What happened to a joy filled life when you became a parent? Weren’t you told these would be the happiest days of your life? Are you beginning to think you are not cut out to be a parent or that something must be wrong with you?
So glad you stopped to read this article. Something is likely not wrong with you and you still can get back to thinking there is joy in being a parent. It begins with several simple but not easy steps.
- Let go of being perfect, the best parent on the block. That worked for you when it was only you to take care of. You now have been given a loan of another life to guide temporarily. What is best for your child is you, not a perfect parent. It is a relaxed and calm and happy parent who is imperfect.
- Stop comparing yourself and your child to others you see or hear about on social media. You only see a small part and what is revealed to you. Everyone’s life has good and bad times.
- Become clear on what matters most to you as a person, a parent, a family. What is your family mission statement? Is it one centered around empathy/kindness toward each other? Is it being a family that values health and wellness? How about a family that is curious and loves to learn? Once you figure out personally what your core values are, be sure to align time spent there.
- Is respect for self and respect for each other expected at all times. That includes letting family members know when you need a break and demonstrating you value yourself as much as them by taking a break to soak in the tub, play a round of golf, or read a book in the shade for 20 minutes. Self-care matters.
- Make meal time spent together as a family a priority. This is when listening to others is taught and opening up and sharing feelings happens in a safe environment.
- Technology has its place and is not at the table during meals, in the car on short rides, in stores when shopping, or in the bedroom after bedtime begins. Charging stations are in the kitchen. This goes for adults and children alike. Young children don’t engage in ipad/phone games and very limited TV. Older children have specific limited time after other responsibilities completed.
- Spend time ‘teaching’ feeling words. Model using them. When you are frustrated, let your family know. When you are sad, let them know. When you are proud, disappointed, enthusiastic…let them know. Have a ‘feelings chart’ hanging for the young child to show you how they are feeling. When able to express in words their emotion, there will be less showing you in unwanted behavior.
- As a family, if able to do any kind of relaxation/mindfulness activities, will teach coping skills for all. There are many child oriented guided meditations on Youtube. Taking 5 minutes to sit together quietly in meditation/deep breathing before bed is an excellent habit to begin.
- All members of the family have chores, even the youngest and especially the older children. Do not ‘do it all’ because it’s easier that expecting your family to help. Delegate.
Hopefully these ideas do not stress you out more. Try one at a time. The very most important suggestion is to be present. What you children will remember most was the time and love you gave them. Take time to hug, cuddle, say ‘I love you’, and ‘I am proud of you’. Take time to talk and praise more that you correct. Take time to talk about how each are feeling. Be there to listen, eye to eye. How you relax even during challenging times, gives your family a model that you are resilient and as a family, can handle it all…together.