Dr. Carter’s recent book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents is filled with gems of wisdom to help smooth the rough bits of parenting. One of my favorite recommendations that she makes is to “Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First”.
You know when you are on an airplane traveling with your child(ren) and the flight attendant reminds you to secure your own oxygen mask prior to attending to your child? Well, it is the same in parenting.
Get Happy Tip #1: Take care of yourself first
If you have an iota of type-A personality in you this might be a hard one. You want to do everything for everyone else before attending to yourself. But what we know from years of research (and Dr. Carter has done the research), is that this does not produce happier kids or parents. Putting others first produces burn-out, resentment, fractured relationships, guilt, and a whole-lotta-stress.
We live in a culture where productivity and exhaustion are a mark of success. We swap “I’m-So-Tired” and “I-Don’t-Have-Enough-Time” stories with an air of honor as if these are badges to demonstrate our good-enough-ness.
But this has to stop.
Yes, you get to be tired and will be tired as a parent and spouse. You also get to learn the power of saying “yes” to your own needs and desires so that you can better care of those who are dependent on you. Your kids will enjoy being with a parent (or two!) who feel nourished much more than a frazzled parent who is holding on by a thread.
Let’s start a revolution to make it cool to say, “Wow! I am really taking good care of myself.”
Bonus: Often taking care of yourself means taking care of the relationship with your co-parent. And this is a HUGE benefit to your kids as well (and we know that also from research!)
Get Happy Tip #2: Lower Your Expectations
In our world of high expectations and lofty goals this seems an odd recommendation. It is healthy to hold yourself to a standard and…often the expectations that we have of our spouse, partner, children and ourselves are unattainable. This can leave you feeling frustrated, depressed, and like you have failed as a parent.
Consider this: reset your expectation to a more reasonable and joyful goal. What if experiencing joy in reaching the goal were just as important as the goal itself. In other words, it is not just about dinner being ready at 6 pm but about having fun, enjoying your family, and inviting a sense of ease and relaxation while dinner is on the table sometime around 6 pm.
Get Happy Tip #3: Let Yourself Not Be Happy
Part of feeling joy is also feeling the normal feelings of sadness, remorse, and hurt as they arise as well. If you have ever worked with me you will remember me encouraging you to lean into your feelings of discomfort. These are valuable parts of you that bubble up to provide you with important information about yourself, your emotional landscape, and will help guide you in your life…if you learn how to be in a relationship with these feelings.
Life is not always about unicorns and rainbows nor should it be. Part of joy is learning how to fully inhabit your life in each moment rather than rushing from this moment to the next in order to check off the to-do list.
If you are ready to start 2014 with more joy in your life, call me for your free consultation at 720.457.3342. This is my life’s work and it is a joy and privilege to help people like you find fulfillment in their parenting, partnering, and life. Give me a call or book online 24/7. I look forward to hearing from you.