Embracing the Happy Parts of Parenting
The overscheduled and fairly isolated culture we have today certainly makes parenting more difficult in some ways than it was in decades and centuries pasts. But the truth is that raising children never has been and never will be easy. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day battles and new challenges that come with every stage. But working on your outlook can make a big difference. Here are four steps to help you work toward finding the happy parts of parenting in each day.
Have realistic expectations.
Disappointment and frustration is often a result of unmet expectations. It's easy to browse Pinterest or scroll through social media — aka the highlight reel — and feel like you should have a perfectly clean house, perfectly home-cooked meals, and perfectly behaved children at all times, with no outside help. But in reality, life just doesn’t work like this. Think about what's really important to you. Maybe you love that feeling of peace that happens when you come home from work to a nice clean house. Maybe that means you need to cut your coffee trips down and hire a cleaning service to make that happen.
It's also important to account for real life in your planning. Try scheduling a 15-minute block after lunch to re-evaluate your list from the morning and see if you're on track. Or it can help you see if life happened and you need to adjust expectations for the rest of the day accordingly.
Make laughter your default reaction.
I know the advice “You should really smile more” often has a negative connotation. But if you're known far and wide for your RBF, it may be time to seriously put some effort into positive facial expressions. Children take their cues about how to react and respond to situations from their parents. So if you look like you're having a good time (even if it's a fake it till you make it kind of deal), they probably will too. Disclaimer: this works better with younger children. All bets are off when hormones come into play.
Create a fun morning routine.
How the morning goes often sets the tone for the rest of the day. Putting a little extra effort into getting everyone off on a good start can mean you reap big benefits later. A solid morning routine is a great way to make this happen. Depending on how much time you have, you may be able to sit down to breakfast together — even if it's just a bowl of cereal or bagels. Then, take 5-10 minutes for everyone to share a goal they have for the day or do some family affirmations.
If this is too crazy, focus on your own routine first. At the very least, getting up a half an hour before the kids gives you a chance to sit down with a cup of coffee and a good book in peace. This can make it easier to find the happy parts of the day.
End on a good note.
Just like with creating a positive morning routine, ending the day on a good note can help everyone go to bed without tears and screaming (from kids or parents) and hopefully keep that momentum going to the next day. What this looks like depends on your family. One idea is to have a five-minute candle time (looking at a flame is relaxing) where everyone shares their favorite part of the day and takes turns blowing out the candle to make a wish. Or you can all pile on the couch to watch a family-friendly show together. It doesn't have to be long or elaborate, just whatever works for your crew.
How do you help find the happy parts in parenting each day? Share in the comments!