I'm inclined to think that happy parents raise happy kids. While there are many reasons why someone may or may not be happy in general (depression, bad marriage, unhappy in career, etc.) there are certain habits that create more security, love, and trust...which ultimately leads to happiness. Here are a few habits that I have found from happy parents.
1. Get down on the floor. When you see the world through your child's eyes, you will begin to feel more comfortable as a parent and they will feel more comfortable with you. Kneel down, sit down, or even lay down with them.
2. Turn off electronics. Some families unplug everyday during certain hours, other families require no phones at the dinner table or after a certain time in the evening-whatever rules you set, make sure that you as a parent are no exception. Unplug every day. You will be happier knowing that the time you spent with your kids was TRULY uninterrupted "quality time" and they will know that there are times when nothing in the world matters more than them.
3. Family dinner at the dinner table. (This one coincides with the no electronic rule.) Sit together every night so you can look in each other's eyes and hear about each other's days. If dinner time is a struggle in your house, check out my tips for having a great family dinner.
4. Play together. It seems to me that so many parents don't know how to play anymore (or else they forget what games they enjoyed as a child). Take time to really think about what you enjoyed as a child and introduce your kids to something you like. If playing still sounds like torture, check out these ideas for clever ways to have fun with your family.
5. Exercise. I don't think I need to explain this one! Everyone knows by now that your brain secretes more serotonin when you excercise, right? C'mon people, get movin'! Can't find time to exercise? Check out this video..
6. Watch shows or movies together. If the thought of watching an entire Calliou show all the way through makes you want to punch yourself in the face, you're not alone. But remember that children like to enjoy things with someone (just like we do). Think about how much you enjoy laughing with someone else while watching a movie or watching sports. Step inside your kids world and ask them questions about the show that interests them.
7. Take time for yourself. Whether you go for a run, have coffee with friends, or just tell your children that you need a half hour of alone time-take care of YOU. Think about why the flight attendants on airplanes always say to "put the oxygen mask on you first". You will be no good to others if you aren't taking care of you.
8. Say I love you. We all need to be loved and we we need to hear it from our family members OFTEN. Tell your kids you love them and how special they are to you every day. Also, tell them WHY you love them. Not just because they are your child but because there is no one in the world like them...that makes them special.
9. Focus more on what your child does RIGHT than what they do wrong. Children want to be loved...and liked. Particularly, they want to be liked by their parents. If they feel like they are a pain in their parents butt, then they aren't going to be happy (and you probably won't be either!). If you find yourself trying to improve them all the time then they will probably be resentful.
10. Say no...and mean it. Healthy boundaries are so important to protect not only YOUR sanity but also your child's sanity. If you say no and then give in- your child will feel confusion about when you really mean it and when they should push you to your limits. Life is easier for them (and you) when they know that you mean what you say and you say what you mean.
11. Show affection. Maybe your child says that he doesn't want your kisses ("ew, mom, I'm too old for that mushy stuff!") Try challenging them to an arm wrestling competition or beat them in a thumb war. ..hey...you're still holding hands, right?!
12. Laugh..I don't mean a little giggle...I mean LAUGH every day! Let your hair down and get silly. If you don't think you're funny (or can't find the humor in things) search for funny videos, shows, or funny jokes online. Our family enjoys watching America's Funniest Home Videos together. The saying "laughter is the best medicine" really is true.
I have to admit, I'm going through a bit of a funk myself right now and really had to do some research and think outside the box to see what happy people are doing every day. Let's face it. Not every day is happy when you're a parent....and that's O.K. Actually more days are challenging than are blissful. But if you want to be a happy parent overall, then try to change some behaviors I mentioned above that will encourage a simpler, happier lifestyle. Psychologists say that habits are created after 21 days of daily repetition so why no give one or 2 of these habits a try and see if it makes a difference in your life? Couldn't we all use a dose of HAPPY?