by Kerry Hart, LLMFT
Successful parents help their children journey into adulthood equipped with lessons they can take with them to be satisfied and fruitful in their own lives. Great parenting starts with taking time for yourself, so you can show your little ones daily patience and love they deserve without losing your cool.
Waking Up Early
You will be amazed at how much of a difference waking up before your kids can make in preparing for your day. Whether you use that time for self-care or to get organized for the impending day, you will thank yourself later. Those few extra minutes of sleep may sound precious, but once you are woken up by screaming children, your morning glow will be a distant memory. Having some moments to yourself and getting centered before the impending hectic morning will help you maintain patience as you get your tribe organized.
Shouldering all of the household duties as well as daily child care will drive even the most zen parent off of a cliff. If you have a partner, make a sincere effort to share child-rearing and household responsibilities. If you are parenting solo, reach out to your village for a helping hand; that could mean hiring someone to clean your house once a month or having grandparents spend a night with your kids once a week. Sharing in both the fun and not-so-fun times will make for a much more enjoyable parenting experience.
Stick to a Routine
Children thrive on routine, so make your life a whole lot easier by providing one. Set house rules and never stray from them. If disobedience results in a loss of screen time, make that a consequence they can expect without fail. If lying comes at the expense of losing a playdate with a friend, hold your ground when your kiddo throws out those puppy dog eyes. If you need your little ones to be asleep by 9 p.m., start their bedtime routine an hour before. Standing by the same rules throughout their lives allows your children to thrive and gives you the joy of always knowing what to do when they try to cross the line.
Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to your mental health as a parent. This doesn’t include that handful of trail mix you threw in your mouth as you ran out the door this morning. Making time to fuel your body properly prepares you for the challenges of parenting. Use that early morning wake up time suggested earlier to prepare a balanced breakfast you can eat during the only period of peace and quiet you may have all day. When your kids enter the kitchen, make sure you are well fed and ready for whatever they may throw at you. Plan out your meals for the week, ensuring you do not find yourself hungry and susceptible to bad food decisions. When you don’t give your body the nutrients it needs, you will find your decision-making capabilities significantly decrease. Be a better parent with a full belly, and avoid low blood-sugar tantrums, from both you and your child.
The hustle and bustle of today’s family can make it hard to spend much-needed quality time together. Children and parents alike report higher satisfaction with their lives overall when they take the time to enjoy each other’s company. This means teaching your kids the value of life outside of electronics. Allow them to appreciate the world around them as well as value their interpersonal relationships. Make family dinner a priority and gather around the table daily. Ask your kids the best part of their day as well as the worst part of their day as a way to get to know their lives outside of your home. Vacations are more than just a refreshing retreat; in 2013, the Kelton Research Firm reported that, on average, parents learn 97 percent more about their children on vacation than they do in their day-to-day lives.