We love parenthood, and we love our kids, but let’s face it: Parenthood is hard.
While recent studies about parents’ happiness levels have produced mixed results, one thing’s certain: It takes some work to be able to say, “I enjoy parenting, I really do!” without crossing your fingers.
So, what are the secrets of happy parents? Regardless of whether you have a screaming toddler or an eye-rolling teen, scientists and researchers in the field of positive psychology have found strategies that can help you appreciate your role as a parent, and improve your relationships with your children—starting now:
Happy Parents Celebrate Their Achievements
As parents, we think there’s always more we could do, more time we should devote, more love we are capable of giving—and so we feel we’re constantly coming up short. But this kind of thinking is unhelpful, at best. Come up with some of your children’s main needs and think about what you have done to satisfy them. Or reflect on decisions you’ve made that have resulted in better outcomes for your kids. Whenever you’re feeling like you’re not dong enough, think back to these achievements.
Happy Parents Schedule Play Time—For Themselves
As a study led by Princeton researcher Alan Krueger found, of all the things we do, we’re at our happiest when we’re engaged in leisure activities. Remember, your emotions will rub off on your kids—not to mention everyone else around you, so if you’re crabby and overstressed, think of how that will affect the way you interact with your family. It’s key to schedule some “me” time each day (or at least most days!), where you can devote time to something that makes you happy, whether that’s reading a suspense novel, jogging, or gardening. If we spent even half the time scheduling our own play time as we do our child’s, we’d all be happier.
Happy Parents Don’t Hold Grudges
Maybe your daughter lost the cell phone you just bought her last month, or your kindergartener scribbled all over the wall for the first time in years. Sure, you should discipline your kids appropriately—but you should also forgive them, and let go of any grudges. Researchers have found that forgiving people are less anxious, less depressed and less hostile than people who hold grudges. They also have higher levels of well-being, positive emotion, and are more satisfied with their lives in general. So do yourself—and your kids—a favor, and practice forgiveness.
Learn How to Be a Happier Parent Through Science-Based Activities on Happify
For more strategies on how to be a happy parent, plus personalized activities, games, and quizzes that will teach you how to apply these skills to your daily life, sign up for Happify’s free Parenting track. You’ll learn how to appreciate the smaller joys of parenting, feel more at peace with your role as a parent, and improve relationships with your kids, while developing your own happiness skills at the same time.