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Putting the Pleasure Back in Parenting

Childrens Health > Putting the Pleasure Back in Parenting

Just like any other relationship, parent – child relationships are relationships between two individuals and all that entails. Necessarily, there will be good days and bad days. There may be days you find yourself counting the moments until bedtime. You will also have days when your child’s smile is like your air, sun and moon. There are days you’re absolutely certain that, despite any shortcomings, you’re a great mom. Then there are those other days…

If you ever have those days, and chances are you’ve had at least one, then these reminders will be helpful for you. Read them and remember…you’re doing your best, which looks different on different days. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job mostly well done.

Pay attention – The first rule of parenting is pay attention. Give yourself over completely to the task at hand. Be fully present in the moment and watch how full the moment can become.

Plan fun time (one on one) - The train show came to town recently. My three-year-old was absolutely captivated. We spent three hours watching trains travel in circles. That afternoon provided a wonderful opportunity to step away from the frustration of potty training and other daily delights to simply enjoy being together.

Plan a divider – After the workday has ended (if at all possible) find a way to divide your day and mentally prepare for the second shift. Exercise or take a shower.
Spend a few minutes to reconnect with your children before you start dinner. If you have a younger child you might try story time. Older children may appreciate a listening ear (as opposed to a frustrated tone) or being joined in a quick game on the Playstation.

Say what you mean and mean what you say - Let’s face it, repeating yourself is draining as well as demoralizing. When your kids know you don’t really mean it until you start yelling, chances are you’re really frustrated right about now. Instead, identify problem behaviors and work on one at a time. Determine (in a family meeting) five or so house rules and acceptable consequences when they’re broken. Children love and need opportunities to contribute, and clarity about expectations helps the house run more smoothly. Important tip: Remember to follow through consistently.

Plan personal time - If mom’s not happy chances are no one is happy. It serves no one if you are exhausted and emotionally drained most of the time. Try taking five minutes before you get up each morning to focus your thoughts. Concentrate on your breathing and visualize the day you want to have. You can also take a moment or two to do this throughout the day. It’s okay to regroup if your attitude slips. You can choose to change your attitude.

Be willing to reimagine motherhood - We have conveniences and opportunities that most of our mothers never imagined. Use them all. You get no extra points for the mother as martyr role.

Refuse to give in to peer pressure - I can see the steely glances of disapproval from other shoppers when my son misbehaves in the grocery store. Let them stare I think, usually right after I begin to sweat under their hot glances. The bottom line is I have a parenting plan. Parenting is not a haphazard proposition. If I take my son to the store tired from a full day and hungry no less I should expect a fair amount of acting out. After all, he is only 3. He deserves compassion not a frustrated swat, which by the way only aggravates the problem.

Deal with resentments - Instead of stewing about how your spouse/partner doesn’t help, clearly identify what help you need, and then ask. Remember to talk about why the help is important to you and do it without shaming or blaming. That will get you nowhere fast.

Forgive yourself - Let go of guilt around letting your children watch “too much television,” the dirty kitchen floor, and all of the other things you beat yourself up about. Its okay. Really. Stay focused on the bigger picture and give yourself some credit.

Resolve not to compare yourself to other moms - You sell yourself short when you’re so busy mourning the qualities you don’t have that don’t celebrate the ones you do. Your worth comes not from what you do, but who you are…you. You are enough.

Childrens Health > Putting the Pleasure Back in Parenting