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February 03, 2014

6 Ways To Make Parenting Easier This Year

I have known Christine Koh as a digital strategist, graphic designer and Boston-based blogger for a number of years. I am now pleased to introduce her as the newly published author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less. Here she shares some secrets of how she makes being a mom of two seem so easy!

Blog-kids-mealParenting is one of the most gratifying jobs around. It also can be one of the toughest and most overwhelming at times! But fear not, there are ways to make parenting easier. Here are six tangible ways to "minimalize" the drain on your bandwidth. These tips will help you tweak your routines so you can enjoy family life more -- by doing less!

  1. Delegate chores. When you delegate chores, you’re actually giving your kids a gift. Chores help kids learn that they are part of a family system and equip them with essential life skills. Whether it’s setting and cleaning up the dinner table, helping with laundry, or tidying toys, as soon as kids become verbal and can follow simple instructions, they can help! For example, my two-year-old knows how to take her dish from the table to the sink after mealtime and help with toy cleanup.

  2. Bring your kids into the kitchen. Have your kids help you with food preparation. Yes, sometimes it will be messy and/or imperfect but keep at it and have fun. I’ve had my daughters Laurel and Violet in the kitchen right from the start and at age 9, Laurel cooks dinner for the family on occasion and can make chocolate cake and other tasty treats from scratch. WIN.

  3. Give kids space. The next time your kids (or your kid + a friend) start squabbling, resist the urge to jump in and solve their problem; just hang back and do whatever it is you were doing. If the kids come complaining to you immediately, tell them they need to try to work it out for 10 minutes. Kids need the time and space to figure out social interactions. Same goes for the "I’m bored" complaints. Wait your kid out and delight in the amazingly creative things that happen once they have a chance to exercise their imagination.

  4. Identify and aim for your family’s "Goldilocks" level of busyness. Look at the last couple of months of your calendar. Jot down the number of events that made a week feel too busy, not busy enough, or just right (Goldilocks!). Continually assess your family calendar; if you find weeks that creep beyond the Goldilocks level of busy, start editing out commitments.

  5. Say no. And don’t apologize for it. Related to #4, a big part of editing your and your family’s schedules and to-do lists involves learning to say no. And one reason people have a hard time saying no is because they don’t want to lie or make a lame excuse. Relieve yourself of the need to apologize or make excuses. Simply decline gracefully; no excuse needed.

  6. Get help. The reality is, you only have 24 hours in a day. It’s not a sign of weakness to get help; it’s a sign of strength. Whether you need to carve out a little more time to hit a work deadline, get breathing room during school pick up transitions, or crave a date night with your partner, book a sitter and give yourself the gift of time. You’ll be better equipped to parent in a happy place if you’re not totally depleted and frantic.

The beauty of these six things? They are totally doable adjustments that offer major time and sanity rewards. For further inspiration on how you can simplify your work, life, and parenting, check out Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less.


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Comments

Stephanie Schuler

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing!

Robert

All very nice tips. I would like to add one tho. I am an old school father and also Marine
1. Be firm w/ no remorse - I have 4 girls and they see and measure how I treat them and compare it to how i treat their sisters. Its also contagious since kids feed off one another.They look at it as unfair all the time and it can be with anything like playtime, who got the bigger cookie etc. Be firm in your decisions with your kids and dont tolerate back talk and don't feel sorry. I see too many parents explaining their decisions with their kids. Why? Ask yourself who is the boss here? Does your boss have to explain every decision with you? We as parents must be firm w/o remorse. I understand this tactic maybe easier with fathers to sons, but girls need tough love more then ever in this crazy world or else they will grow to feel entitles all the time.

Trudy

These are some great tips. I am amazed but not surprised at how well my entire family does when we're in the "goldilocks" state.
@ Robert - parenting w/o remorse...being firm and sticking to it, is key. I like to call it consistency! I have 2 children - a 7 yr old boy and 10 yr old girl. I think it's extremely important to parent them the same. I think being more strict with my daughter (than my son) will back fire. It is a crazy world out there - for both our sons and our daughters.

Marciano Ceniceros

I agree with being firm. I also believe that using an opportunity to instill values are often bypassed. I usually explain my choices to my children when Its relevant. Sometimes its a simple answer "to help keep you safe in the real world". When it comes to chores I refer to having pride in what we have and respect shows in how we take care of anything thats ours or borrowed. I think simple answers like ""because I said so" can confuse young kids. Its hard to always have the right answer but, the more you do it the easier it is to explain your reasons. I have two well behaved 4&6 year old girls. I find this approach works well for my family. Also taking the time to explain a decision gives you a ground point to deliver punishments or praise for completing tasks given. This way they can realize how important some issues or family values mean to you.

Robert

@Trudy - Totally agree on consistency. Thats also my trademark. However, I disagree on being harder on your daughter will backfire and here is why. Look at the world as a whole and who has the most worry/struggles? Daughters face challenges boys do not and have emotions/hormones men do not. They are wired differently and naturally callapse and fall out of balance when their world falls out of place. I believe is important to a strong firm parents to girls a little more then boys in order to strengthen them and prepare them for an un-balanced world. As a man, I know men don't really listen to reason when spoken. It takes experience to fine tune the man they want to be. I had to observe and listen to a lot of smart people to realize this and it has piad off. Now I know why people cringe when I say I have 4 daughters vice 4 boys. Boys will be boys, but girls need more grooming in my opinion. Good chat BTW.

Romana

I agree with you Robert. I am a mother and wife of x4 girls. Aged 13 down to 4. The world is touch out there. And I always find myself having to explain my reasons and decisions to my girls. Mostly when they don't get the answer they wanted for something! I do have to remind myself 'I' am the parent. But I do explain 'tough love' to them. I make certain decisions for a reason. They will look back and understand why when the time comes.

Antigone

I also think it's important not to make a rule about something unless I can keep up with it, and enforce it. I'd rather my kids did without some rules, than to be used to ignoring rules!

Nicole

@ Robert- I urge you to reconsider "Who's the boss? Does a boss explain everything?" Of course our children need to learn that not everything in life will be explained how ever as parents we need to explain things in hopes that our children won't test the waters. I was a very (and still am) strong willed girl growing up. I used to go to a neighbors house quite regularly until one day when my Dad suddenly said "you are not allowed to go over there ever again". Huh? Why? He didn't explain! I had no idea why all of sudden it couldn't go over there. So against his orders I went any way. Without going into details that evening ended with me at only 12 years old in a police station filing a report. I feel to this day if only he would have explained a little something to me I probably wouldn't have gone over there. It could of been something simple without going into detail. As a mother of 2 sons & 1 daughter I try to find balance in being a boss and a teacher. I just thought my story could help someone else if they are ever in a situation like my Dad was.

Angel

Great tips ! We do much of this in our family already. Especially the part about letting them find their own way in peer/sibling situations in our home. It helps them learn the tools in life. Speaking if learning. Robert, I can't agree with you less. I do believe you should let children know how and why. This helps them understand and become leaders, not followers. I do not admire any government or military run anything. This entire country is in a state of deep trouble because of the way it's run. I do not feel your advice in admirable in the least.

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