As a parent, the day to day responsibilities of life can get in the way of being happy. Taking time to enjoy the moment seemingly becomes less important as you think about the sink full of dishes or the laundry that needs to be washed. It feels like there’s always something that needs to be done and that can distract you from truly being present.
However, over time you’ll realize that most of the things that annoy you as a new parent really don’t matter. You can make a conscious effort to find moments of happiness and let the rest go.
How do you keep joy flowing, even when you’re flat worn out? Here are a few tips to help you find more happiness in your life, and remember, it’s the small things that matter the most.
- Trust yourself.
Today parents have quick access to enormous amounts of information from experts. This creates an expectation that every problem has a “right” answer. The truth is, even experts struggle with their children. Parenting is not an exact science. Happy parents engage their children based on their experience, judgment and values. They are willing to go against the grain of what everyone else is doing and pursue the long-term gain. They learn to say no when they need to. After mistakes, they regroup and try something else. Use it as an opportunity to model for your child how to fix mistakes.
- Teach kids to do things for themselves.
People who describe themselves as happier parents typically move from greater involvement when their child is younger to encouraging independence when their child is older. Make parenting an evolution — for example, they wake their child up for school when they are young. When their child is older, they buy them an alarm clock and expect them to get up on their own. If they are a little late for school, so be it. Use this as an opportunity to be a more helpful, calmer version of yourself.
- Allow your child to experience consequences.
Stop trying to cushion the consequences of our child’s actions. Instead, focus on coaching them through challenges and helping them learn from the experience. It empowers your child and helps you focus on what you can control. Failure, difficulty and obstacles are what create and hone the skills and abilities they need to be successful as adults.
- Don’t always put your child first.
Happier parents don’t put their child’s everyday needs above their own. When it comes to things like dinner, weekend activities or even vacations, they don’t make their choices solely based on what their child wants. Happy parents have their own preferences, and they prioritize those things. Just because your child wants something, it does not mean you have to drop everything you are doing to make it happen.
- Look for the joyful moments.
Simply put, try to soak in the good times — like the small, everyday family moments or a beautiful sunset even when the house is a mess. Make it a point to notice the laughter more than the tantrum, and create a familiar path in your mind to focus on the joyful stuff. Stopping to look up is not just a metaphor. When you look up at the horizon, it helps your brain to see the broader picture.