I love this Yahoo article on how to be a happier parent based on the principle of mindfulness. It really boils down to being aware of when you’re most happy parenting and being with your child, and when you’re most stress. Recipe: Do more of what makes you a happy parent. Change what makes you an unhappy parent, whether it’s stressing out over the morning or bedtime routine, fights over toothbrushing, grooming, or videogames, or dealing with sibling rivalry. Focus on fixing the problems rather than doing the same old same old, reacting in the usual way but expecting different, better results (that’s the definition of insanity!). But don’t forget to spend time doing what makes you happy.
I have to say that it’s easy for me to forget about the latter. I get too focused on what I have to do and not on what we could do, as a family, to create more joy. It doesn’t have to involve spending money. Sometimes, it’s as simple as remembering to take a favorite CD in the car with us and play it as we’re driving to a family gathering many miles away. Eventually, all the stuff on the To Do list that really needs to get done gets done, especially if you can find a way to make at least some of the chores fun. Shoveling? Add some snowball fighting. Emptying the basement? Play some good music and crack some jokes, then reward everyone with a special treat whether it’s indulging in watching a favorite DVD or buying ice cream. Whenever it gets too hectic, my husband likes to say in a mock announcer’s deep voice, “Is EVERYbody happy?” And my son and I dutifully play along and shout “Yeah.” It’s funny–you do that, regain your sense of humor, and the happiness does come back. But you have to remember to make the time to do the fun stuff.