As we have all figured out, this parenting thing is hard. There are no rules, and every time we think we have it figured out, the game takes a 180-degree turn, leaving us spinning.
Being a mom is not for the faint-hearted.
The coming of the new year means a chance for a fresh start, to turn things around and to dig back into this whole parenting gig with a new perspective. Here are the goals I have for making myself a better mom in 2017.
The minute I hear the words “Mom, can I…?” my mouth seems to already be forming the word “no.” Nine times out of ten, there is really no reason for that “no”, other than it’s the easiest thing for me to say. I have been making an effort to really stop and think about what my guy is asking before denying him.
Sure, homework needs to be done, and dinner needs to be made. But there is (usually) no harm in delaying things by 30 minutes so he can play outside with his friends, or ruin his appetite by getting a popsicle from the ice cream truck.
Choose your battles.
Watermelon dipped in ketchup? Bow ties with crew-neck tees? Wearing a jacket to bed or eating with toothpicks instead of utensils?
We all have certain expectations of behavior, but just because it’s not MY way doesn’t mean it’s the WRONG way. My guy has an affinity for crazy socks. The wackier the better. They never match anything and it’s certainly not how I would leave the house, but it’s his style and the way he has chosen to express himself.
It harms nothing to step back and let it be, and while I might ask him to change for our annual family photo session, it’s not worth it to me to spend time arguing over pieces of fabric that go on someone else’s feet.
I was never gifted with the virtue of patience, and I can be pretty quick to find fault. I hold myself to high, sometimes unreasonable standards, and I don’t generally ease up on that in regards to others.
However, our kids are learning. They are still relatively new to this whole “life” thing, and they are going to make mistakes, sometimes even big ones, as they navigate the twists and turns of the human existence. It’s our job to guide them along the way, even coming down on them when appropriate.
In doing so, my goal for the year is to be more kind and constructive. I want my words to be encouraging and absorbed, not cutting and destructive. I want to teach, not tear down. I know we will both be better for it.
Be more fun.
Last year, I realized that sometimes, we all needed a reset. Daily stressors would weigh heavily on us, making us all snappish, irritable and short-tempered. In response, I would try to think of something fun and even outlandish, to jolt everyone out of their snippy moods and give us a break.
My guy loved the afternoons where we rode our bikes to the pool and ordered pizza delivery to eat at the picnic tables (even on a school night!). Or when we changed into PJs early on a Friday, pulled out the giant air mattress and ate popcorn for dinner with a few great movies. He loved when I laced all our bikes with battery-operated lights and led a late-night bicycle tour of the holiday lights in our neighborhood, with carols blasting from his dad’s phone.
I loved keeping everyone on their toes, and I also loved turning things around to improve our family relationship. I am already thinking of the next way to surprise them!
Do one thing that scares you.
Part of being a good mom is remembering to do things for yourself. It can be nearly impossible, but carving out just a little time for self-care and improvement is so valuable. Not only does it help keep you sharp and fresh, but it sends great messages to our kids: we are worth it! We are always growing and developing. We are never too old to take on new challenges. We are not afraid to try new things.
Register for an enrichment class in something you love at the nearest college.
Zipline at Alligator Farm.
Go to the movies by yourself. Talk to a new mom at the bus stop. Do one thing, anything, that takes you out of your comfort zone.
I promise, you won’t regret it.