You know the old saw, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Genevieve Shaw Brown was living it. Sluggish, sleep-deprived, too busy for friends, carrying extra baby weight…blah!
The ABC News reporter’s life began turning around when she realized that while she rose at 5 am to fix organic turkey-veggie meatballs and other yummys for her kids’ day before work—she was skipping breakfast and snarfing fast food in the office cafeteria.
“Treat yourself as well as you treat your kids,” is the life-changing idea behind her new book, The Happiest Mommy You Know: Why Putting Your Kids First is the Last Thing You Should Do.
Meaning: Serve yourself healthy food too. Fuss over your sleep. Book doctor appointments for you. Plan grown-up “playdates.” It’s really possible, she says (and adds that she lost weight and found her mama-happy while doing it).
“Having three kids is both incredibly hectic and incredibly wonderful,” she told us. (Addie, Will, and Luke are now 5, 3, and 1.) “The difference now is that I have zero guilt about prioritizing myself—and that makes for a happier mom, happier husband, and happier kids.”
We asked for more:
I knew I had to write this book when: I realized my situation was so common and yet easily correctable. I hadn’t made a conscious choice to start neglecting myself. It just happened. And it was just happening to everyone I knew. Once I realized I could make small changes that would make me a happier, and therefore better, mother, I had to share what I learned.
What I say to moms who say, “I haven’t got time for myself”: You have to have time for yourself. If you don’t, you’ll burn out, resent your husband, and kids and have no shot at actually enjoying, not just surviving, parenthood.
3 things (large or small) I wish all parents knew:
- Lack of sleep is likely the cause of many of the day’s irritants. So much can be cured with a good night’s sleep.
- If you can take time away from your kids, even just for one afternoon, you will appreciate them more when you get back.
- Be nice to your spouse. Peace in the home is crucial for raising happy kids. Look for things to praise, rather than criticize.
One thing parents worry about but shouldn’t: What other parents think about them or their kids.
One thing parents don’t worry about but should: Themselves.
My take on kid-free getaways: Do it.
My take on playdates: Do it with families you enjoy being around. Make sure you have grown-up playdates too. Your toddler should not have a more robust social calendar than you.
My take on mom clothes: I’m all about dressing in an age-appropriate fashion. I am not all about wearing clothes with stains (though it has happened, can’t lie). In general, I do think your clothing choices color your day. My lazy clothes make me feel lazy. My better clothes make me feel more energized.
A family ritual we love: Friday pizza night
Favorite family movie: The Little Bear Movie
Best vacation with kids: Hilton Head, South Carolina. The Palmetto Dunes Resort (where we stay each year) has a white-sand beach with tiny waves, pools for each condo complex, some of the world’s best golf courses with lessons for kids as young as 3, and tennis camps for kids 4 and up. Outside the resort, there’s fishing, crabbing, dolphin watches, and more. We never run out of things to do.
Something surprising I always pack: I always have multiple chapsticks.
Best sanity saver for car trips with kids: Snacks. (Is that bad?)
The book I recommend to every parent I know: Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old
The best parenting advice I ever got: Pick your battles.
My definition of a great kid: Kind, inclusive, happy.
My motto as a mom: The days are long but the years are short.
Photo: Melody Melamed