Let’s face it. Raising kids is no easy feat. It requires a lot, I mean seriously – a lot – of hard work and patience. With the load of responsibilities we shoulder as a parent, it is easy for us to lose our joy as we go through the tasks that are required for us to do on a daily basis. The daily diaper changing, feeding of the kids, clearing their food mess, keeping their toys, refereeing sibling rivalry, dropping and picking them up from school, the mountain of overdue laundry, cleaning, cooking, getting their schoolwork done, tucking them to bed, can easily cause us to lose our focus (our children), getting us discouraged and lose our joy. And when it happens, we look back with regrets and wished that we were a little less hurried, more attentive and patient to our kids.
But rather than hanging on to our regrets and feeling guilty for what has happened in the day, we can turn it into an opportunity for us to learn how to raise our kids and balance responsibilities with joy. I believe it will help us to be a happier and contented parent, which will benefit both the family and our children.
Here are 5 techniques you may find helpful, in bringing yourself back to the joy in parenting.
1. Slow down or stop your activities for a moment
Observe the little things that your child is doing. You will notice joy, pure simple joy of playing with a paper airplane or laughter as he sits in a plain cardboard box pretending that he is a pilot or a bus driver. Our eyes will be open to notice the different snippets of joy and beauty throughout the mundane of the day. I’ve always enjoyed peeking at Sam whenever he plays on his own. The simple delight he displays during his play has always brought me a lot of joy and reminders for me to be like him – to slow down and enjoy the simplicity of life.
For a day, you could try to put yourself in your child’s shoes and see what he or she sees. It would be an interesting perspective for a parent to see what your child sees, understand why he was giggling, and what he was curious about. It could be a toy that mimics after him that he finds it funny, the ant that was carrying a small stone across a pathway that made him squat down suddenly while on the way to school, or the birds that are lined up by the window grill.
2. Allocate time to play what they want to play and just enjoy them
Even if it is a silly activity for that moment. You can laugh with them next to you, read their books, colour their drawings, play a mini two-men soccer in the living room, listen to their music and learn to love their interests their passions. I have always found that my husband, J, does best in this. He would always grab random balls and kick them around our small living room and that would get Sam very excited. Whenever Sam lies on the floor (and he would do that randomly, sometimes in the middle of a game), J would lie with him and they would just laugh at each other or compete to see who can raise their legs highest off the ground. Such moments are precious.
3. Do not keep a record of the wrongs, especially your own parenting mistakes
I do that all the time and you are not alone. Coming up with a list of what I do wrong in my parenting journey is way easier than a list of what I have done right. Your temper could be short today, or you struggled with managing an active wailing toddler at the supermarket and had many eyes looking down on you, shaking their heads and judging you based on that incident. Perhaps you realised that you said a lot more ‘NO’ than ‘Yes’ today, or you looked away for a short moment and your child fell from the slide at the playground. These incidents don’t define you as a mother or father.
Instead, we could take the experience, apologise to our children and learn from it. Remember you are no super parent, and parents with perfect parenting experiences do not exist. If you are looking at becoming a parent who do not flare up when their kids are hard to manage and always know what he or she is doing while parenting their child, simply do not exist.
4. Let go of ‘Ideals’
Such as getting the perfect baby items and toys, or planning for the most perfect birthday party or home-school plan. While the ideas in the parenting magazine may look amazingly attractive or doing the different craft activities daily to engage your child may paint you as a better parent in raising your child, it may not necessarily bring you joy. However, such discontentment may, in fact, rob us of our joy.
5. Avoid comparisons
Know that each child, including yours, is uniquely made. Parents are most often worried if their child is not keeping up with the standard milestones that are listed in their health booklet, or catching up with the rest of their peers. When that happens, most parents will begin to pressure their child into reaching them. If the standards pressurise you and hinder you from enjoying your baby where he or she is at, put them away. If the parents in the forum are showing off their babies who are reaching milestones and yours isn’t and it’s causing you unnecessary worry, leave the group.
Remember that our child will have a lifetime of worry and being pressured to achieve the standards the world may set on them knowingly and unknowingly. So why rush them when they are only a few months or years old? Enjoy them while they are young, and know that this time will fly by very quickly.
6. Time flies
There can be moments where the demands of your infant or toddler may be overwhelming. Night wakings can be causing you a lot of pain or weaning off the beloved pacifier or potty training may be making you very frustrated. You will be amazed how fast the time will go by and you will look back being amazed at how you have survived. They are only small for a short time!
Perhaps it is time for us to take a breather and do a stock check.
On the scale of 1-5, 5 being very happy and 1 being unhappy, how is your level of joy in your current phase of your parenthood journey?
How have you managed to keep your joy in the midst of the high demands as a parent?
By Yvonne Chee
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