“Why does my child hate me?”
“Will anything ever go right?”
“I wish this was different.”
“I just want to give up.”
“I thought this would be better.”
“Why is this so darn hard?”
“I don’t want to do this anymore!”
“Why isn’t this easy?”
“Shouldn’t this be fun at least some of the time?”
“I hate this life.”
“Why did I have kids?”
This is a part of parenting people don’t want to talk about.
How do you verbalize when your child is literally sucking the life (and the FUN!) out of you and your parenting journey with them?
It’s almost like a secret club no one wants to belong to or even admit they’re in.
I totally get it.
I spent about 9 months feeling absolutely miserable and dreading every single day being a parent. Before you go and think this must have been before I was teaching parenting classes, know it wasn’t.
I felt this way last year.
It was literally the hardest time of my entire life and that’s saying a lot.
There are moments in every parent’s life where we just don’t want to be the parent anymore. It’s hard and tiring and thankless. By far, it’s the hardest job you’ll ever do. Mostly that’s because it takes a long time to see any reward for your effort.
Parenting can stink. When you throw daily tasks in the mix, it can make all of your life stink too. You keep your house semi-organized and clean, laundry is done, food is purchased, meals are cooked, and keep the kids alive. Doing all of this with your sanity intact can be a big feat some days.
I want to start by saying every parent will go through a period where parenting just stinks. Everything is a phase and each phase comes and goes. It’s what we do during this phase that makes all the difference.
What can you do when you don’t want to be the parent anymore? These 12 ways will get you back on track when you don’t want to be the parent anymore.
9 times out of 10 if I’m feeling worn down it’s because I feel like I’m giving my all to the family and I don’t feel appreciated. (Lack of appreciation for your hard work is a whole other ball game and I’ll discuss it next.) If I’m doing things for myself it allows me to be filled up beyond needing anyone else’s appreciation and thanks. When I take good care of myself, it shows the entire family that I also matter.
We spend so much time doing things for everyone else and often we get left in the dust. Do things for yourself. Go out to lunch with a friend, go for a walk, read a book, get your hair done, go on a trip, or stay in a hotel for a night. Sometimes self-care is hard for us to do. Women, especially, are hard-wired to be nurturing and take care of others. If we don’t have anything that belongs to just us, it’s easy to have resentment of the people who have things beyond their family.
We begrudge the mom who has the family to watch her kids so she can get out for a run or we grumble over the woman who hires a sitter so she can go shopping. But here’s the truth: we often resent them because we don’t feel we can do those things for ourselves.
Now, I do know some people don’t have access to babysitters or have family available to help (or you don’t want them to!). In those cases, find a good friend to switch services with. If you have a child you know when another child comes over it is often more helpful. It changes the dynamic in your house, the kids stay busy, they usually don’t fight because they’re not kids who are always together, and they’re happy to be together.
Take the leap and schedule something for yourself.
2.Random Acts of Kindness
Our family has committed to doing Random Acts of Kindness every month. The most important thing it has taught our kids is appreciation. Appreciation for what they have and what we get to do as a family. It helps to reinforce why it’s important to think of others. You can follow along with our monthly Random Acts of Kindness and find a list of Random Acts of Kindness your own kids can do.
3.Do less for your family
I know this may sound funny to read. Often we spend every day making sure every person in the house has what they need to be complete and happy. While that is a great thing to do, it’s not helping anyone in the long run and it drains YOU.
When kids need to do things for themselves, they tend to get more organized and be more responsible. Kids rise to our expectations. Give them responsibility and teach them how to handle it.
Here’s a true story:
A few weeks ago, the girls were all running around the house before school. They were playing, screaming, and not getting ready. It was 7:50 am and lunches weren’t made. I love when our kids laugh and play together. I like it even more if they do it after they’re ready so it doesn’t prevent them from getting ready. I called them all into the family room and once they all finally trickled in I let them know we need to leave every morning at 8 am. Then I told them they had 10 minutes to finish getting dressed and make their own lunches. If they were late to school they would have to let the office know why.
If Matt isn’t traveling he tends to make their lunches. He loves doing this for them and I think it’s almost a way for him to better connect with them when he’s home. If we’re running late and it’s my fault, I will always make their lunch and help them get ready. However, Matt was out of town and since they were choosing to run around and play, I wasn’t about to spend time making their lunches for them when I was still getting ready. I left the room to finish getting what I needed for the day.
We spend every night getting ready for a successful morning so I knew their school bags were packed. I knew they could pack their own lunches and I knew leaving at 8 am gave us a good cushion to get to school if they were still running late or if there was traffic.
Our kids moved like they have never moved before. They worked together to get their lunches packed, school bags loaded up in the car, and grab breakfast. Someone even took the dog out before we left. We made it to school in plenty of time and the rest of the week they played after we were completely ready for school.
4.Make changes to your priorities for a while
I had to put my business on hold. I had to step back and realize it could wait. When I slow down publishing blog posts and teaching courses it means I am working hard to keep my family at the forefront.
My business is the easiest part of my life that I can put on hold and it allows me to step back and take care of myself. It gave me more time for self-care and allowed me to work harder on connecting with them.
5.Connect with your family
Connecting with your family is tricky when you don’t want to do it. When you’re exhausted from being a parent and a partner, you don’t feel like you have anything left to give at the end of the day. This is when it’s important to connect in a way that is fun.
The truth is if you are feeling disconnected from your family, they’re also feeling disconnected from you. This disconnect is a vicious cycle that continues until someone breaks it. We can’t expect our kids to know how to break it (they’re kids after all!) so it needs to be us. We need to be the adults.
I like to do individual dates with the kids or do a fun family outing that is low stress. For me, I prefer going to a park. I try to find a park we haven’t been to before and we take the whole family there. Because it’s a new park to us, there won’t be as many complaints because it’s exciting to explore. I unplug during this time (I actually leave my phone in the car) and just focus on playing and having fun. I go down the slides and swing on the swings. I teach my kids how to swing on the monkey bars and watch as they climb everything in sight.
When I let go and focus on the fun, it automatically connects us.
6.Get together with friends
When I get overwhelmed it’s easy to close myself in and not want to go out and do things and see people. While this feels good in the moment, it truly fills my soul to spend time with other people. If you’re unable to physically get out of the house to see someone, use the phone. The phone is a great way to connect with the sanity of friendship. You could even invite your children’s friends and parents around to your house. Have the children play out in the garden, any babies or toddlers could play on a baby swing whilst the parents are talking. (See the babygearspecialist.com list of the best outdoor baby swings) This would help you to stop thinking about your children in a negative way as you will be with your child’s friends as well as yours.
7.Make a list of what makes you happy
I did this before the start of the school year for the girls and then realized I needed to do it for myself. Making a list of what makes you happy allows you to go back to the list when you’re not. For some reason, the color yellow is making me happy lately. So I went out and bought 2 yellow shirts and wear them whenever I’m feeling down. As a matter of fact, I wore the same shirt 2 days in a row last week because I needed the color yellow in my line of sight. I didn’t care that it was dirty. I didn’t care that people may have noticed. It was what I needed and what I need is important.
When I eat junk, I feel like junk. It tastes great in the moment but then I feel terrible for days. It’s time I focus on fueling my body just like I teach the kids it’s important to do. This also includes working out. I’ll be honest, I hate working out. When I do it I can get into a good habit but generally, I hate it. I hate getting sweaty and dirty and having to wash my hair every day. But again, just like I tell my kids, sometimes we have to do things we hate to make ourselves better. In this case, I try to go for a bike ride at least once a week. I ride about 6-8 miles, either alone or with friends, and while my legs feel like jelly afterward, it really gets my blood pumping and endorphins running.
9. Outside interests
I feel smothered when I don’t have anything going on outside of my family. I’m introverted so that means I recharge by being alone. However, I need to do activities and have interests that I don’t share with anyone else. I share almost every aspect of my life with my family: bike riding, sewing, watching tv, reading, hiking, cooking, playing with the dog, etc. It’s important I keep some things to myself. This is why I belong to a book club and volunteer at school and in our community. It gives me something I don’t have to share with them and allows me to keep my identity intact. I am not just a mother and wife. I am a person.
10. Avoiding social media
Social media is a blessing and a curse. It makes it easy for us to stay connected but also exposes us to the negativity that lives and breeds on the internet. I’ve been staying off of social media more and more lately and I realize it’s making me happier. Sure, I miss some things but my well being is more important than being up to date on everyone all the time.
Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for me. If I feel tired I snap quicker at my kids. My bad mood can spiral faster than a balloon can float away from a little kid with a loose grip. I try my hardest to get into bed by 9pm and fall asleep by 10. This doesn’t always happen. My ADHD makes it difficult for my brain to shut down so I work extra hard to help myself fall asleep. Still, getting into bed (without a device like my phone or iPad) helps me get a head start.
12. Stop trying to do it all
As humans, we can’t do it all. It’s impossible. If we made a list of all the things we wanted and needed to do and then actually accomplished it, we’d only add more to the list. Pick and choose what’s important to you and your family and do only those things first. Pass up on what’s not necessary during this time. It can be hard to let things slide and it may give you more work eventually (I’m specifically thinking of laundry). However, your state of mind is more important than clean laundry. Remember that dirty shirt I wore two days in a row? That’s okay. Give yourself a break and some grace.
It’s also important for us to evaluate our definition of parenting. Parenting isn’t doing the laundry or cooking dinner. Those are things we do because we’re adults, but they aren’t actual parenting.
Parenting is how we treat our children. It’s teaching them instead of punishing them. It’s giving them hugs and kisses before bedtime. It’s making them feel safe after they have a bad dream. It’s helping to patch up boo boos. Parenting is love.
Parenthood can easily squeeze the life out of you. Our sweet children can easily make us feel worthless and make us dread each and every day. While this post doesn’t address how to get THEM back on track, it does focus on how to get yourself back on track. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can ever do for yourself and your children.
What do you do when you just don’t feel like being the parent anymore?
Read some inspiration for when you lack patience with Dear Me Tomorrow: Patience
Read some inspiration for when you’re feeling overwhelmed with Dear Me Tomorrow: Overwhelmed
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