It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of bills and everything it takes to maintain a modern family. Mortgage, homework, sports, holidays, school engagements, and credit debt are just a few of our hurdles. And the greatest travesty is that the pressure of it all often has parents losing sight of our real jobs: raising happy, healthy children who thrive.
As Happy You, Happy Family writes: “When you have too much to do and too little time to do it, you’re in survival mode, not nurturing mode.”
And it’s true, sometimes the more we try to do or give to our children, the more they’re missing. What children need above all is love from us. So, if we are expending our energies elsewhere, especially to stressors like bills, work and bank accounts, how do we maintain a work-bills-life-parenting balance?
Here are five methods you can employ to help give your kids the very best of you instead of what’s left after a hard day:
Let’s be real, this topic is hot right now, but there’s a reason for that. Mental health has been a long misunderstood field, and we now know just how important it is to take preemptive care of ourselves. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
But there’s also a misconception about self-care. It doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be incredibly thought-out. Self-care can look like a quiet bath after the kids go down or devouring a paperback novel on your time off. As long as you’re taking a break from stressors and recharging your own energy, you will feel more fulfilled when you’re with your children. And everyone will benefit from a more present parenting experience.
Click here to learn about simple ways to implement self-care as a parent.
Find activities you all enjoy
We know it’s hard to please everyone always, but if activities have something for everyone, no one feels left out: even Mama.
Brainstorm in-home activities or places to go that every member of the family enjoys. Write them all down, toss them in a jar, and next time you’re at a loss as to how to spend quality time, grab a slip and take a mini-trip that engages everyone. Being on the same page and sharing joy as a family is invaluable.
Here are some easy activities that you can do with your little ones.
Design your time
Work can be all-consuming, especially if it follows you home via laptop, phone, or social media. Being intentional with your time and your endeavors will leave you being more present for your children, which is what it is truly all about.
Carving out specific times when you know your family will be occupied (i.e. school time, bed time, etc.) will allow you to be more present in their presence.
Make room for quality time with your children, even if it’s just for 15 minutes every day. Here’s how you can do that and make the best of this time together.
Keep an open avenue of communication
Adult relationships can require quite a bit, especially if we have to juggle a lot in a professional context. So, if we are arriving home depleted and unable to communicate, our children won’t be able to find the right tools to express their own emotions and experiences.
Maybe that means ditching your phone for at least an hour when you arrive home. Perhaps it’s having a roundtable discussion that touches upon each member of the family’s day. Either way, listening is an important piece of positive parenting, and kids will share when it’s hard if they learn how to share when it’s easier.
Be present and aware
We all have things we have to work through because we’re human, but true anxiety comes when we don’t live in the present. Preoccupation with what has happened or worry over what could happen keeps us a bundle of nerves instead of enjoying the company of our children.
The first step to conquering what keeps us from living in the present is being aware of what has rooted us elsewhere and why it has control over us. Being aware of the situation or trigger as it happens and breathing through it, or avoiding it altogether, keeps us in a healthier state of mind. This gives us the opportunity to be a more whole and present parent.
Truth be told, parenthood is already difficult. Learning to guide a little person to become a patient, kind being can be nearly impossible if we lack the energy or focus to live in the same peaceful way. But giving our loved ones the very best of who we are rather than what’s left after a long day won’t instill the traits we truly value in humanity. Because only empathetic, patient, present parents can produce empathetic, patient, present children.
And if you need weekly inspiration to be the best parent you can be, subscribe to the The Mama Instincts Podcast where we share weekly parenting tips!
Amy B. Chesler is an author & award-winning blogger from Southern California. She has contributed work to many popular publications – from five different non-fiction stories to six different best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as content for the DVD Netflix blog, Life of Mom, Home & Family TV, BluntMoms, Elephant Journal, TODAY Parents, & more. Her first solo book was released in 2017 and can still be purchased on Amazon.
While not blogging and parenting, Amy is cooking, eating, traveling, reading, and healing. Feel free to follow her on social media (@amybchesler) or visit her blog.
Original post written by contributor Amy Chesler under Mama Instincts guidelines.
Updated and edited by Carolina King.