Welcome to a typical mom morning. It begins when your toddler dive-bombs into your bed at 5 a.m. You stumble through the dark for an eyes-half-open diaper change. Next comes breakfast. The daily recipe: spilled milk and fistfuls of Cheerios dumped on the floor. Then you do the dishes and get your child dressed, all before you drink your morning coffee. Are we having fun yet? The answer is not so simple.
Being a parent is inspiring and rewarding, but it's also demanding and thankless. A recent Princeton University survey found that typical childcare tasks are roughly as pleasurable as housework -- in other words, not very. But the fact is that our kids are our pride and joy. How can this be, when they're also a drag on our quality of life?
Happiness experts say it's because people have a natural tendency to forget about life's little annoyances and to hold on to the big-picture good stuff (like watching a kid take his first steps or say "I love you, Mommy"). "We don't have children because we expect them to make us happy all the time," says Daniel Gilbert, PhD, professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of the best-selling book Stumbling on Happiness. "We have them because they give our lives meaning."
If you're frustrated with being a parent sometimes, well, that's totally normal. So lose the guilt. Then clue in to some easy ways to make your frenetic family life seem manageable -- and feel a lot more satisfying.