7 Simple Secrets to Totally Rocking Your Parenting
Parenting is hard. Harder than we imagined before we became parents. I've read somewhere the other day something like "I was a much better mother before I became one!" and I could not agree more! But there are also tricks to parenting that you discover as you go along. These simple secrets can totally make you rock your parenting. I know they work for me! So, without further ado, here they are:
Simple Parenting Secret #1: Be Touchy-Feely
Kids are very physical creatures. They thrive on hugs and kisses, on being held and rocked and caressed. Whenever I am in trouble, whenever I don't know what to do or say, I first pick of my kids and give them a very, very big hug. I cover their faces or heads with kisses and I hold them in my arms. Just like that. It works for them, because it calms them down. It works for me, because it calms me down - and it anchors me into the big picture: which is that I love them more than life itself. The rest... we just figure it out.
Do I do that even when they are being naughty, you ask? Actually, yes. I may leave a moment or two in there for them to pause and think about what happened on their own, but I still hug and kiss and pat their heads. No matter how mad we are with each other, we always end up that way. Think of it as the "never go to bed angry" version for kids!
Simple Parenting Secret #2: Don't Be Proud
Putting yourself on a pedestal and pretending you are "THE AUTHORITY" doesn't serve anyone, least of all your kids. They can't relate to someone who is not... ahem... human. So when you make mistakes, don't be too proud to admit it! Say it - and apologize! This will not only make it right with your kids, it will also demonstrate the healthy way to react when you make a mistake. It will come back around to you, believe me!
Simple Parenting Secret #3: Check the Basics (Food, Water, Sleep...)
Sometimes it can be as simple as "Baby is hungry!" or "Tot hasn't slept enough, he needs one extra hour!". You don't have to search too far. Make sure their tummies are full, they had enough water and they slept enough. Any of those things can be major issues for babies and kids.
Simple Parenting Secret #4: Check Your Mood
Kids have incredible antennae for picking up whatever is happening around them - especially with their parents and (sorry, dads!) specifically with their mothers. If you are in a bad mood, believe you me, they feel it! If you are anxious about finances, it will somehow trickle into the mood of your child into the form of a "weird" temper tantrum. When their mama is not okay, their very foundation is rocked. Which does not mean, of course, that you have no right to be worried or anxious about stuff. All I am saying is that, first of all, you have to own it. Brushing it under the proverbial carpet is not a solution because your kid, believe you me, will find it and pull it out! Secondly, you can explain to your child what is going on. Don't do it in a scary way (OMG, we'll starve and have to move in with grandmaaaaa!) but just say that mama has something on her mind. Fessing up and owning to my fears has worked wonders with my kids. Just admitting it seems to calm them down. I sometimes have the impression that they think I got it for simply being aware of it and giving it (calm) thought!
Simple Parenting Secret #5: Don't Feel Guilty for Taking a Break
The other day I read in a gossip magazine (yes, I do read those sometimes...) that I don't know what pregnant starlet with two other kids at home had a habit of hiding from her kids at the other end of the house. Where I live (Belgium), mamas are habitually advised to just let the baby cry for fifteen minutes while they take a much-needed break. You may not be comfortable with that. I was not either. But you may feel obligated to work around the clock to catch up with everything you need to do, when you could be taking a break while the baby is sleeping! Take a nap! Go get a manicure and leave the baby with dad! Happy mamas are great mamas. Besides, do you remember how much you used to hate your own mother's playing the martyr? Just... don't. You are human too. Including going to the toilet, by the way. (Yeah, you know who you are, postponing going potty because your kid(s) need(s) you!)
Simple Parenting Secret #6: Talk it Out
Don't underestimate the value of a good bitchin' session! In the old days when everybody used to live together on the farm, there were always women around to talk to about women's stuff, including giving birth, becoming a mother and raising children. These days we live more isolated lives. So much so that depression is on the rise. More than ever. They don't know the extent to which women are affected by postpartum depression or "blues", because a lot of us feel embarrassed to complain about "the happiest time of our life". Well, yes, it is the happiest time. But it is also the toughest. Talking helps. Sisterhood helps. Hey, even talking to strangers help. The point is, don't keep it all bottled up. Make sure you are seen and heard.
Simple Parenting Secret #7: Be Kind to YOU
We all want to teach our kids love and kindness but us mothers often forget to treat ourselves that way. I beat myself oh in so many ways because I could not bring home a full-time income while raising two small kids. There were lots of other reasons for finding myself inadequate, incompetent and lacking: the mess in the house; the dirty dishes; the piles of laundry... Until the day I realized that my kids are picking up their clues (and cues!) from me! Not just about how to treat me, but how to treat themselves. I want them to be kind to themselves - and loving. So I decided that, at least for their sake, I will always be kind to myself too: go easy on mistakes, give myself a break, pamper myself... and whatever else the moment brings.
Have you discovered any secrets during your parenting journey? Tips, "shortcuts", hacks that make it easier, better, more fun? Please let me know in the comments box!