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How to be a Happier Parent

How to be a Happier Parent

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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Favorite Fall Study Tips

The leaves are falling, it’s sweater weather, and pumpkin spice aromas are in the air! Yes, fall has finally arrived, and what a beautiful time of year it is. But with a stack of homework piled a mile high, how will you ever find time to soak it all in?

Don’t worry, with a little planning, you can take in the fall foliage AND maintain your GPA. Here are a few of our favorite fall study tips that will help ensure the season doesn’t pass you by.

Study Tip #1: Reading

kid reading

Here’s an easy one – have chapters upon chapters of reading to do? Do it outside! Grab your books, pack up some snacks, pick up a hot beverage, and head for the park. This will give you a chance to wear your coziest clothes and breathe in the fresh air while getting your work done.

Study Tip #2: Writing a paper

Ok, maybe it’s too cold outside. And now that you’ve caught up on your reading, it’s time to write a paper. If you have a laptop, to go to your local coffee shop and work there. If you don’t have a laptop, go to the library. The key is finding a space to work that is near a window – you’ll want to be able to see the scenery outside. Plus, getting out of the house to do your work will help remove distractions – like tv and video games. Make sure to put your favorite fall tunes in your earbuds as well!

Study Tip #3: Speech or presentation

Alright, you’ve been living your best fall life – you spent a chilly day at the park reading and stayed warm writing a paper in the coffee shop. But you’re starting to get bored – you need some company. Luckily, you have a presentation to give and you need an audience to practice on! Whether it’s family, friends, or roommates – gather whoever you can (virtually of course) and practice your presentation. Focus on your pace, eye contact, and incorporating your visuals. Encourage questions at the end as well.

Life Lessons to Teach Your Children While Self-Isolating

The months we have spent social distancing ourselves from others have been hard on both adults and children. With schools closed and many of us working from home, it may feel like life is on hold, with very few valuable things going on.

However, despite all of this, there are still some important lessons that we can teach our children during this period. Emily Neal, Mercy Home’s Vice President of Organizational Development, shared five life lessons to instill in your kids while self-isolating. 

Respecting Boundaries and Personal Space

In the days of quarantining, it may feel like personal space and privacy are a thing of the past. However, this is the perfect time to teach your kids how to respect the space of others, as well as set boundaries for themselves. 

“Since we’re always together, sometimes different members of the family need more space,” Neal said. 

She explained that it is important to be aware of times when you feel like you need some space and are able to communicate that to your child in a way that doesn’t feel like a rejection. It’s equally crucial to make sure that your kids know they have permission to ask for space as well. Tell them that it is okay if they need to time and space to play, read, or just be alone.

The necessity to social distance while out in public is another opportunity to teach your children how to respect the space of others. Explain to your kids why it is especially important to be mindful of how close they get to others because distance is necessary for safety.

Managing Frustration and Disappointment

“There’s a lot of frustration that comes along with sheltering in place and your whole life being upended and not being able to see people you care about or do things you would normally do,” Neal said. 

This frustration can cause us all to react in different ways, but the way younger children react may seem over the top to us as adults. That’s when it’s important, Neal explained, to “get curious, not furious.” Instead of getting annoyed at your child, investigate why they may be feeling or reacting they way they are. 

“We have to sometimes get underneath what we’re seeing,” Neal said. 

This is also a great time to model patience for your children. With many of us working from home, our kids may be anxious for our attention or ready to get out of the house and return to normal. This is an opportunity for them to practice waiting for something they want and learn to cope with the uncomfortable feelings that come with that waiting.

Tapping Into Creativity

Not only is it a great way to stay busy, doing creative projects and activities is a great way for your children to learn healthy ways to express emotions. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a bunch of materials, though! Use Pinterest as a resource and use items you already have around the home, like empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, two-liter bottles, or egg cartons to create. 

If crafts aren’t your thing, you can also turn on music and sing and dance together. There are great YouTube channels for kids that provide other fun activities, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga. The yoga videos lead kids in easy stretches all while incorporating stories into the practice. 

Neal encourages parents to join their kids in these activities.

“For parents, even if it seems exhausting, it ends up being fun for us too,” she said. 

Set a Routine

It’s tempting to let normal routines go out the window during this period of self-isolating. You’ve probably already heard a lot of experts implore you to keep a routine to maintain a sense of normalcy. This is equally important for your kids, and a great chance to model why setting and keeping a routine is so important.

If you aren’t sure how to incorporate your child’s daily routine into your schedule, look at the routines they had while they were at school for a clue. Did they do something on a specific day, like attend a music class or learn about something specific? Including that in your family schedule will bring normalcy to your child and help them know what to expect each day.

Take Care of Your Space

We are spending more time at home than ever before. That is why it’s especially important to keep your home in order. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but Neal recommends taking care of basic things like putting away toys and loading the dishwasher before going to bed. 

“I think it’s just good for all of us to wake up in the morning and be like, okay, I can see the floor and there’s a dishwasher or sink full of clean dishes,” she said.

By keeping your space tidy, you are serving as an example to your kids about the importance of caring for their space and belongings. The extra sanitizing you are probably doing is another way to teach your children about the importance of keeping things clean so that they can stay safe and healthy.

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