The thought of having kids ties a little scared knot in my stomach still – but seeing how others do the parenting thing has shown me that maybe I, too, could survive at parenthood someday.
There are a bunch of lessons that I learned as a psychologist, and have seen in practice while following along patient, loving, humorous, and nothing short of incredible parents in the past few years:
#1 It helps to stay united
When life gets tough – whether it’s in the form of difficult life changes, or out-of-this-world tantrums – it seems that feeling like a part of a team helps you get through in an “us against the world or tantrum” type spirit. This can be your partner or another adult (or five!) that you can turn to.
#2 Staying present is good for your mental health – as well as your kids’
I’ve noticed that when parents are present in the moment there is less attention-seeking behavior from kids, and parents feel less frustration about being interrupted. Being a “phone zombie” not only makes you drift in and out of connection with your loved ones, but it also teaches your kid that there is something more important on that little screen than there is in the current moment.
#3 Involving your kids makes them feel important
When there is a new baby in the family, or when there simply is tons to do around the house, older siblings can build confidence simply by getting to help you out – like with soothing baby during a diaper change.
#4 Finding the humor helps with most things
Teachers may tell you that your kid acts like an angel at day care, while you have quite the opposite experience at home. When I worked as a psychologist, I used to remind parents that they get the roughest part of the ride because they are the most likely adults to not abandon them– and they know it. Finding the humor in the situation seems to be helpful in not taking outbursts too personally.
#5 Taking care of your relationships is important
I’ve seen parents keep inside jokes alive, check in with each other, keep up with favorite activities together (even if temporarily in less quantity), and go to their favorite places – with kids in tow or not. It seems to help nurture the relationship while going through the rollercoaster of raising kids.
#6 Taking care of yourself is even more important
The parents who have the energy to tackle everything that comes with parenthood put their own oxygen mask on first, do things that make their heart glow, and give themselves some well-deserved breaks.