When I was younger I looked up to my parents and thought ‘wow they are so responsible’. Now I am a parent myself I realise that we are all just winging it. As parents and carers we can only do the best we can and keep our fingers crossed.
Everyone will have their own opinions in terms of what good parenting is but something that is key to me is nurturing the emotional wellbeing of my kids. Happiness is something that we can’t bottle and sell. I completed a course at the start of the year called Raising Kids with confidence. I am glad I wrote down everything I learnt because it is so easy to forget stuff.
The other night I woke to what I thought was the sound of one of the kids calling for me ‘muuuummy’. It was actually just my husband snoring. I couldn’t get back to sleep so instead I lay thinking about these precious little people. I worried they don’t know how much I love them. Some days it can be hard to show them when they make countless requests and treat me like the Mama slave that I am.
I thought about how much our 4 year old is taking in. She is already showing signs of her Dad’s enthusiasm for cleaning. The other day she started tidying up all the toys when we were out at softplay. I told her it is nice to be tidy but we need to not stress about it too much and remember to have fun as well.
I thought about the times she has watched me getting ready. There was a phase I used to hit the scales every Saturday morning. She became intrigued so I ditched them. I don’t want her to think that happiness comes from a number on something metal we stand on. Instead I tell her how good I feel when I exercise and eat healthy foods. I try and teach her balance. I teach her that she should never fear food and that treats are great – just not too many of them. Too much of a good thing can be bad. I never let her see me frown in the mirror. I smile and when she tells me I look pretty I accept the compliment with open arms.
One of the best things I learnt from the Raising Kids with Confidence course was how we praise our children. It can be so easy to go to town and tell them how talented and wonderful they are. Studies show that what is way more effective is teaching our little people the value of hard work and perseverance. As a result my 4 year old gets it and when I do something she is proud of she says ‘Mummy you must have worked really hard for that’. She already understands the value of effort because I have been trying my best to drum this into her. When she gives me a painting after nursery and I tell her she must have worked so hard her little face lights up with pride. Telling her she is the best painter I have ever seen would be way less effective – especially long term.
As I lay unable to get back to sleep it hit me – whilst we can’t fully control our children’s happiness, we are responsible for our own. Everyone has issues. We are all fighting our own battles because that is life. It is how we learn to deal with them that matters.
Sometimes I feel enormous pressure because I know the kids are absorbing everything from us. Our mood has an impact on theirs. I know that one of the best things I can do as a Mum is to nurture my own emotional wellbeing. I work hard at this by keeping active and spending time with people who are important to me: people that make me happy. I stay true to my passions. I enjoy booze, caffeine and sugar but I try and control them over them controlling me. I make time to read. I try and think about other peoples feelings. I strive to be a good soul and not an asshole as often as possible. I make sleep a priority (and yes teething sucks). I accept myself for who I am. I talk about my feelings and don’t bottle them up. I make sure I take a break every now and again. It isn’t rocket science. These things are all proven to help keep us mentally healthy.
There are days I slip up BIG style. I never struggled with PMT until I had kids. Parenthood and PMT for me is intense (I have renamed it Physcho Mama Time). I am not sure if it is down to less sleep and time to chill or if it is hormonal but there are often those few days in the month that I lose my balance. I normally know those days have arrived when my husband uses the expression ‘what is wrong with you?!’. Now he just smiles and says ‘PMT baby’. It’s always those closest to us who have to pick up the pieces and I find my patience with my husband and 2 small kids can vanish. I am always so relieved when those days pass.
When the kids see me happy they are happy. So as often as I can ( occasional PMT moments of rage aside) I strive to be happy. I strive to see the good in tricky situations. If someone does something out of line I try to understand why. I try not to take things personally. I laugh as much as possible – even when the going gets rough, I try and see the funny side of the mental moments.
I asked my 4 year old the other day what I can do to make sure she is happy. Her answer: play with me and give me chocolate. So I am doing plenty of that too. I am still winging it though.
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