10 Little Things That Bring Big Joy


10 Little Things That Bring Big Joy I’m at that stage of life and motherhood where it’s usually all about everyone else and rarely about me. I have a four-year-old and a 10-month-old, and most of my time is spent catering to their needs. Then there’s work, marriage, family, friends, housekeeping. There is not much time left over to spend thinking about myself. Honestly, I don’t even notice this state of affairs most of the time, though, because I’m so busy just keeping up with life. Most of the time I am perfectly happy and content. Until I’m not. Every once in a while it hits me hard. I’m exhausted. I’m frazzled. I’m anxious. Sometimes I’m lonely. And by the time those overwhelming feelings catch up to me, it’s much more difficult to find balance and get back to myself than if I’d been maintaining my connection to myself all along.

I waited a long time to become a mother, so the last thing I want to do is complain now that I finally have what I’ve always wanted. But I’m realizing that I can’t give everything away, even though sometimes it feels like the right thing to do. I have to continue to take care of myself. And I can’t depend on anyone else to do it for me. Sure, my husband, family, and friends make me happy. But they are not ultimately responsible for my happiness and well-being. I am.

So, when my birthday rolled around a few weeks ago, I decided to do something nice for myself. I’d been feeling a little neglected, and in desperate need of some self-care, so I decided to do some of the things that I love, and partake in my favorite things — little things that make me happy, but that I sometimes don’t take the time for — every day of the week leading up to my birthday. Honestly, this is something that I should be doing on a regular basis. It’s a simple practice of infusing some joy into the small moments of my life. Most of these don’t take any extra time, just a little conscious effort to make sure I’m giving myself some attention and honoring myself a little every now and then.

Here are ten things I did during my birthday week celebration:

  1. On Monday, I bought my favorite candle and I burned it all day long while I worked. I actually burned it all week because I love it so much. This may not sound like a big deal, but it brightened my mood, and it just felt just luxurious enough to make the day feel a little special.
  2. While I enjoyed my candle, I also listened to my favorite music. Such a small thing, but something that I often forget to do. Sometimes I get so caught up in my to-dos and my work that I don’t take the time to set up my workspace. I just jump right in. But what a difference it makes to take just 2-3 minutes to set the stage with a nice candle and some good music. Makes me wonder why I don’t do this every single day.
  3. On Tuesday, I had lunch with a good friend at one of my favorite spots in Knoxville, Taste of Thai. Catching up with friends is so important to my well-being, yet it’s something that I often neglect for lack of time and energy. I’ve found that lunches work great for me because I’m not taking time away from my kids and it’s a nice break during the work day. I realized I should be lunching with a friend at least once a week.
  4. On Wednesday, I got a spray tan at Sun Tan City. This is something that I love to do and that makes me feel great. But in the busyness of life it usually gets pushed off until later. So I took the time and I ignored the inconvenience, because this week was all about me.
  5. While I was on a beauty regimen roll, I painted my nails in my favorite shade of polish while I watched recorded episodes of my favorite shows. Such a small thing makes me feel feminine and beautiful. Why do I not paint my nails more often?
  6. Thursday morning I went to Starbucks and ordered what I really wanted: a white chocolate mocha. Then I went to Sonic that afternoon during happy hour and got myself a cherry limeade. These are both such a treat for me, but I rarely indulge in them. I also ate my favorite snacks all day long. I even stocked up on my favorite chewing gum.
  7. On Friday, I had margaritas at Babalu, some of the best I’ve found in Knoxville. I had dinner with my family, one of my very favorite things to do.
  8. That evening, I went home and did one of my all-time favorite things: I made a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. I can’t think of many things more relaxing than this, yet I only do this a few times a year. Time for that to change.
  9. On Saturday, I got up early and read a book while I drank my coffee fixed just the way I like it. I sat on my porch swing and listened to the birds, and felt the breeze. Why do I not do this every single weekend?
  10. The grand finale was my birthday party. We had a cookout at the house with cake, balloons, great food, good wine, and the people I love the most in this world. It was the perfect culmination of all my most favorite things.

After my special week, I felt refreshed and recharged and back to my usual self. It’s sad that it took a birthday to make me slow down and take care of myself. It made me realize that I should be doing these things for myself regularly, and not as a last resort when I start feeling down. It’s ok to focus on me once in a while, even if it seems inconvenient or silly or impractical. We cater to everyone else’s whims and eccentricities, so it’s time to start honoring our own. I intend to continue this practice of pampering myself every week, and acknowledging when I need a little something special.

I realized it’s pretty easy to infuse a little luxury and joy into your day, it’s just a matter of deciding that you deserve it. And I do deserve it. And so do you, Momma.

Previous article5 Summer Water Table and Mud Kitchen Play Ideas
Next articleWhat My Family Learned From ISR Swim Lessons
Haley McManigal
Hi there! I’m Haley, a middle-aged-momma to Lukas and Laney, and wife to Dan. I’ve lived in East Tennessee my whole life, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. After moving all over Knox County and surrounding areas, my family has settled in Hardin Valley where we intend to stay at least until the kids graduate from high school. My son was born in 2017, changing my life forever, and my daughter completed our family in 2020. I work as an architect and project manager at a global design firm. I think it’s pretty cool that I get to meet with people from all over the world from my home office on a daily basis. I am happiest when I’m able to strike just the right balance between home and work life. But my family is my greatest treasure and my most fulfilling role in life so far is Mommy. My favorite things are reading, writing, cooking, exploring, and making things. I don’t have much free time these days but when I’m able to squeeze in a few of these activities it really pays off. I love being a part of Knoxville Moms and I cherish the opportunity to share this journey of motherhood here with you!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here