Joyful parenting….be mindful.
- Parenting is a gift….there is not doubt about it.
- It is a difficult job, no doubt about it.
- Days can feel very long and mundane no doubt about it.
- Society tells us we should be tired, we should be less happy raising children than our childless counter parts.
- Studies show us that stressed unhappy parents raise children who are less happy and satisfied with life.
- Remember that we cannot give our children that which we do not have. If we are not happy/joyful, we cannot give that happiness or joy to our children.
So how can we enjoy this wild ride of parenting and raise children in a home that is happy and joyful? How can we look at our day to day life and realize that yes, the days may be long; but the years really are very short. I often remind parents, there are only 936 weekends from birth to age 18! Wow!
I have 6 simple tips that I believe will help you navigate these 936 weeks between birth and age 18 (believe me you will parent well beyond age 18!) with grace and joy.
- Balance your life.
Each day plan how you will achieve 4 goals.
One goal for yourself
What can you do for yourself today? How can you fill your pitcher? An empty pitcher cannot give! What fills you up? Prayer? Exercise? Long bath? Journal? Hobby? Chatting with friends? Reading? Take 20 minutes a day to fill yourself. Actually set a goal for this and a plan!
One goal for your husband/significant other
We often lose connection with the most important person in our life during the child rearing years. We must concentrate on maintaining that relationship. What small act can you do each day to remind this person that you love them. A quick love note? Sticky note on the mirror? Special dinner? Some one on one time? A simple thank you? Actually set a goal for this and a plan!
One goal for your home
When our homes are in disarray, we often feel out of control. Plan one short task a day to keep your home in control. This can be wiping out the bathroom sinks, mopping a floor, dusting one room, cleaning out one drawer, changing your sheets…one 20 minute task each day. Do NOT try to clean your whole house in a day….one simple task. Actually set a goal for this and a plan!
One goal for your children
I know, you do things for your child every single moment of the day! But, if you plan something fun for each day this brings some joy. Plan one thing to do that is simply fun. The park? Library? A craft? Bake some cookies? Reading an extra story at bedtime? ….one simple activity. Actually set a goal for this and a plan!
2. Ignore behaviors that are irritating…react unemotionally with your discipline.
- Parents are trying to live up to standards that are often simply unattainable. We cannot provide endless attention and endless activities for our children. Children learn that behaviors such as whining, complaining, tantrums often result in more attention from Mom and Dad and even may result in more screen time or snacks as exhausted parents try to buy a little quiet. Remember, attention is attention to a child. Even negative attention with yelling or arguing is attention. I often tell parents that paying attention to whining or annoying behavior is like scratching a bug bite, it increases the itch! The more you pay attention to annoying behavior like whining….the more your child does it!
- Don’t negotiate. Children should have some input into decisions but at the end of the day you make the decisions. Toddlers and preschoolers need a simple explanation…not a dissertation. Teens will need a bit more discussion….but in the end the decision is yours. Once you begin the negotiation process, children think everything is up for debate. Give choices that are real and control over things children should have control over.
- Give your child grace…forgive and forget. Let go….. Overlook small misbehaviors and pick your battles. Always end with a hug after discipline.
3. Do the unexpected
- Break the rules……be a little silly. Stay in your PJs one whole day, have milk shakes for dinner, say yes a little more, celebrate everything! Try to learn from your child…learn to live in the moment. When they are playing they are not thinking about what is happening next or what happened yesterday. They are enjoying right down…we are at risk of missing joy when we are constantly in a rush.
- Give yourself grace…sometimes doing the unexpected is simply easier, and more fun. If doing the unexpected results in something not being accomplished on your list, give yourself grace. Remember the laundry basket is never empty.
4. Play more
- What is one activity or part of your day that you wish could be more fun or easier? What can you do to make it more fun? Work play into your day and enjoy it! Don’t think of the mess or the things on your list you are not doing. Remember to live in the moment and play is a child’s work!
5. Have less family screen time, put the phone away.
- Screen time, especially social media, can cause us to concentrate on it and detach us from the people who are with us in the moment. Less minutes on screens results in more moments “in the moment” with family and friends.
- Ask yourself what would happen if you were inaccessible for a period of time. Put down the phone.
6. Develop family traditions and rituals
- Tradition is the glue to your family. Traditions create fun and supports your family morals and values. Daily rituals and traditions bring stability to your child and family.
Joyful parenting is a mindset…
- it is staying balanced,
- it is about playing, being silly and ignoring behavior that is simply irritating,
- it is about being mindful…keeping your mind in the moment and not on what is next or comparisons to others,
- it is about keeping your screen time to a minimum and concentrating on your husband, your child, and the life you have now,
- it is about letting your child be a child and not worrying about over scheduling and competitive parenting,
- it is about building a family with tradition and value,
- It is about giving yourself, your spouse and yes your child grace….
- Grace goes a long way in bringing peace and joy to you and your family. Remember….936 weekends.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.