Thursday, March 7, 2013

Enjoying Every Diaper Change......

"...Enjoy every moment, they grow so fast...." Really? Every single moment? Like the minute when the children's co-ordinated tantrums are so noisy that everyone in the supermarket is staring at you like you have real life teenage mutant ninja turtles? Like the minute when you're so tired at the end of the day that you sit down at the computer to write a long overdue report and wake up with a forehead dented with the shapes of the keyboard keys and three pages of commas on the screen. Or when they all poo at the same time, while one is pulling of the diaper the other has it in his hand and is waving it in the air--Enjoyment indeed!!!

You look at old pictures of yourself and your tummy is still flat as a dashboard, no bags under your eyes there is that tangible freedom emanating from you this has long disappeared. As parents we can find it hard to admit that we are not enjoying our children. So what can we do to make the experience of being a parent more enjoyable?

What does the word enjoy really mean? It's something you do, not something done to you. You don't say, "That ice cream enjoyed me!" You say, "I enjoyed it." Someone else can eat the exact same food that you love... or read the same book that changed your life... or hear the same song that inspires you... and not enjoy it at all. Why? Because to enjoy means to create joy. (And by "joy" I mean any feeling of well-being, such as peace, enthusiasm, pleasure, gratitude, love, etc.) The more you enjoy parenting, the more joy you are creating! And since children learn best by example (modeling), you're effectively teaching them how to enjoy life. They're developing the active skill of enjoying, which will serve them for a lifetime.

To start with we can look at what it is that causes our stress. Is it the demands of balancing work and looking after the children? The morning routine getting our children ready in the morning? Or the evening routine trying to get our children to bed? The stress of keeping up with the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping and tidying? It is so difficult with the pressures of modern life to sometimes take a step back and say what can I do differently that will help?

If work/life balance is a problem, we can set aside some time every day that is just for our child. 15 minutes a day doing what our children would love us to do with them is an excellent start. If work demands mean that sometimes we don’t have time with our children then we can make extra time at the weekend to do fun things together. It is also easy to get so overwhelmed with tiredness that we don’t feel like spending time with our children.  If this is the case then we need to look at our lives and do a few checks. Can we reduce or simplify the amount of work we are doing?

If the demands of doing daily chores is preventing us from enjoying our children then the art of making every day experiences fun can help. Breakfast can be interactive and fun, bath-time can be the time for lovely conversations and lots of singing. Shopping can involve our child with making lists, fetching items, and helping to pay. It all depends on our attitude. Can we change the way we think and behave to make these times close and enjoyable? Humor and the determination not to get distracted by ‘things to do’ is key. It is up to each of us to look at the ‘hot-spots’ in our lives and work out how we can arrange things differently to make them more pleasant. And also work out how we can be more enthusiastic and engaging with our children so that they want to be with us and help!

I would say that our attitude is the most important factor in our enjoyment of our children. Our lives will be much happier if we make time with our children a priority. If we look at them as a distraction, a nuisance or a drain on our time, we will feel resentful of their demands. But if we think of parenting as the most important job we will ever do, we will feel happier investing the time and energy in making our family life the best and the most fun we can. This will help us to enjoy our time with our children more and we will reap the benefits as our children thrive and flourish. Parenting is about journey and not the destination no parent is perfect but successful parenting starts with enjoying being a parent.

"So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun." Ecclesiastes 8:15

Ijeoma Olujekun

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