Being a parent is without a doubt one of the hardest jobs in the world. Almost immediately you are expected to fill many roles with little to no training. On any given day, a parent may be a doctor, teacher, chauffeur, chef, housekeeper, and the list goes on and on. And then there are the hours… 24/7 with virtually no time off…ever! Oh and did I mention that you do not get paid for this job?
With all that’s expected of you, it is easy to see how you can become quickly overwhelmed. All parents feel this way at some point in their parenting career. I have felt this way my self on many occasions. I would see other parents who seemed to have it all together and I would wonder, what am I doing wrong? What is their secret?
Well, the fact is, there is no magic formula to parenting. Most of what you learn as a parent will be through trial and error. And possibly a lot more error than trial 😉 However I can tell you that there are some behaviors that happy parents seem to repeat rather consistently. Over the past 10 years, through both my own personal experiences and those of family and friends, I have identified seven specific characteristics that seem to be common among those parents who are happiest. They are:
1) They Maintain A Schedule: It is my understanding that the happiest parents not only develop but stick to a routine that works well for their family. Knowing what to do and when to do it can help take some of the stress out of an already chaotic day in addition to providing a bit of stability for your family. When writing out your family’s schedule, start with those tasks that are most important first, such as sports/club practices, household chores, doctor’s appointments, business meetings, homework, etc, then fill in the available time with additional activities. Whatever you choose be sure to put your daily schedule in a place where the entire family can see it and plan for the day. And don’t forget to be flexible with your plan since changes to your schedule are inevitable.
2) They Release Guilt: Are you listening parents? This is a big one! As a parent, you will have numerous opportunities to feel guilty and second guess every decision you make on your child’s behalf. Did I choose the right school for my child? Am I doing enough to build his/her confidence? Should I let my child play sports or encourage them to play an instrument instead? My advice to all parents, it to let it go (please excuse my shameless Frozen reference 😉 )! Let go of the guilty feelings. The fact is, most parents have their child’s best interests at heart and do the best they can with the resources they have. So don’t beat yourself up over everything that goes wrong and focus instead on what’s going well. Do your best to recognize and admit mistakes when they happen and then move forward.
3) They Say No: The word “No” is probably the most powerful tool that parents have in their arsenal yet it’s rarely used. There is a customer service saying that goes “always strive to under commit and over deliver”. In other words, don’t say yes to everything, but do put forth 120% effort with those that you do. If you say yes to everyone who asks for your time, you will mostly likely find that your time (and sanity) have quickly dwindled. This does not mean that you should not help your friends and family, but it is important to know your boundaries. For example, if you haven’t slept in 3 days because your infant daughter is teething and you have a huge work presentation due at the end of the week, it’s probably not a great idea to agree to host your mommy’s club pot luck dinner at your house that week too!
4) They Make Time for Themselves: The best way to be happy is to do things that make you happy. That’s not to say that your little bundle of joy doesn’t make you happy, because most parents would say that their children make them happier than anything on the earth BUT it is important to make time for yourself. Remember how I said that this job is 24/7? Well, even moms and dads need a break now and then. Remember the scrapbooking hobby you used to have? Or how long has it been since you had a picnic at your favorite park? Taking some time for yourself will help you feel more refreshed, relaxed, and better able to handle the day’s tasks.
5) They Make Time for Relationships: One of the biggest parenting complaints is that you often lose touch with friends and family. In between play-dates, managing a household, and work, it can be very difficult (and exhausting) to maintain a social calendar. However, the happiest parents are those who make the time to spend with loved ones. Making time to nurture relationships will help you feel more connected to the world around you.
6) They Wake up Before the Kids: This sounds crazy coming from me. I am the type of person that believes it should be illegal to wake up before noon. So if you are the type of person who normally hits the snooze button a hundred times before getting up, you probably think I’m insane for suggesting that you get even less sleep than you do now. However, there is something very peaceful and calming about getting dressed and enjoying a hot cup of coffee (or tea) before everyone wakes up. Making an effort to wake up an extra half hour before the rest of the house will give you a chance to get a head start on the day. You’ll have time to wake and get your brain going before you have to have conversations with other people 😉
7) They Stay Active: It’s no secret that exercise is a great way to elevate your mood. During exercise we release endorphins into our body which causes a temporary lift in mood. For many parents, being active is something that happens whether they like it or not. After all, we’ve all had days where it seems as if we will never get a chance to sit down. It may be difficult to get the motivation to get up and moving but very rarely will you ever regret a workout. However I can almost promise you that you will regret not working out. Exercise does not have to be boring or even take a lot of time. It could be an after dinner walk or run with the family or maybe a solitary bike ride.
Regardless of whether you choose to practice any of these tips, happiness is a choice! It does not make a difference whether positive behavior comes naturally to you or not, it is possible to train your mind to think differently. Following these strategies will take some effort on your part but consider the results. You will be less stressed, have a better handle on your time, and most of all you will be happier. Who doesn’t want to be happier? Happy parents raise happy children!
Do you agree with these tips? Let’s talk about it!