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Positive parenting – the dishes can wait…

Women’s well-being coach and parenting author Karyn Riley highlights the importance of focusing on and enjoying the positives of parenting.

Much is said about the challenges and stress of parenthood. However, there is little emphasis placed on the joy of being a parent, celebrating the positives of parenting and the benefits of taking time-out for fun and relaxation… without feeling guilty!

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Sometimes the burden of responsibility and seemingly never-ending demands of parenting mean that there is little time or energy left to reflect on the positives at the end of a busy day. However, we can all benefit from including fun, a positive attitude and gratefulness in our lives.

One of the biggest hurdles facing parents today is balancing numerous roles and responsibilities with fostering an enjoyable family environment and spending quality time with our loved ones.

In our stressful, often over-scheduled lives, it can seem that there is “never enough time.” This is compounded by the guilt and pressure that comes with believing we aren’t spending quality time with our children. We often feel we are on-demand 24/7 and struggle to find calm, breathing space to stop, be present and simply enjoy the moment.

One of my favourite sayings is “We are human beings, not human doings.” We can all benefit by taking time out to just “be” with our kids, partners and ourselves. Spending 5 to 10-minutes of 100 per cent present, fully-focused quality time with our kids is more beneficial than longer periods of time in which parents are distracted, not fully present or disengaged.

Children thrive on attention of any kind. Toddler and teenage tantrums, toxic family environments and undesirable behaviours can often be avoided by being pro-active, stopping what we are doing, listening fully and giving family members our undivided attention.

It’s important to prioritise and plan time for fun and relaxation before it becomes lost in the busyness of everyday life. Often, parents are overwhelmed by conflicting demands on their time and energy and don’t know how or where to begin.

Start by scheduling time for fun family activities and special time together in your diary. Plan and write down non-negotiable blocks of time, even 5 to 10-minutes. Have strong boundaries in place – prioritise family time and stick to it.

It’s also important to be spontaneous and relax a little. The dishes can wait. Take time out to simply enjoy being with your children. Everyone will benefit and can make the end of a busy, stressful day easier and more enjoyable.

Gratitude works wonders for focusing on the positives each day. Start a family gratitude book or journal, or ask your kids what was the best thing about their day: this creates opportunities for further discussion and quality family time, too.

Learning how to say “No” and manage guilt will relieve pressure and free up time and energy for what’s truly important.

When you have fun with your family and children, focus on this alone – not what you “should” be doing instead. Be realistic and go easy on yourself. There is no such thing as the perfect parent.

Karyn Riley helps women have more time, more fun and more balance in their life. Karyn is a parent educator, lifestyle coach, author, speaker, writer and mother of two. Her first book “How to Keep the YOU in Mum” is available at www.rileylife.co.nz and New Zealand bookstores.

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