How To Be A More Intentional Parent Every Day
Stuck in the hustle and grind of raising kids? Learn how being more intentional as a parent will help you – without any extra hassle!
Do you ever catch yourself parenting on auto-pilot?
I know I certainly have. And in talking to so many other parents, I know I’m not the only one.
Whether we’re waiting in line for school pickup, trying to keep up with laundry, or juggling all. the. parenting. things. – it’s easy to suddenly find ourselves just going through the motions.
Several years ago, I went through a period when the days bled into weeks and time was just passing by. And if I’m being brutally honest, I have to say that my “life” started to feel like a job. The kind where you can’t enjoy Sunday night because you know everything starts again Monday morning.
It sounds awful, I know.
So I turned to the only thing I could think of: Google. I mean, the internet knows everything, right? So if anything could help me figure out how to make it all easier, Google could.
I was wrong.
I got lost in a rabbit hole of countless parenting “styles” and ended up feeling even more overwhelmed than before I’d started my search. (So much for that.)
Can you relate?
As parents, we spend so much time trying to figure out how to raise our children the right way. And sometimes, we can get so caught up in aiming for a moving target that we lose sight of our parenting goals.
Luckily there’s a solution. It’s called Intentional Parenting and is something that can work for every family in every situation.
Here’s why I love it: The only requirement is a parent committed to trying.
WHAT BEING AN INTENTIONAL PARENT DOESN’T MEAN
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a parent. So before we go any further, we need to clarify one thing:
Being an intentional parent does NOT mean starting over.
It doesn’t mean throwing everything out the window and changing parenting styles. It doesn’t mean doing things that feel unnatural to you. And it definitely doesn’t mean adding more to your plate.
No, being an intentional parent simply means adding more meaning to the things we’re already doing. In other words, we parent on purpose.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Let’s explore this idea a little further. Here are 7 ways parents can be more intentional in their lives.
HOW TO BE A MORE INTENTIONAL PARENT EVERY DAY
As parents, our greatest responsibility is to create homes where learning can take place. Homes that are filled with love and are a safe place for mistakes and vulnerability.
How can we do this?
By being more intentional in our approach. But don’t worry, it’s easier than you might think. All it requires is a commitment to trying.
We often get caught up in thinking about all the things we’d like to do and change. But rather than focusing on the “don’t”, try picking just one thing you’d like to be more intentional about, and build from there. Here are 7 ideas to get you started:
1. BE MORE DELIBERATE
If we want to be more intentional as parents, we have to practice making purposeful and deliberate decisions about how we’ll raise our families.
For example, we can work on responding (not reacting) to our children in ways that teach skills and nurture connection. We can also put more thought into how we’ll use and organize our time.
When we put more focused attention on the things we do and plan, we’re better able to control our lives rather than allowing our lives to control us.
2. BE CONSISTENT
Being a parent is hard, and there are seasons when we just need to take it one day at a time. But the more we work toward consistency, the stronger our families will be.
What does this mean? It means following through and doing as we say we will.
When we are reliable, we become predictable. And that stability helps our children feel safe because they know what to expect. In turn, this leads to better behavior and stronger relationships.
3. BE DISCIPLINED
Intentional Parenting looks like learning and deliberate practice. We have to fight hard to be the kind of parents we want to be for our children. And when we approach our own lives with more intention, it bleeds over into our parenting in positive and amazing ways.
But living with intention can sound pretty broad, so here’s a great place to start:
In order to give more intention, purpose, and focus to our days, we need to simplify with structure. In fact, it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our families.
At first, organizing our time might leave us feeling like we’re trying to run a tight ship. But having structure doesn’t mean being inflexible. It’s just a good framework to hold everything together so our lives can run smoothly and with more success.
4. HAVE A PLAN
Imagine for a second that you’re going on a road trip to a specific destination. One of the first things you’re going to need is a plan, right?
Without one, there’s a good chance things could get complicated. The trip might take a lot longer and you might get distracted, take some wrong roads, hit a dead end or two…or even miss the destination completely.
Becoming a more intentional parent is no different. We need a plan.
If we allow things to just go about how they end up, our family will lose steam. And over time, we’ll lose the energy and coherence we need to stay strong.
One of the best parts about Intentional Parenting is that WE get to decide what’s important to us and what works for our family. We decide what things are meaningful to us and focus our energies there.
We’re not subscribing to anyone else’s values or expectations. Instead, we take our own realities and everyday experiences and add meaning to them. We amplify what already exists.
5. COMMIT TO CONNECTION
Distraction. It’s one of the biggest threats to the stability of families today, and we all suffer from it. There are two places it hits families hardest:
- Technology inside the home.
- Time outside of the home.
Society pressures us into doing more and more, and with multiple kids, it adds up! We need to take a serious inventory of how much time our family is spending outside of the home, decide what’s important to us, and then act accordingly.
And when we are home with our families, are we really together?
Of course, there will always be a certain amount of things that have to get done. That’s just real life. But we have to make sure we are intentional about what we choose to allow into our schedules. And we have to remember the importance of setting boundaries and regulations.
For example, we’ve instituted a “no technology” policy at the dinner table and in the car. We also aim to have 2 or more nights home together without any activities.
6. DEFINE YOUR VALUES
What goals do you have for your family? What traits and skills do you want your children to develop? How do you want to act as a parent? What is important to you?
These are just a few questions to consider when defining your parenting values. Knowing them gives us a clear place to start and helps us come up with deliberate plans of action.
My favorite part about Intentional Parenting is the fact that it’s not task-oriented. It’s not about doing one thing over another, or about doing all and being all. And it’s definitely not about grades, accomplishments, or clean houses.
It’s about knowing what values we subscribe to, and then being consistent in our approach.
When we know our values, we know what to say yes and no to. We’re better equipped to be engaged and involved in our lives. And we gain the confidence to be exactly the type of parent we want to be as a result of those values.
7. ALIGN YOUR ACTIONS WITH YOUR GOALS
When we say “I love you” to our kids, are our actions consistent with our words? Are we taking the time to show it? Are we doing things that help our children know we are committed to them?
There is a simple exercise we can all benefit from, and we should come back to it often. For 5 minutes, sit down and go over these questions:
- What are my parenting goals?
- What is important to me?
- Which things do I want my children to know right now?
- What goals do I have for my family?
- In other words, what values do I subscribe to?
Write down some of your answers. Then decide if your actions are consistent with your values. Remember – Intentional Parenting is value-based. Not task-based.
If you find any inconsistencies, make a working plan to better align your actions with your goals.
Here’s a quick example: Imagine you’re always in a rush and drive in quiet or with music on so you can think things out. Your child gets used to you being distracted in the car and seizes the opportunity to disconnect. As a result, they get in the habit of putting their headphones on every time they enter the car.
How could you change the habit for both of you to create meaningful connections while you drive?
EXAMPLES OF INTENTIONAL PARENTING
To become a more intentional parent, we need to make connection one of our top priorities. But we don’t necessarily have to carve out time for elaborate weekly dates with each child.
We simply have to look for everyday moments to interact meaningfully. To make the most of what’s already happening.
So how long should we spend with each child to make the biggest impact? According to experts, the magic number is 15 minutes. Every day.
Now you might be thinking: “But 15 minutes with multiple children adds up! I can’t fit that in.” Well, you’re right. It does add up. But let’s be honest, how easy it is to waste 15 minutes scrolling through our phones?
Squeezing in 15 minutes with each child is actually easier than you might think. The trick is to use the time you already have to be WITH your child. Here are some examples:
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Chatting in the car.
- Taking extra time to put a child to bed.
- Folding laundry together.
- Prepping dinner.
- Eating after-school snacks together.
Scroll to the end of this post for even more ideas.
IN SUMMARY, THE BEST WAY TO BE A MORE INTENTIONAL PARENT, IS TO LIVE MORE INTENTIONALLY OURSELVES.
There are 7 traits intentional parents have in common, which were discussed in this post. Once again, they are:
- Be deliberate.
- Be consistent.
- Be disciplined.
- Have a plan.
- Commit to connection.
- Define your values.
- Align your actions with your goals.
In the end, it’s not about adding more to our plates. It’s about making the most of this short time we have with our children, and laying the foundation for strong relationships and strong families.
For even more tips on how to be an intentional parent each day, be sure to check out these other helpful posts:
- 6 Times Your Child Needs You Most: How To Be A More Present Parent
- 25 Easy Yet Powerful Ways To Connect With Your Child
- Can I Really Fit In One-On-One Time With Multiple Kids
- 5 Secrets Of A Stress-Free Parent: How To Stop Being So Stressed
- Yelling Does NOT Make You A Bad Parent – Here’s Why
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