Prior to becoming parents, it is often difficult to imagine the changes a wee little one will have on your relationship. “Having a baby is a bit idealized in that we all have this vision of a baby completing the family circle,” says Barbara Neitlich, California-based psychotherapist. “While the happiness and joy is unimaginable, the reality of change is often a bit shocking.”
While it is undeniable that children bring joy and happiness to a parent’s life, the task of balancing and juggling the needs of the family can be a bit chaotic. Learning how to keep yourself in high spirits is key to the happiness of both you and your child.
Schedule ‘Me’ Time
Even though it may seem as if you are in constant demand as a parent, it’s important to provide yourself with the opportunity for ‘me’ time. “Remember that the happier and more rested you are, the happier your baby will be,” says Neitlich. “If you have family and friends around, take them up on their offer to help.”
Don’t inundate yourself with guilt feelings that you are the only one who can care for your baby, says Neitlich. “This will lead quickly to burnout. Scale down your to do list, understand that you don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything and know that it is okay to say no and make you and your baby the priority,” she says.
Make Playdates With Your Friends
After a day of changing diapers, feeding little ones and playing peek-a-boo, it may be time for you to enjoy some time with your grown-up friends. Don’t let the daily grind take you away from bonding with other mothers and fathers, friends and family. Even though your energy level may be low, an impromptu lunch or dinner with your friends can help re-energize your parenting and keep your spirits high.
Even though you thoroughly enjoy those tender moments with your children, it’s important to nurture the grown-up in you, too, by engaging in activities with other adults at times.
Use Your Resources
Just because you don the title of ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ doesn’t mean you become the sole provider, housekeeper and chef. Get the entire family involved in daily chores, household tasks and meal preparation. Your toddler can help with cleaning up toys and measuring food while you cook. Your older children can fold laundry, vacuum and clean up the dishes after each meal.
Show your children that the happiness of the entire family is elevated when the tasks are distributed evenly. Make chore time fun by turning up the radio, dancing while you clean and singing silly songs as you prepare meals.
Adopting a healthy living routine can quickly enhance your happiness, boost your mood and improve your overall health. Melanie Greenberg, California-based clinical psychologist, recommends moving your body more to increase your happiness. “Incorporate leisure exercise into your day, ideally for at least 30 minutes five to six times a week,” she says. “Join a gym, walk the dog or go to a yoga class. Yoga is particularly beneficial for centering the mind and body and releasing tension.”
In addition to trimming up your waistline and boosting your mood, exercise can help in preventing common ailments. “Aerobic exercise fights depression, protects against heart disease, helps weight and is good for the brain and focus also,” says Greenberg.
Fostering your mind is a crucial step in promoting your happiness and the happiness of your family. When days are chaotic and the kids are cranky, it helps to give yourself the opportunity to sink into a mindful state.
“Start a mindfulness meditation routine by finding 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and focus on the breath going in and out of your body,” suggests Greenberg. “This helps you notice what your mind does when it wanders off.”
Creating a state of mindfulness can allow you to focus on the positive elements and influences in your life. “Grounding yourself in your body can lead to self-knowledge and self-compassion,” says Greenberg. “The breath can also be a tool to let go of and release negative thoughts. You can also take regular breathing breaks during the day when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed.”← Teasing: Showing Your Child How Words Hurt | Teething Tots: How to Keep Your Baby Well Fed When Breaking in Teeth →