I know what you’re thinking: what is this girl on?
In no way am I telling anyone to neglect their kids.
That’s not what I’m getting at.
In the many attempts I’ve made to be top mom, I’ve learned a few things:
>> You can only pour out to your little ones when you fill your own cup.
In other words, if you’re running on empty between practice, work, school, their schooling, chores, paying the bills, running errands, and taking the dogs out, you will never be able to give them the love and attention they need without going crazy, and no one needs a crazy mom/dad.
For some reason, society has taught us that doing more is better, but that isn’t the case. Do what matters. If you have trouble with trying to figure out if it matters, think about it this way: will your world even somewhat fall apart if you don’t get it done this week? If not, then it matters, but it doesn’t matter. (Meaning don’t put a priority flag on it.)
I used to scurry around our house and town trying to get everything done, and by the time I did, my kids were passed out on the couch waiting for me to finish my long list of to-do’s.
My point? Do what matters, and use that extra time to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. Set aside time for a coffee date for yourself or with your partner. Take time to enjoy your hobbies. Order in instead of cooking. Use Shipt instead of running to Target. Give yourself a break and love yourself because you deserve it. Your kiddos deserve a well-rested parent.
If you’re not in a relationship, then re-read the above and practice it until it becomes second nature. If you are in a relationship, continue on.
>> Your relationship sets the stage for how your kids relate to each other and the rest of the world.
Monkey see, monkey do. Yes, I’m calling our kids monkeys, but I mean it in the best way possible… and if we’re all being honest, they do somewhat resemble little monkeys sometimes. (I apologize if you don’t resonate with my humor. Your kids must be perfect and wonderfully beautiful at all times. Where did you buy them?) Our kids look to us to see how to act; those little eyes, hands, and feet — they follow in our wake.
This means that when you and your partner hate each other and constantly yell and scream and cuss — your kids will first be scared, and then come to see this as normal. When your kid/s start to yell at each other or others, don’t be surprised. They are mirror images of us.
If you and your spouse don’t spend time together and are always on electronics, the little ones will think that electronics are more valuable than time with people.
If your relationship is lacking intimacy (hugs, kisses; we shouldn’t tell or show them anything about sex until they’re beyond 30), your kids will find it hard to relate to others intimately as well.
If your relationship lacks respect, your kids will be disrespectful as well.
If you think your relationship is perfect and can’t figure out why your little s*** — I mean child — is behaving horrible, just watch them. Whatever they’re doing, odds are they got it from you. Maybe not that exact activity or thing, but the habit or the reasoning behind it.
My point: take time to figure out what’s wrong in your relationship, and fix it. Make healthy habits for your family — starting with your relationship/partnership. The rest will follow. I’m not saying it’s magic, but when partners are working hand in hand and going in the same direction, it is much easier to lead a group — in this case, little ones. If you haven’t had a date night in forever, PLAN IT NOW. Investing in your relationship is investing in your kids.
For those that may have skimmed through and landed at the bottom for the big idea of this article, I can’t say I’m offended since I’m also guilty of this… Here are the takeaways:
You are a beautiful glass pitcher and your kids are the matching cup/s; they will not receive what you don’t first give yourself: love, attention, care, time, rest. To be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself and keep your mind, body, and soul healthy.
If you are in a relationship, beware: your kids will use this relationship as a cornerstone of their relational foundations. Kids model the relationships they see; this is why abuse and divorce can be a generational pattern. Teaching kids to be decent human beings DOES NOT start with our parenting style, it starts with our relationship/relational styles.
There is no one way to parent correctly; we’re all trying to do the “right” thing, and that gets confusing. Because the world is ever-changing, there will always be trends and methods of thought that sideline our efforts and frustrate us. We need to stop focusing so much on how we can teach our kids this and that and simply be the best example of ourselves for them. Sure, methods are great, but only if their means and reasons are valid.
Teach them self-love, self-respect, and respect for others; this is what stands at the core of good people, good parents, and good kids.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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