Are you fed up and tired of being a parent? Although burnout is common, there are also legitimate parenting mistakes that contribute to why you don’t enjoy your kids. Learn these secret tricks from a homeschooling mom of four that will allow you to love life with your kids and survive the hard moments with grace.
Reasons You Don’t Enjoy Your Kids + How To Fix It
First of all let’s face the plain truth: life as a parent is hard! Being a mom or dad is a challenge for everyone. So, if you are feeling sad, frustrated or disappointed in your relationship with your kids, know you are not alone.
Everyone struggles. As the saying goes, “the days are long but the years are short”.
The days with your children are long, tiring and often a struggle. But, they also seem to fly by.
If we as parents are not intentional, we may look back with regret at wasted opportunity and squandered joy.
But, there are many ways to make your days as a parent easier, happier, and even enjoyable.
Believe me, as a homeschooling mom of 4, I spend about 98% of my time surrounded by my children. I get an occasional break, but my kids are pretty much up in my grill all day long, every day.
I decided long ago that although being with them all the time is challenging, I wanted to enjoy my kids. And more importantly, I want them to enjoy their childhood as well.
Here are a few common pitfalls I have had to overcome in order to truly enjoy my kids. I hope they help you in your parenting journey. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and you are important!
You Are Fighting For Control And Order
The first and most common reason we don’t enjoy our kids is because we are constantly trying to establish control and order with our child.
You know the drill. Mom says left, the kid goes right. Mom asks the child to clean up, they say no. Your child is constantly fighting with you for authority over the relationship.
This is totally natural, normal and a part of childhood for almost every child. Questioning authority and testing out rules is something that 95% of children long to do.
While fighting for control is normal it will strip the joy from your relationship. You will not be able to have a peaceful companionship and do fun activities together unless clear leadership is established… from the parent!
There is an answer to this issue that is very unpopular in today’s society. The answer is simple: It is the parent’s JOB to establish authority and give structure and order to the child.
Establish Boundaries With Your Kids At A Young Age
Without established authority and structure, you will never be able to enjoy your child. And, I am sorry to say, your child will grow up and most likely not enjoy life very much. All the rules, boundaries, and consequences of real life will be a shock to their system.
In order to enjoy your child, you must teach them that life has boundaries and mom and dad must be listened to and obeyed. Now, that does not mean you shouldn’t listen to your child or never let them petition to you. But, your child also needs to know that mom (or dad) is in charge, not them.
If you feel guilty about this, please don’t. Popular current child rearing theories that focus only on pleasing a child happen to negate an absolute truth of the universe: there are always boundaries, and there is always an authority…. for everyone!
Think about the last time you, as an adult, wanted something you couldn’t afford. Did you just go steal it? No, of course not. In addition to your inner conscious, you also know that taking something you can’t afford will land you in jail.
Or, contemplate the last time you wanted to tell someone off. Like maybe your boss. Could you do that? They may have infuriated you, but you could not just scream at your boss and tie a knot in their tale. Unless you wanted to lose your job.
You see, life has boundaries for all of us. And when your children are young, you, as the parent, are there to enforce rules and boundaries for your child.
And once you do that, your life will get so much easier with your child. I promise.
Easy Ways To Establish Rules And Boundaries With Your Child
Here are a few ways to establish rules and boundaries with your child:
- Tell your child “no” often and from an early age. No, you cannot climb in the dishwasher. No, you cannot eat the entire cake. You cannot run into the street, no! Be kind but firm. When you aren’t telling your child no, give them lots of fun “yes” answers in life. Yes, we will go to the beach! We will bake together, yes! Yes, let’s read that book!
- Know that there are many, many children who push authority A LOT. This is actually a good thing, but it needs to be channeled correctly! Stick to your no’s, and be loving to your child. Redirect that energy as much as you can. Explain to them that we all have rules we have to follow in life. As my very wise husband often says, don’t take the challenges too personally (like I did as a new mom).
- Be consistent! I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a parent tell their child no for twenty minutes, then change their mind and let the child get their own way. The truth is, if you practice this behavior with your child, they know that all they have to do is outlast you and they will get their way. As the Bible says, “let your no be no and your yes be yes”.
To enjoy life with your child, be consistent with your rules and responses. Remind them that we all have authority to follow (God, the government, our boss at work, etc). This authority helps keep us safe and healthy.
As a side note, there is a time and place to question authority. As your children age, it’s important to teach them to think for themselves and ask questions in healthy, respectful ways. You will also want to teach your child about toxic leadership and healthy leadership so they can discern true right from wrong!
You Don’t Enjoy Life With Your Kids Because You Are Their Slave
The second reason you may not enjoy your children is because you are, quite literally, their slave. Ha, ha! While that sentence makes me literally laugh out loud, there is enough truth to it to sober me up quite quickly.
I can’t tell you how easy it would be for me as a stay at home mom to do literally everything for my children. From washing dishes to picking up their toys, getting them water and more, they will happily let me serve them endlessly.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing, they are my children, after all. I am here to help them and love them.
But part of helping a child is actually teaching them to be a confident, helpful and considerate member of society. This journey begins at a young age in the home.
Expecting your child to be self responsible and helpful to the family will not steal their childhood joy. It will give them confidence.
If you find you are doing too much for your child and not enjoying life with them, slowly start transferring responsibility.
Have your child throw their clothes in the laundry hamper, take their plate to the sink, and put away their own toys.
Give them responsibility in the form of daily chores such as vacuuming, helping with laundry, emptying small trash cans, and mopping. My kids actually enjoy a lot of these chores!
Teach your kids to cook from a young age and give them knowledge about nutrition (read my article on Superfoods for kids here).
And teach them skills that allow them to be self reliant such as putting on their own clothes, getting their own glass of water, or picking out a healthy snack.
Teach your kids that you are a team, working together to enjoy life.
Easy Ways To Teach Your Kids Responsibility and Chores:
- Set a timer and see how much cleaning you can get done in fifteen minutes. Put on some music and enjoy the time together!
- Set up a fun reward after cleaning times. First we clean, then we have snack and reading. Or first we clean, then we go to the park!
- Teach your child daily Biblical lessons about loving and serving others, and model this behavior by serving your family happily
- As they get older, don’t be responsible for your child’s messes. Kindly show them how to clean up after themselves (you will have to help younger children with this)
- Praise your child for their helpful behavior. Remind them how valuable and capable they are. They will grow into these words!
- Give your children fun responsibilities and chores.
By the way, decluttering toys will reduce your stress and give you time to enjoy your children. Read my guide to decluttering kids toys here!
You Don’t Enjoy Your Children Because Of Too Much Screen Time
Ouch, I am really hitting all the pain points today, aren’t I? I am giving you this advice because I have lived it, so no judgement here.
You may not be enjoying your children because they are spending too much time on screens and it is spoiling their character and personality.
I have seen my child go from a sweet angel to an argumentative, difficult child because of a cartoon character that loves to argue and fight. Remember, children are influential and they will act out the behavior they see on screens.
In our home, we have set a rule that we primarily enjoy educational shows together. Cooking, travel, and nature shows have a positive impact and are enjoyable for our whole family. In recent years I have started to avoid almost all cartoons.
Limit Screen Time To Improve Behavior
I am a huge advocate for limiting personal screen devices. A young mind is not meant to be stimulated by an ipad or phone all day. I know this comment may ruffle feathers, so I’ll let you do your own research on this topic. Experiment with limiting screen time and see if your child’s behavior changes.
I have heard countless moms testify that limiting cartoons, video games and personal devices has a positive influence on their child’s behavior.
Screens are addictive, and different personalities are more susceptible to be totally absorbed in an alternate universe. Watch your child carefully and create a custom screen time menu for your family.
How To Limit Screen Time And Give Your Child The Joy Of Real Life
- Designate certain times for screens, rather than letting the tv or device be a free for all
- Provide lots of fun activities for your child to do, such as playing outside, caring for a pet, open ended toys, or gardening (kids love dirt!)
- Model the behavior you want your child to adapt, and work on limiting your own screen time!
- Designate screen free days or even weeks. Do fun activities together such as baking, traveling, or going to the library
Life Is Too Busy and Too Messy To Enjoy It As A Family
You may not be enjoying life with your kids simply because life is too busy and too messy.
If you don’t have any margin with your time, your kids will be stressed, frantic and not much fun. And so will you!
In society today we have a tendency to rush, rush, rush and not make any room for free time, rest or relaxation. We love the idea of more and fill our homes with clutter.
But children need margins of time to rest, grow, and relax. And so do parents!
Children need free time to relax, explore nature and wonder. Giving them the gift of free time in nature will be a treasure that they store in their memories and cherish as an adult.
Doing too much and having too much is stressful for parents and adults both. In order to remedy the hustle and bustle, guard your time ferociously. And resist the urge to buy more stuff that will only bog you and your children down. (Read my guide to minimalism with kids here).
Here Are A Few Ways You Can Slow Down And Enjoy Your Kids:
- Designate A Weekly Resting Day- For us, this is Sundays. We take Sundays slow and enjoy our time together hiking, fishing or just hanging out at home.
- Commit to saving money and buying less! With less to manage you’ll enjoy life and your kiddos more.
- Limit the activities your child is involved in at one time. Hard to do… but just do it!
- Give your child a daily resting time to look at books, listen to an audio cd, or color and draw
- Take a break yourself and just kick your feet up and relax!
Ten More Easy Ways To Enjoy Motherhood
Okay, enough of the things we know we all do wrong at times. What are positive behaviors we can do easily and quickly that will help us enjoy our time with our children?
Here is a list of ten easy things I do to change my attitude and enjoy my children:
- Intentionally love and hug your child. Look them in the eye and say, I love you and I am thankful for you!
- Put a smile on every morning. Determine to enjoy your time with your kids!
- Accept that your child will be annoying and immature at times. Aren’t we all?? Love them anyway.
- Find activities that you genuinely enjoy doing with your kids
- Set your heart on your children and family first. Your intentions matter!
- Ask for support and seek wisdom through older, wiser moms
- Apologize often to your kids. They will appreciate this and also learn to correct their own mistakes
- Let your kids be independent, and take a deep breath while they are occupied
- Delight in your children, view them as God’s gift to you!
- On a hard day, let things go. Sink into the couch with your kids, just snuggle and say, I love you anyway.
I hope these words encouraged you today, mama. Remember, the days are long but the years are short! Be blessed.