Week 39 of simplify your life and we are about to tackle relationships – for me that meant parenting, dealing with negative or toxic people, marriage and friendships.
Parenting is a huge topic so remember that what I write here today is just food for thought and you should decide what your challenge will be based on where you are now and where you would like to go. Think about something you need to let go of or simplify or make a change with and trust that moving in that direction will lead to greater peace with your parenting. It may be related to one of the areas I highlight below or something completely different (in which case I would love to hear your story and advice / challenge / change).
remove “shoulds” and outsider expectations
Often we complicate things based on how we were raised (“my parents never let me get away with that…”), what we see other people doing (“my kids need X” or “I should be doing “Y”) and this increases the stress and pressure surrounding how we parent. We can also feel bound by a style of parenting we align ourselves with. There is no way to be a perfect parent and you can choose bits and pieces of advice from different parenting styles (even if extreme followers would not support your choices – they make theirs and you make yours).
Challenge - make decisions for your family in a bubble. It is okay to raise your kids differently to the way you were raised (and does not mean you think your parents were bad at their jobs), bottle feed or co-sleep, decide your kids don’t need to make their beds or have set chores, or choose a different path for their education than everyone else. Refer back to your mission statement and values and use those to guide your way.
What works for you and your family is what is “right”.
Bonus reading: I love this post from Kim at Feather and Nest about her choice to homeschool / unschool. She had to work through her own thoughts and feelings and those of outsiders and made the choice that suited her son and her family best.
slow down and give yourself breathing room
Life with a family is always going to busy – everything from school, homework, activities, friends, social events, child care, family commitments and more – but we can decide to do less and slow down. If we approach life with intention we can control how our time is spent rather than it controlling us. We can slow down, stay in the moment a bit longer, work to stay connected. Each family needs to find their comfort level for busy-ness and set their limits.
Challenge - review your family commitments and the way you spend your time. Decide if that is working for you or if you think stopping some things will give you much needed breathing room and increase the peace and connectedness in your home.
let go of micromanaging
There are two ways parents usually micromanage – they direct things for their partner /spouse and/or they direct everything for their kids. Mothers are most often the ones running the household and I know many of us are guilty of figuring out the “best” ways to do everything and then wanting the rest of the house to fall into line. That creates a lot of stress and work for many people though.
I laugh now, but remember stressing when my oldest was a baby because I had a great settling routine down for her that worked like a charm – including a little lullaby. Well, when my husband settled her he did not follow my way but did his own thing. As a new mom this stressed me out as I was trying to teach her to sleep on her own and thought consistency was the key. A wonderful child health nurse shared an eye-opener that stayed with me forever – “she knows the difference”. She could settle for me with my way and settle for him with his way and his own lullaby that she would associate with her daddy. There never needs to be just one way – if it causes any stress, let it go. It is better to have a partner that is involved than a partner who is constantly reminded of the “right” way to run the home and family.
With kids it can feel like it is our job to direct the show, keep things moving in the right direction, settle problems and teach our kids. Teaching kids independence can only come when we let go of the control.
Let kids problem solve, take responsibility, make some of their own decisions (the only way to learn is to do), help each other (pass on what they know instead of via you), learn new skills and make mistakes while doing so (household duties, pet care, cooking, gardening – teach the skills they want to learn)
Challenge - Let go – catch yourself before you correct or offer the right way to do things or take over the jobs completely. Instead leave the rest of the family to do whatever they can. With the kids – nurture or guide when needed, but let them find their own way to what is right.
find balance between being a parent and being an individual
It can be a challenge, especially when kids are young, to maintain time for yourself and your interests. Make time! Make yourself a priority – your health, your beauty routine, reading books you love, going on dates (day or night – grab the time when you can), exercising / playing a sport, studying (in person or online there is a huge amount of courses available to you), your friendships, etc It is important for our children to see us outside of our parenting role – show them what you are made of, what interests you, invite them to explore some of them too (I’ve taken up doodling, drawing and painting this year and often my kids sit with me and do their own versions of my projects).
Challenge - pick at least one thing/area that you have been neglecting that makes you “you” and make it a high priority item. You deserve the investment of time, money and energy into yourself.
So what is your parenting challenge? I would love to hear about it and how you made changes or plan to do so.
Find your simple,
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