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How to find the joy in parenting again

Why routine and structure can help you find the joy in parenting again.

This morning when I dropped my son off at school, he was a bit hesitant and reluctant to leave me.

"I don't want to go to class," he told me.

"You'll be ok, but you have to go now," I told him. He reluctantly let go of my hand, and slowly walked towards the classroom.

I felt so bad for him. But then I saw something interesting.

As he got to his classroom, his posture changed.

First, he hung up his school bag. Then, he took off his shoes and put them away. Finally, he got his lunch out of his bag, opened the classroom door, and greeted his teacher.

This little routine seemed to help him go from reluctant to excited, or at least willing.

The thing is, my son's teacher has been drilling this morning routine into her class since the start of the year.

At first, his teacher had to remind them about this routine constantly. But now, it's automatic.

And just by starting this little routine, his mind moves from "outside" class to "inside" class, and he forgets about his reluctance.

This technique reminded me about one of Elisabeth Stitt's three techniques to find the joy in parenting again.

Her first "joy" technique is to use structure and routine to teach kids to take responsibility for themselves, so that you don't have to constantly nag them to do things.

Elisabeth, an ex-teacher with over 25 years of education experience, explains that when she was a teacher, she would ensure that her students knew exactly what to do when they got to class, without her having to tell them.

That meant that she could spend the first 10 minutes just interacting positively and joyfully with the kids, instead of having to tell them what to do.

The simple fact is that the more your kids can do for themselves, the less you have to tell them what to do. Freeing you up to just enjoy your time with them.

In my interview with her, Elisabeth also shares two more techniques for bringing more joy back to parenting.

Sometimes it can feel like parenting is just an unpaid and unappreciated job. You become so focused on the day-to-day, that you forget to just enjoy your children. And then, before you know it, it's over, and your children are old and have their own lives. We only have such a short time to really enjoy our kids while they are young, and it goes by so fast.

That's why I believe that finding the joy in parenting, while you still have the opportunity, is so important.