I would like to say parenting came naturally to me, but there have been many times that I felt out of my depth, incompetent, ill equipped and just some how ‘incomplete’.
There have been times when I felt like breaking open a bottle of champagne (& I don’t even like the stuff) because woohoo I nailed it!! And many times when I got down on my knees & begged the sun to go down so a new day would begin.
Parenting is one of those things you don’t know what to do until you need to do it.
Here’s 7 tip that have helped me on The ‘Mum’ journey.
1.See it as a journey – we don’t end where we start. I promise you we get better with age and experience. Give yourself a break; what you get wrong today you can fix the next time it crops up tomorrow because it probably will crop up tomorrow. Just keep moving.
2. Take and store all the wisdom you can – make a Pinterest board, write a journal, fill the place in your brain that stores up useful facts for the time when its needed. Listen in to other families, spend time with people whose children are a few stages ahead of you and watch & copy them. Google, sift and bake it all together. I have learnt to view the ‘Mum’ thing like any learning experience; skills built over time. Bolt on what you need when you need it.
3.Take time to listen – actively listen. I have found more answers over the years in finding out what my children need but are not asking for verbally; an angry child might need food, a naughty child can need comfort, a disruptive child can need time of quiet away from the crowds, a giddy child = sleep. Children rarely have the vocabulary to articulate how they feel. Actively listening is an invaluable skill to add to your Mum toolkit & will save you a tonne of time and energy.
4. Never underestimate how different your children are to you – their learning style, their love language, their personality type. What makes them tick, fills them with hope? ‘Equal doesn’t mean the same’, family values stay the same, routines can stay the same but each child comes with a deep need to be understood for themselves. And just as you are working them out you will probably find they are about to leave home!!!
5. Don’t be afraid of challenges & obstacles in yourself or your children. There are some life experiences that teach our children in ways we cannot. Our job is to give them the tools to navigate those challenges and not to always to shield our children from them. (Note: not talking about risky or harmful situations at this point.)
6. Set them up for success & let them give life a go. Try not to jump in and fix everything. How hard is this one?!!! It’s cute to wipe the nose of a 2 year old but not cool to wipe to nose of a 12 year old. From an early age, if they can do something, allow them to do it – tying shoelaces (ditch the velcro), making beds, cleaning their rooms, sorting laundry into piles, pay with their own money at the till, what they climb up, they can climb down, light a fire, cook, bake & when the time’s right to walk to school alone, have a front door key. The goal is not to speed up the childhood or slow down the ageing process, the goal is to take seemingly simple skills and place them in your child’s hands, which in turn encourages them to be more confident individuals ready & able to make more confident choices as tweens, teens and adults. What you build in them today, is a gift to their future lives.
7. I released myself a long time ago for feeling responsible for their happiness – it’s an insatiable goal and one as parents we can never score top in. I can coach, love, train, provide, I can inject fun, faith and life. BUT making happiness the goal sets us up to fail. Instead I ditched the notion, I refuse to be Disney Land – there’s only one Mickey Mouse and it’s not my middle name.
And there we have it! 7 tips to overcoming the feeling of “will I ever get it right” or “will my kids need therapy when they get older” or “please God don’t let them remember the day I locked them outside and would only speak to them through the letterbox because I knew if they stayed in it would end in tears” (my tears).
In daily choosing to let my children be themselves it has been the best remedy to always needing to be in control and always feeling the need to get it right.
The truth is we won’t always get it right and yes, sometimes our knowledge is incomplete, but phew, thank God, good families are not built on perfection but built on tiny moments & some imperfection worked out in love.
Praying for you all on the ‘Mum’ journey.
WATCH & LISTEN