Are you enjoying parenting? Or are you just plodding through the days, bogged down in the tedium of caring for and redirecting little ones (or bigger ones) day in and day out?
5 Ways to Enjoy Parenting More
1. Slow Down
Yeah, I know, SO much easier said than done! I too often feel like we’re always in a hurry, rushing to pick one kid up only to race to the other side of town to get another kid to a doctor or activity. With three kids all wanting to participate in sports, music, robotics and other enrichment activities, even the best laid schedules end up with some overlap. As parents, we want to provide these opportunities to our kids and allow them to explore something they’re interested in, but it’s worthwhile to strive for balance.
On the days that we have less going on, or a rainy day that cancels a sports practice (thankfully!), I savor the calm pace, the chance to leisurely cut vegetables for dinner, to chat with a child over a cup of afternoon tea. I build in at least one week day in which we have no after school activities and no set place to be. The kids can run around and play with the neighbors after their homework is done and can take a long, prune-making bath instead of a speedy shower.
I find I enjoy parenting more when we slow down. Our weekends, since no one plays soccer, are usually an oasis of slow motion, extended time in PJs, big breakfasts together and working together in the yard. We value the time to play a family game, watch a family movie or do a project together.
2. Focused Time
Every day, I check in, touch base and give focused attention to each child. Even taking a 15 minute chunk to hear about their day, to ask about friends, to ask their opinion on something, makes a big difference in connecting to your child. Connecting, in turn, helps us to enjoy parenting more. Isn’t that the whole reason we had kids in the first place – for the prospect of a special relationship.
My focused time with Anna often comes at bedtime, she still likes to be put to bed with a song and a prayer. That’s when a concern or thought bubbles up, when a question arises; but even on a night that we just sing and snuggle, we’re both loving the uninterrupted time together. Sometimes my focused time is impromptu and catch-as-catch-can like during a car ride alone with one child, or sitting waiting for the weekly allergy shot. Other times it’s more formalized and I pull someone aside for a sit down chat. Either way, I aim to spend some one on one time with each kid each day. Click here for more ideas on parent child one on one time.
3. Positive Discipline and Setting Limits
This may sound odd as a way to better enjoy parenting, but while discipline take endless parental energy and creativity, exhausting follow through and consistency, IT IS WORTH IT! So my point is, the effort your put in to parenting confidently and disciplining your children, will make them more pleasant to be around and the time you spend together will be happier.
This certainly doesn’t happen overnight, and even with well-behaved kids, there are always needs to redirect, remind, and to get them back on track. The tough work of teaching children your expectations, and those of society around them, will yield little people who are fun to be around. Despite popular belief, this also works to help them be more pleasant (more of the time) when they become teenagers and if they’re in a mood, slip out and see tip number 4.
4. Make Time for You
You know the whole “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others” scenario – trite but true! Regular Mother’s Circle readers know that I am all about guilt-free parenting. You deserve Mommy Time, yes, go take a nap, a cup of coffee with a friend or a yoga class. Go cut flowers from your garden, play tennis, read a book. You must make time for yourself to be able to enjoy parenting. If you’re constantly putting yourself second – or lower on your list – it will build resentment and negativity. Full yourself up, be active in your happiness and you will have more fun as a mama!
5. Stay Connected
Staying connected means a lot of things to me. It means providing frequent opportunities and creating a family culture that encourages open discussion, questions, and a non-threatening, respectful way for children to disagree with a parent and to debate their point of view. It doesn’t mean as parents we have to concede or accept their argument, but it means LISTENING.
Staying connected means listening to the long long long story about every bounce of the ball in Four Square and the order each kid got out. It means listening to the long long long description of that morning’s dream (twice). It means really hearing our children, paying attention to what’s important to them even if it’s not interesting to us. When there’s a light in their face to share something, take a moment to look in their eyes and hear what they’re saying.
Family dinners are an important way to bring up topics for discussion, to teach a lesson and to reconnect at the end of the day. We do a simple grace to put gratitude in the forefront and most nights we go around and share our high and low points of the day.
Before I had a teenager, I thought I would hate the whole texting thing, but I must say, it really keeps us in touch when we’re not in the same space. I get little notes from Ali at lunchtime or other snip-its of free time in her school day. She texts when she’s out with friends, or after a dance to let me know how it was and that she’s safely at her sleep over. I can text her a note when I go to bed for her to discover when she wakes up; I love the little slices of communication when we’re apart.
I also love leaving notes for the kids now and then – on a pillow, in their lunchboxes, or tucked into an overnight bag on the way to grandma’s house for them to find when I’m not there. All of these links help me to love being a Mom.
What do you do to enjoy parenting?
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