Before I became a parent, I had a clear vision of myself as a mother and how my children would behave; today, I am a lot more experienced and a little wiser.
We don’t really get a true picture of parenthood until the journey is well underway. Children are all so unique and come with different quirks and surprises, some easier to manage than others.
I always used to ask myself if I’d been a good mom. My husband attempted to reassure me from time to time; I always felt like he just had to say it, but looking back it actually helped! So please, if you know a mom who might be experiencing moments of doubt, tell her she is doing a great job; and if you are a mom, know that you are doing just fine. Despite what Instagram and Facebook may sometimes have us believe, there is no way to be the perfect mother or raise the perfect child.
There were stretches through my motherhood journey when I became exhausted, stressed and anxious. More recently, I have learned to become a mindful parent; I did this by dropping the expectations I had for myself as a parent and accepting where I am at.
Each child we have is unique, they have their own emotions, their own personality and their own set of challenges. I allowed myself to let go of my expectations of who I thought they should be and allowed them to be who they are. This doesn’t mean I don’t set boundaries or teach them about respect; I just don’t demand anything of them but who they are.
By letting go of my expectations for myself as a mother and for who my children should be has allowed us to be who we truly are, without having to live up to unrealistic standards and pressures. Accept that the house doesn’t need to be spotless. Accept that you are going to be late getting them to school some days. Accept that the dishes and laundry will sometimes fall behind.
There will always be challenges, just accept and surrender, practice non-judgmental awareness, allow the feelings to move through you without censoring or controlling them.
Love your children for who they are, the good and the bad. Don’t judge yourself and accept that others may judge you. Give yourself grace and be kind to yourself while you are learning. Laugh and bring humor to every situation. By accepting each moment as it is, without judgement, everything in life with flow so much easier.
Don’t get caught up in how you think the situation should be, relax into the present moment and allow yourself to experience it fully. Children grow up so fast, life goes by so fast; this journey in parenthood is an unbelievable ride, children are amazing teachers, allow them to show you how beautiful this life is.
Tips for practicing mindfulness as a parent:
We all want to have more presence with our children and sometimes we don’t know how to go about making that happen.
1. Put away the screens. Activities like reading a book together allow us valuable time to connect with our children, something they so deeply desire.
2. Go on adventures. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be some big grand event. Just walk to the park and take in everything that you see in your surroundings, what do you see, hear and smell. Ask them questions. I promise, they will remember these adventures!
3. Take time for yourself. Do some self care, exercise, go for a walk, have a bath or go for a massage. Just allow yourself to step away and refocus your mind.
4. Play with them. Forget about being an adult and the stresses that come with, don’t look at the time and just immerse yourself in playing with your child. Play is a spirit, not an activity.
5. Reading information on mindfulness can help you develop some skills for practicing mindfulness as a parent; some books I recommend are ‘Mindful Parenting’ by Oli Doyle and ‘Parenting with Presence’ by Susan Stiffelman.
Parenting can be very demanding and interesting. It is asking us to be our best while throwing challenges at us, leaving us short on energy, sleep and patience. The biggest challenge is the need to know yourself as your attention is being pulled towards your children. The path of perfectionism can make us stiff and guarded. It can prevent us from opening to the wonderful opportunity of failure and learning together as we navigate life.
Trying to raise a perfect child and trying to be the perfect parent just brings a lot of unnecessary stress and unhappiness.