I think we can all agree that parenting is one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
However, I think we can equally agree that parenting, at its core, sucks. As a parent, you’re either the Zero or the Hero in every decision you make.
I mean, seriously, you’re constantly damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Just think about it — if you have a 15-year-old daughter who wants to go to a concert and say no, your reasoning doesn’t matter, and you’re the “worst parent ever” — in her eyes.
On the other hand, if you say yes, your daughter thinks of you as the “coolest parent ever,” but then, you have to battle the “mother crew,” who will judge you for being so lenient.
Don’t Forget About the Worries
The worries start when you find out you’re pregnant, and as far as I can tell, they never stop.
You worry about the pregnancy, then you worry about the infant getting sick or hurt, and it just continues into their teenage years from there. Even though my son is 19, I still worry when I don’t hear from him for long periods.
Still, to this day, I know my mom worries about all of her kids in some capacity. She constantly checks on us to ensure we’re happy, healthy, and financially stable.
When we hurt, she hurts, and that’s just how it is.
Making the Most of It
In all seriousness, parenting truly is one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, but it does take effort. Our society is fast-paced, and in most families today, both parents work — regardless of marital status.
You have to work extra hard to be present where it counts.
So how do we find that balance between being kick-ass boss ladies and great mothers?
I have a few recommendations for you:
- Prioritize Family Time
- Actively Listen & Engage
- Teach Responsibility
- Establish Routines
- Parent by Example
I look at parenting as a job. I’m responsible for ensuring that I not only keep a roof over my kids’ heads and feed them appropriately; I also have to prepare them to be successful adults and productive citizens.
My kids must see my work ethic and truly understand how hard I work to make my dreams and goals come true. I need them to see that achieving their goals is possible — only if they work hard.
Prioritize Family Time
Although developing a strong work ethic and doing well in school is important, so is spending quality time with your family and loved ones.
In a day’s hustle, it’s easy to come home from work and be too exhausted for “playtime.” However, prioritizing family time is extremely critical to your child’s developmental processes.
Develop a regular cadence for family time and try not to break that commitment. One easy way to fit some in?
The dinner table.
While it isn’t always feasible, try to set aside at least 2 to 3 days a week, if not more, where your family has dinner together around a table.
So many wonderful opportunities arise from conversations there. A great family friend of mine has a wonderful nightly routine with their family at the table. Each family member, from the youngest to the oldest, has to tell the family their “favorite part of the day.”
It’s a very simple and easy way for young children to express what they experienced from the day and a perfect opportunity for parents to connect.
Actively Listen & Engage
Listening, truly listening, is another important part of parenting and a crucial piece to connecting with your kids.
We often hear what’s said, but we aren’t actively listening.
Your toddler is asking you 50 questions, so eventually, you just start shaking your head and saying, “uh huh.”
The dinner table is a great place to practice that active listening and give your full attention to your children.
Another outlet for active listening that’s worked well for my oldest is taking drives or going on walks. There’s something about those two activities that get teenagers talking almost immediately.
Give it a try and watch the floodgates slowly start to open. This is especially helpful for preteens and teenagers who love to answer in “one-word” responses.
Children, believe it or not, crave responsibility, so give it to them.
99.9% of children are in a hurry to grow up, that’s why they give you such a hard time. They know the end goal for them is to “be adults”.
Give them what they want and guide them. Start small with learning how to pick up after themselves with their toys. You can have them take out the garbage or do the dishes as they get older.
The goal is to teach responsibility, which means you must also teach accountability. Make sure they know what the task or chore is, and then hold them accountable for it.
You can hold them accountable by giving them an allowance if the chores are completed or by having repercussions for not — like losing electronics or playtime.
You’re trying to establish a habit of doing what they are required or requested to do. This gives them responsibility and prepares them better for the workplace.
Once they have a job of their own, they need to be able to handle tasks and understand the consequences of not fulfilling their obligations.
One thing I believe most parents understand is the importance of establishing routines for their kids. Bedtimes, wake-up times, meal times, etc… But it’s also important that you start to help your kids develop other routines as they age.
For example, routines around hygiene help prepare your younger children for their teenage years when hygiene tends to slack.
Bedtime routines are super beneficial to help mentally prepare your children for the next day and are a great opportunity to stimulate their brains before shutting down for the night. For example, my daughter knows that around 8 pm, she has to start her nightly bedtime routine. She bathes, brushes her teeth, reads a book, says her prayers, and then it’s “lights out.”
Other routines that are great to start, when age appropriate, are house/bedroom cleaning routines and some type of physical fitness. It’s much easier to establish good habits at a young age than to break bad habits at an older age.
Parent by Example
Parenting doesn’t always have to be intentional. Your young ones are always observing and watching your behaviors. Every move you make is under a microscope with their eyes directly on you.
Your good and bad behaviors? They’re watching.
If you remember that, you can very easily help your kids develop into the strong, independent adults you wish for them to be.
Parenting by example is simple — it’s the same as leading by example. You display the behaviors, habits, mindsets, and routines you want your kids to pick up on.
Let them see you handling your responsibilities like house chores and paying bills. Let them participate in hobbies like crafting, hiking, swimming, etc. Let them watch you troubleshoot a problem.
You’re human, and your children need to know it’s okay to be human — we aren’t perfect.
We make mistakes, but it also means we hold power to overcome any obstacle, and they need to see that in you too.
The Truth Is
The truth is, all joking aside, parenting is hard as hell but the most rewarding experience and display of unconditional love you’ll ever have the privilege of experiencing.
Make time for your family and teach your children how to love and be loved. If they aren’t learning from you, they’ll learn from someone else.
Busy? No excuse. Be present and productive..
You need to adjust your routines to allow for time and connections your children crave and need from you.
It might make your days a little longer, but it will be worth it.
Last modified: September 6, 2022