Let’s face it, anyone who is raising a tiny human knows: parenting is hard.
Kids weave in and out of behavioral seasons. Just when the storm seems it will never end you suddenly you find yourself in a sunny patch. And just when you relax, more clouds roll in and you’re in for another downpour.
Some seasons in parenting seem to exist simply to turn our hair gray and add wrinkles.
What do we really need to do when parenting is hard? How do we catch our breath, and give both ourselves and our kids a break when the road is rough? And when needed, how do we change course altogether?
I’ve only been a mom for 8 years. But, I’ve been determined to do this thing right. To do that, I’ve had to change. A LOT.
I had to let go of what I thought parenting should look like. I had to let go of trying to have perfect children. And I had to lean into what my kids really needed.
Here Are 11 Ways I’ve Learned To Hit Reset When Parenting Is Hard
Here are eleven strategies I’ve learned to help when parenting seems like a hard, uphill battle.
1. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of A Time Out
On those days you feel like you are about to pull your hair out, don’t underestimate the power of a time out. For both you AND your kids.
If you are around your kiddos non stop, you may just need a tiny break. Give the kids a quiet activity, send them into the backyard or tell everyone it’s time for a nap. Make sure they are safe and go lay down for five or ten minutes.
Restore your calm with deep breaths and prayer.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
2. Be Consistent- Even When It’s Hard
If you are hoping for a breakthrough in your child’s behavior, don’t give up. I have a certain child who spent the first five years of his life talking back. I had to redirect him, correct him, and guide him through this issue more times than I could count.
It was exhausting. Defeating. And I never thought we were getting anywhere.
It turns out, all those times I had to correct him were slowly sowing seeds for correct behavior. Yes, it took half a decade, but here we are. He’s arrived, and he is becoming such a respectful young man.
Remember you are in it for the long haul. Be consistent. Results in behavior can take a painfully long time.
3. When Parenting Is A Challenge, Lean Into Your Child
A few years ago I noticed my tendency was to lean away from my children during hard times. I was almost trying to run away from our problems.
I heard God gently whisper to me, they need you to lean in, not away.
What a wonderful truth that was! When they are having a meltdown, lean in for a hug. When they are angry, lean in to understand. And when they are exasperating, lean in to explain why the behavior is not acceptable.
I have realized that when I lean out, the behavior lingers. When I lean in, I can meet their needs so much better, and we can find our way towards resolution.
4. Regularly Evaluate Your Parenting Strategies
More often than not when my child is struggling through a behavior, my parenting is at the root of it.
That is a hard truth to swallow! And while sometimes it truly is my child just being a pill, I’ve had to become proactive in evaluating how mama is acting.
Maybe I am overreacting and making behaviors worse. Or being impatient. Or not taking time to listen.
I’ve noticed that when I first check in with my behavior and adjust if needed, my kids are also better able to navigate their attitudes.
5. Limit Screen Time For Better Behavior
Excess screen time is a sure fire formula for behavior to go down hill.
It’s hard, I know. Sometimes we need that free babysitter so that we can restore and rest. Just use it wisely. Work a movie into your routine that benefits both you and your child.
Or, even better, start watching a learning show YOU enjoy with your child. We love baking and travel shows. The kids learn something, and I get a few minutes to enjoy and rest.
The fact is, little brains are not meant to be stimulated all day by screens. They are meant to love, explore, grow and connect- with you! Give your child the gift of being in the real world, and you will reap the benefits of a better behaved child.
6. Let Your Child Be Independent- And Ditch The Guilt
Don’t feel guilty when your child plays by themselves. In fact, you should celebrate and encourage it! This is their “work”. It’s how they learn and grow!
So, don’t expect try to entertain your child all the time. When they are off playing happily, look at it as your free time to just be. This is a natural break for both of you, a time to grow and rest.
Things that encourage independent play for my kids:
- Homemade play dough
- Magnablocks (these are an open ended toy that they use for hours!)
- Art supplies left out for free use
- A pile of old cardboard boxes and some strong tape (seriously… my kid’s favorite!)
- A kiddie pool in the backyard. Just set yourself up a relaxation station nearby for safety
- Sticks, dirt, grass and fresh air
7. Build Natural Breaks Into The Day
When parenting is hard, structure and routines can be your best friend. Let your kids know what to expect, and build in fun breaks throughout the day.
We may have to run errands, but on the way home we’ll stop by the park. Tuesday is library day, then mom stops by the gym and uses the daycare while working out.
Make life fun and enjoyable with natural breaks for both you and child.
8. When Parenting Is Hard Remember To Have Fun And Connect With Your Child
In addition to planning breaks and resets into your day, plan some time to just go have fun with your child. The beach or a nature park are great, free natural places where you both can let go and just have fun with each other.
This time is immensely important for building strength in your relationship. The more kids know mom and dad love and enjoy them, the better able they are to make healthy, happy choices.
9. Speak Truth Over Your Child
Sometimes parenting is hard because we’ve spoken it into existence that way.
I’ve noticed that as parents we tend to speak certain things over our children. It was done to me, and I know I’ve done it to my children.
But it’s time to break that pattern and speak truth into our child’s destiny.
If you have a strong willed child, use your words to form and direct where your child will go. Point them in a positive direction with your words. A hard truth is that kids will reflect what we expect of them. But if we praise them regularly, and tell them they are smart and capable, they will follow that path.
Here is an example:
One of my children is a perfectionist. I often found him giving up if his work did not turn out right or he made a mistake. He was very hard on himself.
I wanted to create resiliency in him, but initially I was frustrated with his attitude. Once I got over that and took a step back, I realized I had to speak truth into his life to help him change.
“It’s ok that you aren’t perfect, no one is. In order to get better you just have to keep trying. Struggling is normal for everyone! You are a hard worker and I know you can do this.“
Honestly, it is so important to normalize failure for our kids. From failure we can learn and grow.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Mamas have always carried an enormous load. We are raising wonderful humans, and it is hard work.
Its ok to ask your family and friends for help once in a while. One hour alone at the coffee shop may truly change your life.
Bringing in a responsible teen to help clean once a week may be just the margin that makes your life feel manageable. Or letting the kids go to grandma’s for the day may be the reset of the year for you.
Your kids may very well need a break too. They need to be mentored by other safe, healthy adults.
It’s ok to share the parenting load with people who love and support you.
11. Let Your Kids Know You Are Human By Asking For Forgiveness
The truth of the matter is, parenting is just plain hard. We are dealing with tiny flawed humans here, and we too, are flawed humans. Only our problems are more ingrained in us! Ha.
So, give your child grace, and ask that they extend that grace to you. Apologize and let your kids know that you are human and make mistakes. This will create natural breathing room for both you and your children.
12. When Parenting Is Hard, Give Your Child Extra Grace
I’ve noticed a pattern in parenting difficult children. When a child repeats an unwanted behavior, we sometimes discipline more intensely. We become hyper focused on that one behavior.
All of a sudden it seems that all there is left to our relationship with this child is the bad behavior and trying to correct it.
Over time, a child’s heart can become hardened with no breaks from constant discipline.
To avoid this cycle, set aside some discipline and replace it with grace. Let little behaviors go. Hug your child more and spend quality time with them. Try approaching the problem from a different strategy.
Even When Parenting Is Hard, Keep Seeking After Your Child
A final word…. keep seeking after your child. Even in the hard times, there is always… always hope.
Parenting can be oh so hard, believe me I know! Remember you are not alone, and you are the sweet mama created exactly for your amazing kids. Let me know in the comments how you hit the reset button as a parent.
Always feel free to email me if you have a prayer request.
More Motherhood Ideas Here: