6 Tips to Finding More Joy in Parenting in 2012
Finding Joy in Parenting
by Cynthia Frosch
A report last summer in New York Magazine was entitled “All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting”. Taken aback by the title, I thought, who hates parenting? But as a mother of two children, I can say that sometimes (gasp!), I do. And I feel terrible about it. But it’s the truth.
And why? Perhaps because I’m bogged down by to-do lists or “should’s and have to’s” (as in I should make a healthier dinner, finish the laundry; I have to get to school, work, the dentist, etc.). Or perhaps when I feel there are simply not enough hours in the day, parenting gets redefined as just another thing to do.
At those times, I realize, I have simply gotten removed from the joy of being, the joy of exploring and the joy of discovering. And as a parent of an infant — the sheer joy of sleep and rest. I realized after reading the article, that parents hate parenting when they feel isolated, stressed, or disconnected.
If you find yourself silently admitting that yes, you too have moments (or days or years) when you hate parenting, then how can you find more joy? With a few shifts in priorities and perspectives, parenting joy can be discovered or recovered.
Here are six tips for a more joyful, blissful journey in 2012.
1. Take a break from technology and hide the clock. Have you ever noticed how much easier life feels when you aren’t rushing to get somewhere? Watching to see when the next nap might begin? Or frantically returning emails over the weekend?
2. Reconnect with your joy. It’s easier to find joy in parenting when your life is filled with joy. Sign up for a Mediterranean cooking class, stop by a bookstore and browse your favorite aisle, put on some feel good music, or soak in hot, bubbly tub. Or invite a neighbor over after your children have gone to bed and share a glass of wine and some chocolate. A colleague of mine has a small sign on her door with a quote from Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
3. Read inspiring and progressive ideas on parenting. Scott Noelle’s “The Daily Groove” (www.enjoyparenting.com/dailygroove) is one of my favorites. In one of his daily emails, he notes that if parents become 1% groovier each day, imagine how much groovier we’ll be at the end of a year! Instead of thinking my child is willful, start thinking, my child is determined. Surround yourself with people and ideas that inspire joy.
4. Preserve the relationship with your child first. Getting out the door rushing and screaming is no fun. Notice how connecting with your child before heading to the car may just make the whole day a little brighter. Or how lingering a little longer outside with your baby girl while she watches the leaves rustle and listens to the birds seems well, to sweeten the “parenting pot” a whole lot more. Commit to feeling good.
5. Practice “good-enough-ed-ness.” Let go of standards of perfection, and trying to keep up with neighbors, colleagues, or your ideal self. Simplify your life because life is messy. Or as a former colleague of mine, Jean-Louis Gariépy was known for saying, “The universe is lumpy.”
6. And finally, give yourself time for self-care. A second cup of hot tea, an extra yoga class, a long shower on the weekend — find the activities that make you feel nurtured, refreshed and ready to caring for your family.
Although it’s not always easy to make time for self-care, commit to spending just 10 minutes each night or morning listening to relaxing music, reading, or writing in your journal. You may find that this daily ritual, more than the amount of time you spend on self-care, is what helps to renew your spirit.
Here’s to more joyful parenting in 2012!
Cynthia Frosch is the Community Liaison Specialist at the Center for Children and Families at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is co-creator (with Center Director, Dr. Margaret Tresch Owen) of The READY Method: A Visual Guide to Sensitive Caregiving from Birth to Three.