A while back I wrote about the worst parenting advice I ever received, the unattainable “enjoy every moment”. But what about the best parenting advice you received? I was given two very practical and honest ‘words of wisdom’ that I have found myself revisiting frequently over the last five years. One is about my keeping my identity, while the other is about keeping my sanity.
Tip #1 (Keeping identity)
My mother told me before my children were born, “don’t forget that you were first a woman.” I love this piece of advice! It is a mantra I repeat almost daily, and a saying I offer to friends, clients and random women on the street if they strike up a conversation about motherhood. It isn’t motherhood that defines YOU. It is not only important for you to keep your identity as a woman, but your family benefits as well.
- What example do you want to teach your children about identity, self-care and balance?
- Where do you get your energy so that you may care for everyone else?
- What is it that nourishes your soul?
- When is the last time you had a conversation that wasn’t related to your children?
- What is the last thing you did that gave you intellectual, physical, spiritual or emotional stimulation-as a women?
If you can’t answer these questions, perhaps you have forgotten who you are in addition to “mom.” I know, I know … it is easier said then done! I have been there … swallowed by motherhood and have lost myself in the process. I can also tell you during this time of lost identity, I was not patient with my children, I was not a loving partner to my husband and I was not a supportive friend. I had nothing left to give. When I learned how to put my oxygen mask on before helping everyone else … I once again became a woman (and mom) who has a zest for life … and enjoys (almost) every moment with her children!
Tip #2 (Keeping my sanity)
It was also my mother who reminds me every time one of my children is going through a nasty little phase that is driving me insane-that it is just that, A PHASE! I remember my longest phase was feeling like I would never sleep again- that I would forever live through a haze of exhaustion. Now I sleep a solid 7-8 hours, and the sleepless nights are a blur. We have dealt with all the typical unpleasant phases; reflux, colic, teething, biting, crying during day care drop off, whining, potty training, night terrors, terrible 2s, sassy 3s, poking the dogs eyes (you get the picture) phase, phase, phase and phase. When you look at everything as temporary, and have ‘a this too shall pass’ attitude, it makes life with children full of humor instead of stress. Again, easier said then done! I still have to check in with my parenting frustrations. Right now, I am currently hyper-aware that I am clenching my teeth and my shoulders are up to my ears during pretty much any transition for my 3 year old (I know mom, phase)!
I find it helpful to be in touch with how I am feeling about a certain repetitive behavior. Am I having a sense of humor or lightness, or am I feeling stressed and serious? Just by being aware of my emotional reaction, I can repeat my mom’s advice, “THIS IS JUST A PHASE”, and appreciate the behavior as a typical growing pain. I can look now and see a new mom feeling so frustrated at phases that once drove me bonkers. So, throwing food off the high chair 20 times — hilarious!!! I promise, it won’t last, this too shall pass!
What about you? What is the best advice you have received? Do you have any tips to add? Can you share any parenting or personal mantras?
Heather is a life coach for moms, a middle school counselor and a mama who is committed to rocking her mojo! She has two extremely “spirited,” independent and strong-willed children who test her, teach her and exhaust her…several times a day! You can read more about her at My Mama Mojo.