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One Simple Strategy to Spark More Joy in Motherhood

Hey Mom-entum listeners!


Welcome to Episode 40 of the Mom-entum Podcast! Can you believe we're just 10 episodes away from hitting the big 50? I'm definitely planning something special for that milestone and would love to hear your ideas. Drop me a message in our Mom-entum FB group or DM me on IG @tanyavalentinecoaching.


Today, we’re diving into a topic close to my heart – finding more joy in motherhood. We all know how challenging it can be, from the endless laundry to sibling squabbles. But I've discovered one simple practice that has made a huge difference in my life and I can't wait to share it with you.


So here's the secret to sparking more joy in motherhood. It all started back in 2021 when I began writing in a 3-year Mom Journal. This simple nightly habit has transformed how I see and appreciate the small, beautiful moments with my kids.


In this episode you'll hear about some of my favorite journal entries, like one of Lucia’s sweet goodnights to Rocco and a hilarious poop incident involving guess who...Rocco.


You'll also learn how keeping a journal can help you document your life, remind your kids of their core selves, and shift your focus to the good, even on the toughest days.

- The journal that I use and recommend is:  Flecks of Gold: A 3-Year Journal for Mothers by Rachel Nielson.  (And btw I'm not an affiliate, just a big fan!) This journal has been a game-changer for me, it is not only beautiful, I love that it adds to the aesthetic on my nightstand, but I also love that it includes a heartfelt letter in the beginning from the author, as well as an encouraging message at the beginning of each month that helps you start each month with a positive attitude.  For more information on how to use this journal you can listen to episode 156 of the 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms Podcast.


Let's Connect!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s episode. Do you keep a journal? Has this episode inspired you to start one? Follow me and share your stories with me on FB @tanyavalentinecoaching or IG @tanyavalentinecoaching.


If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and family. And if you have a moment, leaving a rating and review would mean the world to me. It helps more moms find the show and join our wonderful community.


Thanks for listening, and let’s keep supporting each other on this incredible journey of motherhood. Have a beautiful week, and I’ll talk to you next Wednesday!


Bye for now!

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Hello and welcome to episode 40 of the Mom-entum Podcast!  I can’t believe that we are 40 episodes in!  That’s just 10 away from 50!  I think I’m going to have to do something special for that milestone.  I don’t know what I’ll do yet but I’m open to suggestions.  And actually, on that note, I really would love to hear from you.  Whether you have been listening to this podcast from the beginning or you are a brand new listener, please reach out to me.  Join the Mom-entum fb group or send me a DM @tanyavalentinecoaching either on FB or IG.  I would love to hear your takeaways from the show, if you’ve started incorporating anything you’ve learned here and what changes it’s made in your life.  Or are there any topics you would like discussed here?  Or do you have any ideas or stories that you want to share? Maybe for episode 50 I’ll have one of you listeners on the show!  What do you think?  Would you be interested?  Listen, Everyone has a story to tell and I would love to hear yours!  You never know who needs to hear your story, and who you might inspire.  When we share our stories, our experiences, our mistakes, our wins, our losses, we have the opportunity to connect with and help others who are in a place that we have already been.  And it really is our responsibility to report back and say hey, I’ve been where you are and now here I am on the other side of it and I am standing, I survived.  And it’s just a reminder to the other person that whatever struggle they are facing right now, that it is temporary and they will get through it.  And it is our responsibility as folks who have been through the challenges, to say here’s what I learned, and here’s what I would’ve done differently, and here’s what I know now that I wish I would’ve known while I was knee deep in it.  You know what I mean?  So if you think you would be interested in sharing your story, please reach out to me!  DM me on IG or FB @tanyavalentinecoaching.


Or maybe I will even do a giveaway…how about a $50 gift card to anyone who leaves a rating or review? Stay tuned, I definitely think that one will get put on the docket!


Anyway, onto our episode for today, and today is going to be a short one.  I hope you don’t mind.  At the time I’m putting together this episode it is June 5, 2024 and it is the beginning of summer!  The kids are out of school and the weather is beautiful!  We are planning a trip back home to the Boston area for a couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to visiting my family and friends there!  We are actually heading home to celebrate my great Aunt Madge’s 90th birthday!  Happy early birthday Aunt Madge! I love you so much!  But we decided to turn it into a 2 week long endeavor because it has been about 2 years since the last time I was home.  Oh and random thought, I’m pretty sure that exactly 20 years ago today was when I graduated high school.  Ahh that’s crazy to think about.  Anyways, so we are headed back home, and so many of my family and friends haven't even met Serena, or if they did she was like weeks old.  And we are also going to be planning a birthday party for her while we are there.  And she is going to be turning 2!  I can’t believe it!  This time has flown by.  And I have to say I am so incredibly grateful, I honestly can’t even verbalize just how grateful I am to have the opportunity to even be able to go home for an extended period of time like this.  It was not always that I was able to do this.  When I was working as a nurse I had to work every other weekend and every other holiday.  That meant every other summer I would have to work on the 4th of July and there was no way I could go home for a 2 week stretch because I was working every other weekend.  So I just feel so fortunate to be able to do this.  I know not everyone has the opportunity and privilege to be able to do something like this, and I feel so blessed that I do, and it is my hope and prayer that for anyone listening that you are able to take the time off to spend with your family when you should so desire.  So anyways, because I will be taking time off to go back home I’m trying to get a few podcast episodes recorded and ready to go so I can stay consistent with putting these shows out every week while at the same time not having to work while I’m vacationing with my family.  


And guys, can we just talk about cicadas for a second?  I don’t know about you but where I live, in northwest Indiana, it’s like we’ve been invaded!  They are everywhere!  And they are so loud!  I can hear them buzzing right now! Have you noticed that super loud buzzing noise?  That’s the cicada’s.  It’s funny the other day my sister in law said to my mother in law, “there’s some sort of siren going off outside” and she was like “no, that’s the cicadas”.  I mean they are so loud around here.  And fun fact, I did a google search when we started to notice they were out, and we learned that cicadas have a lifespan of up to 17 years!  And that most of their life is spent underground as a nymph where they feed on the sap from tree roots.  And they can spend years developing underground before they dig their way to the surface, shed their exoskeleton (which I’m sure you’ve seen everywhere by now, its like this golden, transparent shell that I’ve found everywhere from the grass, to the bushes and trees, to even on our swingset in the backyard.)  Anyway, once they shed their exoskeleton they transform into the winged adults you see with the bizarre-looking, bulging red eyes!


So that’s a little fun fact about cicadas in case you were curious! Ha!  See you never know what you’re gonna get on this podcast! Nothing like a little national geographic moment to get the show started!


Ok, so today’s topic is the one thing that you can do to spark more joy in your motherhood.  And listen, motherhood can be so hard.  Life is hard.  It’s like we go our whole lives trying to figure out how to take care of ourselves, and then we become mothers and not only do we have to take care of ourselves, but there’s this other little person depending on us for our every need.  And every decision we make is shaping their lives, we are literally teaching them through our example how to be and interact with the world around us, it can be so overwhelming.  What we do and say has an impact on them that lasts a lifetime.  


We strive to be the best mothers we can be, to provide a fun and happy childhood for our kids. However, it can be incredibly challenging when we feel overwhelmed and grumpy. The constant cycle of laundry, housework, picky eaters, sibling fights, tantrums, and tears can make us feel like we're always playing catch-up. When we focus on everything going wrong, we can miss the sweet moments unfolding before our eyes. 


Today, I want to share one simple practice that can help you focus on those golden moments with your kids and bring more joy into your motherhood. This practice has even changed the atmosphere in my home.


Back in 2021, I started a habit that I recently resumed, and I’m so glad I did. It's made a significant difference in my mood and overall joy as a mother. Every night, I write in my 3-year Mom Journal. This practice has helped me shift my perspective and appreciate the small, beautiful moments with my children. It's something I plan to continue indefinitely, and I encourage you to try it too.


So I had started this practice back in 2021 shortly after the life threatening miscarriage that completely shook my world and changed it all for me. And I will say that this practice of writing in this journal was a huge part of my healing process because it helped me to focus on the good in my life.  


And what I learned from Tony Robbins is that where focus goes energy flows.  And whatever you focus on in your life, you magnify, so by magnifying the good, the good just got better.  Which reminds me of this quote that I first heard when I was listening to the 3 in 30 podcast, “ Focus on the good and the good gets better” and at the time when I was going through all this I wrote that quote on a piece of paper and hung it on the fridge so I could look at it and read it every day.  And funny enough, this 3 year Mom journal that I have been writing in was created by Rachel Nielson, who is the Host of the 3 in 30 podcast that I would listen to all the time back then, and her podcast helped me so much. Really I have her to thank for helping me through the tough moments in motherhood.  It helped me see I was not alone, that all of us have similar struggles, and none of us have it figured out, it might appear that way but we don't, and we are all just trying our best.


 And both her and her guests on the show always have some tips and strategies that you can use to help you find more joy and meaning in motherhood, no matter what phase you are in.  And we all want that right?  


And Ok one more random thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I was featured as a guest on her show or if I could get her on here?  That would definitely be a full circle moment for me. I’m just going to put it out there in the universe and maybe someone listening will have some sort of connection to her and can help make that dream a reality! That would be amazing !   


Ok, anyways, so her motherhood journal is called “Flecks of Gold, A 3 year Journal for Mothers” and I’ll be sure to link it in the show notes.  And be sure to stay tuned until the end of this short episode because I’m going to share a couple of my journal entries from years ago, which I think you’ll get a kick out of.  But basically there is a page for every day of the year.  And each page is broken down into 3 sections with empty lines to journal in.  So to give you a visual, at the top of one page it says June 5, and then there is a blank space to fill in the year and then there are a bunch of lines under the date for journaling, then beneath that it says June and then the year is empty again to write in the following year and beneath the date are more lines for journaling.  So for example a completely filled in page would have June 5 2021 and then journal entry, then June 5 2022 then under a journal entry, and below that June 5 2023 and another journal entry.  Does that make sense?  And at the beginning of every month she even has a little motivational message to help keep you going on your hardest of days. 


And at the beginning of this journal Rachel Introduces herself and why she created the journal and the purpose of it.To sum it up though, Rachel is a former teacher who struggled for years to get pregnant. She calls her 2 children miracle babies because one of them was adopted and the other was conceived through IVF.  After all her years of dreaming  of becoming a mom, and the hoops she had to jump through to become a mother, she found herself discouraged when it just wasn’t what she expected. And we can all relate to this, right?  At least, I think most of us can,  I know I sure do.  I had this idea in my head of the kind of mom I was going to be and what it was going to be like.  Ya no, I thought I would be this fun mom doing all sorts of fun crafts and activities with her kids, baking with them.  And oh my goodness, baking with kids or cooking with kids is the worst.  At least when they are as little as my kids, I just have no patience for it, the mess, the arguments amongst the kids as to whose turn it is to dump the ingredients into the bowl, oh my goodness and cracking the eggs!  It’s just so much more messy and time consuming when you bake and cook with kids.  Although, I still want to do it on occasion because it’s fun and good for them.  But see, that’s just the kind of thing that just does not meet what my expectation was around it.  Like i thought that baking with my kids would be a fun, enjoyable experience, and its not.  And when things like this happen, when aspects of our life don’t match our expectations, it can cause so much internal struggle.  And especially when it’s something that’s so important to you, like being a mom for example.  I know for me, I don’t feel like I’m very good at a lot of things, but I wanted being a Mom to be different.  This is one thing that it is very important to me to be good at, and the reality is on most days,  I’m just not that good at it.  I want to be better, I’m always striving to be better.  But the version of me, that ideal mom that I aspire to be that has the patience of a saint, is always smiling, always laughing, and coordinating fun activities for the family to do.  That’s just not me.  I struggle with losing my temper when my kids are fighting or when they don’t listen or when the house is a mess.  But I want to create a joyful, loving atmosphere and I don’t want to be this grumpy Mom who yells at her kids all the time.  And that is definitely what this journaling practice helps with. What you choose to look for, you will find.  So by searching for joyful moments throughout your day that you are going to capture and write down in your journal,  you are then focusing on it, and giving your brain evidence that see, you do have joy in your life.  And you then experience more joy and this has a ripple effect because when you are feeling more joy you are going to be more patient with your kids, you will be more fun to be around, and think of how this will then effect your kids.  It shifts the energy in the home.


So I want to talk about all the benefits of keeping a 3 year journal.  And it doesnt have to be three year, by the way, I do believe there are 5 year ones as well, but just finding ones that will cause you to circle back around the next year and read a quick, fun little entry of what was going on in your life 1 or 2 years before.


So one benefit is that it allows you to document your life.  There are so many phases your kids go through , like they might get in the habit of saying or doing something so much that it feels so mundane to you and you feel like it’s something they do so often that you would never forget it but then you do.  And by writing in this journal it just allows you to capture and record these moments in time that might otherwise get lost and be erased from your memory. Like for example, Rocco used to have this little soft, cow rattle that he would sleep with and we would call it moo moo cow.  He could not go to sleep without his moo moo cow.  But the problem was, he would lose his moo moo cow.  We would spend so much time looking for this thing because he could not sleep without it.  So we ended up buying 2 more of them so we would have extra.  And he started calling them moo moo cow 1 and moo moo cow 2.  And I would’ve completely forgot about this until I was reminded the other day when I was reading one of my journal entries and I had to laugh about it.


Also, i would argue that it will help us remind our kids of what they were like at their core, before they were tainted and molded by society.  Just to remind them of who they are at a soul level, like what they’re naturally good at and what they are naturally drawn to.  I think that this will help guide their future and help them find their purpose in life.  As this has been something I have struggled with, just trying to rediscover myself and what it is I like, what I’m passionate about, what I’m good at and how I can use my unique talents and gifts to serve others.  I don’t want them to have to struggle as hard as I have with this.  I want to be able to tell them this is what you were like, this is what you loved, this is how you interacted with the world, this is what you were always naturally good at.   Take Rocco for example, he has always had this natural affinity to symbols and I mean letters and numbers.  Since he was literally 1 years old he has been obsessed with the alphabet and his letters and numbers.  We used to keep the alphabet magnets on the fridge and I can remember there was a time when his favorite letter was “W” and he would actually carry this letter W magnet with him all around the house.  And he also loves to build things.  He is always stacking things like blocks, or random toys, or even water bottles.  So knowing that this was something he was naturally drawn towards and good at might help guide him in the future when he’s trying to decide on a career path or discover something he’s passionate about.


Another thing is it helps you look for the good on even the most challenging of days.  And I promise you that even on your worst days, if you look for it, you can find something to be grateful for.


-It’s fun for you and your whole family to look back a year or two later and see what you were doing on this exact day.

-You can involve your spouse and the entire family in identifying and recording special moments throughout the day that they want to remember.

-It’s a great practice to bookend your day, similar to a gratitude practice that highlights positive moments in your life. By cultivating this gratitude habit, you attract more positive things and experiences to be grateful for.


So I hope that I’ve inspired you to start keeping a journal of all the fun and messy golden moments with your family.  One important tip before I leave you, do not be a perfectionist about this… you do not have to capture the “perfect moments” in your day.  It can be something as simple as a new freckle you noticed on your kiddos face.  Like don’t overcomplicate it, because if you do, then you are less likely to do it.  Also, it doesn’t have to be this elaborate, verbose piece of writing.  Just Keep it simple, keep it concise.  if this means that you will be more likely to do it.  If you have the energy and you want to, then of course use all of the details you want to, but what I’m saying is don’t overthink it or overcomplicate it in a way that's gonna prevent you from doing it.  And I just write a short little journal entry, it might take me 5 minutes to do, just to give you an idea.  And if you're tired at the end of the night, you might feel like you don’t have the energy to do it, I know I feel this way sometimes.  But if you know it’ll only take you 5 minutes to do,  you will be that much more likely to do it and you will be so glad that you did.


I will end by sharing with you part of the letter Rachel wrote to her readers in this “flecks of gold journal”: She writes:


“One of my mentors, Saren Eyre Loosli, once told me, “in motherhood, the hard moments sometimes outnumber the beautiful moments; but the beautiful moments always outweigh the hard moments.”  It is my hope this this journal will become a way for you to focus on those weighty, golden moments within motherhood.  May they anchor you through even the hardest days and seasons.”


And with that, as promised I will share a few of my journal entries before signing off,


Here’s my very first journal entry from April 27, 2021 (just to give you some context Lucia was 3 and Rocco was 1):


“Tonight Lucia, Rocco and I all sat on the floor in Rocco’s room as I read them 4 Llama Llama books before bed.  Both kids were quiet and attentive as I read the stories.  The best part was, before I put Rocco in his crib, I asked Lucia to say goodnight to her brother.  She ended up giving him a big hug and kiss on the top of his head saying, “I love you brother.”  This made Rocco so happy, I could see the big smile behind his pacifier and the happiness in his eyes as he rested his head on her chest.  The kids repeated this embrace probably about 20 times after hearing my enthusiastic reaction.


This one’s from April 28, 2021:


Today my Mom had to leave to return home after being here for a week to help me out after I had suffered a life-threatening miscarriage.  This kids had so much fun with their Yaya while she was here.  Before she had to leave, Lucia cried so hard because she didn’t want her Yaya to leave.  She held on to Mom so tight.  Although it made me sad to see Lucia so upset, it makes me happy to know they have a beautiful bond.  I took a picture of them as my Mom was holding Lucia and Lucia was sobbing, resting her head on Yaya’s shoulder.  It was a beautiful moment.


Here’s one from June 2, 2022 (exactly 1 month before I had Serena):


Today when we were eating dinner Lucia said, “Mommy, thank you for this lovely dinner for me!”  Also, earlier today, I was downstairs picking out an outfit that Serena could wear home from the hospital.  Rocco had come through the basement to meet me (he had hopped the gate in our bedroom).  When we came back upstairs, Lucia pointed out there was poop in the toy room downstairs.  Sure enough, there was a large log of poop down there.  Initially I snapped as I was cleaning it up, later I apologized to Rocco for reacting that way.  Rocco said, “black poop downstairs, Mommy angry!”


 So funny!  And I would’ve forgotten about all of it if I hadn’t captured it in this journal!  And it’s so fun re reading these entries, it’s like I get to experience the moment all over again and then I’m reminded of the simple joys and that my life is truly a gift, and the fact that I get to be a mother.  And although like that quote, sometimes the hard moments outnumber the beautiful ones, these beautiful moments outweigh the difficult ones.  It is worth going through all of the hard things associated with being a mom in order to get to experience this sacred blessing of motherhood.


That’s it for today friends.  I would love to keep this conversation going with you.  Please find me on either fb or ig @tanyavalentinecoaching and share your thoughts about today’s episode.  I would love to hear if you keep a journal, or maybe if this episode motivated you to start keeping one.  And if you have, and you feel comfortable doing so, I’d love to hear your journal entries, or how this has made an impact on your life! 


 And if you found this show valuable, please consider sharing with your family and friends.  And if you have a moment, if I could ask that you leave a rating and review it would help me out tremendously, because having more ratings and reviews allows more people to find the show and enables me to help and support more moms just like you! And we could all use the added support couldn’t we?  It takes a village!   Let’s work to keep this community growing and support one another as we move through this beautiful, crazy journey of motherhood together!  Have a beautiful week friends, I’ll talk to you next Wednesday! Bye!

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