Regardless of whether your children are screaming toddlers or eye-rolling teens, psychologists and scientists have discovered strategies to help you appreciate and find happiness in your role as a parent. In the past, scholarly and media outlets have displayed unhappy parents who are stressed, overworked, and anxious. But, researchers have found that just becoming a parent increased long-term happiness. In this quick tip episode, we discuss why researchers claim that parents are happier and ways you can be happier in your daily life as a parent.
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Parents Are Happier Than Non-Parents Long-Term
Researchers from the University of California-Riverside, University of British Columbia, and Stanford University did a literature review. They found the research to support the idea that parents are happier and more satisfied with their lives than non-parents.
Researchers evaluated the scientific basis for these claims. They tested whether parents see their lives more positively compared to non-parents. They set out to analyze the evidence to answer one question; are parents are happier than non-parents?
The researchers found a direct link between parenting and children. They assessed the association between parenthood and overall reported levels of well-being. They found that parents are happier overall compared with non-parents. Parents reported higher levels of life satisfaction, happiness, and thoughts about the meaning of life.
Likewise, correlational analyses showed that having more children was related to greater life satisfaction and thoughts about meaning. The results also showed that parents had higher levels of global well-being than non-parents and reported more positive emotional experiences and meaning from moment to moment.
Habits To Promote Happiness Day-to-Day
The takeaway from that study is that parents reported relatively greater well-being than their childless peers when evaluating their lives as a whole. But the next question is how parents who feel stressed, tired, and overworked can become happier in their day-to-day lives.
Regardless of whether you have a screaming toddler or an eye-rolling teen, scientists and researchers in the field of positive psychology have found strategies that can help you appreciate your role as a parent, even when times are hard. Here are some things you can do to be a happy parent.
Celebrate Parenting Wins
First, happy parents celebrate their achievements, no matter how small. As parents, we set our expectations for ourselves high and get stuck in the mindset that we could be doing more. Whether that’s more time, more love, more chores, parents often feel like they are coming up short. To combat these feelings, come up with a list of your children’s main needs and think about what you have done to satisfy them. Did you drop them off at school with more than enough time to spare? Did you make a dinner they liked and they finished their entire plate? Or reflect on decisions you’ve made that have resulted in better outcomes for your kids. Whenever you’re feeling like you’re not doing enough, think back to these achievements.
Play Time For Parents
A Princeton University study found that people are happiest when they are doing leisure activities. This is why it’s important for parents to schedule play time for themselves in addition to their children. Schedule some me-time each day or a few times a week to do something you enjoy. Some ideas are taking a jog, reading a book, or meeting with friends. If you feel selfish or guilty taking this time for yourself, remember that your emotions rub off on your kids and others around you. If you’re crabby and overstressed, think of how that affects how you interact with your family.
Forgive and Let Go
Lastly, to be a happier parent, try not to hold grudges. Although it take a conscious effort and time, being conscious about forgiving others increases happiness. For example, if your child draws on the wall with crayons, you’re obviously going to be upset and punish them as you see fit. But after, you should forgive them and let any grudges go. Sometimes we remain upset about things we can’t control, but forgiving ourselves and others relieves the anger we are holding onto. Researchers found that forgiving people are less anxious, less depressed and less hostile than people who hold grudges. As we discussed in our quick tip How to Help Children Learn Forgiveness, teaching your child forgiveness and practicing forgiveness yourself has many benefits on well-being for years to come.
Taking care of your children is a source of happiness in your life even when it gets difficult. Use these tips so that your day-to-day life as a parent is also a source of happiness.