Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Are You Happy?

Most parents will tell you they’re happy they had children. But let’s face it, when you’re caring for young children all day, there are plenty of moments that make you less than happy—much less. When the kids are fighting, refusing to eat, disobeying your instructions, dawdling, or refusing to take their nap, it’s tough to find joy when you want to tear your hair out. Of course, there are enough good moments to make you realize how fortunate you are. When you hear your little one giggle or mispronounce a word, that precious moment just warms the heart and rekindles your love for your child. But when the day-to-day stresses outweigh those endearing moments, you might need some better strategies for increasing your happiness level:

Everyone’s grumpier with inadequate sleep and nutrition. Try to get some zzzz’s instead of staying up to watch TV, and make sure you’re not skipping meals in your haste to serve the kids.

Try to do more things that give you pleasure. The laundry can wait. Break out the Play-doh with the kids. Find joy in the little things. . . and don't feel guilty about it!

Insert humor into your day. Talk to your kids in silly voices or pretend you’re Julia Child while fixing their breakfast. Laughter puts everyone in a good mood.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling stressed. Just because you’re having a rough time doesn’t mean you’re not a good parent. In fact, this is entirely normal!

Keep your relationship with your spouse strong. When you have marital problems, it spills over into your life with your children, making you more impatient. Make sure you and your partner find time to reconnect with each other.

Remember how lucky you are. When the kids’ noise is driving you crazy, think about how lonely you’d be if you’d never had kids. Appreciate the gift of parenthood.

Remind yourself that nothing lasts forever. Your kids won’t be throwing food on the floor in a few years, but neither will they be running up to you for kisses. Enjoy the good stuff while you can get it, and don’t sweat the bad stuff.

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