Positive parenting

New York magazine recently reported that parenting is making people miserable. It says that one of the great puzzles of parenting is that most people assume that having children will make them happier.

It’s true that parents are busier than they’ve ever been, in many cases holding down full-time jobs while racing children across town to ballet, sports and piano lessons. Parenting is hard, but working at your relationship with your kids can mean you get more enjoyment out of it. Here are some tips to cheer yourself up and enjoy your role as a parent a bit more:

  • Don’t isolate yourself, just because you are busy cooking dinner, doing the shopping or cleaning the house. oany parents reason the job just gets done quicker on their own, but by including your kids, you can have valuable one-on-one time with them. This sends the message to your child that you like spending time with them and you can also teach them a valuable skill. So allow an extra 10 minutes to get your child to help you prepare the veges for dinner, mop the floors or fold some washing. You might find you have more fun doing those jobs from now on.

  • Learn to play. oany parents think they are too old to play and leave the kids to it, but half-an-hour spent playing a board game together, building with blocks or simply drawing can be a lot of fun for a stressed-out parent. In the evenings, take turns being the “playing” parent and the “getting things done” parent, and alternate throughout the week.

  • Plan one-on-one time with your kids. Watching TV as a family is not quality time. It’s great that you are all together in the same room, but children are more likely to relate to you, ask you for help or simply try out jokes on you when they are sitting across from you at the park, in a coffee shop or at a movie. Make sure each child has some time with you individually every week and factor that time into your social calendar. It can be as simple as a walk up the road to get the milk – just make it a slightly longer walk than usual.

  • Give yourself a break. These days, we tend to think we need to be parenting 24/7 – always on the case and constantly always responsible for our children. In earlier times, caring for the kids would be shared around the entire extended family. Encourage your parents, siblings and friends to have the kids now and then or perhaps run them to sport, after-school activities, etc. Kids love it when there are more adults involved in their lives.

  • Remember to reward each other. If one parent has done a really brilliant job with the children one week, why not buy them some flowers or just acknowledge that you noticed what they did? Positive  reinforcement isn’t always about the kids.

  • Use positive language. Try to tell your children (and your partner ) that you love them often – even when you don’t. Well, when you think you don’t! You do, really – and telling someone you love them strengthens and builds a relationship.

  • Eat together. I’ll say it again: oany research studies have shown that eating your meals together as a family leads to better communication – and that leads to more satisfaction for you. It’s a great way to check in on your kids on a daily basis and it can be a lot of fun.

  • Include your children when there are decisions to be made. Ask your children what they think of your outfit, what the family should have for dinner and where you should all go on your holidays. It doesn’t mean you have to use their suggestions, but children like to feel included in your life and this is a very easy way to do it.

  • Make your kids the priority in your life – don’t try to fit them in around it. This doesn’t mean making all your decisions based around what your children are doing, but it does mean putting them first. If you have a social event planned and a child is sick, stay home – your child needs you. If you have to work late and miss the start of a sporting event, make the effort to at least be there by halftime. Children need to know they come first in their parents’ lives.

  • Don’t forget to have fun. Be sure to schedule time for activities that you like to do, as well as things the children enjoy. Believe it or not, kids love to see their parents having fun!

Related stories

Get The Australian Woman’s Weekly NZ home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.