With the demands of everyday life, raising children can be a circus. We are living in a world that is faster paced than when we were children and sometimes we can feel like we are hamsters running on exercise wheels. In addition to this faster pace we have children who need our attention and guidance so that they are able to deal with the complex world they live in today.
Many parents are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle everything that needs to get done, yet at the same time, know they need more balance in their lives. What is the antidote to the stress that parents are feeling these days?
In order for a family to run smoothly and for parents and children to feel at peace when they are at home, a few areas need to be examined. They are: Discipline, Family Time and time alone for each parent, which is often referred to as “You” Time.
Let’s look at Discipline. Why is discipline important? For the first 12 years especially, children are trying to figure out how their world works. They are looking to their parents to guide them and show them how to be respectful, polite, organized etc. For this reason, children will test their parents. Testing is a completely natural and necessary part of child development, however, it can cause parents a lot of stress. The good news is that the severity and duration of this testing can be greatly diminished if parents learn a simple, straightforward discipline methodology.
For discipline to be less stressful parents need to feel confident. They cannot “fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants”, constantly change their parenting style, or use different techniques; this causes stress and anxiety for both the parents and the child. They need training in a proven, simple system, since simplicity and training is what will give them confidence. The more confident a parent is, the clearer they will be with their children as to which behaviours are acceptable and which ones are not.
Children feel safe and secure when they are clear about their parent’s expectations. The spin-off of this feeling is respect and respect leads to happy, well-behaved children. How does having secure, happy, and respectful children help ease stress? Happy children = Happy Mom and Dad.
The second area for parents to examine is their family life, as it exists today. What activities are filling up the 24 hours in their day? Do these activities reflect their top five values? Are they and their children living faster lives than they would like? Does their family sit and eat together at least 4-5 times a week? These are just some of the questions parents need to ask themselves. Once this is reflected upon they need to put a system in place to guarantee that their family life genuinely reflects their values.
Statistics show that families who spend time together on a regular basis are healthier and happier than those who don’t. Studies also show that the children of families who share special moments on a regular basis are more respectful and successful in life.
Sharing special traditions or having set routines is the best way parents can guarantee that they are connecting with their children and creating close, emotional bonds with them. The amount of time is not important; it’s the fact that some specific time is dedicated to family. Creating a special tradition on Friday nights is one idea, reading for 30 minutes after dinner is another.
It’s time for us to slow down, reflect on what we truly value and then design our lives so that they are what we want them to be, or at least as close to that as possible. Doing this, both children and parents will experience joy on a regular basis and as a result, their stress-levels will decrease.
The last area parents need to look at when wanting to live an incredible life with children is how much balance they have in their own life right now.
Does each parent feel like they have enough time to spend doing things they love as well as enough time for their partner and children? Many people/experts suggest finding at least 10 minutes a day to spend reading or taking a bath. Many parents though, moms in particular, find this an overwhelming task since they feel they don’t have enough time as it is. Instead, I teach parents to use my technique called the “Life Circle”. This is a 15 minute activity once a month that guarantees moms and dads feed different aspects of themselves 8 times a month.
With these three areas in order: Discipline, Family Time and “You” Time, it is definitely possible to experience what stress-free parenting really looks and feels like. Juggling family life becomes a whole lot easier AND a whole lot more enjoyable. The trick is to make getting this right a priority and to seeking out the help if needed. After that, the only thing left to do is to start fully enjoying life with our children.