The Secrets to Being a Happy Parent

Most of us are not considered experts on any given subject, but as a mother of four, I do consider myself as expert in the parenting department – well, as much as expert as anyone can be when it comes to tiny humans that do what they want. Being a happy parent is something I’m really good at – and so is my husband. One thing we have going for us with four kids under six (this includes 5-month-old twins), is that we don’t let parenting get us down. Sure, it has its moments, but we have a few secrets that make parenting happy – and many experts agree with us (or we with them….either way).

Routine, Routine, Routine

You’ve heard the saying, “Happy wife, happy life,” and the same applies to kids. Happy kids, happy parents. The best way to ensure happy kids is to love them. The second best way is to give them cookies for breakfast create a routine ASAP, and stick to it. Kids are easy going when they know what to except. It’s fine to deviate from routine now and again, but when most big things are on a schedule (nap time, bed time, meal times, homework times, etc.) kids are much happier and not-so-stressed. They’re used to the routine and much less likely to fight it. When kids aren’t fighting the rules, mommy and daddy are happy.

Strict Bedtime

Save for special occasions, a strict bedtime is a must. Why? Because it’s a time that you can look forward to each day because your kids are in bed, not getting up and you have time together without any interruptions. Those two hours or so each night are precious and sacred in our house. We have wine, catch up with one another, and enjoy the cleanliness of our house and the quiet that is our home for 12 solid hours. It’s like date night every night.

Date Night

Some parents disagree, but the secret to happy parents is date night. It’s getting out of the house without the kids and enjoying some grown up time. Happy parents get to enjoy a meal every few weeks that does not involve reaching down to the floor for toys, cutting someone else’s food or immediately looking for a high and unreachable location for all candles, salt and pepper shakers and knives.


The most important thing to remember about parenting is that it’s compromise. Your life does not stop simply because you add a child to it. Your child should be able to accompany you on outings, errands and vacations. Your life should not revolve around your kids. Your kids’ lives should not revolve around you. You should figure out something that works. For example, the more you expose your kids to, the easier they’ll be. If you want to travel with a 3-year-old that’s never slept anywhere but home, it might be a problem because she’s scared. If you travel with your kids from the time they’re born, they’ll be experts and make it easier on you as they age. It’s a matter of compromise. You can travel, but you know not to try outings during naptime: Win-win.

Stay Calm and Choose Optimism

You can choose to let your kids stress you out, or you can choose to go with the flow and relax. It’s much better to go with the latter. Too many parents find that it’s difficult to enjoy parenting at certain stages, but I find that looking for the bright spot in all things makes it more fun and enjoyable. It also helps to have an exceptionally hands-on husband in my case – and a group of friends and family whose kids are all the same age that we can get together with and relax because we’re all doing the same thing.

The secret to happy parenting is making the most of it, and taking control of it. If you let parenting take control of you, it’s not going to be a happy moment in your life. You’re the boss, you make the schedule. Kids thrive on schedule and predictability (ask your pediatrician or look it up) and that’s one of the biggest factors in happy parenting. Along with a good sense of humor, an appreciation for wine and the ability to tune out the sound of “Frozen” from the backseat.

(Photo by Michael Middleton/Kensington Palace via Getty Images)


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