Before I had my first child I always said that my children would be perfect and naturally fall in line like the Von Trapp’s. They were going to be the most wonderful children ever, and when we would go to restaurants or any public place they would behave. I wasn’t going to be like other parent’s who had to constantly talk to their children because mine would know what to do and would always listen the first time.
Well, guess what…I had kids.
I can honestly say that things went well with the first two kids, but then Isla came and well things changed enormously for all of us. She is an exceptionally high-spirited child. I am often having to check my patience multiple times a day, because dealing with her can at times be taxing. On top of Drew having ADHD and Autism, it can make the day pretty rough at times.
The bright side is there are times when we go in public and I often get compliments on how wonderful they are and well behaved. I started thinking about what made those times different than other times when it would be complete chaos. I realized that difference was me. I was parenting a lot different these days.
Over the last 13 years, I have had plenty of ups and downs with parenting, I have made mistakes. But one thing that remained the same was if I was in a good frame of mind, so where my children. If I had to make a run to the store and was dreading it, unacceptable behavior was bound to happen. However, if I remained positive and just enjoyed the time out with the kids then it would be a relatively good outing (not always perfect, but not terrible either).
I have found that it’s good practice for me to always try and stay in a positive mindset, even when I don’t want to be. Preemptively heading off bad behaviors before they begin is the ultimate goal here, but it starts with the parent.
1. Having time for yourself: This isn’t the easiest task, but it is important to not lose yourself. We all have something doing that we enjoy and that gives us a sense of purpose. Whether it is writing, reading books, scrapbooking; make sure you make time to do something that you love.
2. Take your time: It just seems to happen; the moment you have a ton of things to do everything goes wrong. Having a lot of things to do can already drive your stress level up, so instead of trying to fit so much into one day, if it is at all possible spread it out. If you are like me and unable to, then try to take frequent downtime throughout your busy errand running, start earlier (if possible), or even enlist help to come along with you.
3. Rules: This is a double-edged sword; rules are great but too many rules can be bad. It’s important to remember that your kids are still kids, and if you make too many rules you will find that it is virtually impossible to stick with them all. However by establishing clear-cut rules early on, you will be able to work with your children on getting them used to them, while you are enforcing them. The goal is to help children understand that rules are in place for a reason, even with a few rules in place we can still use them as teachable moments.
4. Be a positive role model:This goes without saying. You have to model what you want your kids to be. You want them to be positive thinkers, well it starts with you. If you are constantly negative, then guess what your kids will start to be? It can start in kids early on, so even though those tough times, it’s important to model appropriate behavior in front of your children.
5. Breathe: This may seem unimportant, but I think it is one of the most important attributes to parenting calmly. There are moments as a parent when your nerves will be shot; instead of blowing up breathe and if needed step away and come back later. If you have to cry, do so, but never ever punish your children while angry.
What other tips do you have for parenting when you feel you aren’t at your best?
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.