Welcome to a typical parents’ morning. It begins when your toddler leaps onto your bed at 6 a.m. You try to be happy to see them, but all you’re really thinking is, “Go away. I need my sleep”. Next, comes breakfast. The daily recipe of spilled milk and Cheerios that somehow finds it way to 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. Here are some quick tips that will help you be a happy parent.
How is it that being a parent can be inspiring and rewarding, but also so demanding? How can our children be our pride and joy but also a drain on our energy?
If you’re frustrated with being a parent sometimes, that’s totally normal. When you go from total freedom to a 24-7 job that takes effort, you are bound to feel that at times. However, there are ways to make the job of parenting and family life easier, simpler and more manageable – as well as a lot more satisfying.
Here are five ways to help you be a happy parent
Don’t Overdo It
Take a good, hard look at your family calendar. Is it totally marked up with your child’s commitments? If so, you should think about paring it back. Over-scheduling a child robs her of downtime (which is critical for her healthy development and for nurturing creativity), and shuttling her from place to place can seriously affect your happiness too. Your best bet is to figure out which commitments are crucial and then drop everything else. Limit your kids to one sport or class per week. Driving the kids around can stress everyone out and eats away at the time when you could spend some quality time as a family. Your child does not have to experience everything life has to offer before they are 12 years old. Spread the learning out so that it’s enjoyable for everyone, not stressful.
Make Time for Your Spouse
The research is clear: Happy marriages produce happy kids. So while it’s easy to get caught up in the demands of raising your children, you need to make time for your spouse too. Going out by yourselves at least once a month is a good start, but also look for ways to squeeze intimate moments into your day, even if it’s just giving each other a 10-second kiss at the door or sharing a glass of wine after the kids are in bed. My husband and I always enjoy a lovely adult conversation on Sunday mornings. After we’ve had breakfast, our son goes off to play while we stay at the table, enjoy a coffee and just talk. It’s something we both value a lot.
Make Play-Dates with Your Friends
Kids are often fun to be around, but they can’t replace grown-up friends. Many moms, overwhelmed and exhausted from the daily grind, tend to drift away from their girlfriends after they have children. Don’t let that happen to you. Friendship is an essential component of happiness. A study conducted at the University of Illinois found that people who have strong ties to friends and family are the most likely to think of themselves as happy. Try making a lunch date with a good friend you haven’t seen in weeks. Even if you end up chatting about kids, although try not to, it will seem fun.
Work as a Team
Getting the whole family involved with household tasks can lighten any parents’ load (and mood). My 4-year-old son tidies his toys every night so that my hubby and I can enjoy our evening together after putting the kids to bed. Doing household tasks is good for your kids too. A study at the University of Minnesota found that the most reliable predictor of a child’s future success isn’t his IQ, his social status, or his extracurricular involvement, but rather his participation in household tasks. The key is to get your children to learn about responsibility by pitching in at a young age — and to stick with it. (Purchase my audio, “How to get your Kids to Help Out…Without Whining” to learn how to easily start this with your kids.) Remember: when you get your kids involved, your whole family will feel closer and your child’s self-esteem will grow.
Put Things into Perspective
Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘If I have to play one more game of I Spy, I might just go crazy? Or, have you ever blown your top because your child has managed to damage your sofa, floor and favorite necklace all in one day? These things happen when you have children. Of course you want to make sure that your children are not being reckless or careless most of the time, however, accidents happen. I had one day where my son left his marker on the sofa which left a permanent blue ink stain only to accidentally slip on a toy which left a huge scrape on the hardwood floor, only to look at my favorite necklace and while taking his hand away got his sweater stuck to it. He pulled away and the necklace broke.
One thing I personally do and also teach the parents I coach to do is to picture themselves telling “the story” at their child’s wedding. At that time it’ll make a great story and all the wedding guests will laugh. In the end, some things just happen and we have to roll with them…go with the flow… and keep life with children in perspective.