Of all the jobs you have had, being a mother may have proven to be the most difficult, but maybe also the most rewarding.
Children can teach parents surprising lessons about life and love they might have missed without their jumping-off-the-walls instruction.
And if you have kids, the New Year means another 365 days of chasing those little ones. But you can make this year the one when you really set a good example and mentor them the best you can as they prepare to fly off solo eventually into the real world.
This New Year, take a moment to consider your parenting habits. As a mother, making resolutions show children that you can accept your weaknesses, misgivings and challenges and be hopeful about making changes.
As with any resolution, honestly examine areas where you feel you could be doing better or want to improve. Below are eight parenting resolution thought-starters you need to give more attention this year.
Be there for their children. Mindful parenting means giving your children full, curious and happy attention.
Listen to them and respond. Don’t let yourself be distracted by your phone, or future-thinking or your own agenda. Be fully there for them, giving what they need the most: your attention, combined with an openness that encourages them to share whatever is on their mind or what’s happening with them at that moment.
Yell less, and breathe more. Many mothers yell, but you won’t blame them. That level of frustration is understandable, but yelling is the least productive way to manage children. It can cause damage.
Researchers found that tweens and teens whose parents yelled for discipline had increased behavioural issues including being violent. Another study linked yelling to lowering a child’s self-esteem and increasing the likelihood of depression.
You can also walk away, give yourself a time out. Lie on your bed and breathe slowly. You can even tell your kids that you need to take a break before you respond to them, because you want to calm yourself. That’s great modelling for the times when they feel the same level of frustration.
Decrease screen time. Measure your screen consumption, and that of each of your kids’, over the course of a typical week. Count everything (school, work, smart phones, laptops, TV) and add it all up. Whatever it is, it’s probably too much.
Another useful device is accountability. Tell your children what you are working to improve. They will remind and support you because they want you to succeed and the family to thrive.
The mere effort of paying attention to these areas of parenting will benefit you, even when you fall short of your new goals. And, remember, mistakes are just moments to model for your kids.
So, when, despite your best efforts, you yell, just apologize and show your kids that you are just human. And remind yourself that parenthood is a journey, not a destination.