You make a lot of mistakes as a parent. At some point, you’ll put your baby’s diaper on backward, send your preschooler to school in their pajamas, or allow too many hours of screen time. But while some mistakes you make as a parent are no big deal, others pose a serious threat to your well-being — and the well-being of your family. If you want to be a better parent, partner, and person, these are four things you need to stop doing right now.
Dwelling on Negative Thoughts
Do you find yourself constantly focusing on the negative or struggling to control your emotions in difficult situations? There’s no question parenting has its hard moments, but falling into a pattern of negativity isn’t just bad for your own mental health, it can affect your children too.
Luckily, you have more control over your thoughts than you realize. To break a pattern of negative thinking, teach yourself to stop negative thoughts and behaviors in their tracks. You may find it helpful to distract yourself from negative thoughts or to reframe negative thoughts in a positive manner.
Parents should also address issues that are a regular source of friction in their household. Instead of getting frustrated by slow morning routines, plan extra time in your schedule. If your child has poor homework habits, sit down, and review assignments together. Dealing with problems proactively prevents them from becoming frustrations later on.
Avoiding Uncomfortable Conversations
You shouldn’t dwell on negativity, but you shouldn’t avoid topics just because they’re uncomfortable either. There are some tough conversations that are important to have when you become a parent, particularly when it comes to death and money.
Money is a major source of stress for families, and that stress can lead to physical and mental health problems. The most important thing families can do to alleviate financial stress is to get everyone on the same page. Talk to your spouse about financial values and include kids in the conversation in age-appropriate ways.
Discussions about money eventually intertwine with death. Parents have to answer questions about how they’ll provide for their children if they pass away and how they’ll pay for end-of-life expenses. While life insurance offers a solution for the first question, many adults are shocked to learn that a funeral can cost over $9,000. That’s why it’s so important to talk about the type of final arrangements you want and whether you’ll pay for it with cash, insurance, or other means.
Staying Up Late (and Waking Up Early)
There’s nothing wrong with being an early bird or night owl, but too many parents don both hats. If you’re staying up late to get things done then waking up early to get a head start, you’re putting your health on the line.
Chronic sleep problems have been linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression, among other health problems. Poor sleep also leaves you irritable, distracted, and not the best partner and parent you can be.
Instead of staying up late to finish your to-do list, create a routine that lets you get more done during the day. For example, by cleaning as you go, you can avoid staying up late to scrub the kitchen. Or by teaching kids how to organize their own schoolwork, you can avoid the early morning scramble to get out the door.
Putting Yourself Last
This is one bad habit that far too many parents have. While caring for your children may be your most important job, you shouldn’t be at the bottom of your own priority list.
Making time for yourself gives you the bandwidth to be a better parent, and it’s good for your health too. With more me-time, you can build time for exercise into your schedule, nurture social relationships, and cultivate a hobby. Whether you hire a babysitter, take turns with your co-parent, or sign the kids up for camp, be sure to create time where you can focus on you.
Good parenting is about more than well-mannered kids and a well-kept house. If you want to be a better parent and a happier, healthier person, banish bad habits like these from your life.
By Dylan Foster