10 ways to be a better parent.

Mother hugging daughter, ways to be a better parent
10 ways to be a better parent

There are these days when I tell to myself : you’re doing a great job, Joanna, there is no way you could possibly be a better parent ! It’s usually when I’m drop dead tired and impressed by my resilience. In moments like that, simply feeding them and keeping them safe seems like a great parenting skill to me 😉 .

But most if the times I feel like I could do better. I could be a better parent.
And I ask myself, did I have to get impatient? Why didn’t I play more and is a clean kitchen really important?

But as I try to improve, I see that what makes me a better parent to my kids, is trying to be more present, patient and positive. And since I’ve ditched my hopes for a clean and tidy house, my parenting skills went way up!

So here are my 10 ways to be a better parent. It’s a work in progress, but I’m trying my best. Isn’t that what counts the most?

1. Count to 10 and breathe.
Kids push our buttons. A lot. Ok, one of my children particularly pushes my buttons. But it doesn’t do any good if I get irritated or angry. Actually it usually just aggravates the situation. So practicing my patience is my number one mantra.

2. Read at least 1 book a day.
Back in the days when I had only one child, we used to read books every single day. Now, in between cleaning, baby, tantrums, baby, cooking, baby and cleaning again, it seems like we have no more time for books every day! But I came to realization that reading calms my daughter, helps her concentrate and gives her an opportunity to cuddle. So I’ll just leave that sink dirty, and read to her every day, like we used to.

3. Let it go. Nothing is perfect.
My house doesn’t need to be perfect. Actually there is always a room that looks like a total mess. And I’m fine with that. I’ve read somewhere (on Pinterest I suppose 😉 ) that you can either have a clean house either happy kids. Difficult choice, but after some reflection I opted for happy kids ;).

4. Don’t threaten. Talk consequences.
Oh, the joy of parenting. How many times did you say today : if you don’t stop you’ll ..? Recently I noticed that I’ve been using it way to often. With very poor results. So I try to explain consequences. If you won’t wash your hands, your toys will be all sticky with food, and ants will come to play with them ( I’m not exaggerating here, we did have ants at home this summer, and she didn’t like it at all).

5. Say I love you, and cuddle. Every day.
When my daughter was a baby I would cuddle her all the time. Now, she’s always in movement, and she doesn’t want to stay still. But she still needs cuddles. I think it’s like battery charging for humans. So I take advantage of her being tired and then we cuddle!

6. Set clear rules, and be consistent.
We actually drew our most problematic rules down. And now, when she’s playing with water at the table (read spilling it all over) I just ask her what are the house rules. Most of the time it prevents a disagreement between us (AKA a tantrum).

7. Say: “I’m proud of you because…”
It’s called reinforcing positive behaviour, and it works! So when she’s quiet and calm while I put down the baby to sleep, I tell her how proud of her it makes me feel, to see that she is big, and understands that babies need peace to fall asleep. You should see her smile after that!

8. Pick your battles.
This one is totally new to me. When your kid is a baby you decide. But as soon as they start walking and talking they want to be in control. So I try to give her some control. I won’t even give her choices, because then the answer used to be: no and no. Now I ask her more open question: which shoes you’ll be putting on? And I let her wear whatever she chooses  out of the possible options (that are laying in the entry way).

9. Take time out.
Not kid time out, but adult time out. If it means closing yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes, with your smartphone then be it. I know I need my 10 calm minutes with coffee twice a day. After that I’m ready for life.

10. Don’t take kids seriously. Don’t take anything seriously!
Just laugh at those fake tears, smile when they make a huge mess with Cheerios and remember that it will all pass. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

So, what do you think about my ways to be a better parent? Would they work with you?

And if you’d like to learn some more about communicating better with your kids check out these great books : How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk and Parenting from the Inside Out 10th Anniversary edition: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive.

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  1. This is a great list! I think your ways to be a better parent would work for me or anyone for that matter. I’m working on talking less…silent modeling and short and concise corrective feedback. Sometimes I discuss too much for their little brains! That’s tied to your #10 Don’t take kids seriously.

  2. These are all so true!! I personally am working on my patience and not threatening and just explain the consequences. With a little 2 year old, he is pushing every boundary he can so we have been talking things through a lot lately!

  3. Great advice! It was so weird to read your post at first because my name is Joanna too, lol. But your parenting is very similar to mine. Don’t know if it’s the name 😉

  4. Joanna,

    Yes to all of this. Time is so fleeting as we are mothers and yet time can drag on for an eternity too and sometimes we just can’t always be so – perfect. We as moms need to give ourselves more grace so that we can extend it to our children. I love your tips – especially counting to 10 because so much can happen in haste if you don’t take those 10 seconds to regroup. Sharing! Pinning!

  5. Yes. This is so good! It’s really hard to forget all of these too, so it’s important to remind yourself of the little things, like counting to 10, breathing, getting rid of expectations, etc.

  6. This post is an excellent find for me right now. My two month old has reflux and colic and my frustrations seem to rob my four year old of his happy mommy. I want to do my best for my boys and not get so frustrated!

    1. Oh, I know how difficult it is dealing with colics, I think it’s the worst parenting experience ever :/ I’m crossing my fingers for you, that too will pass !

    1. Thanks Lori ! Although I’m pretty sure that I could learn from you, if you’re a mom to 8 than you must be amazing !

  7. I feel I am “listed” to death on how to do everything better in life. However, I LOVE your list and I feel it was “listed” eloquently. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You’re right, it seems like there is a list for everything, and that everyone has an opinion on how we should be doing things .. But honestly , here, on my blog if I list something, it’s only my way, that works for me, and I don’t think it’s the only way 🙂 thank you for stopping by !

  8. Life is full of lists, but I write down everything I can get my hands on, on parenting. Their is no book out there that’ll tell you how to be pregnant properly, raise a baby, raise a TODDLER, raise a “threenager” I call it 😉 lol or even how to grow with your children. However, this did add a few new idea’s to practice. I’m guilty on letting the kids get under my skin after a hard day at work, but I always forget to step back and realize they’re babies. Thank you for this!

    1. Thank you Caitlynn! Me too, I’m reading everything I can abut parenting, and in the end I think that as long as we’re doing the best we can, it’s all good 🙂

  9. Good job mom! I’m 7months pregnant with a 1yr old and work fulltime. And I have this ridiculous idea that moms don’t have breaks. So everything stresses me out. But I’m going to try to follow these steps. ☺

    1. Wow, I’m really impressed by you! Just keep up the good work and it’s all going to be fine 🙂

  10. I love this list. The book part actually made me tear up, because my three year old loves when we read books ( apparently I’m the one reading 😉 ) we used to do it every day before bedtime,now that new baby has arrived we barely read books. This is going to change, thank you so much 🙂

    1. Thank you Janina ! I know how you feel, because after the birth if my second daughter, for a while me too, I completely stopped reading to my big girl! I was just so overwhelmed. But now, I take them two on my lap, and we read all together 🙂

  11. Thank you for this informative and refreshingly honest post! As a new mom of a toddler, I value coming across parenting blogs that put a huge smile on my face while reassuring me that it’s “normal” to get frustrated from time to time. Raising a child is an amazing (yet sometimes difficult) ongoing process. And your post is a perfect reminder of that. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you Nikki! Oh, for sure it’s normal to get frustrated! As you said : it’s difficult and amazing at the same time! Good luck with your toddler 🙂

  12. I love this list!!! It’s nice to know that most of them i already do!! I need to work on patience and not repeating myself.

    1. I’m happy you like it :). And I think that the patience is the most difficult part for all of us!

  13. Such a great list! Thank you. Between my own 3 kids and working it’s hard sometimes to remember to breathe. Working on being more patient and taking a few minutes to myself are my biggest issues. I keep telling myself that my house doesn’t need to be perfect as long as my kids are clean, happy and healthy. There will always still be laundry tomorrow. 🙂

    1. I can totally relate! It is overwhelming at times, but as you said, as long as they are clean, happy and healthy, it’s all good :)!

    1. Hi Iman!

      Thank you so much for letting me know, it’s really upsetting! I’ve sent her an email.. Have a great week!

  14. Yea I agree. I’ve tried being the tough mom but that brings more tears than cuddles and honestly I need something that works and it only makes sense that happy kids bring good behavior after trying all the other stuff. I like having a clean house cause I want my husband to be happy when he comes home but as wild as my kids are I guess there can be a slight adjustment, thanks for the tips…I still don’t know how to brake the news to the hubby about the kitchen being a mess but we do need the kids to feel loved regardless of the kitchen condition

    1. The struggle is real, but I feel that it’s not even only for the kids sake but for our mental health too, letting go a little makes just life easier!

  15. This list is so great. It’s actually exactly what I needed to hear. As a new stay at home mom with my 3 year old (daddy previously stayed home with him up until 3 months ago), I find myself constantly questioning myself as a parent. I feel major guilt if I lose my patience, or if I don’t play with him enough or do enough educational, fun things every day. This will be great to help me let go of the small things and savor my time with my son before he grows up. Thanks for making me feel normal. 🙂

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