Amidst our duty to raise successful children, finding joy in parenting may pose as a challenge. As parents, our children are the centre of our universe and we take great joy in seeing them live in their happy moments. Apart from the effort we put in to raise them to be happy, well-adjusted individuals, psychologists confirm that parents have a great role to play to set a good example to their children on how to live a happy, fulfilling life.
As with most things in life, living life to the fullest is easier said than done – especially when raising children comes with a whole new set of challenges. To help you fill your life with joy and love and to achieve a great balance in parenting, we offer you the following tips:
1. Get help when it’s needed
When it comes to parenting, there’s always an endless list of things to do in a day – from arranging your children’s pick-up and drop-off from school to making sure that meals are prepared for the family and that the house is in order. Add in a full-time job to the equation, and getting it all done by yourself could prove to be challenging and may leave you worn out and unsatisfied by the end of the day.
Here’s how to do it: As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child” – know that parenting and running a household need not be a two-person show and that it is perfectly fine to get help when it is needed. This could involve asking for help from family and friends or getting a live-in helper or nanny who can share the load of house chores and childcare with you.
2. Set aside some time for fun!
Giving your children the greatest life lessons and experiences does not need to be a serious affair. In fact, renowned educator Maria Montessori once said that “Play is the work of the child” and it is through play that children learn best about the world around them during the early years. So, here’s a reminder for you to inject some fun in the activities that you plan for your children throughout the week. After all, this also gives you the chance to destress, recharge and feel good about life all over again.
Here’s how to do it: Plan for some fun activities during the week that serve a learning purpose to your children. This includes the likes of exploring the Singapore Botanic Gardens where they get to learn and experience nature first-hand, or taking a trip to the museum for an educational journey about our country and its humble beginnings.
3. Be happy with what you have
The grass may be greener over the other side, but that does not necessarily mean that having the best things in life – for example, better-behaved children, a bigger house, or nicer car – will make you happier. The key to your happiness lies in counting your blessings in life instead of focusing on what you deem as the “shortfalls”. For all you know, you might be living the dream life in the eyes of someone else.
Here’s how to do it: Resist the temptation to compare your children to that of your friends, or to check their growth and development against the “standard guidelines”. Every child develops differently and at their own pace, with unique strengths and weaknesses. Focus on those instead and work together with your child based on where his/ her passion and interests lie to help him/ her become the best that he/ she can be. At the same time, do not neglect your spouse. Make time for quality bonding sessions to keep your marriage and relationship alive – this also gives both of you the opportunity to recharge and carry out the role as parents to your children.
4. Be flexible with the rules
Rules are created to teach your children values such as self-discipline and learn the value of giving our best in everything that we do. However, as the person who decides on the rules, you get the flexibility to tailor those rules to each of your child’s needs and personalities. As it is often said that when it comes to parenting, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that will apply for all children – our job is to nurture them based on their abilities and do our best to impart good values and important life lessons to them.
Here’s how to do it: Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your child and what motivates them to move forward. For example, your five-year-old might be motivated with screen time upon completing the day’s activity sheets, while the only push factor to get your seven-year-old to complete his/her homework is a healthy snack. You can use their likes and preferences as a hook to encourage learning and to create happy moments at home with your children – just as long as you are consistent in applying them
5. Focus on what lies ahead
We all have parenting goals that we work towards to and we try our best to do the right things when raising our children. However, during the toughest times, we either find ourselves losing our temper, being inconsistent and/or blaming ourselves for not doing a better job at raising our children. In line with the popular idiom, “Let bygones be bygones”, sometimes we need to remind ourselves to let go of past mistakes and focus instead on what you can do to be there for your children during the crucial growing up years.
Here’s how to do it: We are all learning to be the best that we can be for our children, and that there are days when things do not go as planned. Do let those tough days go and get on with life as a mum or dad by thinking of what to do next instead of pondering on what has been done. This can involve spending quality time with your children to get to know them better or plan a fun family bonding activity for the weekend.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that these tough moments will not last forever and with this, the highlights of parenting your children while they are young (i.e. the frequent “I love you” that they say so willingly) will be rare as the years go by. So, do use this time to cherish the precious moments and carry on with the journey.
6. Make time for hugs and kisses
Here’s another great reason to plough through the toughest moments of parenting while your children are young. As mentioned before, these moments do not last long and at this age, they can be easily diffused with something as simple as a hug and kiss. Apart from melting the tension from the situation, hugging and kissing also helps to spread those “feel good” feelings between you and your child.
Here’s how to do it: Gather your child for a cuddle every chance you get, even when they are unhappy or are adamant at throwing tantrums for as long as possible. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can turn around a sticky situation. But do note thatthis “secret weapon” may not work for long as your child grows up – so, seize the moment and use it to your advantage while you can!
Written by Justina Goh