As well as my 2019 Parenting Resolutions, I’ve been thinking, and noticing, for a while now that in the midst of working part time, entertaining the kids, trying to keep the house to some standard, trying to keep my blog going and spending time with family and friends, that I’ve become a bit of a nag and more days than not, I am on the countdown for the kids bedtime. I’m not ashamed to admit that there are days when I spend more time wrestling and becoming agitated with them that I really struggle to find joy in them. Which is massively unfair.
‘Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how just to be happy in the midst of it all’
When she’s having a tantrum in the middle of the toy shop, I often say to Sofia ‘you’re so spoilt’ but who’s fault is that? I also shout at them both way more than I should and apart from giving me a sore throat and a touch of the mum guilt, it makes no difference to how they’re behaving at that time.
So as we embark on a New Year we have decided to try and adopt a little bit of a gentle parenting regime with the kids to see if this makes our household a less hectic, more calm one. The book is on order and as well as following aspects of that (which I am sure I will write a post on once we’re in the swing of it), we are going to be doing a bit more of the following;
Lose the regimented-ness (courtesy of my mind) – Just because I have a mental ‘to do’ list, it’s not the be all and end all if I don’t complete it. I always like to feel like I can ‘tick something off’, but perhaps if that means leaving the ironing pile and playing with the kids, then that’s what I plan to do. The kids really won’t give a shit if their clothes are ironed or not.
Stop comparing – I don’t necessarily compare myself to other parents, though through social media I’m sure I subconsciously do! But I do have a habit of comparing the kids to each other ‘Sofia was speaking full sentences by now’, ‘Sofia was such a good sleeper by this age’ or ‘Arlo is so good at entertaining and playing by himself, Sofia never did that’. Both of the children are unique (and very determined and headstrong!) and I’m going to attempt to remember this and parent to their individual strengths.
More self care – Do you know that cliche, ‘happy mum. happy baby’ well I’m going to jump onboard with it and be sure to carve more me time out of each month, more time to regroup, chill, sleep and not just use those overnight ‘babysitting’ tokens to get shitfaced and feel worse the next day. It may be that I pop to the local coffee shop with a book as my only company for an hour or so, a night or a weekend away with my girl friends or a facial or massage every couple of months. Loving the sound of this one already!
Appreciate the small things – Recently I purchased a ‘my daily thoughts’ journal as I noticed every day that I would go to bed feeling frustrated about ‘another shit day’, so I started writing down three things I was grateful for and what made me happy that day. Don’t get me wrong, some days I had to really dig deep to find the smallest glimmer of happiness but once you start thinking about it, you realise that your day’s not been as bad as the days ‘summary’ may have originally felt.
Taking a moment – I’ve been starting to do this more often recently. The other day I was preparing lunch and Arlo toddled in and tapped the floor for me to sit down next to him. Usually I would say ‘not now buddy‘ or ‘mummy’s just doing lunch‘ but this particular day I stopped what I was doing and sat down with him and and his eyes immediately lit up. 1. With surprise and 2. With joy. I felt instantly happy but instantly guilty at the surprise in his eyes. But it also made me realise that taking a moment was so important and I vowed to do it much more often.
Making things – Now don’t get me wrong I’m not suddenly going to be a Cath Kidston, Pinterest following, baking organic food type mum. But I am going to listen to what the kids want to do more often, rather than making excuses not to do stuff because ‘he does messy play at nursery, we don’t need to make a mess at home‘ or ‘she does enough craft and makes at school‘. More time spent indoors won’t mean more screen time but more time spent together as a family sticking, cutting, painting and drawing. But never Play Doh.
Flight mode – I’ve mentioned this in my parenting resolutions post but I’m adding it here too as this is a huge one for me. I plan to remove the phone that’s surgically attached to my hand and get on with what’s happening in my life rather than checking out grid after grid.
Stop buying – Sofia and Arlo have a playroom filled with toys that could rival Smyths toy store, they have every toy they could ever possibly want and most are chucked in a box and haven’t been played with more than once. I’m guilty of bribing them that ‘if they’re good’ then they can pick a toy at the end of the day…which not only kills my bank balance but means that things like Christmas aren’t as exciting as they get whatever they want all year round. No more spoilt brats here.
Less days out – We have been noticing for a while that Sofia takes a lot of things for granted. Over Christmas we went to London/Winter Wonderland and the next weekend we went to the Christmas at Legoland. Most kids would be beside themselves with excitement but she was fairly nonplussed. Not phased. And I’m sure it’s because we do it all the time. Having Paultons Park and Marwell Zoo on our doorsteps means we often go there to ‘kill time’ rather than as a treat. So we’re planning on curbing the extravagant days out and enjoying looking forward to them when we go every so often!
Do you gentle parent? Have you got any tips on re-finding the joy in parenting?