Editor’s Note

We’re pleased to introduce this guest post from Amy Williams. Amy is a mother of two and a former social worker. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like helping kids stay active.

Once, a young John Lennon was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied, “Happy.” Needless to say, even as a young boy, the future Beatle already knew the importance of living a contented and cheerful life. Unfortunately, as we balance our families, jobs, relationships, and more, it’s far too easy to lose ourselves and happiness in the gritty day-to-day tasks of being a parent.

On some level, we all understood that parenting would be hard. However, it doesn’t matter if your child is a newborn or heading to college, many of us get completely caught off guard by the emotional toll of raising kids. It might appear selfish, but stepping back and nurturing ourselves might just be what we need to be a happier parent.

Scroll through the following 10 ways to help focus on the positive and cultivate happiness as a parent:

1. Avoid comparing.

This is easier said than done, but give yourself permission to embrace imperfection and enjoy your family. Our children won’t remember every Pinterest worthy snack or coordinated outfits painstakingly pieced together. BUT, they will remember playing games in the backyard or building a blanket fort in the living room. Focus on your family, do what works for you, and ignore the need to keep up with the Joneses.

2. Choose to be present.

There is an old saying that life happens when you’re making plans. Take a deep breath and try to avoid thinking about the unending chore list, work emails, bills, and hectic schedule. Work and stress will still be there tomorrow, but our kids will only be young once. Enjoy the moment of right now.

3. Forgive yourself.

We are only human and make mistakes. Let go of the past, and move forward. Granted, there will always be times when we are tired, don’t feel well, or lose our tempers. However, realizing we will make mistakes and can’t do everything perfectly is a great step in being happy. Forgiving allows us to be more intentional with our parenting.

4. Ask for help.

Inevitably, there will be situations where we won’t have all the answers. Turn to a trusted partner, co-parent, family, friend, school, religious group, or support network to seek advice or a helping hand. At one time or another, everyone has needed a shoulder to lean on. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

5. Allow children to be themselves.

At times, it can be difficult to accept our sons and daughters as individuals. We often expect them to accomplish things we value, but trying to mold a child into something they are not only leads to resentment, disappointment, and frustration. Celebrate a child’s uniqueness by helping them become the best version of themselves.

6. Get off the sidelines and play!

Engaging on a child’s level can bring joy into our lives. Play dress up, build with blocks, or kick a ball to tap into our inner child. Make mundane tasks fun by having a sense of humor. Instead of just making a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, turn it into a cooking show with the kids as your studio audience – and taste testers!

7. Pamper yourself.

It’s vital that we don’t get too caught up in caring for our kids that we neglect ourselves. Self-care can better our parenting because when we take care of ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually, we are happier. This makes us more patient, forgiving, and understanding. Take time to get enough sleep, exercise, relax, take up a hobby, or enjoy a spa day at home.

8. Go green.

One simple way to find happiness is to look in our backyards. Science has found flowers and green spaces offer a variety of health benefits that improve our well-being, cognitive function, stress levels, and happiness. Go outside or buy yourself a bouquet to provide some flower power to your day.

9. Reconnect relationships.

We all need a supportive group of friends and family. Set aside time to nurture relationships and communication lines. Challenge yourself to do small, manageable things to keep these connections by going on date nights, hanging with the guys, having girls’ night, or inviting family over for potluck dinners.

10. Be thankful.

It’s important for us to remember that everyday might not be good, but there is something good in everyday. Being grateful and thankful is a natural mood booster because it helps us see the positive in our lives. Research shows this tactic can make a big difference in our moods. Experts recommend that writing down three to five things we are thankful for several times a week can elevate our happiness and boost our health!

What advice do you have to be a happier parent?

Tell us in the comments below.

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