10 ways to be a happier parent

Parenting is so challenging, so we have advice on how to let go to become a more carefree parent…

Parents-10-ways-to-be-a-happier-parent-1
Parenting is an all-consuming job, often, to the point when you are so stressed, you neglect your own well-being. But unhappy parents only make things at home even more unbearable for everyone.

It’s important that you take steps to cultivate joy and happiness in your daily life. SmartParents asks mums and dads to share their tactics that help them feel less stressed out? …

1) Stop being so hard on yourself

It’s a trap most parents fall into — holding on to their preconceived ideas of what a perfect parent is and what perfect parents should or shouldn’t do. This resolve for perfection will have a negative impact on your well-being. Mother of two, Eugenia Koh, 39, says today’s mums are just way too hard on themselves, constantly setting impossibly high expectations. This only amplifies your failure, making them seem much worse.

2) Don’t dictate what junior’s strengths are

As parents, you always trust that you are making decisions that are in your child’s best interests. While that may be true, don’t let your own decisions influence what junior’s strengths and talents are. Relinquishing control over this will ease a lot of unnecessary pressure on the family. Give them opportunities to explore an area of interest and see where it takes them.

For instance, when mother of three Ratna Damayanti realised that her 7-year-old son had a passion for football, the freelance researcher decided to let him go for football try-outs. “When we saw that he had a continued interest, we decided to sign him up for regular training sessions with a football school.”

Ratna is glad that she and her husband were instrumental in building their son’s confidence and self-esteem by helping him hone his skill in a sport that interested him.

“It’s like how we console our kids by telling them as long as they have done their best in their tests, we won’t punish them. I think we need to remind ourselves to do the same.”

3) Avoid panicking over making bad decisions

When a parenting decision you’ve made didn’t produce the expected results, it’s natural to feel guilty. But, one wrong step doesn’t mean you’ll always make bad decisions. Koh states, “I think parents always feel bad for making bad decisions — it’s like we expect ourselves to do all the ‘right’ things all of the time. But why?!”

The marketing teacher adds that parents need to recognise that doing your best at any given point is the most important. “It’s like how we console our kids by telling them as long as they have done their best in their tests, we won’t punish them. I think we need to remind ourselves to do the same.”

4) Allow your child to fail

Father of two, Alex Chan shares a lot of parents put a lot of unnecessary pressures on themselves and their children by wanting them to do well in everything. “Whether it is academic activities or otherwise, parents should give their kids the opportunity to fail and make mistakes.”

Failure is the mother of success — depriving junior of the chance to make their own mistakes prevents them from learning from failure and gaining resilience.

5) Stop fussing about your child’s milestones

When Ratna, a mother of three, welcomed her firstborn, she observed that her daughter was an audio learner who learnt to speak at an early age. However, because her daughter was not a visual learner, she picked up reading much later on.

“I was told to send her for intervention but I refused and instead I continued to buy or borrow books for her to try and get her to read and I made it a point to not make her feel bad about not knowing how to read.”

Now, Ratna’s 10-year-old daughter adores reading — she reads materials way above her age group — and even spends her time writing her own stories. So, if you ever find yourself worrying over your child’s milestones, Ratna advises, “Sometimes, kids just need time. They will be ready when they are ready.”
Parents-10-ways-to-be-a-happier-parent-2

6) Don’t neglect your spouse

Father of one Marcus Kong points out either parent should never neglect their parenting responsibilities in pursuit of personal pleasures. “Always remember that while you are away having fun and meeting with your friends, your other spouse is busy tending to your child or someone else is.” Neglecting your parental duties and leaving it to another spouse is a sure-fire way to create unnecessary conflicts.

7) Don’t over-schedule your child

You are probably taking on too much if your weekends are filled wall-to-wall ferrying your child from one weekend activity to another. Stay-at-home mum of three Josse Tan advises parents to reduce the number of structured activities and leave more time for free play — don’t map out every minute of your child’s schedules. You shouldn’t spend your time chasing schedules, especially on weekends.

“I’ve been told that one cannot give from an empty cup and I found that really good advice.”

8) Don’t just heed advice blindly

When Sarah Nah first gave birth to her son late last year, the new mother thought that swaddling her newborn would calm him down and help him sleep. After all, her loved ones, friends and even nurses have told her that it would work as it had been tried and tested. The 29-year-old says “But whenever my husband and I tried to swaddle our baby, he would cry even louder.”

Nah found out later that her infant doesn’t like anything that’ll restrict his movements. This taught Nah a valuable lesson about taking others’ advice — the things they say is best may not always be true. What is good for others doesn’t make it good for your baby, so don’t force it.”

9) Don’t isolate yourself

Remember, it takes a village to raise a child — so, reaching out and getting help from various parenting groups will be extremely helpful for your well-being. Nah notes that reading about other mother’s experiences and thoughts on parenting forums and Facebook groups really helped her through the first couple of months as a new mother.

10) Enjoy some guilt-free “me time”

Before you became a parent, you’ll probably experience guilt in small doses, for instance when you let yourself have another slice of chocolate cake. But now that you’ve become a parent, guilt seems to be the only emotion you feel most of the time.

Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your kids, for not keeping up with basic household chores and for choosing to pamper yourself instead of taking care of your parenting responsibilities.

But if you let that guilt get to you, there will come a time when you stop enjoying parenthood because you feel you’re never good enough.

Koh advises, “I’ve been told that one cannot give from an empty cup and I found that really good advice.”

So, instead of letting the guilt get to you, pick up coping strategies to dispel your anxieties. And then, allow yourself to take a breather from fussing over the kids and make time for activities you enjoy.

Photos: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

Elsewhere on SmartParents.sg...

10 reasons why parents hate parenting

5 ways to unspoil your child

Celeb mum Jaime Teo: Like other mummies, I’m figuring things out along the way