Let’s face it- family life is a huge adjustment from your care-free single days where you were responsible for no one except yourself. It is a wonderful, joyous gift to be surrounded by family but there are times when things may be going less than spectacular and you think, “Is this really my life?” The thing to remember about raising children is that there are lots of phases and each one has its own blessings and its own challenges. Hopefully, you already feel the benefits of family time. But even those of us that feel happy in our family life most of the time, sometimes need a few pointers to get through those slumps. Well, I am happy to have a clinical psychologist and a mother of two, Dr. Stephanie O’Leary, to share with you some tips on how to be happy in your family life.
Tips On How To Be Happy In Your Family Life
Dr. O’Leary has just published a new book called, Parenting in the Real World: The Rules Have Changed. Drop The Guilt. Handle any Parenting Situation in 7 Simple Steps. Written in an easy to read conversational style, Dr. O’Leary understands the reality parents face in juggling parenting responsibilities and facing new challenges and she shares her own personal stories and simple solutions. Dr. O’Leary’s tips include listening, respect, setting boundaries, having fun and self-care for parents. I have been given permission to share an excerpt from her book with you here. This excerpt focuses tips for how to be happy in your family life. I have included an affiliate link to the book below for your convenience.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt of Parenting in the Real World printed here with permission.
A JOYFUL HOME
How do you rediscover joy in parenting amidst the day-to-day nonsense, and get back to liking your child as much as you love him? If you’ve read the previous chapters, you already have a set of go-to strategies for turning the volume up on things that invite joy back into your household. Up the respect factor, insert kindness, use accurate communication, listen, validate, offer sincere apologies to help clean up any mess ups, and provide well-thought-out limits and boundaries. These tools move you and your child(ren) toward less drama and fewer conflicts.
As you practice using these tools, the old stuff—conflict, screaming, yelling, threatening, meanness, endlessly repeating fights that never resolve themselves, guilt, dismissiveness, and countless other not-so-productive habits and interactions—will move out or be considerably downsized. That will leave empty space. It’s the same phenomenon that occurs after a massive spring cleaning. You tidy up the closets, donate what you don’t need or use, and suddenly have more room than you thought possible. You’ve just done this with your parenting relationship, so what do you want to fill all the newfound space with?
Remember, you are the parent, so you get to decide how to redecorate this emotional square footage that just showed up. Not to pressure you, but let’s devote some brainpower and intention here before that old stuff moves back in!
Try this quick exercise. Think about what a joyful household means to you. What happens in a joyful household? What’s said? What’s seen? What’s heard? How does your joyful household smell? Who’s there? What fills the space in your joyful home? Try to connect with the things, interactions, and experiences that exist in your most joyful home.
If this task was a breeze—fantastic; if it feels like pulling teeth—don’t give up. You’ve come this far, so give yourself a few days to be mindful of what joy means to you. Then, as you go through your day, make note of what pops into your head—the things you notice—the glimmers of joy you see and want more of, and the spaces and relationships that seem empty and in need of sprucing up. It’s mindful, joyful redecorating, and it’s much less expensive than the literal counterpart—and more valuable for your family.
Having a clear idea of what you want more of in your household will help you invite it in, so make a list of joyful intentions and get ready to be a joy magnet. Jot down three things that represent joy within your home. Then, keep the list in sight so you can read it on a daily basis. You can email it to yourself and leave it in your inbox to read each morning, or print it out and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Your list may include things like eating together, road trips, walking the dog, one-on-one time with kids, laughing, or being outside. Only you know what brings joy to you and your family. You are the expert in this department, so trust that whatever comes to mind, and know that it will serve you and your family well.
Do you think these tips were helpful in learning how to be happy in your family life? What does finding joy in family life look like to you?