For some people, parenting is always mostly enjoyable, but for quite a few, parenting can be drudgery more often than not. Or, at the very least, one can focus on the drudgery rather than enjoying the fun parts. I've been there. Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project offers some tips for finding the happiness in parenting. The tips apply mainly to those with young kids, so I thought I'd add some for those with pre-teens or teens (though they may apply to young kids too).
1. Appreciate your kids' accomplishments and compliment them on their hard work.
2. Schedule time with each kid separately. Geeky Girl and I are planning a girls' night out this weekend.
3. Plan something as a family. When kids get older, they want their alone time, and quite frankly, parents want that too. A few times a month (or more often), plan a family excursion, schedule a movie night (even if it's on your own tv).
4. Spend some time without the kids. Date night is still very important at this age. When you're feeling frazzled about managing the kids school work or discipline, an evening out away from the kids can give you much needed time away so that you can shift focus away from the negative and back to the positive. It can also give you time to talk about the kids without the kids around. This is the biggest thing I've noticed about having older kids. They are awake as long as we are and get up when we do, so it's hard to find time at home to have a private conversation.
5. Listen to your kids. I mean really listen. My kids often just start talking about random things, things I may or may not be interested in. But I listen to them when they talk as they're often sharing an important part of their lives with me. Sometimes it's a fleeting glimpse into how they think or what might be going on with them emotionally. I can't tell you how many times I've been amazed at what my kids tell me. They have truly interesting minds.
So, what are your ideas for enjoying your time as a parent?