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How to Make Parenting More Joyful and Less Stressful

How to Make Parenting More Joyful and Less Stressful
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Parents these days spend a lot more attention and time on their children compared to that in the past. A recent analysis of 11 wealthy countries estimates that in 1965, the average mother spent 54 minutes a day caring for children, that number doubled to 104 minutes in 2012. And the time men spend caring for their kids has jumped from 16 minutes a day to 59.[1]

Take a look at these graphs that show the trend of time spent with children since the 1960s:

      Every parent wants what’s best for their children. Most, if not all of lifestyle and parenting choices are centered around trying to provide the best opportunities for their kids. Parents are preoccupied trying to ensure their kids are healthy, safe, have access to the best education and are set up to be successful adults.

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      Parents don’t mind going the extra mile to make sure their kids are doing okay. They pick their son up from college in a blizzard because he wants to spend the weekend at home. They insist that their daughter discuss every decision with them–no matter how small to help them avoid making mistakes of any kind. And though these intentions are honorable, the methods could be doing the parents (and the children) more harm than good.

      Protection Going to Extreme

      Think back to a time when you were in grade school. You probably had special school supplies that you loved. It could have been a special notebook or maybe it was a pencil or a special eraser. Because you liked it so much, you worked hard to preserve it.

        Your special eraser became an item that was for show and was never used. You didn’t allow anyone else to use it and you worked hard to keep it clean and in pristine shape.

          Instead of allowing your eraser to serve its purpose and help you erase your mistakes, the item became a source of stress. Whenever you’ve accidentally caused some dirts on the eraser, you blame yourself for it. Not only could you not use, you had to actively work to keep it safe and in perfect condition.

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            Now that you look back on the incident, you understand that these actions were irrational and silly. The eraser was created to be used. You were supposed to erase things with it. It never truly served its purpose. The same principle applies to over-parenting.

            Stressful Kids and Stressful Parents

            Parents have to be careful that they don’t project their own issues and ego onto the kids. If the child isn’t doing well, our culture has a way of making the parent feels as though they’ve done something wrong. Parents are pressured into feeling that their child’s successes and failures are a direct reflection of themselves. Consider the following questions:

            • Do you think that children’s accomplishments are a direct reflection of good parenting?
            • Does a child’s bad behavior signify a failure by the parent?

            If you answered yes to most of the questions above, such parenting is more ego-driven and is less beneficial to the kids than you think it is. The better the kids do, the better the parents feel about themselves as a parent. Parents’ value and worth have become directly tied to the success and/or failures of the children. This creates a mountain of unfair stress and pressure on parents.

            When parents’ focus is completely on their children and their work tirelessly to keep them from experiencing failure and making mistakes, they set themselves up for disappointment and depression. A 2013 National Health Interview Survey reported that five percent of all U.S. parents living in two-parent families with their children, and eleven percent of single parents, report two or more depression-related symptoms.[2]

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            Parents’ world shouldn’t revolve entirely around their kids because it can cause them to lose their own identity. All of parents’ likes, dislikes, hobbies and interest become driven by their children’s interests and needs. They no longer know what they truly enjoy doing, who they are and they can’t take time for themselves.

            Always allowing children to be the number one priority and the center of parents’ joy is unfair to others in the life. Parents’ relationships will begin to suffer and they may be tempted to put their marriage on the back burner as is the case with many couples with children. Over time, if parents continue to neglect their romantic relationship, the relationship will wither. This is a path to stress, unrelenting pressure and unhappiness for parents.

            Parents may believe that once their children are grown, they can focus on themselves a bit more and reignite the romance with their partner. But the truth is that once parents have established a pattern of co-dependence, it doesn’t end with the kids becoming adults. Parents will continue to worry, over-parent and allow their children to rule their universe for the rest of their lives.

            Bringing Back Joy to Parenting

            What is the key to healthy parenting? Relax. Like the eraser example mentioned before, let it do its job and don’t get too worried about making it a little bit dirty.

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              Children are going to make mistakes. In fact, they need to make mistakes. Shielding the children from failure shields them from valuable life lessons, robs them of the tenacity and fortitude failure provides and it tampers with their destiny. Being a child is the safest period to fall and learn to be independent. When children fail early, they learn stuff earlier too.

              When parents accept wrongdoings, for their kids and for themselves, they’ll be less stressful. Not only does this make both parents and their kids happier, children will also grow up handing things independently. They’ll grow up as a real adult who can take good care of themselves in the long run.

              The litmus test of good parenting is not determined by the successes and failures of the children. Preventing the children from making mistakes is an exercise in futility and counter-intuitive. A parent’s role isn’t preventing failure but showing their child how to get up and recover when they do fail. It is parents’ job to demonstrate how they should handle mistakes and cope with missteps with integrity. This is how parents truly impact and shape their character.

              Parents’ job is to love unconditionally, guide and gently correct their children. Parents are not their child’s savior, force-field and life compass. So, relax, stop hovering and have a bit of faith in the process. The kids will be just fine.

              Reference

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              Anna Chui

              Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

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              Published on July 22, 2021

              20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week

              20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week
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              It’s 5 p.m., and you’re exhausted. The kids are hungry, but no one knows what they want to eat for dinner. With very little energy, you force yourself into the kitchen and look through every cabinet, hoping for a spark of inspiration. Eventually, you toss a few ingredients together and hope for the best. It won’t win any prizes and falls short of what you consider “healthy,” but it fills everyone’s stomachs.

              Feeding a family can be stressful, even tiresome. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity needed to cook healthy but simple family meals. It’s easy to fall into the “anything goes” mentality. When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, meals become more about survival and less about nutrition.

              Here are 20 quick and healthy—but tasty—recipes followed by tips on making these family meals more nutritious. These recipes can help you have a healthy family meal on the table in an hour or less. Remember, swap ingredients out if someone in your family has dietary restrictions or if you avoid certain foods.

              1. Mini Meatloaves With Green Beans and Potatoes

                These miniature meatloaves come together quickly and cook faster, too. You can have a family favorite on the table, paired with seasoned potatoes and fresh green beans, in just 40 minutes.

                Get the recipe here.

                2. One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

                  This classic will taste like you spent hours cooking, but the preparation and clean-up couldn’t be quicker. One-pot cooking makes this dish practical, while fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add a special touch.

                  To try this recipe, go here.

                  3. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

                    Skip the restaurant and make fajitas at home. The ingredients go on one sheet pan, meaning you won’t spend all night cleaning. Zesty chicken, bell peppers, and warm tortillas can be on the table in 40 minutes. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, and any other favorite toppings.

                    Check out the recipe here.

                    4. Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

                      Lose the carbs but keep the cheesesteak flavors with this quick family meal. Kids will love the pepper “bowls,” and you’ll love giving them a meal full of veggies and protein to keep them healthy.

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                      Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                      5. Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

                        This veggie-packed meal adds an extra boost by using the superfood quinoa instead of rice. Flavorful yet simple, this meal makes an excellent packable lunch or dinner for your whole family.

                        Find the recipe here.

                        6. Spinach and Chicken Skillet With Lemon and Parmesan

                          The complex flavors of lemon and parmesan come together nicely in this gourmet-like dish, but you don’t have to exert the effort or spend as much as a gourmet meal.

                          Get the recipe for this dish here.

                          7. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips

                            Fish and chips can also sometimes be healthy as evident in this oven-fried version. You won’t miss the calories with this favorite family meal.

                            You can find the recipe here.

                            8. Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

                              Tangy pineapple and sweet teriyaki will have everyone coming back for seconds. Frozen vegetables make this simple family dish even easier to make and enjoy.

                              Find the recipe here.

                              9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Zucchini Frittata

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                                This egg dish is usually served for breakfast, but a frittata can make a fantastic dinner, too. High in protein, packed with zucchini, and delicious, there’s no reason to wait until morning.

                                Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                10. Chicken and Sweet Potato Grill Packets

                                  Skip the pans and throw everything into foil with this fun family recipe. Kids will love loading ingredients into their pack, and you’ll love its versatility and simplicity.

                                  The recipe for this meal can be found here.

                                  11. Chicken and Spanish “Rice”

                                    Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this low-carb family meal, but it’s so flavorful and filling, no one will miss it.

                                    Find the recipe here.

                                    12. Honey Chicken Stir Fry

                                      This honey chicken stir fry is the healthier version of a restaurant favorite that can be served up quicker than you can order it.

                                      Find the recipe here.

                                      13. Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

                                        Greek chicken and tzatziki sauce will have you yearning for the Mediterranean, but you can make this recipe at home for your family to enjoy.

                                        This easy recipe can be found here.

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                                        14. Healthy Walking Tacos

                                          Traditional walking tacos are a party favorite, but they’re not usually healthy. However, this recipe keeps it fun while making it more nutritious.

                                          Find out how to make it here.

                                          15. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

                                            This classic comfort meal can be ready when you walk in the door. All you have to do is add noodles, and it’s ready to serve.

                                            The recipe can be found here.

                                            16. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

                                              This usually takes a little over an hour, but the preparation time is only 30 minutes. You’ll love how easy it is, and the cheesy rice is sure to please.

                                              Find the recipe here.

                                              17. Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

                                                Skip the checkout line and have a rotisserie-style chicken ready at home. A staple in many quick meals, you might find this family meal recipe among your most-used.

                                                Get the recipe for this flavorful chicken here.

                                                18. Santa Monica Street Tacos

                                                  Named after a simple taco found on the streets of California, you’ll be surprised that something with only a few ingredients can be so flavorful. Your kids will surely enjoy them.

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                                                  Find the recipe here.

                                                  19. Pizza Pasta Salad

                                                    Enjoy the flavor of pizza without the hassle of making a crust. Use a fun pasta shape to make this even more appealing to your family, especially kids.

                                                    Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                                    20. Slow-Cooker Lasagna Soup

                                                      Everyone loves lasagna, but it can be time-consuming and messy to make. However, this soup version has the taste you want but with the ease of a crockpot.

                                                      Get the recipe here.

                                                      Bonus: 3 Simple Ways to Make Meals Healthier

                                                      Eating healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of money, time, or thought. Any improvements are a big step in the right direction.

                                                      Here are three easy ways you can make meals healthier for your family.

                                                      1. Lose the Sugar

                                                      Are you looking to improve your health? Cut processed sugars from your diet—the more, the better, and that includes artificial sweeteners.[1] Why? Studies show that sugar increases the risks for weight gain, heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cancer, fatty liver disease, cellular aging, and low energy levels.[2]

                                                      2. Avoid Highly Processed Foods

                                                      Many processed foods are fine to eat. Even fresh fruit and vegetables go through some processing to stay fresh longer. However, highly processed foods have added salt, sweeteners, saturated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors. These types of food have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.[3]

                                                      3. Replace Simple Carbs for Complex Carbs

                                                      Lowering daily carbs can do wonders for your health. Studies show that low-carb diets lead to lower insulin levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, visceral fat loss, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can be therapeutic for many brain disorders.[4]

                                                      When eating carbs, choose complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs, such as white flour, rice, and degermed cornmeal, lack nutrients and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oats, are usually more nutritious and aren’t digested as quickly, giving more sustained energy and less of an insulin spike.[5]

                                                      Enjoy Family Meals With Less Stress!

                                                      Dinner can be enjoyable again now that you’re armed with simple and nutritious recipes for your family. These healthy and tasty family meal recipes can help you feel even better about what you serve. Best of all, you’ll have the extra time and energy you saved from cooking and spend more time with your family.

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                                                      More Healthy Eating Tips

                                                      Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

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