Being a parent naturally involves some hard work, but if it seems harder than usual lately, you may need to bring some balance back into your life. To start becoming a more relaxed and all-around happier parent, try the following ten ways to get there.
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1. Accept You Don’t Need To Be Perfect
Whether you think you have an idea of what perfect parenting is or believe you know someone who embodies it, the so-called “perfect” parent doesn’t exist. Chances are, your perfect parent isn’t perfect at all and is just doing the best they can like everyone else. No kids come with a manual, and what works for someone else’s family may not work so well for yours.
Give yourself a little break when it comes to the idea of flawless parenting. It is true some people are better at it than others, and if you have weak areas, go ahead and work on them. Just don’t place an unrealistic burden on yourself when it comes to your ideas of superior parenting.
2. Accept Your Children Don’t Need To Be Perfect, Either
You probably cringe at things back in your childhood now, because you weren’t the perfect child. Keeping that in mind, your child doesn’t need to be perfect either. Sometimes, they will do something wrong, suffer a failure or be difficult to live with, but that’s to be expected and it’s only temporary.
If you know someone who is constantly telling you about how wonderful their child is, take it with a grain of salt. While their child may be excellent at some things, that doesn’t mean they’re acing everything. And even if they are, you don’t need to compare your own child to someone else’s standards. Celebrate and appreciate what talents your child has instead.
3. Realize You Can’t Solve All Their Problems
If you’re ready to intervene at the first sign of any trouble, you’re probably not doing your child any favors. They need to learn how to solve problems and handle conflicts, so unless it’s something major, you’re better off leaving it for your child to solve. Being a micro-manager in your child’s life is stressful and time-consuming, and it also suggests a lack of confidence in their own abilities.
4. Start Sharing The Load
When you can, set up give-and-take arrangements with other parents, such as picking up each other’s kids from school or to and from activities. Not only will this net you some free time, but it also gives you a chance to form friendships with other parents and give your child the opportunity to strengthen friendships of their own.
Do be on the lookout for parents who are taking advantage of these arrangements. If someone tries to make you their unpaid babysitter, it’s time to ease them out. This system is all about give and take, so each parent can catch a break on occasion.
5. Aim To Do Less And Slow Down
If you’re in a routine that has you rushing most of the time, it’s not going to be easy to be happy and relaxed. Your children don’t need to be in every after-school club or do every available activity that comes their way. It’s great when your kids go out and learn new things, but you have to consider the impact on yourself, too.
If you find yourself having to rush around constantly, it’s time to cut out some of the activities. It’s actually better for your child if, by doing less, you have more energy and are a happier parent. If your child constantly has things to do, there’s always the risk they may not develop the ability to self-entertain.
6. Get Yourself Organized
Organization can make a difference when it comes to your happiness. If you currently work or used to, chances are you had a plan for your day, so you knew what you had to do and when.
Make a list of what you plan to do for the week ahead of time. Estimate how long each task will take and note that, too. When you finish a task, cross it off the list, but note how long it actually took. By seeing how long things really take, you can shake that happiness-killing feeling that you just don’t get enough done. Having a to-do list in writing will also allow you to prioritize your time better.
7. Address What’s Eating You
When you’re unhappy, it’s all too easy to stay that way because you’re trying to let things that really bother you go. While keeping the peace is understandable, if you’re being made miserable by it, there’s no point.
Take the bull by the horns when it comes to issues that are troubling you. Get it out in the open and get it sorted so you can be happier in your life in general.
8. Know When To Let Go
While you should address things that are nagging at you, as noted above, you also need to know when to let something go. Life isn’t always perfect, so it’s up to you to judge what to react to and what to just forget and move on from.
If you’re having trouble deciding what is important and what is not, try using a scoring system. Assign a value between one and ten on each incident, basing the score on how much that incident will affect your life. You’ll be surprised by how often the little things don’t actually matter, and seeing that impact measured out will help you move on faster.
9. Do Some Things For Yourself
It’s time to spend your newly found free time on yourself. Being a parent doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to a life of your own. Find a new hobby or pick up an old one again. Get out of the house and spend some time with adults, without the children around.
Spend some time with your partner, too. It’s very easy to neglect your relationship or marriage when you’re busy being a parent, but that bond is important as well.
10. Take A Closer Look At Happiness
If you’re really having a hard time finding any happiness, try some books, CDs or web resources on the subject. Believe it or not, you can study happiness, and doing so may help you see the long-term benefits. It may also shed some light on why you’re currently unhappy.
Join parenting forums and communities to get some support and even answers for some of the problems you’re having. Speaking with other parents who are going through similar situations can really help.
Being a parent isn’t easy, but when you are relaxed and happy, it’s certainly more pleasant. Childhood goes so fast, so you need to make the most of this time. Learn to focus on the good things, and accept what you can’t change to start living the life you want.