I love the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s twice a year (the Jewish new year and the secular new year). But rather than creating resolutions for myself on January 1, I use this time of year for a check in, to see how far I’ve come since Rosh Hashanah. As a mother to two little guys, I am regularly checking in with myself and my husband about our parenting and I am grateful there are so many resources at my fingertips to help guide the kind of parent I want to be. One phrase that has been resonating with me in this new year, has been JOYFUL – I’ve been brainstorming ways I can be a joyful parent, this year and beyond!
I am by no means a parenting “expert,” but I have had a unique experience as a doula and IBCLC (Lactation Consultant) to meet families and witness so many different parenting styles. It is fascinating to me how even at early age babies pick up on the energy of the parents and often mimic it. Stress can also have an impact on milk supply and breastfeeding, so professionally I have a keen interest in ways to help parents be more relaxed! I have seen the magic of a relaxed parent, and how that can have such a lasting positive impact on their child as well. While it is impossible and an unrealistic expectation that every moment of every day is going to be like the picturesque cozy moments of a newborn baby sleeping on your chest as you bask in the sunlight on your comfy couch, with your fuzzy slippers on and favorite movie playing, (hence the favorite adage, the days are long, but the years are short), there are a lot of ways to cultivate joy.
To me, joyful parenting isn’t just ignoring the parts of parenting that are hard; but rather finding the joy in the seemingly mundane moments, for you never know what situation is going to be memorable for you or your child later down the road.
Five ideas for joyful parenting in the new year:
- Be mindful of the things that make you feel like your best self, and the best parent – and DO MORE of those things! Carve out time to make those a priority. It can be as simple as making good healthy meals for your family, or going on a trip to have the time to connect as a family and experience new things together, all of which help create a strong bond. We all have those activities we do that make us feel like we are rocking it at this parenting thing! When you feel like a rockstar parent, take note, and make those things a priority. Our children are watching us from an early age and showing them by example is so powerful. Showing them that taking care of yourself is important and embodying this concept of self-love is something I want my children to inherently know from an early age, so this becomes a part of who they are as adults. Taking time for yourself to do what makes you happy and feel fulfilled is a big piece of self-love in my mind.
- I often find inspiration in quotes, and these two from Brené Brown have been of particular importance to me as I have been reflecting on ways I can be a joyful parent.
“Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.” The truth is that we are both.”
“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play, in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.”
I love these quotes for the feelings they illicit in me, and how they help shift my perspective. Think about if there are any quotes that have been resonating with you and make it into art you can put up in a frame at your desk, or in your home, or make your background on your computer or phone screen! (Look at the end of this article for some images of these quotes you can save on your phone or computer.)
- Now I am not sure about your house but in mine, there is nothing a dance party can’t solve. Music can reduce stress in children and adults alike, which makes it the perfect elixir for joyful parenting. The research is endless on the effect’s music has on mental health and wellbeing. Here is a great article by Healthy Children on some research done in this field as it relates to children. Music has a profound effect on adults as well, and here is a fascinating article put out by Harvard Medical School, which illustrates in great detail a lot of the benefits of music. For those parents who love concerts and live music, at the end of the article there is very interesting paragraph about the connection between live music “causing favorable changes in hormone levels or immune function.”
- Let the guilt go. You are the perfect parent for your child. As parents we may not make the perfect decision 100% of the time, we aren’t supposed to. That’s not what makes our kids resilient, it’s the “happy accidents” and real-life examples of when things don’t always go as expected, that teaches them how to navigate the real world. They are learning from our actions and reactions alike, try to give yourself some room to live in the moment and not dwell on the “woulda-shoulda-coulda’s”. I love the quote I found on a local artist’s page – Kimothy Joy, which said “Do your best, and surrender the rest.”
- For this last one, I enlisted my husband’s help! I asked him if he had any thoughts and his response was, “enjoy snuggles on the couch!” This is such a wonderful and simple idea. If we slow down and enjoy time with our husband/wife/partner/co-parent it can really boost us as people and parents. It also made me reflect on the “5 love languages.” Once I learned more about what love language speaks to each of us, it strengthened our relationship and we were able to convey which kind of connection meant the most to us. Understanding and respecting that not everyone’s “love language” is the same helps you take steps towards connecting. If you aren’t familiar with the 5 Love Languages, you can take a quick quiz here to learn more about yours!
I would love to hear what you do to parent joyfully! Feel free to e-mail me or respond on the blog. If you are a new parent, and are looking to connect in real life and meet other new moms, I facilitate a (free) Baby Café every Friday at Mothers’ Milk Bank in Arvada from 11am-1pm. More information on that here!
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