February brings thoughts of red hearts, chocolate candy, long stem roses and a reminder to tell those we love how we feel. Some people call it a “Hallmark Holiday” – I say “So what if it is?” Sometimes in our busy lives we need to be reminded to say what is in our hearts. Children often wear their hearts on their sleeve – in that they don’t hold back. When you were waiting for your child to be born I imagine you thought not only about the details of getting ready for her/him but about what your child would look like, what personality she/he might have.
Perhaps you wondered if your child would have any problems growing up like learning problems or socialization problems. One thing is for sure, no one could really have prepared you for what it is really like to be a parent. Sure you were told that the first few months are the hardest because the baby doesn’t sleep through night but did you really ever think you would feel that tired? Sure they told you that letting your child cry was important but did you really know how hard it was going to be to let that happen? Sure they told you that your child’s first day at school would be fabulous but did you know how hard it is to let go and hold on at the same time? Sure they told you that teenagers like to take risks and be independent but did you really know how challenging it would be to watch them make mistakes and get hurt? Absolutely not!!
Being a joyful and peaceful parent is not about removing all the obstacles and challenges, it is about accepting the ups and downs of raising children. There are important things to have in place for effective parenting and improve your satisfaction with parenting your child.
Here are few ideas to help you.
1. Get Support. Be sure to get support either from a spouse, partner, Mom/Dad’s group, extended family. Parenting can be exhausting so don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
2. Rejoice in all the things that your child does right and that make you feel close to him/her. Focusing on the positive is a great way to incentivize children to do what you want or need them to do.
3. Try to create one-on-one time with each child; it doesn’t have to be every day but try for once a week if you can.
4. Slow down! Say no to being overly planned/scheduled. Everyone seems to be moving on fast forward and when this happens we miss opportunities to connect emotionally and appreciate what we have.
5. Find time for yourself. Sometimes getting the kids to bed a half an hour earlier can make a huge difference in finding some time to take care of yourself.
6. Let the kids help get things done around the house. The younger the child the more help they are going to need so keep their chores or tasks simple and easily accomplished. For example, they have to take the dishes off the table and bring them to the kitchen rather than clean the whole kitchen. For school- aged children and teens they can do a lot of the little things to get themselves ready for the next day like making sure their backpack is ready and by the door the night before, laying out clothes they want to wear the next day in case they are having a hard time getting up and going in the morning.
7. Create “house rules” and post them on the refrigerator so everyone know what is expected.
8. Give yourself credit for being a loving, concerned parent who wants what is best for their child. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back every once in a while.
We understand that although Hallmark cards would have us believe that everything is always moonlight and roses; when it comes to parenting it is moonlight, roses, diapers, training wheels, tantrums, laughter and an abundance of very authentic hugs.