As parents, I know you’re eager for tips and suggestions that will help you show up for your kids with patience, kindness, and presence.
Because let’s be honest — it isn’t easy.
You may feel more than a little frustrated when your child takes one look at the dinner you’ve lovingly prepared and yells, “YUCK! I’m not eating that!”
Or you may wonder how it’s possible to be the cool, calm Captain of the ship when your kids are teasing and poking each other in the back seat, despite repeatedly asking them to stop.
But progress happens in tiny baby steps, rather than big leaps.
So I thought I’d share 3 simple ideas that may help you get through the day with a little more ease.
1. One day at a time.
This powerful phrase is a cornerstone of the 12-step programs for a reason; when we try to imagine doing something difficult forever, it seems impossible, whereas getting through just today feels more possible.
One of the reasons parents go from being mildly annoyed to thoroughly overwhelmed is that we project our child’s current difficult behavior into the future.
When our child still hasn’t fallen asleep after 2 hours of drama, we picture the meltdown they may have tomorrow if they don’t get enough sleep tonight.
If our child refuses to eat anything but pasta with butter, we may imagine them turning into a college student who lives exclusively on Mac & Cheese.
If you get anxious over something your child is doing today, ask yourself if you’re painting a picture of a worrisome future.
2. This, too, shall pass.
This is one of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a young mother. It came from my mother-in-law after I complained that my toddler wouldn’t let me out of his sight.
Once I embraced her hard-earned wisdom about how short-term the situation was, I was able to relax while being constantly shadowed by my little guy. Sure enough, a few weeks later he had grown out of that particular behavior.
The truth is, everything changes. Kids move in and out of phases. While sometimes we do need to take action around challenging behavior, there are times when we need to get up in the helicopter to see today’s situation from a more realistic perspective.
3. I am not alone.
Human beings are interdependent creatures. Getting through difficulties is always easier when we have someone cheering us on, propping us up, or sharing similar struggles.
The next time you’re having a rough time, close your eyes, place your hand on your heart, and picture other mothers and fathers and aunties and grandpas around the world who are having the same difficult moment that you’re having.
Maybe your child is having a meltdown and you’re too exhausted to come up with anything to settle them down. Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, and tune in to others who — in this very moment — are dealing with the same thing.
Reminding ourselves that we aren’t alone is a powerful way to give ourselves what we need in difficult moments: patience, understanding, and grace.
Be good to yourselves, y’all. You’re doing great!