Your two toddlers are mesmerized with an episode of Daniel Tiger, so you step out of the room for 60 seconds to pick up your baby from her nap. What could go wrong in 60 seconds? You return and find your three-year-old has discovered that yogurt squeazies are an art form, and your living room was his canvas. You’re frustrated when you see the mess you have to clean up until you see your son’s adorable, yogurt-covered face. His puppy eyes are awaiting your reaction.
Parenting. It’s the work that causes your heart to experience a wide array of emotions all at the same time: frustration and yet love so mighty you feel like you’re heart is going to explode.
Parenting is the most rewarding job imaginable, but it’s hard too. Each stage of parenting has its challenges from infant sleep regression to the day they are navigating their parenting challenges. How do you cope when you lose sight of the parenting joys? Find yourself a moment to step away from the scattered toys, dirty dishes, sibling rivalry, and let’s refocus.
1. Create Daily Habits of Connection With Your Child
Creating connection is a crucial part of parenting. Children want to cooperate with their parents when they feel connected to them. That doesn’t mean they always will cooperate because they’re still children with emotions that sometimes override their developing frontal pre-cortex. These are simple, yet powerfully healing, examples of daily habits to create a connection with your child.
- Set a goal for 12 physical connections each day.
- Laugh and play together.
- Don’t be distracted by technology when you’re together.
- Connect before transitioning from one activity to another.
- Create 15 minutes of one on one time with each child.
- Create safety by allowing your child to express emotions.
- Listen and empathize.
- Slow down and enjoy the little moments.
- Start bedtime early, so you have time to listen, talk, and snuggle.
- Be 100% present when you’re together.
2. Lose the Guilt and Trust Yourself
“You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?” – Dr. Seus
- Breast milk or formula?
- Work outside the home or not?
- Screen time or no screen time?
- Daycare or in-home nanny?
- Is your child opinionated or easygoing?
Parents can focus on what other people think about their parenting choices and their child’s behavior, but that never ends well. Here is a beautiful aspect of parenting: it’s a journey unique to the parents and children within that journey. Instead, trust yourself.
Embrace the parenting choices you have made without comparing them to anyone else. Embrace the way your child is uniquely wired. Often, the personality traits people perceive in children as challenging are the same traits that serve your children well in adulthood.
3. Take Care of Yourself
You’re in the midst of chaos, and someone tells you to take care of yourself. It sounds like an oxymoron. But self-care isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s necessary. You understand the demands of parenting, and it’s also essential to realize you can’t pour out what you don’t pour into yourself. Do whatever it takes to carve out time to do things that bring refreshment to your soul.
In her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, author Rachel Hollis writes, “We should stop being so hard on ourselves and instead focus on the good work we are doing, the results of which are evident in the awesome little people we are raising.”
If you want individualized support to navigate parenting challenges, LifeStance Health offers professional, experienced services to empower your parenting journey.