I recently spent a morning talking about parenting with a local MOPS group. I have to tell you, it was a blast! These moms were totally engaged, asking questions, sharing suggestions, being
open and honest and speaking from their hearts.
One of the best lines I heard that day was, "I don't have dust bunnies, I have dust dinosaurs!" The room burst into laughter because so many of us could relate.
It got me thinking about how some parents have really high expectations of themselves and the stress that causes. Let me explain...
One mom admitted she has a hard time letting go of her "to-do" list to just enjoy playing with the kids. Another chimed in that she feels like she's got a constant checklist of things that she "should be doing" running in her head while she's doing things with her kids.
It hit a cord with me as well. I remembered feeling like these moms do, like we can't just relax into our playtime with the kids because there's a sink full of dirty dishes, the laundry needs to get folded and the dust bunnies have grown into dinosaurs!
Many experts will say things like, "You just have to let that go, the kids are only little once." Yes, that's true, but let's dig into the real underlying issues here. These are the parenting life lessons no one talks to us about, so I'm putting it all out there!
1. Don't worry about appearances
I think we all feel the need to look like we "have it all together." The comparison game is exhausting! You see other moms looking totally put together as they drop off their kids while you're in yoga pants and your hair is in a pony tail and you're just thankful the kids are on time.
Our kids tell us how "Jackson's mom packs better lunches" or "Kayla's dad helps at school all the time." Thanks, kiddo, it's not like I don't have enough guilt already!
2. Ignore social media pressures
While I enjoy social media, I can tell you it's the downfall of so many of us!
Okay, raise your hand if you have ever jumped on Facebook or Instagram for "just a few minutes" and an hour later you're still scrolling? Even more telling, think about how you feel after checking out everyone's posts. Do you ever feel your life is boring or like you're failing as a parent?
This MOPS group got it right when they described it as a "highlights reel" and not reality. Spot on! I couldn't agree more. While those Disney vacation pics all look fabulously fun, let's get real. They don't depict the true day-in-the-life of anyone.
We all "know" that those Instagram dinner photos are well staged with perfect lighting. What they don't show are the hours of cooking, the mess of pots and pans still in the sink and the kids who are battling in the background over a toy.
3. Embrace the imperfections
When that mom admitted her dust bunnies are more like dust dinosaurs, I could feel a sense of relief in the room. So many moms are trying to appear like they are owning this parenting thing, but the reality is we aren't and that's okay!
Kids don't come with instructions, but they should! Parenting is the most important job we'll ever have, and yet it's the one with the least amount of training. Sure, there are Lamaze classes and "how to nurse your baby" classes, but where are the classes on dealing with toddler tantrums or your sassy preteen? (Okay, I offer help with that, but keep reading!)
We are all doing the best we can. We learned about parenting from our own parents...good, bad or otherwise. Many of us, my husband and I included, had to move away from our own families due to a job, so we didn't have our relatives close by to offer support, advice and an occasional night out. So let's give ourselves and each other a break!
I am the first to admit I wanted to appear like I knew what I was doing. Three weeks into being parents we discovered our daughter had colic and it lasted 3 months. Yep, 3 months of crying and not sleeping (and she was a mess too! lol).
My husband, God love him, tried to be supportive but honestly neither of us knew what we were doing. We muddled through but that's when I learned that A) I do not have this parenting thing down and B) this was the first of many times I would be uncertain how to deal with things.
4. Ask for help
It took me a while to embrace my imperfections as a mom. Bless our daughter, she and I had a huge learning curve with her as our first! I read as many parenting books as I could, but I had a hard time figuring out how to apply it to our kiddo.
I asked other moms, some had great ideas, others had the same feelings of sleep deprivation, confusion and that they were barely holding on.
Reach out to others who have experience and training in the field of parenting. I wish I'd had a parent coach when our kids were little, so I became one to support other parents through the hard parts of parenting.
5. Start from the ground up
I discovered that building a family foundation is the best way to get a handle on things, including those growing dust bunnies. When you have a clear definition of your family vision, values and goals, it makes this parenting thing so much easier and you'll set your family up for success.
Vision + Values + Goals = Your Family Foundation
Working with parents for as long as I have, I've developed this formula for success. When parents are intentional in their parenting, there's less stress and better family dynamics. You'll give the kids consistent messaging and they'll know the discipline is guided by your family values.
Mike and I had never discussed parenting styles or discipline techniques. Like everyone else, we just assumed we'd figure it out. Save yourself that frustration and start having those conversations today!
In fact, my coaching program, The Power of Us, takes your strengths, your vision, values and goals and puts them into a family action plan that works. As for the dust bunnies, we'll get the family on board to help you with those too!!
If you'd like some help sorting through the chaos and getting your family on track, let's chat. I'm here to help! Click this link to book a call today!
** My thanks to the beautiful mamas of the Liberty Presbyterian Church MOPS group for inspiring this blog! What a wonderful and supportive group of moms helping moms!