How Celebrating Small Wins Made Me a Happier Mom
Being thrust into the throes of motherhood can be jarring. Whereas in your previous life you may have completed a workout, eaten breakfast, commuted to a paid job, and caught up on your inbox all before 9am…as a new mom you’re lucky if you get showered and dressed before dinner.
Feeling like you’re driving the struggle bus? You’re not alone.
This transition into motherhood often feels like you just can’t win.
If you’re on top of your baby game, you may not be taking care of yourself. If you manage to sneak in some food and a shower, you realize there’s a list of household tasks a mile long. If you go back to work, the guilt has the power to eat you alive.
If you happen to have an easy day, Murphy’s Law dictates that it ends in a meltdown, massive blowout, or something breaking…am I right?
You’re often left feeling unaccomplished, disheveled, overwhelmed…and failing at life.
You’re NOT failing…but can feel like you are.
So, how do you get out of this failure mindset?
I’ve found a simple and accessible way to feel happier and more accomplished.
I celebrate the small wins.
This tiny change in my day proved to be the most powerful way for me to shift my mindset and be a happier mom.
Neuroscience of Celebrating Small Wins
There’s science behind celebrating. The very act of celebrating the little things releases the “feel good” chemicals in your brain—serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine.
These neurotransmitters make us feel safe and rewarded, lowering the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our bodies. This allows our nervous systems to go from the fight or flight mode that we often feel stuck in, to a more relaxed state.
Mood, energy, vibes…whatever you want to call it, transforms your day—both by making it worse, but also by making it better.
When we celebrate the small wins in our day, we’re making tiny mindset shifts to look for the things that make us happy. Like a gratitude practice, the more you find the little wins in your day, the more you’ll see them appear.
It doesn’t take much to find them once you start—your baby slept an extra hour, the sun is shining, there’s enough creamer for an extra cup of coffee, you changed that diaper just in time, your avocado was perfectly ripe.
These may not seem like big a big deal during the course of your day.
But like the straw that broke the camel’s’ back, small wins have the power to change the trajectory of your day. By identifying them, you’re building a story in your head of all of the positives that happened during your day, rather than the negatives.
Don’t Wait to Celebrate
The big wins are few and far between. If you wait for the momentous occasions to celebrate, you might have to wait a while.
Sure you should celebrate the first time your baby sleeps through the night, or the day they learn to take a bottle so you can leave for longer than two hours, but those moments don’t happen everyday.
The joy they bring is real, but it’s not enough.
Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection
While the big things might make you want to jump up and down and do a happy dance, that excitement eventually fades.
When we focus on the small, incremental wins, the feeling of joy and elation is sustained over time. The more we can activate the “feel good” chemicals with tiny celebrations, the happier we will be.
Teach Your Kids to Celebrate
I’m a big advocate in teaching by doing, so I try to model the behavior and values in my life that I want to instill in my daughter.
As my sidekick, she celebrates my wins with me and learns to celebrate her own. Together we support each other as things go well, teaching the importance of encouraging others and cheering them on.
The Result of Celebrating Small Wins
By shifting my focus from what was going wrong to what was going right, my mood and parenting style changed. I went from a defeated mom feeling like she was failing at life, to one who revels in the joy of everyday pleasures.
I found fun in the often mindless tasks of keeping a tiny human alive. I grew into a happier mother, and my daughter blossomed into a supportive, empathetic toddler.
We find things to celebrate every day, laugh hard, and have dance parties in our kitchen.
So find the small things that make you happy, ease your burden, or put a smile on your face and celebrate them HARD.