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6 Tips That Help Me Be the Parent I Want to Be

We all want to be calm, cheerful, light-hearted and fun-loving for our families. But in the tumult of everyday life, it’s easy to fall short. In those times, remember this: Though you can’t make your children happy—they have to figure it out for themselves—you can influence your family’s happiness.

Here are just a few strategies I use to cultivate an atmosphere of love and happiness at home:

1. Get enough sleep

If I want to be cheerful, energetic and mentally sharp for my family, I have to get enough sleep. After always being strict with my daughters’ bedtimes, I realized that, like most adults, I need at least seven hours of sleep each night to function at my highest level, and now I work hard to meet that minimum.

2. Get up early

A few years ago, because I wanted a calmer, less hurried morning with my family, I started getting up earlier. Now, I get up an hour before my children, giving me a chance to work at my desk, have coffee and check email before it’s time to roust everyone out of bed.

3. Instill outer order to create inner calm

I find that when I take the time to hang up a coat or close a drawer, I feel more energetic and cheerful as I engage with my family. After I tackle clutter, I feel less hurried because I can find and stow things easily. Having more order in my cabinets and closets makes me feel more energetic and cheerful as I engage with my family.

4. Follow the 1-minute rule

It’s simple: If I can accomplish a task in less than a minute, I do it without delay. If I can read and sign a letter from a teacher, answer an email, look for the scissors, I go ahead and do it. Because the tasks are so quick, it isn’t hard to make myself follow the rule—but it makes me feel more serene, less overwhelmed.

5. Give warm greetings and farewells

The way we act toward one another shapes the way we feel about one another, so my family follows a resolution: Give warm greetings and farewells. Every time one of us comes or goes, we go to the door and give that person a kiss, a hug and a real moment of our attention.

6. Remember to cherish today

I’m reminded of something the writer Colette said: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” When I feel overwhelmed or annoyed by parenting responsibilities, I remind myself that one day, I’ll look back on this season of my life with great nostalgia.

How about you? What strategies do you use to help yourself be the kind of parent you want to be? Let us know in the Comments section, below, or on our Facebook page.

GRETCHEN RUBIN is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, and is currently working on her latest book, Before and After, scheduled for release in 2015. She is considered one of the most influential writers on happiness today, and has become an in-demand speaker and keynoter. Gretchen has also made appearances on the Today show, CBS Sunday Morning and Booknotes. You can read about Gretchen’s adventures in the pursuit of happiness and habits on her blog at GretchenRubin.com.

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