You've already figured out that there are no shortcuts to great parenting -- this job is not an easy one! But there are things you can do to make it a little bit easier, no matter what your situation. Whether you have one kid or six, whether you're a single parent doing it all or the commander of a full time staff, you can be successful.
1. Start by taking a step back
If you have a screaming infant, a tantrum-bound toddler, or a tween with too much attitude, it's hard to stay calm. So make sure your child is someplace safe -- a crib or a safe room of the house
for a younger child, denied access to car keys for an older one -- and take ten minutes for yourself.
2. Set a timer
When you go back to the kids, set a timer. You can handle the crying, the homework battles, the whining, or whatever for ten minutes, right? You might find that it's petered out by the time the timer dings. If not, the timer itself often provides distraction for younger children. For older ones, you can simply say, "I'm sorry, your time is up. You can move on, or you can go to your room to continue."
3. Get creative
The cool thing about parenting is that it's a little bit like being a scientist. You can experiment all the time to find what works. And what works today might not work tomorrow. Fun! The point is, don't be afraid to try something new. Your infant might calm to the dulcet tones of Matchbox 20. Your teen might agree to join you for a latte and a chat. You won't know unless you try. So try.
4. Set expectations
Granted, you won't have much luck if you tell your 6-month-old you expect peaceful rest times throughout the day. But with older kids -- even those as young as 3 or 4 -- you can set clear
expectations, and your kids may surprise you.
5. Imagine your ideal
Take five minutes to sit down and write out your ideal day. Then think about what needs to happen to get you there. What changes need to be made? What one thing can you do right now to start on the path to that ideal day? You may surprise yourself when you try this experiment. You may be a lot closer to your ideal than you think.