There was a time in the not-so-distant past, when I thought my job as a parent was to try to figure out how to be a perfect mum. I would stay up all night researching on the internet, reading parenting books and agonizing about what I should be doing. I don’t recommend this as a parenting strategy, by the way, instead of perfect I mostly just ended up being tired, resentful and overwhelmed. So I decided it was time to stop working so hard and to start doing the hard work.
I love the quote, “how you do one thing is how you do everything” and I’m sometimes a bit sad that I didn’t learn it earlier on in my life. Or, maybe it was there all along and I just couldn’t see it until I became a parent. Either way, when I’d finally had enough and really stopped to think about it, I realized that I was doing parenting the same way I had done school and work and everything else in my life. Yikes! I’ve had many breakdowns and breakthroughs and thankfully, trying to be better than perfect is not how I do things anymore.
Now I practice what I like to call living on purpose and parenting on purpose. This is the opposite of letting life happen to me, or just doing what everyone else does without question, like I was doing before.
When decisions need to be made or questions come up for me, I sit down, take a breath and ask myself:
1. What are my priorities?
What am I trying to do/be/accomplish for myself, for my kids and in this situation?
2. Is this what I/we really need right now?
Does it fit with my priorities? Will it make things easier or harder for us? Where do I see this going in the future and is that where I want to be? Do I even need to make a decision about this?
3. What works for my family? For my little people?
What are our routines? What do we love? How do my kids learn best? How can I support them/me through confusing times and change?
These questions help me to get really clear about my thoughts, my feelings and my options. Then, I can choose how I react, how I spend my time and energy and I can say, “no, thank you” to the things and people that don’t fit with my priorities.
I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect parent anymore and I’ve given up on perfection in other areas of my life too. Now, I think the best I can do is to pay attention, to know my kids really well and know myself really well. That is my purpose.