Children are the most precious things we have. Yet from time to time the demands of daily life combined with the personality of our child and our ability to get them to cooperate can make being a parent, frankly, stressful!
As parents we can find it hard to admit that we are not enjoying our children. We love our children dearly, and would jump to their defence if we saw someone treating our child the way we sometimes treat them!
So what can we do to make the experience of being a parent more enjoyable?
To start with we can look at what it is that causes our stress. Is it the demands of balancing work and looking after the children? The morning routine getting our children ready in the morning? Or the evening routine trying to get our children to bed? The stress of keeping up with the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping and tidying? It is so difficult with the pressures of modern life to sometimes take a step back and say what can I do differently that will help?
If work/life balance is a problem, we can set aside some time every day that is just for our child. 15 minutes a day doing what our children would love us to do with them is an excellent start. If work demands mean that sometimes we don’t have time with our children then we can make extra time at the weekend to do fun things together. It is also easy to get so overwhelmed with tiredness that we don’t feel like spending time with our children. If this is the case then we need to look at our lives and do a few checks. Can we reduce or simplify the amount of work we are doing? Are we working just for the basics of food, clothing and shelter or are we working hard to spend two weeks out of the fifty two weeks a year in the sun? Sometimes we need to re-evaluate our lives and look at what is really important. Is it promotion or a happy home life and fun, relaxing times with our children? If you gave your child the option of a happy relaxed Mum or Dad or a bigger house, what do you think they would want?
If the demands of doing daily chores is preventing us from enjoying our children then the art of making every day experiences fun can help. Breakfast can be interactive and fun, bath-time can be the time for lovely conversations and fun with bubbles. Shopping can involve our child with making lists, fetching items, and helping to pay. It all depends on our attitude. Can we change the way we think and behave to make these times close and enjoyable? Humour and the determination not to get distracted by ‘things to do’ is key. It is up to each of us to look at the ‘hot-spots’ in our lives and work out how we can arrange things differently to make them more pleasant. And also work out how we can be more enthusiastic and engaging with our children so that they want to be with us and help!
One other important factor in enjoying parenthood is our children’s personality. If our child is sensitive, impulsive or intense it can affect how much we enjoy spending time with them. A child with special needs can also be more challenging to parent. Children have different personalities and one child may be more engaging and fun to spend time with than another.
And this may be part of the problem. Children need our time and attention. If they don’t get it for being good they will get it for anything they can! If you spend more time with the child you find easiest, the other child will act up. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If we are going to raise happy children with a good self-esteem we need to be noticing all the good things they do and commenting on them. We need to spend some quality time with them –each child, every day. And we need to have regular happy relaxed times together. You are the expert on your child and family, so it will be up to you to work out how you can spend quality time with each child and plan to have some fun family days out.
And finally I would just say that our attitude is the most important factor in our enjoyment of our children. Our lives will be much happier if we make time with our children a priority. If we look at them as a distraction, a nuisance or a drain on our time, we will feel resentful of their demands. But if we think of parenting as the most important job we will ever do, we will feel happier investing the time and energy in making our family life the best and the most fun we can. This will help us to enjoy our time with our children more and we will reap the benefits as our children thrive and flourish.