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How to be a happy parent

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What's the secret of happy children? A happy parent, of course! Here's how to stay positive while sharing your life with a toddler. 

1. Get fresh air and exercise

You don't have to join a gym - just get your trainers on and go for a brisk walk or run. Or put your tot in the buggy - pushing it tones up the arms nicely!

2. Remember your tot won't be a baby for long

Although it sometimes seems like the early years will never end, they do, and one day you'll look back in wonder at how cute your little one was, and how lovely it was that he adored and needed you!

3. Take time out

You have the right to have fun now and then, whether you take up an old hobby again or go out with your partner or friends. You're not being selfish when you head out to meet your mummy mates for a drink - you're keeping yourself sane!

4. Look after yourself

Taking care of your body will help lift your spirits. So sleep well when you can, and maybe pop a multivitamin if you think you're not eating as well as you could. Don't grab that naughty snack to give yourself a boost, because ultimately it will only drag you down - ditto cigarettes and alcohol. With a sensible eating plan not only will you feel great, you'll look fantastic too!

5. Keep your finances under control

Money worries or fears about job security are a huge source of stress, especially for parents. While it's easier said than done, the sensible advice is to budget carefully, stay away from loans unless it's a real emergency, and pay bills on time.

6. Climb out of your rut

If routine is getting you down, mix things up a bit. Instead of having tea at home, have a picnic; instead of another Monday toddler group, take a trip to the seaside. If you're finding it hard to juggle work and childcare, ask if you can change to a more flexible work pattern (see gov.uk/flexible-working for details of flexible working), or discuss the possibility of your partner taking on more childcare for a year or two.

7. Get rid of clutter

Never forget that having a spotless home doesn't make you a better parent! But if you feel overwhelmed by clutter, getting organised will help. Simple fixes include stylish baskets in every room for toys and near the front door for shoes, and hooks behind doors for coats and hats. Not used something for a while? Fill some bags for charity; as the old saying goes, if in doubt, chuck it out!

8. Make mum friends

The most sanity-saving thing you can have when you're a parent is friends in the same boat! Head out to a playgroup, music group or toddler swimming class armed with simple conversation openers like: "Your tot's cute; what's her name?" Find local listings on the web or in your library.

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