There’s no other way to put it. Becoming a parent is hard.
There’s the huge learning curve that you go on originally (hello, learning to breastfeed, buying all the things, and trying to understand why you might have to stop eating all the things you love even after pregnancy);
Then there’s the working out why your baby is screaming so much when they should be loving all that attention from your big family (note: it’s often over-stimulation).
And finally, it’s losing that sleep.
At least, that was the baby part.
Bring on a toddler or preschooler and you can kiss the sweet baby snuggles goodbye, and say hello to the tantrum-throwing, defiant ‘NO!’s and a whole new world of fun!
So why does parenting have to be so hard?
The quick answer?
Because it is SO worth it.
Simply put, no one comes by anything easily.
Since the dawn of time, anything really worth it takes a long time to develop.
Think gold, pressed together in the depths of the earth.
Think about the richness of family history — how we think about the lives our forebears had, and wonder how they did it, and still had such strong characters.
Think about oil, one of THE most valuable commodities on Earth today. Definitely not arriving easily, and fought over constantly with war and bloodshed.
Parenting isn’t easy, people.
If we want our parenting to produce upright, honest, loving, considerate and independent people who we can still connect with as parents when they’re adults?
It’s a long road but one that is so worth it, right?
But how can we make it easier, especially in those early years?
Firstly, take a moment and write down the top 5 broad values you hold and want your kids to grow up with.
Honesty, generosity, love, people over possessions, keeping a tidy space, dressing well, social justice, kind, able to communicate well, eat healthily-these are just some that came to mind, but there are more!
For instance, in our house we really value honesty, looking after each other, respect, and kindness-in word and deed. (ie. don’t hit your sister, but she can’t put you down verbally, either).
We also really value independence, thinking and being yourself-not imitating others.
Having these broad values means you have a basic course charted for you.
If something that is happening is NOT aligning with those values, then it doesn’t work for the family.
We value honesty and respect, so being rude isn’t accepted-but we also value connection, so we love having a joke with our kids.
The only thing we have to decide then is how far we let them go!
Do you have a set of family values?
Secondly, we can just take the pressure off!
When you make a decision you regret with your child, forgive yourself. We are actually human-we don’t have to be perfect.
After all, when our kids see us do this, they are learning to be gentle with themselves, too.
Who hasn’t yelled at the kids for no reason then hid in the pantry or toilet, feeling super guilty and like a failure?
Pretty sure that’s most parents. (Definitely those of us with more than one or two. Even parenting coaches.)
It is OK to be learning, it is OK to get things wrong sometimes. We all do it. **no Insta-perfect Mama here!**
But, when you get it ‘wrong’ (even if it’s just in your own eyes), the real question is this:
What will you do differently next time?
This leads into the second step to helping make it easier on yourself.
How will you change the situation? WHAT will be different?
How will you find out more, get new strategies, understand how your child works better?
Who will you ask — or how will you uplevel your parenting skills?
How will you get connected with your child, rather than increasing the disconnection?
Become a proactive parent, rather than a reactive one.
‘Be Prepared’ isn’t just the Boy Scouts motto, it seems to apply to much of life!
Learn from professionals, from those around you, from anywhere you can, to build your knowledge, ideas and strategy base, so you can deal with your small child the way YOU want to, to achieve those values you want your family to have.
I will never be here to tell you parenting is easy. It isn’t. It’s full of making food, answering questions and constantly tying up shoelaces.
It’s all about sitting and playing with your kids when you can, or picking up slimy banana peels from the floor (or is that just me?).
But it’s also SO worth it.
Kids whose parents teach them how to connect with and respect others, understand social skills, are independent and emotionally intelligent from a young age, have a huge headstart on the others around them.
Becoming a proactive, non-judgemental (of yourself and your child) and value-based parent is well worth it.
Don’t find yourself regretting how you spent the early years, because it’s hard.
It IS possible to make it easier for yourself — it just takes practice and time.