The peaceful parent
10 tips for finding zen in the mayhem. By Leo Babauta
There is no such thing as stress-free parenting. Parents will always have stress: we not only have to deal with tantrums and scraped knees and children refusing to eat anything we cook, but we worry about potential accidents, whether we are ruining our kids, whether they will find happiness as adults and be able to provide for themselves and find love. That said, I’ve learned that we can find peace. Peace isn’t a place with no stress, but a place where you take the stress as it comes, in stride, and don’t let it rule you. You let it flow through you, and then smile, and breathe, and give your child a hug. This the way of the peaceful parent. Here’s how to get started:
1 Greet your child each morning with a smile, a hug, a loving Good Morning! This is how we would all like to be greeted each day.
2 Teach your child to make his/her own breakfast. This starts for most children at around the age of 3 or 4. Teach them progressively to brush their teeth, bathe themselves, clean up their rooms, put away clothes, wash their dishes, make lunch, wash their own clothes, sweep and clean, etc.
3 Older children can help younger children: it’s good for them to learn responsibility, it helps the youngsters learn from the older ones, and it takes some of the stress off you.
4 When your child asks for your attention, grant it. Unconditionally.
5 Model the behaviour you want your child to learn. Be calm, smile, be kind, go outdoors and be active.
6 Know that when you screw up as a parent, everything will be fine. Forgive yourself. Apologise. Learn from that screw up. In other words, model the behaviour you’d like your child to learn whenever he/she screws up.
7 When a stressful time arises (and it will!), learn to deal with it with a smile. Make a joke, turn it into a game, laugh: you’ll teach your child not to take things so seriously, and that life is to be enjoyed. Breathe, walk away if you’ve lost your temper, and come back when you
8 Parents need alone time. Set certain traditions so that you’ll have time to work on your own, or have mummy and daddy time in the evening, when your child can do things on their own.
9 Kiss your child goodnight. And give thanks for another amazing day with your beautiful, unique, crazy child.
10 Remember that your child is a gift. He or she won’t be a child for long, and so your time with them is fleeting. Every moment you can spend together is a miracle. Enjoy it to the fullest, and be grateful for that moment.
Leo Babauta is the founder of Zen Habits (zenhabits.net)