Being a parent today is in some ways even harder than it used to be. “Distracted parenting” is a real phenomenon where, because of parents’ screen time, they are physically but not emotionally present for their kids. Even if parents today are much more involved in their kids’ lives than the parents of yesteryear, it’s still hard to find a balance. Here are four handy secrets for making your life easier as a parent.
1. Simplify Getting Groceries
Grocery shopping is challenging when you’re a parent, especially if you’re a parent of young kids with a stroller. You’ve got to wrangle your kids into their coats and jackets, remember your reusable shopping bags, and grab your grocery list before you head out the door. A golden rule of grocery shopping with kids is to make them feel involved in the process. Have them make their own “list” to bring with them or play I Spy at the store.
You can also try getting your groceries delivered, which saves time and energy. You create a list and have someone else select the items for you. The Instacart Headquarters for grocery delivery is based in San Francisco, California.
2. Join a Parenting Group to Get Support
Talk to other parents about how you’re feeling. Chances are they might be experiencing the same things you are. Research suggests that community-based parent support groups can improve parents’ confidence in their ability to parent and strengthen the parent-child bond. It’s easier to enjoy parenting when you feel more confident about it.
Parenting a child with autism or other developmental disorders comes with its own joys and challenges. It’s tempting to think you’re alone in the struggle when your child exhibits certain behaviors or acts out in public. There are special support groups out there devoted specifically to parents of autistic children. You can also confide in your child’s teacher about your concerns.
3. Stay Organized
Like planning a trip or a wedding, parenting involves planning. School-age children today have so much homework and so many extracurricular activities that it can be hard to keep track of it all.
There are several ways to approach staying organized as a parent beyond getting a planner and color-coding everyone’s activities.
The first is to identify your top priorities as a family. What do you want to accomplish in the immediate, short, and long term? Is there a family vacation that you’re dreaming of taking? To encourage your kids’ engagement in the process, invite them to provide their input.
4. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Communicating with kids seems like it gets more difficult as they get older. One-word responses to even the most ordinary questions – “How was school?” “Who are you hanging out with?” become a cliché. The key is to just be present for your kids. Let them know that the lines of communication are always open, no matter what. If they’re talking about something that’s hard for them, stop what you’re doing and focus on being there.
Embrace the Ups and Downs
Parenting is amazing, crazy, frustrating, and fun. Embrace the ups and downs. It’s hard, but you’re not alone. Whether you’re a single parent or have a whole village behind you, there’s a wealth of resources for you to tap into. Parenting is definitely a journey, not a race.
Don’t worry if your own family doesn’t match the perfect vision that’s presented on social media. Remember that a lot of what you see out there is just a fraction of the bigger picture. Other people have hard days as parents too.