Aha! Parenting Blog

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How much joy can you stand?

"I'm embarrassed to admit it but I DO feel like life is drudgery.  I mean, I love my kids, but I get home from work and I have to constantly nag them to stop playing and do what I tell them, or we'll never get them fed and to bed."

"When we put a stopper on our capacity for joy by anorexically declining the small gifts of life, we turn aside the larger gifts as well." - Julia Cameron 

Being a good parent is tough. So often, our needs come second.  The exhaustion of being constantly on call wears us out.  And the responsibility of keeping everyone moving through the routine erodes our sense of humor.

But as we said in yesterday's post,do you want to communicate to your child that life is about drudgery, moving from one burdensome responsibility to the next?  Or do you want to model that joy is our birthright, that life is filled with joyful moments that we can seize and revel in?

Don't let stress steal your joy. Those joyful moments are what make life worth living. This is the only life you get, as far as we know, and it is NOT just about getting the kids fed and into bed every night. It's about sucking the joy out of every moment, finding the delight and connection that lurks amid the chores and chaos.  And it's about raising our children to be happy, well-adjusted adults.  If we don't want them popping prozac, we need to find ways to bequeath them joy.  Which means reclaiming our own joy. How?

1. Inject fun into the schedule. Sure, there will always be dinner and bath and homework and bedtime. But approached with a sense of humor and playfulness, the whole process can be a lot more fun.  Start by enjoying your child.

2. Keep your own cup full. Even 10 minutes spent nurturing yourself can turn your whole day around. Write a daily appointment with yourself on your calendar.  Maybe every day at lunchtime, or while your child naps. Then, do something to fill your own cup. Not watching a screen; something that leaves you feeling joyful and energized. (Don't know what that could be? Start a list right now.  Working out.... Talking to someone who always leaves you feeling great.... Going for a walk outside and smelling the roses.... Writing three things you're grateful for in a journal.... Flirting with your spouse....Keep adding joy ideas, so you can always find something on your list to boost your mood.)

3. Challenge yourself to find the joy in every moment.  Appreciate your child's soft skin or crooked grin. Let yourself be inspired by her exuberance or his persistence. Don't expect peace or perfection -- you've got kids!  Instead, soak up all that aliveness and love, all those hugs. There's joy in (almost!) every moment.

Who says joy has to be rationed?  How much joy can you stand?

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