If you ever have days when you feel sick and tired of your kids … don’t feel too guilty. Temporary burnout happens to the best of us, and it doesn’t mean you’re an unfit parent or don’t love your children. It just means life doesn’t always live up to our specific-rewards-for-specific-efforts ideals.
Not expecting life to always correspond to your idea of “fairness” or what you’re “owed” is one way to minimize burnout risks. But to keep your parenting passion thriving, you’ll want to take proactive steps as well.
Sound parental guidance means helping kids become their best real selves—not trying to mold them into what you always wanted. Beyond insisting on kindness, courtesy, and integrity, avoid stifling or contradicting their natural impulses. Let them decide whether they want to be athletes or artists, scholars or sailors—and make a point of cheering them on and supporting their dreams.
You may think your kids are “too young” to offer input on vacation plans or suggest workable solutions to a problem that’s stymied you, but often young minds—untethered by preconceived notions of what is and isn’t feasible—are the first to see new options. You needn’t wait until you have a question, either. Let your kids come to you with “let’s try this” ideas at any time.
Have Fun Together as a Family
Even after your children are teenagers, there will be things everyone can enjoy and make time for doing together. Eat dinner together at least twice a week—and make it a time of friendly conversation focused on the positive. Organize a home-based songfest or board games night. Go together to special events and community festivals.
Regular family nights and holiday traditions cement everyone’s sense of togetherness and loyalty. But don’t stick exclusively to the familiar, and don’t do things the exact same way every time: variety and innovation keep life from becoming a rut. Cook a new recipe for Sunday dinner. Experiment with different routes on evening walks. Try all-green holiday lights instead of multicolor or white. And if an experiment proves a dud—laugh about it and try something else next time. The best memories are often built on the hilarity of mishaps.
Nothing kills enthusiasm or fun—or healthy family relationships—like fear of mistakes. Walking on eggshells in dread of “messing up my kids” will build a household full of stress. Refusing to apologize when you do make a mistake, far from protecting your standing as unquestioned head of the house, will erode your kids’ respect for you. Accept yourself and everyone else as human and fallible. Love unconditionally. Laugh together. And remember that passion, not to mention lifelong parent-child friendships, is built on enjoying life and each other!