How to Find Joy in the Chaos?

Mom and child are relaxing together on a cozy winter evening by the fireplace, close-up of two hands with cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows. How to Find Joy in the Chaos?

As someone who has everything together (wink wink), I figured that I could write a beautiful article about how you too can find joy in the chaos of motherhood and working and year two of a pandemic. In all honesty, I felt that if I wrote an article about finding some glimmer of hope in this madness, then maybe it would help all you hot mess mamas too. And also, while we are telling the truth, I have been riding the struggle bus of finding these little silver linings and joy and happiness because things have just felt HARD lately. Four kids on different schedules, a preemie with countless doctors’ appointments, and a cancer survivor mom have really felt like a slap in the face lately. Some days, it just feels heavy. Add in a pandemic and lots of different opinions in our face all the time and trying to figure out if we are doing any of it “right.” Phew. It is all just a lot. It could feel this way for a variety of reasons or all of the reasons above. Still, I figured we might all need the extra reminders to help us find some joy in the chaos of our every day. So… here we go!

In our house, we have stopped trying to have good days anymore. Instead, we just soak in good moments. Just any little ordinary moment we can find. The day is far too long and daunting, and sometimes a bad morning could feel like we are ruining the whole thing…so we made it smaller. We try to catch all the good moments we can. Some people break the day into parts but sometimes that even feels like too much to keep track of. If I’ve learned anything from kids, we have to focus on the positives, so just catching those little good moments in our brain helps us remember the good in every day. So today, some of the goods were kids who went to school happily, a preschooler who caught her barf in the barf bucket and not on the floor, and a little dude who lets me rock him to sleep every night and gives me the biggest smile right before he closes his eyes. They might not seem like anything huge, but every night, when I think about the day, I try to think about these moments instead of some of the yuck that happened. If we can try to focus on the littles, then the bigs and the hards don’t feel so overwhelming anymore.

I talked to my 2nd graders at school about culture, and we talked about humor and how each of our families has their own kind of humor and jokes and silly things they do. I shared that our family likes to check for everyone in the car, and then once we have everyone checked in, we all go “all aboard the Saaranen train!” like the crazies we are. And after I shared this with them, the whole class couldn’t stop giggling and saying how fun it is that we get in the car like that. One little girl told me she even wanted to be part of our train. The class and my own kids don’t know this, but the reason I started doing this crazy thing was because of some anxiety I had after baby #3 and how scared I was of leaving someone at home. Nobody knows it…except all of you now, but I just want you to know that sometimes the things you do in the hardest parts of your life will turn into something warm and fun and beautiful and memorable for your kids. And this isn’t to tell you to to do something like this…I want you to look for the little parts of fun you do each and every day! I guarantee there is something you do that your kids might even roll their eyes at, but they will remember forever.

In our house, we love to cope with sadness and happiness and anger and all the feelings with a bit of food because I have wonderful coping mechanisms to pass on to my children. Snacks and treats go a long way to celebrate the joy in the middle of the crazy. Sometimes a hot cocoa with extra marshmallows and whipped cream is the perfect way to hip hip hooray a hard day. Middle of a Tuesday? WHY NOT!!! An extra cold day that needs some warming up? GO FOR IT! Just celebrating making it through a day with 4 kiddos who all have colds and a husband who is out of town? EXTRA EXTRA MARSHMALLOWS FOR MOM. While usually, these little extra treats are really for me…I guarantee our kids will remember the time mom had hot cocoa waiting in their car seat cup holders after preschool pickup. I am counting on this and hoping that all of our kids remember some of these little moments where we all tried our best to make some magic out of the mess.

I think that is the whole point of this thing, this whole motherhood thing, right? To find some little bits of magic in the mess. And acknowledge the craziness too. Because this is hard and messy and confusing and amazing and loving and silly and incredible and…what are we even doing and am I doing it right? And I hope you can read this rambling mess and find something you need to take away and look at all the joy in your chaos. If you can’t find it…ask those little people in your life because I guarantee you’re way more magical than you think you are. Hugs mamas. We are all doing this darn thing and sprinkling a little glitter along the way that our babies will grow up and remember.

Mama to 3 littles, wife to my high school sweetheart, lives in the Twin Cities and teaches a fantastic crew of 2nd graders! We have our own little zoo of 2 pups, a cat and 6 chickens and we love playing outside, exploring and spending time with friends and family! I'm a runner, yogi and fun lover who also kicked breast cancer in 2018! Founder of the Minnesota Breasties, a non-profit that supports women going through cancer. Big time fun lover and happy to be here with all of you!


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