Parenting can be very daunting and the result is that we are often so concerned with the happiness of our children that we forget about our own. Some parents also feel selfish when they focus on their own needs, but being happy and being a good parent are not mutually exclusive, as some believe.
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The fast pace of modern life often leaves parents with precious little time for themselves, which can cause stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Research has shown that there are numerous factors, such as the age of parents and number of children that influence happiness levels. However, it is also possible to learn how to be a happier parent by making the following changes in your life.
Let Go Of The Concept Of Perfect Parenting
A surefire way to be unhappy as a parent is to try to live up to unrealistic standards and attempt to be the perfect parent. While it is true that parenting comes more naturally to some people than others, nobody is perfect. The media often paints a perfect picture of parenting that is not only impossible, but will leave you very unhappy if you cannot replicate it.
The truth is that every child is different, and there is no universal approach to parenting that will yield perfect results for everyone. In reality, parenting is a learning experience, and the sooner you learn not to heap unrealistic expectations on your family, the happier you will be.
This doesn’t mean you have to be complacent and not work on your weaknesses, but let go of the idea that nothing short of perfection is acceptable.
Accept That There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Child
No two children are alike and comparing your own to others is not good for your happiness. Unless you spend time with someone else’s children 24/7, they will probably seem perfect. Some parents love bragging about their children, but you can be sure that everything is not always as perfect as they would like you to believe.
Your children will have their own talents, and comparing them to other children isn’t fair. All children have certain things they struggle with, and if they don’t excel in the same areas as others, it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. If you keep your expectations realistic your child will be happier and so will you.
Have More Confidence In Your Children
As parents, we obviously want to help our children if they struggle or are in trouble, but we must also accept that they can handle their own problems. If you are constantly coming to their rescue at the first sign of trouble you might actually be doing more harm than good. Not only will it take up all of your time to constantly micro-manage their life, but it can actually interfere with their ability to learn problem-solving skills. Focus on the big stuff and have confidence in your children that they will be able to figure out the minor issues by themselves.
Lighten Your Load
If your entire day consists of shuttling your children back and forth between activities, chances are you are not going to be very happy. You might think that it is great for your children to be enrolled in every activity or after-school club you can find, but it is also going to stretch you too thin.
It might feel selfish to lighten your load by cutting back on the amount of activities your child takes part in, but it will be better for both of you in the long-run. As a parent you’ll have more time and energy, and the children will learn how to entertain themselves.
Don’t Just Accept The Things That Bother You
As parents it is easy to just accept certain things for the sake of keeping the peace, but this is not healthy if it ends up causing you to be unhappy. Identifying and confronting issues can be intimidating, but will be better for your happiness in the long-run. The bottom line is if you are unhappy and you don’t do anything about it, you will stay unhappy.
Focus On Your Own Happiness As Well
The happiness of your children is important, but so is your own. It might feel like we are expected to give up our hobbies and free time when we become parents, but this only leads to unhappiness. Spend time on yourself, your hobbies and your partner without feeling guilty. It is also important to leave the house when you can to interact with other people, without your children being present. This will allow you to center yourself and replenish your own happiness, which is beneficial for the children as well.
Take Care Of Your Health
Parenting takes its toll on your health and this can also leave you feeling very unhappy if you are not careful. We need about 7-½ hours of sleep per night, but if you are a parent, this is probably not happening, so try to make sleep a priority. Exercise will also help to make you look and feel better, as will eating healthier meals. As parents, we are focused on the health of our children, but all too often neglect our own in the process.
Set Up A Support Network With Other Parents
Chances are that there are other parents in your neighborhood, and making arrangements with them can be to the benefit of everyone. For example, taking turns to collect all the kids from school or taking them to activities means you don’t have to do these things yourself all the time.
Getting more involved with other parents can not only free up more time for you, but can also lead to friendships for you and your children. Just make sure that the arrangements you make are reciprocal, and avoid parents who only seek to take advantage for their own benefit.
Schedule Your Time More Efficiently
Often parents feel unhappy because they feel overwhelmed, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get to all the chores that must be done. Instead of trying to fit in everything and then feeling depressed when you don’t get everything done, learn to schedule your time. By working according to a plan you’ll be more organized and will figure out how much you will be able to realistically accomplish. Keep track of how long tasks take, and work out which ones are not really worth the effort.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
As mentioned earlier, it is good to identify and resolve issues that make you unhappy, but that doesn’t mean you need to sweat about all the small stuff. Handle the big issues that make you unhappy, and learn not to let the small things get under your skin. Learning to just let go of certain things is much better for your happiness in the long-run.