Parenting is hard. Parenting is rewarding and amazing, but hard! This has been an exceptionally hard week of parenting for me. When I decided to write a blog I built out a blog calendar. This post is not on that calendar, but it is so the top of mind it deserved a post.
If you haven’t noticed yet from my blog, I am a type A personality. Glenn is also a type A personality. We are both very particular about different things so we complement each other well. Enter Blake… Anyone who has kids, has friends with kids or has ever seen a kid knows… almost nothing goes as planned with kids. Blake is 2.5. He is a toddler with his own opinions and he can tell us what he wants (or more often than not what he doesn’t want).
I said it before and I’ll say it again… Parenting is hard, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but its hard! I haven’t been a mom for long, I am nowhere near perfect, I just strive to be good enough… some might even say I strive for an “A for Effort” :).
With that in mind, I have a list of 10 parenting goals I am striving to achieve. I want to share them with you for a few reasons. I want you all to hold me accountable, I want you to see if you can benefit from any of them, and I want to know if there are any goals you have that I am missing.
#1 – Practice patience
Remember every day that kids don’t always understand that wearing pants is just a part of being a contributing member of society, or that remembering to lean over their bowl while eating a popsicle is important. But that is okay. They are kids. I read a great article a while back. It was about having compassion for toddlers throwing a tantrum. I am sure we have all seen the “Why my child is crying” posts. They are hilarious to read, less hilarious when it is your child screaming in Target because he doesn’t want his water in a blue cup. It’s our natural reaction to get frustrated when this happens. Its so hard for us as adults to understand why it matters what color cup you have. The article I read however really put this in perspective for me. While it isn’t a big deal for us, it IS a big deal for a toddler. Isn’t it great to think we are giving our children such a great life that the biggest thing they have to worry about is what color their cup is? So be compassionate. Realize that this is a huge deal for them. Also, understand the difference between being compassionate and giving in. I don’t want to give in and bring 10 cups with me everywhere I go, but I do want to make sure I don’t tell Blake he shouldn’t be sad about the color of his cup. I want him to know I understand he is sad, and that it is okay to be sad… however this is the cup we have.
#2 – Remember what is important
Is it more important to spend that extra 10 minutes playing with your kids, or get the dishes done? Will I look back in 5 years and remember that my house was clean and my laundry was done? Or that I made great memories playing outside with my kids. This is SO hard for me, especially as someone with a type A personality. It’s in my nature to want everything to be in its place, to respond to every work email right when it comes in, to make sure I have my next blog post written and proofed on time. However, I try really hard to remind myself these are not the things that are critical. They are important… but not the most important.
#3 – Don’t compare ANYTHING
Kids are different, parents are different, and that’s okay. It would be so easy to feel like I wasn’t a good mom because Blake isn’t potty trained and other kids his age are. Or to feel guilty that I work and send Blake to daycare. But at the end of the day, I need to remind myself that there isn’t a parenting handbook, there isn’t a “right way” or a “wrong way” – and before you tell me all the wrong ways… I am not talking about giving my kid wine and leaving him home while I go to Aruba… I am talking about Pinterest telling you that you are a terrible mom because you don’t make your own homemade organic baby food. I just want to do my best and if Blake goes to bed fed and knowing he is loved then I am doing just fine!
#4 – Don’t forget who I am
I am a mom. But I am not just a mom. I need to be able to be Kristen too. So if that means planning a girls night, taking a sick day to lay in bed watching terrible TV or even just reading for an hour in bed at night – don’t forget who you are. We put so much mom guilt on ourselves for allowing ourselves to want to do anything other than be a mom. But a stressed, overworked mom is not going to be a good mom. A happy mom who takes care of herself is going to be a much better mom.
#5 – Keep dating my spouse
I know this is less about parenting but bear with me, it’s related. When you have kids it’s so easy to put your relationship on the back burner. I know I have had so many days when I am so tired I just want to go to bed or when I have had a toddler with me every second of the day (including sitting on my lap while I go to the bathroom) and I just want to be left alone. But remember – you and your spouse are a team, they are your best friend and your first love… don’t forget about them. This is the person who is going to be by your side forever – make sure you like each other! I don’t mean love each other but actually like each other. So I vow to hang out, watch a movie or eat a meal together. Do whatever we can scrounge up to be a date, but just make sure I still date my spouse.
#6 – Balance
I used to google things like “activities for 1-year-olds” and they would remind me that any screen time would ruin my child and instead I should be spending hours making educational crafts with my child. Great… but remember balance. Do awesome educational crafts, but it’s also okay to turn on the tv for a little so you can make dinner. I also need to remind myself that its okay for Blake to play by himself. I am not his 24 hour a day entertainment. Of course, I want to spend time playing with him, but it is also good for him to learn to play independently.
#7 – Laugh
Kids are hilarious. They do the weirdest things. Laugh about it! The other day Blake wanted a snack. He went into the pantry and got the goldfish crackers and tried to pour them into a bowl. As you could probably expect… the end result was about 3 crackers in the bowl and 15,000 crackers on the floor. Of course, my first reaction was to think “UGH” but then Blake ran over and yelled “MOMMY, I MADE A BIG MESS!” and put his hands on his hips. It was so funny. I need to continue to remind myself in situations like this just to laugh!
#8 – Make rules, and then break them
Everything you read says kids need a routine and boundaries – heck I need a routine. So set that routine for them. Doing the same routine helps them to know what comes next so they aren’t surprised. Also, make sure they know the rules. Most of the time we are making rules to keep them safe.
However, routine and rules are not the law. So every once in a while break them. I need to remind myself that if we miss our nap the weekend because we have friends over… that’s okay! Staying up a little longer to eat popcorn and watch a movie with Mom when Dad is gone is okay! So have some fun sometimes and break the rules.
#9 – Teach them why
It’s so easy to tell Blake what to do. We can build a routine and he will know he needs to brush his teeth at night. But he is also curious about everything so I want to try to remember to explain to him why we do things, not just tell him to do them. When we talk about how all day he gets yucky stuff on his teeth and at the end of the day we need to get it off he understands. He is interested in helping, he asks me “all the yuckys gone mama?” It might take a little longer at the beginning but pretty soon I think he will understand better and it will become less of a battle – or so I hope!
#10 – Listen
Blake is a chatterbox. He is always talking about something, some of it I can understand and other parts sound like gibberish – but he is talking, so I should be listening. There have been so many times when Blake says something and I have no idea what he is saying, so I just say “okay”. But then I think about how mad I would be if I was talking to Glenn and he just vaguely said “okay” – having no real idea what I was talking about. So I try to listen and strive to understand. It takes some creative questioning, sometimes a long time of “do you want this?”, and I still have a long way to go – but that’s why these are goals right?
So there you have it, my parenting goals for this stage in our life. I know it won’t be pretty, I know I will still have days when I feel like I haven’t done any of these things… but writing them down makes them real. Makes them be something Glenn can hold me accountable to, that I can hold myself accountable. And remember, at the end of the day we are just striving for an A for Effort!