Will parenting get easier?
Are you up all night with your baby? Are you chasing down the toddler? Are you helping your elementary student with homework? What about your tweenager’s newly blossoming attitude? Is your teenager dealing with his first real girlfriend? How about your adult children? Each stage of parenting has its sweet spots and challenges.
The question is not about whether it gets easier but how to make each stage of parenting easier—and more enjoyable. I’m still in the throws of parenting with two adult children, a teenager ready to graduate, and a tweenager. There are some tips no matter where you’re at in your parenting life.
5 Tips to make parenting easier
- Take care of yourself. When I was pregnant with my first child, I took great care of my body because it affected my baby. I didn’t want to negatively affect him. When he arrived, I made sure I was getting enough nutrition because I was nursing. My self-care was wrapped around my children’s wellbeing. What I didn’t realize was that my health — mental, physical, spiritual — affects my children even if they aren’t directly attached to my body. When I am healthy, I am in a better state to respond to their needs. When I let myself run on empty, they’re going to get my empty response. Gumpy and grouchy doesn’t take long to get to. Time to self-focus and self-care will make parenting easier.
- Remember that your children aren’t you. While your children may have many similarities to you, they aren’t you. They didn’t grow up in your childhood home. They aren’t growing up in the same conditions as you. Plus, you’re looking at life with experiences they don’t have. Very young children are facing life with one new experience after another. They simply don’t know what will happen when they touch the stove. When they hit adolescence, their brains are literally rewiring. They are dealing with not knowing why they did something—and not sure what to do with the intense feelings of embarrassment. They need your support just like you might want support in a new job with a steep learning curve. When you separate yourself from your children, it’s easier to parent them.
- Wait six months. Whatever is super hard right now will change in six months. Babies change drastically every six months. So, if it’s tough right now, you’ll be dealing with a “new” baby in another six. As they get older, the changes may not be so drastic. It’s not that life will be a breeze in six months, but change will come. The thing that makes it easier is knowing that either those challenges will be different or you will be more experienced in handling those difficulties. Parenting is tough, but it goes through seasons. Hang in there, take a deep breath, and repeat this: “It’s not going always going to be this way.”
- Play. Play with your children. Take time to play for your own enjoyment. Play is a natural relationship builder and stress releaser. Be sure you teach your kids the games you played as a kid and let them lead you in their play. Parenting is tough, it will be easier if play is a regular part of the equation.
- Don’t parent alone. I’m not a single parent, but I can isolate myself from my spouse and from friends as a parent. Isolation makes parenting so much harder than it needs to be. You need the support of other parents even if it is to know that you’re not alone in the craziness that comes with raising kids. As much as you can, get on the same parenting page as your partner. Reach out to parenting peers and those who are further along. Getting support is smart, and it will make your parenting journey easier.
Will you make parenting easier on yourself?
Some days will be harder than others. Will you make parenting easier? Try some of these tips and find yourself enjoying more of your parenting life.