins, their smiling, precious faces circled around the breakfast table. My nanny is like a family member so she sees us at our best, at our worst, and everything in between. What she sees these days is that we are a bit messier, more laid-back and more joyful. Why? Because I am seeking more joy and less stress. I am enjoying my children more and am trying to parent from a happier place.

What I've learned is that I set the tone for my children. If I am stressed and cranky, my kids absorb it and reflect my ugly mood right back to me. When I am peaceful and joyful, they are too... most of the time. And when they aren't, I can roll with it and not get swept up in their moods. When I've taken care of my needs as far as getting enough sleep, having my creative time and taking time for my early morning meditation, my core is centered and unflappable.

You see, happy mama equals happy kids!

So these days, I focus less on worrying about having a perfect house or super tidy and fashionable kids. My house is clean enough, my kids are decent and everyone is simply happier. I recently quit my job as an environmental engineer after 12 years, and now, as an unemployed writer, I have never felt more peaceful or fulfilled. I am working for myself, and am proud of the example I am setting for my kids. I have taken some big risks and am following my dreams.

This does not mean I achieve perfection every day... far from it. I still oversleep, miss my meditation and snap at my kids when they're taking too long to get their coats on when we are rushing out the door. While not perfect, we are rolling with things. Life is messy, and the more we can just live in the moment and set the best example we can for our kids, the better. Our children watch how we handle tough situations as well as how we savor the lovely ones... absorbing our every move. What kind of example are you setting?

Here's the funny thing. Since I've committed to going with the flow and not being so uptight about keeping my house clean and my kids perfectly put together, we somehow feel more organized and effective overall. We are having more fun and my husband and I are more present with each other and with our kids. I have committed to seek joy and feel good at every opportunity. While this has challenged my midwestern work-hard-all-the-time mentality, it's quickly become a fabulous new way of life. All five of us have become happier.

Happy parents truly do raise happy children. How can you experience more joy today? How can you set a great example of happiness for your children? I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!