Parenting can be tough. Around the time you finally feel like you might have a handle on things, something inevitably shifts and you are suddenly launched into the next stage of development.
The pace of our lives doesn’t help with this lurching sensation, as there are always constant demands – from transporting children to extracurricular activities, to keeping an eye on their learning goals, to maintaining a functioning household and imparting some level of wisdom that will help them one day navigate life on their own. No wonder everyone is tired!
Some encouraging news came in the form of the Social-Emotional Wellbeing Survey 2018 results, however. 67.3% of students indicated that their home life ranked in the ‘High’ category. The survey also revealed that there is a consistency of message between home and school, as well, with parents and teachers ‘speaking the same language’ about values and expectations. These results reinforce how much you care about your kids, and how you are constantly striving to do the best job you can.
There is a sentiment that the ultimate goal of parenting should simply be to ‘enjoy your children’. It is a noble one, and in principle, it makes sense. But… how does one do that? When behavioural issues emerge and rudeness overflows, enjoyment of parenting can seem a far-fetched goal.
Any preliminary search on the topic of parenting will unearth a plethora of information about how to discipline, set boundaries and consequences and the supposed benefits and risks of following each approach. At times it can just feel a little overwhelming, contradictory and leave one wondering ‘what next’?
Here are five tips to make it practical:
1. Set aside intentional time each day
It doesn’t have to be long, but 10-15 minutes of dedicated and consistent one-on-one time can make the world of difference to you and your child. The practice tells your kids that you make time for them, and you get to see the world through their eyes for a moment. Let them pick the activity and sit back to take it all in. When your kids feel seen they are far less likely to seek attention in less desirable ways.
2. Take note of their interests
Is it Minecraft or Fortnite? Star Wars or soccer? When we see our kids as people with interests it becomes a little easier to appreciate them. Ask them about the things you know they love and have a conversation about it. If anything it might be a nice change from setting out rules or enforcing consequences.
3. Let them play
It may seem contradictory to the previous two points, but allowing your kids to have their space sure can help with the enjoyment factor. Sometimes some time alone to process the day can make the world of difference before they are ready to talk about what is going on for them.
4. Make time for fun activities together
Is your home life running the risk of careening from scheduled activity to calendar obligations? Is it becoming a zone of stress for all of you? Schedule in something fun – a night walk with torches, a visit to a park, dessert for dinner – let your imagination run wild and get the kids in on the planning. You will make memories that will last for a lifetime.
5. Do what you enjoy
Is there something you did as a child that you would love to revisit? Share that love with your kids and take them on a special outing. Is it foraging for wild mushrooms, taking a hike, reading a favourite book, cooking a delicious meal? Your joy will come through when you share the experience with your children and they will in turn see you in a different light.
Do you have some tips to share? We would love to hear your stories. Parenting, as with life, is much better when done together!