Prior to having children, at no point did I think about how I was going to handle certain difficulties when they would arise. Hell, even when my eldest son was in his first year I couldn't ever imagine what it was going to be like having to deal with the new stages that they would go through. The tantrums, the correcting in behaviour, discipline and finding the balance to handle it all with a steady calm mindset. I remember when Leoh (my now five year old son), had began acting out in different ways, I struggled understanding how to effectively discipline him in a way that didn't just "get the point across", but impacted him in order to change that behaviour. Now, don't get me wrong, I do NOT have it all figured out. There is no manual on every kid, and no matter what, you're going to have to try out different things (in what your comfortable with), to see what works efficiently.
When you look at someones social media, you see all the good days. "You don't ever see the bad days in photographs. But you see the good days that get you through them", and often times if you live your life looking at other individuals lives are so "perfect", you become harder on yourself to be perfect. You put the pressure on your kids to be perfect. And reality is, no one is. Everyone is going to have rough days, we all do no matter what age, and the best way to always handle those situations is to treat your children the way you would want someone to help you get through challenges. You model the behaviour you want your children to carry, and you want them to be understanding, patient and kind.
I say this, and I will give myself the credit of saying I do my best to carry this attitude most days. But, like everyone else, I'm not perfect. Some days, I struggle. Some days both the boys are arguing, and I feel like no communication is working. They aren't listening, and I get to my wits end. And if you are going through one of these days, know that you are doing an amazing job. Today may be hard, but take a moment for yourself. Listen to music that brings you back to peace, make a playlist that makes you feel happy. Play it loud, sing to it, dance. Find the peace within yourself, then prepare yourself to handle your children in a way that can be effective. Some times we feel as if in heated moments, we need to jump in and conclude the problem then and there, however sometimes the best thing to do is separate yourself, find grounding and handle it under a stronger mindset. Always think of what you are saying to your children, and withhold from saying things that could potentially project them carrying on a negative mindset the rest of the day (such as "you're acting bad today"), but after you've dealt with a heated moment, say something along the lines of "I know you're struggling right now, but what can we do that will make today a better day?", children are learning how to handle their emotions and it's very difficult for them to understand how to change their mindset to positive and constructively, unless you guide them. It's hard, and requires a lot of patience, but you can do it. And it's never too late to start using this with your children, because no matter what, we're all learning how to do this and we're doing the best we can.
The point of this blog post, I felt was to express to you all the way that I've learned and am still learning how to handle these situations as a single mother of two boys. Two energetic opinionated strong willed boys. Because I know how hard days can get as a parent, and how as mothers (and fathers) we beat ourselves up to be the perfect parent. And the most perfect parent you can be, is allowing yourself to be imperfect, and always available to try different ways to change. The second half of it is, give yourself a break. Take time for yourself, take care of yourself. Have a night for yourself, even if you're a single parent. Find time! Do things that you love, whether it's listening to music with your headphones on and candle light. To just having a glass of wine (or a beer), and watching your favourite film. Love yourself, because you will teach your children to love themselves. Forgive yourself, because you will teach your children forgiveness. Be patient with yourself, because you will teach your children to be patient. Treat and view yourself the way you want your children to, and treat others the way you want them to model as well.
Teach your children gratitude, is so important. By teaching gratitude, you’re teaching your children to be happy and have a positive outlook. To be grateful for the little things every day, is very important. Whether it’s the “sun is out” or they got to play with a puppy at the park. Teaching them that money doesn’t buy happiness, and living in today reminds them of what life is all about. I learned this because as a child, my mother realised this when I was about 10 years old and my brother was 12 years old. She got us notebooks, and once a week, we would sit down as a family and talk about what we were grateful for that week. Then what we were grateful in our childhood. Which in affect, created a positive outlook on every day to seek the good things. I do similarly with my children, but because their so young, I verbally speak to them regarding this. I often hear my son say, “Today is a great day isn’t it”, just because the sun is it and the sky is blue. Be grateful, teach your children gratitude, and you’ll slowly see that days will become brighter. But remember, now every day isn't going to be perfect, and that’s ok! That’s also the beautiful part about life. Some days need to be harder, in order for you to appreciate the rest!
And to my last lesson I’ve learned as a parent (so far), yelling doesn’t work. Getting loud doesn’t solve your problems, it’s not going to solve theirs and it’s not going to teach them communication. Trust me, I’ve done it. I’ve lost my cool, and I had moments of a classic parenting meltdown because the hard day, got harder. But, I’ve been teaching myself, by watching how my children react to it. They don’t listen and actually will act worse once a voice is raised. Now, “yelling” and getting your “mommy/daddy voice” on is two completely different things. When I need to be stern, my voice becomes sharp and clear. To get their attention or stop their action, and then it’s getting down on their level, making them look you in the eyes, keep eye contact and communicate. Talk to them, correct them and find a resolution or discipline that’s going to correct the behaviour in an affective way that they can understand. Always discipline in a way that you can stick with (such as, if you’re going to take a toy away. Take it away, and mean what you say. If you want them to stick with what you’re telling them, stick with what you’ve said as a consequence).
I say all this, not because I judge other parents. I don’t agree with judging anyone, I think everyone has their own way of handling their life and children, and that’s great. But I have learned this by failing at moments myself, and I needed to hear what someone went through or their advise, to pick and choose what I wanted to take from it and make changes in my life and my parenting. I can honestly say, at this point I’m at peace with the way I parent my children. Some days are still struggle and I’m always learning, especially as their always evolving and new characteristics come out but as long as I’m being grateful, I’m teaching them to be, I’m taking time for myself to keep myself at peace to deal with it and I’m being patient as well as understanding, I know that we are going to get through anything.
So today’s reminder for you, you’ve got this!