Enjoy Parenting (or not) With These 9 Tips

Do you enjoy parenting? I do…most of the time anyway. There are times I’d like to throw in the towel; but overall, I really enjoy parenting. My kids are in the process of “leaving the nest” and I’m going to miss having them at home to parent. As they prepare to leave, I have thought about what I have enjoyed about parenting. I realize I’ve experienced some “joy robbers” and some “joy starters” when it comes to parenting. Sometimes I even allowed the “joy robbers” to take over. I’d like to share these “joy robbers” and “joy starters” with you so you can enjoy parenting “to the max” and avoid the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

Cute Teenage Girl with Serious ExpressionFirst, the Joy Robbers:

  • Overscheduling. When you overschedule your children they get tired. You get grumpy. Everyone gets a shorter fuse. Overscheduling makes everyone in the family feel like they are constantly on the run and constantly under pressure. Slow down. Schedule in some down time. Overscheduling is a joy robber.
  • Expecting perfection. If you expect perfection from your children you will experience disappointment and frustration. They are children…and children are not perfect. What’s more, you are a parent…and parents are not perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fall short. Rather than expecting perfection, encourage everyone to do their best and accept one another in spite of shortcomings. Expecting perfection will rob you of joy.
  • Living through your children. We cannot expect our children to live out our unfulfilled dreams. They may not be interested in becoming the star quarterback we dreamed of becoming…or the lead in the musical…or the straight “A” student…or the artist…or the popular jock…you get the idea. Asking them to do so (even subtly) will only lead to frustration. Let your children live their own dream based on their own interests and strengths. Get a life of your own. Living through your children is a definite joy robber.
  • Focusing on frustrating moments. Life is filled with frustrations, irritations, and hassles. However, life is also filled with moments of fun, joy, and amazing connections. Joy robbers focus on the frustrations, irritations, and hassles. Count your blessings. Make it a point to “shout out” gratitude. Focusing on the frustrating moments will do nothing for your joy.
  • All work and no play. Parents and children need time to play. Sure we need to get some work done; but maybe we can build play into the work. Sometimes we can even set the work aside for a time and enjoy one another’s company while we play. Go ahead and play because all work and no play is a joy robber!

Joy Starters:

  • Spend time with your children. Joyful parents discover the most intimate and joyous times with children come during the most mundane and unexpected moments like driving to the grocery store, getting ready for bed, playing catch, or cooking dinner. You miss joyful moments when time together is rare. Time spent with children is the first joy starter.
  • Family in autumn parkTune in to your children. Become a student of your children. Learn about their interests, strengths, weak areas, and fears. Take time to meet their friends and teachers. Be accepting of what they dislike about you and the rules they disagree with. The more you tune into your children, the more joy you will discover as a parent.
  • Appreciate the little pleasures. Make it a point to express gratitude to your children every day. Appreciate the little things they do around the house, even if miniscule. Give a “shout out” of gratitude for the times you spend together, the talks you have, or the activities you enjoy. Thank them for spontaneously doing a chore or following through on something you had to ask them to do. Focus on those things you appreciate rather than the hassles. There are plenty of both; but your joy will grow as you focus on gratitude.
  • Play. Make time to play with your children. Play builds intimacy. Play empowers us to resolve conflict. Play is fun! You can play board games, catch, music, or just joke around. Make it a point to play with your children—it’s a great relationship builder and joy starter!

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