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The Secret to Happier Parenting
Wednesday, 07 March 2018 00:00

Becoming a happier parent

The Secret to Happier Parenting

We're running ourselves ragged taking care of our children. But it's better -- for us and our kids -- if we're less hands-on.

Although I don't think of myself as a "hyper parent," the kind whose children -- with their daily obligations and social commitments -- have taken over her life. After checking homework, signing permission slips, and setting up playdates, I'll confirm plans with the babysitter -- not for a date night, but to attend parent meetings at school. Our 2-year-old is too young for most activities, but there's no time anyway. Sometimes when I do have a quiet moment to reflect, say while sitting on a plastic mushroom in the playspace at the mall, I wonder, "Where did my life go?"

That's not to say I don't treasure my children or my time with them, which I do, immensely. It's just that, frankly, it's work being a parent in 2015. Our generation of parents is not only expending more mental energy on our kids -- from tallying their screen time to monitoring their sugar intake -- but we're with them more than ever too. In 1995, mothers spent an average of about 12 hours a week actively attending to their children, not including regular time "around" their kids (like at dinner or during solitary play), according to a University of California, San Diego study. By 2007, that number had risen to 21 hours. That's nine additional hours of hands-on parenting every week. (Fathers still trail moms in child care but in that same time period they too doubled their hours of hands-on parenting.)

On the surface, it's great that we're spending more time with our kids. Where things have gone wrong, however, is the pressure that parents feel to invest every morsel of energy into our children and their budding future -- and the guilt we feel when we can't be there because we're working, exhausted, or both. "Mothers used to send their children out to play and not expect to see them until dinnertime, so kids learned to amuse themselves, be self-sufficient, and solve their own problems," says Leslie Bennetts, a mother of two adult children and the author of The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, a whole book about the dangers of women sacrificing their own life in the name of "good" parenting. "But women today feel incredible pressure to supervise every waking moment of their children's lives, micromanage every activity, and involve themselves in every challenge their kids might face."

I mull over Bennetts's take, and think ... "busted." I have a window open on my tablet about a parent-toddler swim class. I've been feeling mildly guilty that my youngest doesn't have her own thing, in part because I work full-time. My friends likewise routinely talk about how they're "bad moms" because they missed the sign-up for peewee tennis lessons or couldn't attend the latest midday celebration at their kid's preschool.

How does a mother get to a place where she feels lesser-than because she hasn't signed up for Aqua-Tots? "The pressure to manage kids puts a ridiculous amount of stress on mothers and makes them feel horribly guilty for working or having an independent life," says Bennetts. "We shouldn't feel guilty at all."

How to make friends at a new school
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 00:00

Starting a new school is hard.

How to Make Friends at a New School

Five Parts:
1. Finding your confidence
2. Having a positive approach
3. Getting involved
4. Detecting the cliques
5. Enjoying your new friendships

Starting with a new school can be difficult. Everything seems to be so weird, and you don't even know where to go for your own classes. Making new friends can be hard too, because everyone seems to have already made their own cliques. However, you can integrate into your new environment. Just try to have as much fun as you did in your old school. One way is to simply ask someone, "What's your name?" or "Would you like to hang out after school?" (but make sure you know how they act around other people). You can also ask if they have seen a certain movie or show. They might ignore you, but if they do, simply move on to someone else.

Part 1 of 5: Finding your confidence
1. Take a deep breath. You shouldn't be nervous, you're going to a new school, not to torture. Remember that in your new school you will find kids your age. You're going to meet people who like you there. Don't judge others before you get to know them
2. Be yourself. Never change who you are to try and fit in. If your friends don't accept you for you, they're not really friends. Most people belong with a certain clique simply because they are being themselves and their unique personalities and interests falls into that stereotype. For example, someone who is naturally athletic may become a jock in high school or someone who naturally artistic or emotional may become part of the emo crowd. Many people can tell you are a fake. Don't try too hard.

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