The Mundane Parts of Parenting
The most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.
—Og Mandino, Psychologist
No matter how old your child is, there are parts of parenting that get boring. How many diapers do you have to change? How many loads of laundry do you have to do? How many times do you have to remind your child to do her homework? You’re not alone. Consider these ideas to help get you through the mundane aspects of parenting.
Tips for . . .
- all parents
- It’s actually a good sign if you feel like some parts of parenting feel repetitive. Child and adolescent development experts say that kids learn through “thousands of interactions between kids and adults.” The more consistent your messages and reactions, the more quickly kids will learn.
- Connect with other parents who have children around the same age as yours. Talk about how they deal with the boring parts of parenting.
- Remember your goal and purpose: you want to raise a child who succeeds in life. Knowing where you’re headed often helps you deal with the day-to-day routine.
- Give yourself a break from time to time. Hire a babysitter. Ask another parent if you can take turns watching your kids and theirs at the same time so that one of you can do something else. All parents need some time to themselves periodically. Be honest about your personal needs.
- Enlist the help of your kids. They can help set the table. They can help sort laundry. They can help clean. Figure out ways to divide household chores so that one person isn’t stuck doing them all. For more ideas on dealing with household chores, read Getting Everyone to Help.
- parents with children ages birth to 5
- Parenting young children can feel like running a marathon when you’ve only trained for a sprint. Young children need parents to be there for them, to feed them, to change their diapers, to hold them, and to play with them. You’ll have many days when it feels like you don’t accomplish anything other than parenting your child. That’s okay. The dishes in the sink can wait.
- Have a sense of humor. When your child asks for juice or a cracker for the tenth time, have some fun with it. Do a juice dance together.
- Although temper tantrums and meltdowns are not boring, be careful not to give in to them so that your child learns how to wear you down. Be patient. Be calm. Continue to tell your child how you expect her to act. When you’re consistent with your reactions, these difficult behaviors will become less frequent over time. For more ideas, read Communication and Emotions.
- parents with children ages 6 to 9
- As children learn to read, they’ll want to read (or have you read) the same books over and over. It’s tempting to change the words to make it more interesting to you, but most kids will get upset. Instead, make the book more interesting by having different voices for characters and learning to read dramatically. Or ask another family member (or friend) to read the same books to your child. It won’t be the tenth time of reading the book for them!
- Instead of focusing on the activity that bores you (such as playing the same board game again), change the game or rules with your child. This works especially well when kids turn 8 and 9.
- Expand your child’s world—and yours at the same time. Is there a museum, park, or playground that you’ve never been to?
- parents with children ages 10 to 15
- As your child rides the rollercoaster of emotions through these years, make sure you’re giving your child some space from time to time. You don’t need to get pulled into every dramatic turn.
- Continue to be firm about completing homework well and working hard in school. At this age, kids may say that friends or activities are more important. Support their friendships and activities, but also emphasize that their education matters.
- Take childhood favorite games and play them together in new ways. For example, play the board game Chutes and Ladders and “race up” the chutes and “fall down” the ladders instead. Ask what rules your teen would change and then play the game that way. Teens love experimenting with different rules that they come up with.
- Talk through daily aggravations with your child. If you child won’t pick up the clothes that she dumps all over the house, what will happen? Maybe she can’t go out with friends or talk on her cell phone until everything is cleaned up.
- parents with children ages 16 to 18
- Be sensitive to the pressures your older teenager may feel. Academics and activities can be more competitive at this age. There are a lot of tests to be taken (especially if your teenager plans to go to college). Some of the everyday tension you may encounter with your teenager may actually be because he’s stressed.
- You’re not the only parent complaining about how late teenagers stay up and how late they sleep in. For ideas on dealing with nocturnal teenagers, read Late to Bed, Late to Rise.
- Whenever you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over, stop. What isn’t changing? What could you do differently so that you don’t feel like you’re in a rut?