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Could Your Parenting Use a Spring-Cleaning? Here’s How To Know.

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Spring is almost here and with it, the desire to spring-clean. Something about this time of year makes us want to dust, clean, and organize. Maybe you want to finally organize the junk drawer in your kitchen or clean out your kids’ closets or give the baseboards a nice scrubbing.

We always think about spring-cleaning our homes this time of year, but have you ever considered spring-cleaning your parenting?

What if you took this spring as an opportunity to assess what is working and what is not in your parenting style? Parenting is hard, I know. Just getting through the day can feel like a challenge. The last thing you want to do after a tough day of parenting is to think about parenting. But being intentional about how you parent your child is critical.

One of the main pitfalls for parents—and an area that is probably in need of some spring-cleaning—is overparenting. We all want what’s best for our children, but often times in trying to do what’s best for our kids, we do too much for them. We involve them in too many activities. We worry too much about their grades. We obsess over small details, such as feeding our children only organic food or researching the best type of stroller, the best preschools, or the best colleges.

Though these details seem really important now, ensuring that your child is enrolled at the best schools and is participating in the best extracurricular activities does not ensure that you will raise a great kid. It will, however, ensure that you feel more stressed out about parenting than you need to feel.

What I recommend all parents do, no matter what stage of parenting you are in, is simplify.

When it comes to what a child needs and wants, the answer is always the same. Son or daughter, teen or toddler, what your child really wants, is you.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

More than good grades, healthy food, and a college scholarship, what your child wants is to know you and for you to know her. She wants to know what you think of her, how you feel about her, and what your hopes are for her. All of this can only be achieved through spending time with your child. That is what is at the heart of successful parenting—spending time with your child and being accessible to her.

When thinking about spring-cleaning your parenting, keep everything that focuses on building a relationship with your child, and get rid of anything that might be taking away from that relationship. This could mean getting rid of one extracurricular activity a week, or more. It could mean spending less time in front of a screen and more time around the dinner table as a family. It could mean less expensive outings to the mall and more walks around your block. You know your family and child best, so you know what will be best for building a relationship with him.

Parents, being intentional about your parenting takes effort, but trust me, that effort will pay off. Take the opportunity this spring to be intentional. Focus more on getting to know your child and less on cleaning out your closet. If you do this, I promise you will find that successful parenting is much easier than you think it is.

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