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Want to be a happy parent? Let go of these 15 things to find joy

Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.


So I invite you to consider which of these 15 things keeps you from happy parenting. My advice?

Let them go.

Allow yourself to be a happy parent for your child—and yourself.

It’s time to let go of—

1. “Supposed to”

We were conditioned by our own early family experiences to believe that parenthood or childhood are supposed to look a certain way. But if you hold onto the way things are “supposed” to be, you may miss enjoying how they actually are.

Be willing to question what you prioritize as a parent and why.

2. Keeping score

What does your mental score-card keep track of—Which parent does more? Who’s most consistent? Which mom contributes most in your child’s class? Keeping score wastes energy. Just do what you feel inspired and able to do.

Don’t feel obligated by others’ contributions. Don’t obligate them to live up to yours.

3. Force

As a parent you have a responsibility to set boundaries. But if a child consistently resists a certain boundary, don’t just force them to comply. Ask yourself and your child, “Why?” Think of yourself as your child’s trusted and effective guide, not their dictator.

When they experience you this way, they’re more likely to listen, which means less struggle and frustration for both of you.

4. Yelling

If you’re not a yeller, this one isn’t for you. But if you tend to yell when upset, consider this question: Has yelling strengthened your relationship with your child? Yelling usually happens in anger and it often frightens and intimidates children. It destroys trust and a child’s feeling of safety.

Pay attention to times and circumstances when you yell and then commit to changing those scenarios in the future.

5. Your need to look perfect

No such thing as a perfect parent. Embrace your imperfections. Laugh at yourself. The best parents are willing to always learn, change and improve.

6. Worry

Compulsive worrying doesn’t make your child any safer. It doesn’t make you any happier. And it teaches your children to live in fear.

Release your worries and cultivate gratitude for your child’s safety in the present moment.

7. One-size-fits-all rules

Every child is unique. What works for one won’t always work for another. Certain standard rules apply across the board (for example, everyone needs to speak respectfully). But consider the possibility that being a fair parent doesn’t mean doing the exact same thing in the exact same way for every child.

8. The food fight

If you demand a certain number of bites from your children, you set yourself up for struggle at the table—and you set your children up for struggles with food later in life.

Guide, direct, encourage, and prepare healthy food. Let your child voice their preferences. Focus on healthy overall patterns, rather than forcing a certain regimen at a specific meal.

9. Your role as events coordinator

If you feel like parenthood is a treadmill you can’t keep up with, you may be taking too much responsibility for your children’s time. Make plans that are supportive to your children’s development, but don’t map out every minute for them.

Downtime is supportive to many children. Moments of boredom allow children to take responsibility for their own time. Make resources available and then let your children create the experience they want. You’ll all be happier.

10. Unhealthy self-sacrifice

As a parent, you generously give love, time, and attention. But you shouldn’t give up your core self just because you’re a parent. When you ignore your basic needs, you teach your children that when they grow up, they shouldn’t take care of themselves.

11. Guilt

Parents sometimes fall into the self-sacrifice trap because they feel unnecessary guilt. Guilt can be useful if you use it to recognize where you need to make changes. But overwhelming, paralyzing guilt that makes you feel worthless as a person or parent doesn’t accomplish anything.

You are enough, just as you are.

12. One-sided decisions

As the parent, you often have the final say. But you and your child will both be happier if it’s not the only say. When age-appropriate, involve your child in decisions that will affect them.

By showing children the decision-making process, you’ll empower them to make their own good decisions in the future.

13. Negative messages

So many messages are repeated to children: you’re too loud, you’re too quiet, you ask too many questions, you’re exhausting, you’re demanding, you’re too talkative, you should make more friends, quit moving, speak up, settle down, smile more. You can comment on the exact same behavior in a positive way.

For example, you can see the trait of, “You’re too talkative,” as “You really make friends easily.”

14. Your own childhood story

What did you experience that you most want your children to avoid? Being teased at school? Lack of money? Feeling not-enough? Your fears may actually set up that same pattern to be re-created. Don’t trap your children now in your fears of the past. Let them go. Create what you want, not what you don’t want.

15. Giving up

I’ve heard from parents who worry that they’ve damaged their child, or that they’ve made a mistake that will last a lifetime. I’ve said this many times:

It’s never too late to be a better parent.

Whether your children are 4 or 40, they respond to genuine love from their parents.

The effects of mistakes may take a little longer to overcome if your child is older, but it’s never impossible to show up as the happy, supportive parent that you are meant to be.

Don’t give up! You have everything you need to be a good parent.

Ok, deep breath.It’s time to let go of whatever keeps you stuck and let the happiness in!


This article comes from Carol Tuttle, author of the best-selling book, The Child Whisperer. Carol’s book helps parents understand their children on a deep level so the whole family is happier and experiences more cooperation. Get your copy here.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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