How to Be a Good Parent & Have a Life

Spontaneous drinks with friends or last-minute getaways are now replaced with the responsibility of nurturing your offspring. Even if you didn’t used to get out much, you suddenly wish you had more ‘you’ time as you look at yourself in the mirror with overgrown roots or tired eyes and ask yourself ‘where did my life go?’

While you may not be able to go clubbing every weekend and fly to Paris for a romantic getaway on a moment's notice - who has the energy anyway? We have selected some key insights from our parenting book summaries that will help you claw back some quality time for you, yourself and I. Advice that will not only help you to be a good parent, but also still have a life. Yes, it is possible.

Flip your perspective: parenting can be a journey of self-discovery

“Our ability to love another, comes from our ability to be conscious of how we need to unconditionally love ourselves first.” Dr. Shefali Tsabary, writer, speaker and clinical psychologist.

These are wise words from Dr. Tsabary, whose credentials reach far beyond the pages of her clinical psychology qualifications to the self-help oracle world of Oprah. In our summary of her book ‘The Conscious Parent’, we uncover key strategies that can help you flip your perspective on parenting and become more conscious. To rediscover or find the deep joy that lies in human-to-human connection, and discover that wonder lies everywhere, even in the most mundane of tasks. As your children become toddlers there are new challenges to face, but they also continue to remind you to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the banal. If you allow yourself not to get caught up in the frenetic pace of life, and move at the pace of your toddler, you will stop asking them to hurry and stop rushing them through impatience, instead sharing in the delight they feel when they splash in a puddle or stand to watch a spider spinning its web. And, as you begin to embrace the small joys of life with your child, you can also build your relationship with them, telling them, “You are worthy of my time and attention,” thus allowing them to see themselves as valuable and worthy, too. Instead of viewing our relationship with our children as a hierarchical one, Dr. Tsabary believes we should instead see it as a partnership, wherein we open ourselves to learning from each other. For it is through our children that we can access the ability to approach life with a childlike sense of awe and wonder. Once you let go of this hierarchical idea of parenting, we can also begin to discipline our children more effectively, as we nurture through discipline, safely containing our child’s behavior without shame, fear, or guilt. Conscious parenting is a journey, not a quick-fix. But we can employ techniques to help us along the way: techniques such as “stream of consciousness” journaling, yoga, and meditation. All of this will bring us closer to our true, inner selves - away from the ego, and into effective conscious parenting. Reminding us that life’s most profound experiences are often found in the most ordinary of circumstances: the rain on our faces, a fading sunset, the feeling of running down a hill.

The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary

Parenting can be one of life's most challenging experiences, but it can also be one of the most enriching. Discover how to embrace parenthood as a transformative experience, one that has the potential to take us on a journey of self-discovery, at the same time as nurturing and celebrating our children.

The Conscious Parent...

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Make ‘you time’ a priority and become a peaceful parent

“The most important parenting skill: Manage yourself. Take care of yourself so you aren’t venting on your child. Intervene before your own feelings get out of hand. Keep your cup full. The more you care for yourself with compassion, the more love and compassion you’ll have for your child. Remember that your child will do every single thing you do, whether that’s yelling or making self-disparaging remarks about your body.” Laura Markham, Author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting.

In our summary of Dr. Markham’s book ‘Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids’, we share actionable tips on how to employ peaceful parenting, which is particular helpful if tantrums are a problem in your home. This includes the ability to handle your own emotions first, so they don’t interfere. Every single day your child is learning key emotional lessons by watching you. If they see you controlling your anger and responding with calm, they will learn to do so, too. If they see you apologizing to someone when you have hurt them, they will learn that lesson. Just by exhibiting the behavior you want your child to learn, you are already teaching half of the lessons necessary. The only thing left to do is to specifically coach them through their own emotions. One of the biggest challenges of peaceful parenting is to understand your own emotions and reactions and keep them in check. Reacting to your child’s behavior from a place of anger or upset almost guarantees that you will respond poorly, which will damage your relationship with them. By evaluating your inner feelings and putting them aside to make your child’s situation or emotions the priority, you can stop yelling and start making meaningful and lasting connections. Peaceful parenting is a constant exercise in patience, but the results will be lasting and remarkably rewarding for both you and your child.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham

Looking after the kids is just as demanding as a full-time job; in fact it can at times be much more stressful! For dads who are in need of a little help with their parenting, look no further than Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. This book can teach any dad (or mum!) how to keep calm looking after their children. It offers a range of methods that will encourage good behavior, promote independent learning, and strengthen parent-child bonds. Happy dad, happy kids—what’s not to love?

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Don’t live your life through your children

Due to our hectic schedules and the belief that a ‘good parent’ is someone who is constantly monitoring their child, parents are no longer taking the time to focus on themselves. As a parent, you are the person who influences your child’s development the most; they look to you as a role model. But how can they grow up to be a successful, well-rounded, and passionate adult when their own parents are not leading fulfilling lives? It is essential to make room for the things we value in life for our own personal satisfaction. Think about what you feel a passion for, perhaps by writing down a list of what you most enjoy doing and what you are good at. Then think about how you could incorporate this into your life. Your passion could be something you pursue through employment or charity work, or simply by engaging in a hobby such as hiking or restoring cars. The added bonus being that when your child sees you enjoying your activity, they will want to go out and do the same for themselves. To set a good example to your child and to safeguard your own happiness, set aside time to pursue your own interests. By not focusing all your efforts on your child, you will in fact be helping them to develop into a better adult: one who wants to chase their dreams—just like you. And as a parent, remember that you have your own life, and also that your child is still a child. Allow them to enjoy free play, while you give yourself the time to explore your own interests. Then watch them flourish, knowing you have given them all they need (which is less than you’d think!) to become a mature, capable, and self-sufficient adult.

How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Due to an increasingly competitive job market and concurrently strong focus on academic achievement, parents now feel compelled to be involved in their children's lives every step of the way. But where do we draw the line? At what point does parenting become overparenting-and how does this impact upon a child's happiness and potential for...

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It is possible to be a good parent and still have a life

“The moments that make our hearts melt make all the very real sacrifices worthwhile.” Laura Markham

Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. Of course, it can also be one of the most-rewarding endeavors too, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s hard to be sure what is the right and wrong thing to do when raising a child, and many parents suffer from a constant fear that they aren’t quite doing enough. That’s also why many parents struggle to prioritise a life beyond their children, whether that’s your career, social life or wider passions and interests. The idea of a social life in particular becomes overlooked as ‘having fun’ just doesn’t seem important enough to make the top of your to do list. Well, as the experts in these summaries have proven, socialising isn’t just about having fun. Spending time with friends and pursuing your own passions will also help you maintain a sense of identity and de-stress, which will ultimately help to make you a better parent. If you want to be a good a parent, then don’t forget about you. In order to be a good parent you also need to be the best version of yourself, and you need to have a life beyond parenting to do that. Even if that is a brief moment a day, cup of tea with a friend or monthly day off - make more time for you. You won’t get it right all of the time and your life will never be the same as it was before children - but it can be a whole lot more fulfilling for both you and your children if you find that balance. To finish things off on a lighter note, here is the clip that kicked things off from The Backup Plan:

Take a dive into our parenting summaries for more tips and insights now or follow us for updates @joosrbooks.