As adults, we usually focus on weight loss goals or promises to exercise more, or desires to quit a bad habit. Rarely do we focus on improving our parenting skills.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday parenting craziness like making school lunches and dealing with the piles of laundry and constantly hunting for our kids’ shoes, we usually don’t slow down and evaluate how we’re doing as parents.
But if we take the time to figure out what we’re doing right and how we can do better in the areas that we’re –ahem– less than stellar in, we can be better parents.
And when we’re better parents, our families grow stronger and our kids feel more connected to us and all our daily parenting challenges will feel a little easier.
But how do we do it? How do we focus on improving our parenting skills?
We can start by setting parenting goals for ourselves.
Why should you set parenting goals?
No one has an infant one day and is automatically a great parent. We learn as we go. We read great parenting books and we draw from our own childhood experiences and try to figure out what we will and will not do with our own kids.
But if we decide to constantly improve and adapt and tweak how we act and respond to our children, our parenting skills will strengthen.
And we will become better parents. Which in turn will make it so we don’t feel like this parenting gig is so darn hard all the time.
Because here’s the deal. Parenting isn’t easy. And it’s not supposed to be easy. With that being said, it is also true that parenting can get easier.
When we set parenting goals-things we want to improve on to up our parenting skills- it will make us better parents. And when we feel like better parents, parenting will get easier.
We’ll spend more quality time with our kids and less time being frustrated or feeling out of control or second-guessing ourselves. And we’ll be able to look back and confidently know we did our absolute best job for our children.
How to set parenting goals?
Everyone’s parenting skill level is very different.
So to determine what your parenting goals could be (notice I didn’t say “should” be), you first need to take moment and evaluate what you want to improve on.
Or what you want to change about your parenting skills.
Or ask yourself, what feels the hardest when it comes to parenting?
Do you feel like you:
- Yell too much?
- Can’t get your kids to listen?
- Wish your kids would fight or squabble less?
- Have no patience left?
- Wish they were less screen time in your home?
- Never have any time to connect with your kids?
- Never have any time for yourself to recharge?
- Feel like you’re constantly cleaning up after other people?
Once you know what you want to fix, improve, or change, you can set your own parenting goals, specific to what you need to make your life as a parent better.
Tips of set parenting goals
So not all of these parenting goals will be for you. Some things on this list you’ll scoff at because they come easily for you.
But there will be several on here you can relate to and might want to improve on.
Because let’s face it. No parent is perfect.
So we can all improve on many, if not all, of these parenting goals.
1. Connect more as a family
Many parents want to connect more with their kids, really get to know them, and prioritize more quality time. Because when we take the time truly know who are kids are, and what they think and dream and wish for, we get a little window into their tiny little souls. And it’s magical.
If that’s you, try this:
- Protect family dinner time and ask everyone about the best and worst part of their day.
- Plan a family staycation or getaway you can all look forward to.
- Plan one-on-one “dates” with your kids.
- Start a tuck-in ritual with your kids, even if they’re older (especially if they’re older).
2. Yell less
Many, many parents-me included- allow our angry triggers to affect us and we end up yelling at our kids. No matter how angry or frustrated we get, we can parent with less yelling.
If you want to yell less, try this:
- Figure out your anger triggers and avoid them.
- Get calm before you react.
- Take a time out when you feel anger start to rise.
- Recognize your hard times of the day and try to find ways to make them easier.
3. Focus more on your family values
A lot of families forget to act in kind and respectful ways because when we focus on the everyday nitty-gritty of chores and getting to practice on time and finding kids shoes, we feel like there’s no time left for anything else.
If you want to focus more on encouraging your kids to be more respectful or kinder to you and to their siblings try this:
- Make being kind one of your family rules
- Model the behaviors you want your kids to follow
- Read books together that showcase the values you want to instill LINK
4. Become more consistent with rules and consequences
One of the biggest frustrations for parents is when our kids don’t follow our rules. It’s often because our rules aren’t clear and the consequences aren’t as consistent as they could be. Or they’re just testing you because it’s their job to test the limits. It’s our job to hold firm and be consistent with our rules.
If you want your kids to follow your family rules more often, try this:
- Decide on your family rules
- Talk about the rules often with your kids so they know what to expect
- Decide what the consequences are for not following the rules and explain them to your kids ahead of time
- Follow through on the consequences consistently
5. Get your kids to listen to you more often
It can be so frustrating and irritating when our kids don’t listen to us. And then we tend to yell because we’re frustrated and irritated. (See goal number 2 again).
If you want your kids to listen to you, try this:
- Make “first time” listening one your family rules.
- Offer positive reinforcement when they do listen like these hole charts that encourage kids to want to listen,
- Tell them what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do (Say: “please walk” rather than “don’t run” or “keep your hands to yourself” rather than “no hitting”).
- Be super clear about what you want them to do.
6. Recharge and focus on self-care without mom guilt
We can’t take care of our families unless we are well…both physically and mentally. So taking care of ourselves helps us take care of our families better. With that knowledge, take the time to recharge and fill yourself up, guilt-free. Because when you’re at your best, you will be the best parent for your kids.
If you want to focus on self-care without guilt, try this:
- Give yourself permission to do what you need to do to stay mentally healthy.
- Make a list of things that would fill you up, then do them.
- If you can’t “get away” make a “happy playlist” you can listen to that will improve your mood even when you feel stuck or are stuck.
- Remind yourself often, “I am enough” and “I am doing enough.”
7. Instill more responsibility in your kids and do less for them
No matter how old your kids are, you’re probably cleaning up after them way more than they need you to be. When we teach kids how to be independent from us, we give them the necessary life skills they will need as they get older to be self-sufficient. Doing too much for our kids can actually be a disservice to them when they’re older.
If you want to teach your kids how to be more responsible try this:
- Give each child an age-appropriate chore every day.
- When asking young kids to clean up, be specific and break up the task (put away all the books or clean up all the toy cars).
- Teach kids larger tasks in a hands-on way like making school lunches, doing the laundry, and helping with the dishes.
- When they do a chore, unless someone is going to get hurt, leave it how they did it, even if it’s not perfect or “your way.”
8. Have less screen time in your house
Screens are convenient, helpful, and fun. And while there are definite advantages to them and moments where we can rely on them, science has shown us time and time again that our kids’ generation (and their parents) are becoming quickly addicted.
If you want to limit screen time, try this:
- Get an app that sets screen time limits and use it. (we use one called Family Link, I hear Our Pact is good as well)
- Make a family rule for screens that makes sense to your family (Try: no screens on the weekdays unless it’s for school).
- Have more books, games, and projects around for your kids to enjoy.
- When kids complain they’re bored, offer up more chores to keep them busy… They’ll find something fun to do quickly.
Is this parenting goals list exhaustive? Nope.
Will you be able to do all the things all the time on this list? Nope.
Is this list meant to make you feel guilty or that you’re not doing enough? Definitely nope.
But if you’ve gotten this far, you know that no matter how awesome or unawesome we feel about our parenting, when we have a growth mindset as parents and know we can always get better, we’re doing the next best thing.
So no matter what you choose to improve on or what your parenting goals are, the mere act of pausing to reflect on your parenting and wanting to improve proves you’re already an incredible parent.
Because when we take the time to improve as parents, our home, our family, and our kids will be better for it. And so will we. Now we just need to figure out how to find their shoes.