Photo Credit: Getty ImagesI've read several columns in the past few days from parents resolving to be better parents in the New Year. Being a mom or dad is one of the toughest gigs. Ever. And even that is an understatement. But I think every parent has many moments where they think, "I know I can do better."
I, too, am like those other columnists who are resolving to be a better parent in 2009. I'm forever a rookie parent, learning the ropes as I go with my two young boys. (I still can't believe I have a seven-year-old kid.)
Here are four ways that I think we can all be better parents...let's call this list the "4 L's." Chances are you've probably heard or read about all of these things before, but they are easy to forget in the heat of parenting moments. If you can remember to do one of these a day, you'll realize how simple yet powerful these tips are for you and your kids.
- Lighten up. It's pretty easy to get into that cranky rut when your kids are running around and you know they know they shouldn't be playing tag in the house or tossing baseballs around in their bedroom. Or your teenager is listening to Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" for the 1,000th time at top volume. (Sorry, momentary personal flashback). Before you get angry, before you utter a sentence that begins with, "Stop," "No," "Don't," "Can't," take a deep breath, take in the moment, and lighten up. Take the game of tag outside and join in the fun. Ask your kid to turn the tunes down a notch with a dose of humor. You're always a parent, but it doesn't have to be chore.
Let it go. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming. Unless you're living amongst dust donkeys under a pit of dishes, let something go. Repeat after me. Let. It. Go. When your kids ask you for help or to do a puzzle, instead of saying "Just a sec, I need to clean the [insert household activity]," go hang out with them. Put away the BlackBerry at the park. Close the laptop in the kitchen. You'll always have household chores and work to do, but how many amazing moments will you choose to miss because of them?
Listen. This is the tough one. Instead of preparing your monologue about how much trouble your kid is in, listen to him. Truly listen. Also? Listen to your little kids playing in another room and be amazed when they create imaginary worlds. Listen to your kids and their friends when you're driving on field trips or they're at your house hanging out. Listen to the chatter between siblings before they go to sleep. You will find yourself smiling and smirking with their banter.
- Laugh. Often. Laughter is contagious. Use it to your advantage.
My wise Shine parents, what would you add to this list?