7 Habits for Becoming a Happier Parent
About 2 years ago I started the process of learning an extremely hard lesson in parenting. To keep it short, I was tremendously exhausted, overwhelmed, probably under-nourished, and pretty close to the point of implosion. Maverick, my son, was a little over a year at the time. As I thought back on the previous year of our lives, feelings of utter guilt, resentment, and regret filled my heart. I felt like I had been robbed of the joy I "should have had". It was a dark time for me. In those moments of discovery, however, I realized that I had a choice. I could keep moving forward just the same (in survival mode), or I could move forward with intention and mindfulness. In the midst of that journey the one resounding message that came through loud and clear was this: When you take time to be your best self, THEN you are FREE to care for others to the best of your ability. In the midst of my “course correction”, many things came to life, including my parent coaching business: The Village Parent. Since then, I have learned several things about myself and I have adopted some principles in my life I’d like to share. My hope is that these habits will resonate with you and inspire you to be your best self too! Habit #1 Find an activity that gets your heart pumping and brings you joy (and put in on your calendar)! Maybe its hiking, running, biking, ice skating, kick-boxing, etc. For me, it was a dance class that was packed with other women of all ages that dance like nobody is watching. It really filled my cup! It's amazing how much fun exercise impacts my ability to deal with stress and stay motivated throughout each day. I aim for a 1 hour class 2-3 days per week.
*Update to add, I now do my workouts at home virtually with the Tone it Up girls. You can find their workouts here!
Drink your WATER!! Drink half your body weight in oz. of water daily. It’s incredible how this simple task can improve your cognitive function and energy levels. Trust me! It's scientifically proven.. Try it! Habit #3
Do some meal/snack prep one day a week. Set some time aside to make some things that are easy to throw together for lunches, snacks, or dinner. This helps so much for last minute dinners and the 20 times a day my growing boy asks for a snack. I usually set some time aside for this on Sundays and here is what I like to make:
Quinoa or Brown Rice (a big batch for several meals like buddha bowls, stir fry, quinoa salad, soups, etc.)
Hard Boiled Eggs (making these in the pressure cooker is magical)
Chopped Veggies to use for cooking throughout the week: Carrots, Broccoli Celery, Kale, Bell peppers, and Onions (I usually put a few carrots and broccoli in some small containers for us to have with hummus as a snack throughout the week)
Snack packs: Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit in small zip-lock bags
Chicken Breast to chop and put in salads or to send for my son’s lunch
Smoothie packs: I freeze small zip-lock bags of Bananas, Mango, and Spinach to throw in the blender with some OJ or almond milk in the mornings (Add your favorite protein powder and voila, breakfast on the go!)
Pancakes (I make a big batch and freeze them, then pull them out a few at a time to heat up for a quick breakfast)
Choose who you spend your time with wisely. Toxic relationships are not worth your limited energy. Relationships that empower and strengthen you to be your best self are worth investing in. It’s easier said than done, that is for sure. But once you start setting those boundaries, you will thank yourself! Habit #5
Intercept thoughts of negativity and replace them with thoughts of curiosity, creativity or enthusiasm. For example: Negative thought: I can’t stand being home all day with my kids. They drive me crazy! I feel like I’m suffocating! Instead: Being a stay-at-home parent has been a challenge, but I’m grateful for the quality time I have with my kids. I wonder what I could plan to do with them tomorrow that we will ALL enjoy. Negative thought:
My child always acts up in the grocery store. This is so embarrassing! These people probably think I’m a horrible mother! Instead:
I wonder if the people who I feel are staring at me and my screaming child are actually wishing they could help because they have been here before too. Habit #6
Tell your money where to go. Set some time to budget every month so you will feel in control. I used to think it was less stressful to avoid budgeting, but I’ve realized the more aware I am of where my money is going, the less likely I am to stress over added expenses. Habit #7
Plan to wake up before your kids… okay, please don’t scream at me... I know, this can be a real struggle. I used to want to hit people who gave me this advice, especially when I was beyond sleep deprived! It has taken much time an "intentionality" to get to a point where I can make this happen and it’s not possible for me every single day. But on the days it does happen, it makes a HUGE difference in how I feel all day long! There is just something about starting my day with a quiet cup of tea (or a quiet shower), that makes me able to be more present with my son. And we all know, quiet cups of tea or showers are not possible with a 3 year old nearby. Like I said before, these are just a few suggestions and things I have been working on for myself. Feel free to use this list as a guide and customize it. And remember, taking the time to care for your own needs can really empower you to be better available to your children, and in-turn, bring more harmony to your home!