Let's just be real from the jump. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs and although you go in hoping for the best, you end up realizing that hoping can only get you so far. Having to deal with the joys and pains of parenting a seven year old and two five year olds has made me put a lot of thought into how I am parenting them and what I want to accomplish as their parent.
Lately, I've been on this journey of parenting with purpose. Yes, I too want to be one of those "woke" mamas. I want to be intentional and all namaste with my kids. But all jokes aside, I want to be able to prioritize where I put my time and energy when parenting my kids. To me, Parenting with purpose simply means recognizing that my actions will have a long-lasting impact on my kids. And the truth is, I want them to grow up and be well rounded people who can navigate this world in a stable and productive way.
This post walks through 5 tips on how I've been working on parenting with purpose.
1. DON'T OVERREACT
Easier said than done, right? I sometimes find myself responding quickly when my children begin to act "inappropriately". Whether it's goofing off or simply not listening to a word I say. At times I find myself getting riled up and my first reaction is to raise my voice or throw my hands up in the air and walk away. What I have realize is that my response needs to be more mindful. It is important for me to think before I react because my words and my actions will have an impact on my kids. Sometimes it's better to just keep my cool. Sometimes it's okay to simply ignore the bad behaviours. And most importantly, if (when) I lose my cool, I own it. I don't want to my kids to feel like they triggered my outburst. It's as simple as saying "I'm disappointed by your behaviour but I should not have yelled, and I'm sorry". It's important to be a good role model for our kids and for them to see positive and appropriate reactions to negative actions.
2. USE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
There really is a lot of strength in words. Teaching our kids the power of positive words and thoughts is so important to their development. I purposely speak words of affirmation to build up my kids daily. I tell them how much they make me smile. I tell them that there is no one like them in this world. I let them know that I love spending time with them and how special they are to me. One of the most important things I try to say to my kids is that I love being their mom. I want my words to become my kid's inner voice. I want my words to shape who they are and how they see themselves. I want to influence who my children think they can be. I've seen personally how words of affirmation have such a positive affect on how my kids feel about themselves. They feel loved and they know they're special and unlike any other person in this world.
3. BE PRESENT
I have moments when I struggle with giving all three of my kids focused personal time. There are so many factors that can distract you as a parent. My kids don't want my attention, they need it. When I'm not giving them attention, they look for it. Sometimes my kids use negative attention seeking behaviour to get me to see and hear them. Who really wants that?
Recently, I've been intentionally putting my phone away, turning off the tv and closing my laptop so I can be 100% present for my kids with zero distractions. I really believe positive attention helps children feel secure and valued. I want to show my kids that they are important to me by making the effort to spend individual uninterrupted time them. I started small . . .15 minutes of personal time with each child daily. We chat. We play games. And sometimes we just lay around cuddling. By being more present my kids have become less needy and more independent.
4. TEACH THEM GRATITUTE
Raising kids who do not feel entitled is very difficult nowadays. One day I asked myself, am I instilling the right values in my children? Are they thankful? Are they humble? Do they appreciate all the things they have and have access too? Are they self sufficient?
It's so easy for kids to be me-centric and it happens very unconsciously. As parents we give, give, give and we give without expecting anything in return. Entitled kids can eventually turn into high maintenance kids. I'm currently working on expecting more from my kids. I want them to contribute to their household. Help out when needed. And I don't want them to label their contributions as "chores". I want them to recognize how their contributions add value to our family. By holding my little ones to a higher standard, they have exceeded those standards. I'm just doing my best to raise three responsible, respectful empowered individuals.
5. HELP THEM OVERCOME THEIR FEARS
I try my best to encourage my kids to face their fears. I tell them all the time to "Just go for it!" or "Do it!". It's important for them to know that fears are normal. Whenever my kids are reluctant or unwilling to face something new, I let them know that it's okay to feel the emotions they're feeling but the most important thing is how they react to those emotions. They need to know that bravery can not exist without fear. I do my best to be an example for my kids by doing the things that make me uncomfortable and letting them see that mama has fears too. I tell them stories about how I overcame my fears. Don't we all want our kids to be courageous and confident? Let them know that being courageous can sometimes feel frightening but it can also feel thrilling, exciting and empowering!
Parenting with purpose doesn't have to be complicated. When I first became a mom I had no idea what I was doing but what I know now is that parenting is a learning process that really never ends. It's okay to not always get it right but most importantly, know what type of parent you want to be and do your best to be that type of parent.