When you next experience feelings of anxiety, anger, or sadness, keep in mind the following: The parents are real people, too! We are not automatons programmed to always say the right thing, act in the right way, and satisfy everyone (especially the little folks with the enormous tempers!). However, being a parent is not easy. It’s possible this will be the most challenging thing we’ve ever done. In light of the current health care situation, this is especially true. Try one of these expert-recommended strategies for being a more pleasant parent the next time your emotions are running high and you feel like you’re the one in need of a time-out.
Stop Feeling Guilty About Self-Care
According to Dr. Michele Kambolis, a registered therapist and author of When Women Rise: Everyday Practices to Strengthen Your Mind, Body, and Soul, the first step toward increased happiness is to stop feeling guilty about self-care.
When asked about the importance of self-care, Dr. Kambolis told LittleThings, “In actuality, self-care isn’t selfish and it’s not insignificant. Taking care of oneself is an ongoing activity that must be maintained throughout one’s lifetime.
Self-care includes acts as varied as taking a stroll instead of driving to the shop, pausing for a moment of gratitude, or savoring a cup of herbal tea. If you’re having trouble rationalizing taking an extended lunch break or asking the kids to play independently so you can do some journaling, just tell yourself, “My child will benefit from my well-being.”
Give Up Your Super Suit
Spencer Snakard, a PCC and father of four, says that trying to be Supermom or Superdad is hard for the parties involved.
She explains that children “want and need to find things out on their own.” “Yes, you should be there to help them out, but you should also allow them make mistakes and fall down occasionally. You can’t shield them from all potential harm forever, so it’s best to let them experience some harm now, bolstered by your love and support, so that they can face harm with competence and courage when the time comes.”
Schedule ‘Me Time
Therapist and best-selling author Jennie Marie Battistin in Hollywood suggests I try sticking to a schedule. She recommends that people take 30-60 minutes out of each week to focus on themselves. This “may be” anything from “having a bath, reading a good book with a cup of tea, getting a massage, or going for a walk in the park, beach, or river.”
Disconnect From Technology
Battistin recommends including the whole family in this routine: “Put down the phones, iPads, and gaming systems for 20 minutes every day and ask everyone the greatest part of the day. Sharing a practice of appreciation with your children can increase your own sense of well-being by allowing you to experience the world through their eyes.
Plan Simple Family Activities
Founder of Girls Positivity Club Melissa Jones said, “Break out the board games, get out the construction paper, play cards, tell stories about when you were young around the fireplace or campfire, get out the sidewalk chalk, finger-paint, play Bingo with cheap prizes, play catch, take the dogs for a walk. Kids worry less about how many days you can spend with them and more about the quality of your time together. The happiest days are the ones that everyone remembers, and they were probably the simplest.
It doesn’t matter if you prepare chocolate chip cookies from a tube or if you play restaurant with customized menus and aprons for the kids. You can’t beat the joy that comes from doing something straightforward with your loved ones.
Step Into the Healing Current of Gratitude
It’s easy to get caught up in a negative internal tale when you’re stressed out, says Dr. Kambolis, as when you’re late getting the kids to school or dealing with a temper tantrum. When those scenarios keep happening, parenting becomes drudgery.
Practicing thankfulness is a tried and true method of increasing happiness, validated by numerous studies. In addition to elevating levels of serotonin (the “happy neurochemical”), the “pleasure” neurotransmitter dopamine (related with pleasure, motivation, and emotional amplification) can also be boosted by a single dose of gratitude. When we’re happy, our bodies have an easier time fighting off the negative effects of stress, despair, and anxiety that come with being parents.
Take some time alone each night to think on three things that went well and why they did. You don’t have to go to great lengths to accomplish so; little things will do. Take notes in a journal or on your device about the three occurrences.
The practice relies heavily on keeping records. Consider the significance of taking a few minutes each day to pause and be grateful for the blessings in your life as the week draws to a close.
Connect Individually With Each Child
Life coach Meg O’Neill says, “In 2022, I hope to establish 10 minutes of individual connection with my three children on most days of the week. Inquiring as to their plans and then fully immersing oneself in them. I’m a happier parent as a result of the diminished frequency and intensity of undesirable attention-seeking behaviors from my children.
We also get to spend a lot of time laughing and playing together, and they help me reconnect with my inner child.
Pick Your Battles
Dr. Cook advises, “Ask yourself if this is the hill you need to die on today when your child or adolescent puts their feet firmly on the ground and begins the ‘I dare you to make me do it’ stare.” Because “no” is the most likely response, you should refocus your energy on finding a solution rather than getting defensive. Trust me, this isn’t the only time today you’ll have to go toe to toe, and the next one may require you to fight.
Once you figure out how to keep your cool during your child’s tantrum, you may realize you don’t need it as much as you thought. We’re happiest when we know what’s going on, so try to avoid getting into power struggles with your children.
Find Ways to Connect With Other Like-Minded People
According to life coach Kristin Micalizzi, genuine connection is crucial to your happiness “While it’s beneficial to have friends with whom you can be open and honest, it’s also necessary to steer clear of gossip and negative people. Make a point of focusing on ideas that make you feel creative. Spending more time doing the things you enjoy can help you maintain a positive frame of mind while performing the more mundane, or outright unpleasant, aspects of parenting.”
Consider Seeing a Therapist
Dr. Bethany Cook, author of For What It’s Worth: A Perspective on How to Thrive and Survive Parenting Ages 0-2, believes that going to therapy isn’t something you should wait until a crisis or make a permanent part of your life. Five to ten sessions with a therapist can do wonders for your mental health by teaching you healthy ways to deal with the stresses of daily life.