The Secret to Being a Happier Parent May Be Letting Go

The Secret to Being a Happier Parent May Be Letting Go

Parenting is hard. Putting pressure on ourselves in many ways can make it harder. Letting go of these things can make you a happier parent.

Updated February 10, 2023
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Being a happier parent can come from letting go of things that can drag us down. With all the mom burnout, it may not be easy to feel happy. We’re stressed out, hardly get time to ourselves, and are overwhelmed most of the time. It can be hard not to put pressure on ourselves as parents, but it comes down to sometimes giving ourselves a break. Below are great things to let go of if you want to be happier in your parenting. They are things that many of us fixate on, but when it comes down to it, they really don’t matter that much or serve us very well.

Letting Go of These 15 Things Can Make You a Happier Parent

1. Comparison

It can be hard not to compare ourselves to other parents, but we must remember that we are the best parents for our kids. Just because another family does something differently doesn’t mean we need to do things that way. Unfortunately, social media makes it even easier to compare ourselves to others. So, take a break from scrolling and keep things in perspective because while you see the highlight reel, the daily struggles are underneath the surface.

2. Being Perfect

No matter how much we try to be the “perfect” parent, employee, or spouse, it’s important to remember that we will never get there. No one is perfect. We all have bad days. Sometimes you may yell or get frustrated. Many of us do. If you make a mistake with your kids, apologize and move on. Your kids seeing you as a human is more important than seeing you as perfect.

3. Worrying

It is only natural that we worry and fret about our kids. We love them unconditionally and want the best for them. Unfortunately, excessive worrying can take a toll and, in most cases, is unwarranted. Most of the time, your kids are going to be okay. Worrying about every little thing is going to make things worse.

4. Guilt

We all make mistakes and internalize things that happen with our kids. My son had some issues with his teeth, and I often felt guilty about things I could have done differently and told myself that I was a bad mother. Really, there was no way I could have foreseen his problem. Letting go of the guilt we feel as moms goes a long way.

5. Your Childhood

We are influenced by our own childhoods and how we grew up. Drawing from these experiences is only natural, but don’t place the same fears on your kids. You can take the good but leave out the things that don’t help your kids. They aren’t you and accepting that you can’t dictate certain things will benefit the entire family’s happiness.

6. Your Expectations

Before we enter into parenthood, we have ideas of how we think things should go or are supposed to be. Kids will challenge and surprise you, so it’s impossible to hold onto your preconceived ideas of what you think having kids will be. It will likely be different, so adhering to these expectations will only make everyone, including your kids, miserable.

7. A Completely Clean House

Some days, I may have let go of this one too completely, but kids are messy. Your house is never going to be spotless. It just isn’t. If the mess causes you anxiety, by all means, clean it. If you can let go of obsessing about it, try to do that. Some days, cleaning isn’t as important as other things, or you may find that you don’t get to it, and that’s okay.

8. Distractions

It can be hard to get out of our heads and out of our phones and enjoy the moments while we’re in them. With constant notifications, we’re often pulled out of moments we should be reveling in. Our kids will not be this age forever, so knowing when to pay attention and enjoy what’s going on will bring you much more joy. Putting down the phone, being more present, and connecting with our kids are great ways to become happier parents.

9. Yelling

Some parents yell sometimes. It’s not that we ever go into heated moments intending to, but it can happen. This is something that I’m working on. Kids get loud, and I get louder to be heard, but it can scare my kids. Giving up yelling will create a calmer space for everyone, and hopefully, emotions won’t explode as often.

10. Food Fights

We should try certain things to get our kids to eat, but it’s important not to force things all the time. If you try to get them to eat certain things or take a certain amount of bites, they will get more defiant, and no one will be happy. There may be something else going on too. For instance, maybe they are full, or their tummy is bothering them. You may find that your kids will eventually eat some of the stuff you would like them to by not pushing so hard.

11. Too Much Self-Sacrifice

Moms, especially, are notorious for being martyrs. We sacrifice our bodies and our time for our kids. We’re glad to do it most of the time because we love them so much. There comes the point, though, where you need to prioritize yourself. You can’t be self-sacrificing all the time because it’s impossible to sustain. You can be a better and happier parent by getting time for yourself. Your family will be happier too.

12. Looking Perfect

I’ve never really had a problem with this one because I’ve always favored comfortable clothes and wasn’t ever into makeup. However, I sometimes tend to shy away from pictures, so that’s something else I’m working on. It is more important to be in the photos not looking perfect than to avoid them altogether. Your kids will want to see pictures of you together. They don’t care what you look like as long as you’re there.

13. Force

While setting boundaries for your kids is vital, forcing them to do things isn’t always the right way to go about it. The “because I said so” argument is one I’ve used, but instead, I should take a step back. If kids understand the why behind something, they can begin to see why you want them to do something.

14. Overscheduling

When I had my first child, I obsessed over ensuring that we got out of the house at least once a week. I’ve also tried to make rigid schedules, which don’t work. Instead, look at having a loose schedule that can change if needed. Kids are unpredictable, so maybe things you planned will get canceled. It’s okay to spend a day at home and not do all the things.

15. Negative Messages

It can be so easy to use negative messaging with kids because often, they are being too loud or not sitting nicely. When we criticize, it’s often about our state of mind. Maybe we’re tired, and our head hurts, so they seem super loud. Instead of telling them they’re loud and irritating, spin the narrative. Instead, you could ask them nicely to use their inside voice and then tell them why. Tell them you don’t feel good. You can positively flip some negative messages.

There’s enough pressure on parents without making it harder on ourselves. Letting go of things that don’t serve us, and may stress us out more, can help us be calmer and happier parents. You may even enjoy parenthood more by letting go of some of these things. It may not be easy to do all these, so start with a few and work from there. There’s always room for growth, and you will have more fun.

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Kristen N. Winiarski spends much of her days battling her kids' hangry moods with bacon and Cookie Monster impressions. She also encourages dance parties as P.E. whenever possible. Kristen started… Read more

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