Is There A Perfect Parent?

Perfect Parent? Ha Not Me!

Perfect Parent? Ha Not Me!

Let me just dispel all the myths right now… “There are No Perfect parents!” From the first moment as a new parent when we hold our new born baby in our arms until they grow up and move out of the house our life will be filled with First Time Experiences. As a first time parent we are all new to the game. So, what does anyone do when they are new they make mistakes and learn from them and try, again, again and over again throughout their child’s life. Of course by the time the second child comes along (if there is a second) we have a little more knowledge and experience under our belt and can make different choices. Even then sometimes the methods that worked with one child may not work with the second.

The hardest moment in parenting to deal with is when a child is really upset or having a temper tantrum. Kids can push us beyond our limits and when you have an angry parent and an angry child sometimes not all the best decisions are made as my kids love to remind me. One time when my daughter Anya was little and totally out of control I was at a loss on how to help her calm down. Then I remembered a show I had seen where they put a hysterical person into a cold shower clothes and all to calm them down. The cold water shocked the person and chilled them out of their hysterics. I had tried everything else to no avail so thought it might work. Lets just say what works on TV doesn’t always work in reality. As soon as the cold water hit her body she totally lost it and was so mad she came out of the shower kicking and screaming then threw all her clothes and toys out of her drawers and all around her room.

What I didn’t understand at the time was what triggered her anger. She would lose control when she felt disrespected. She had already been feeling disrespected by whatever happened in the first place to upset her and the cold shower was definitely not respectful to her. After she calmed down I apologized and we talked about what we could both do differently next time.

It took some trial and error but I eventually learned what she really needed was to be heard and understood. If I could catch her before she lost control, sit with her and hear her side of the story she would feel heard and calm down. When she did lose control we found Cool Down Time worked better than cold showers. I would give her some paper and crayons or pencils in her room and ask her to draw me a picture of how she felt. She did draw some very angry pictures but it gave her a more positive way to vent her feelings and art became her escape and passion.

Anya also taught me a very valuable lesson. When disciplining a child remember, they are just like you. If you wouldn’t want to be treated a certain way yourself do not treat a child that way and if you do over react a bit like putting your child into a cold shower it is always ok to say you’re sorry after all we are only human. Sometimes it is better for you both to walk away for Cool Down Time rather than carry on. As a mom on more than one occasion I gave myself a cool down time until I calmed down enough to be able to help my child deal with their emotions.

Being a parent I guarantee you will make mistakes or if your children are older you have already made mistakes. What is important to remember is we all, even our children are doing the best we can with what we know in this moment. So be gentle with yourself and your child. When our knowledge changes through experience or parenting books or courses we will learn a different way to handle the same situation for the next time and as parents we know there will always be another opportunity to try again.

Am I Really A “Helicopter Parent”?

The Helicopter Parent... Could You Be One???

The Helicopter Parent… Could You Be One Too???

I had never even heard the term “Helicopter Parent” before until my daughter in grade 12 at the time accused me of being one after I came home to pick up and deliver my son’s school project to him that he had forgotten. Slightly embarrassed, I had to ask her what it was to which she smugly said, “Mom, a Helicopter Parent is a parent who takes care of everything for their child! They hover over their children like helicopters making sure everything is always just fine. How is James ever going to learn to remember to take his homework if you keep bringing it to him?” She had a good point. When I read up on it a bit more I didn’t think I had all the traits of a Helicopter Parent but there were a few. Sure maybe I requested certain teachers each year for my children or I helped them sometimes a little too much with their homework when they asked or maybe brought their forgotten lunch and homework down to them once in a while, …ok, all the time.

Was I really being a Helicopter Parent? I didn’t do Everything for them; I wasn’t following them around hovering and watching over their every move so they never got hurt or experienced disappointment? I didn’t control everything in their life only a few things. I started to think about it. Maybe I was a bit of a Helicopter Parent. After all how was I really helping my child to learn for themselves if I was doing all these things for them? How was I empowering them to make their own wise decisions in life or to learn from their mistakes? Maybe if I stopped delivering my son’s homework to him he would smarten up and pack it the night before. If he didn’t get my idea of a perfect teacher maybe he would get the experience he needed with a different teacher.

In reading more about it I read about College professors complaining about parents coming in to tell them they are giving too much homework to their child and their child was overwhelmed. There were managers telling stories about parents coming in to ask for raises for their children, complaining their child was being worked too hard or treated unfairly and they wanted the manager to make changes to improve their child’s work experience. I know being a parent we all just want the best for our children in life and if we could, we would fix everything for them but when is enough, enough!

Sometimes it is tough to know the difference between guiding our child and taking over for them. When we take over we send the message to our child that we don’t think they can do it themselves. Not only do they not learn how to make decisions for themselves but they lose their self confidence and coping skills relying on us or others to fix things for them. If a parent fixes everything the child may never learn how to deal with their own mistakes or disappointments in life.

I realized as hard as it was to watch my babies make mistakes sometimes I had to let them fall on their own so they would know how to pick themselves up again and keep going when I wasn’t around. By rescuing them all the time I was not letting them experience their life lessons so they would keep repeating their mistakes knowing Mom would take care of it instead of getting the lesson and moving on. The next time James called me from the school to bring down his homework I told him he would just have to run home at recess and get it as I was out. He never forgot it again. It wasn’t as much fun going back for it himself as it was to inconvenience mom to bring it down to him.

I learned something very important through my daughter’s simple comment. We can guide and teach our children the best we can but ultimately they will have to figure things out for themselves. If we keep preventing situations from happening in their life they will never learn their life lessons and will always be fearful of taking risks and failing in life. I wanted to empower my children and teach them to have enough confidence in themselves to take risks. To do so I had to take a step back and watch, sometimes guide but ultimately let them experience the natural consequences of their behaviour and do it themselves while they were at home so when they grew up and left they would have the knowledge to take on lifes challenges on their own!

For more information on Helicopter Parenting check out this recently published article “How to avoid being a Helicopter Parent” by Jennifer Chung in the Toronto Star.

Do’s and Don’ts Of Raising Children

As Parents We Are Learning All The Time. There Is No Right Or Wrong Only Different Ways To Try Something.

As Parents We Are Learning All The Time. There Is No Right Or Wrong Only Different Ways To Try Something.

My children are growing up so fast. I was reflecting today on some of the moments we have shared and lessons I have learned over the years. Some are total common sense others are moments where I probably should have been paying a bit more attention and somethings one can only learn through experience……

Don’t assume a fussy baby is always hungry. They may just have a tummy ache and you can make it worse by overfeeding them. Then they will cry all night long.

Don’t be afraid to admit to your child when you are wrong. It is good for children to see and hear their parents are not perfect.

Don’t think you can go on long car rides with a young child susceptible to carsickness without “Gravol” or a bucket. You will be cleaning up Puke Messes every time.

Don’t treat or speak to your child in any way you would not want to be treated or spoken to yourself. Just because they are Little does not mean they deserve less respect.

Don’t let your 18 month old child go to the top of the highest slide in the park without someone standing behind her. She may fall all the way down to the bottom of the ladder because she all of a sudden changed her mind as you were waiting at the bottom to catch her.

Don’t let your baby eat the sand on the beach. They will survive but sand is dirty and they will have a gritty bottom for days afterwards.

Don’t let your teenage child play with tin cans full of sand at the beach. They will probably get a sliced finger and need medical attention.

Don’t tie two boats together with you and your young children and go floating down a river. Even though the children have lifejackets on, rivers have many sweepers and can be unpredictable. You never know what might happen.

Don’t take your children with you in the car to pick up large furniture. You may have nowhere for them to sit on the way home and be stranded at the store.

Don’t think you can discipline two children in the same way. Nothing is that simple they have different personalities.

Don’t make promises to your child you can not keep. They will lose faith in you and feel it is ok for them to break their promises to you.

Don’t be afraid to do a service for your child if you have been too harsh with them or said something to make them feel bad unintentionally. It teaches them we all make mistakes and we can all do something to make it better.

Do…

Give services as consequence when your child has misbehaved or hurt someone. It allows them to make up for a wrong doing and feel better about themselves.

Take your child to the see a show or a play in the Theatre once in a while. It teaches them to appreciate culture other than TV and video games.

Make sure your children get to spend time with their grandparents. They are important people with a world of knowledge and love to share.

Tuck your child in every night when they are young and lay with them for a few minutes. It is amazing what is shared with you about their day in the quiet moments before sleep.

Make up bedtime stories to share with your child. They will love listening to them and you can add lessons into the story to help your child learn more about life.

Have your child help out around the house. It teaches them skills they will need later in life, builds confidence and helps them to feel they are a useful member of the family.

Take your child camping and out in nature. It teaches them to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around them.

Pick up any garbage you see in nature. Your child will learn to take care of their environment through watching you.

Make time to have tea parties after school with your children once in a while. They will love the treat and it gives you a moment to connect with them on their day.

Always make the effort to eat dinner as a family. It is a time to connect with each other and is great family bonding time.

Stick up for your young child and others and help them work out their fights. A child cannot learn how to work through or avoid an argument unless they are shown the skills to do so.

Take naps with your babies and young children. They are some of the best cuddle moments you will ever have with them.

Get involved with your child’s school even if it is in small ways. It’s not only shows you care but you will know much more about what goes on in their day from the people you meet at the school.

Take time to play and be goofy with your child. They will treasure those moments the most.

Tell your children you love them every day. They need to hear it from you many times to believe it.

Forgive your child for what they do or say when they are angry. They don’t mean it. Anger is a very difficult emotion to control and it is good to remember they are still learning as are we.

Be gentle with yourself and your child. Remember every moment is a teachable moment. You may both learn from each experience and do things differently the next time. We are all doing the best we can with what we know in this moment, next time we will know a little more.

Children Are Our Energy Sponges…

Kids Are So Innocent, What We Feel They Will Feel!

Kids Are So Innocent, Emotions We Feel, They Will Feel!

Ever wonder why when you are having a bad day your child/children seem to do everything they can to make it worse! I used to wonder if my kids acted up on purpose just to make my day go down hill. Then I started to pay attention to when they were misbehaving and how I was feeling at that moment. I noticed that when I was feeling angry or impatient about something my children behaved in the same way I felt. If I woke up in a bad mood, I would usually have a bad morning with my kids. When I was relaxed and happy my children were happier and didn’t act out or fight either. Maybe it wasn’t my children making my bad day worse at all. Maybe it was my own frustrated energy rubbing off on my children and making their day awful.

People are so in tune to energy that sometimes we pick up other peoples energy and then all of a sudden we feel different ourselves. We maybe having a totally great day then walk by someone who is feeling anxious or fearful and all of a sudden our mood changes and we are not even sure where it came from. Think about it, have you ever walked into a room and knew people had been arguing before you entered. I have and I could feel the tension in the room like it was solid matter. It can go the other way too like being around someone who is infectiously happy and everyone around them is happy too? We feel their energy and share it without even knowing we are doing it.

Once I started observing my energy changes I became more aware of my children’s. Children are so in tune with their environment they are like energy sponges. They feel our feelings coming from us and because they don’t know the difference they believe it is their own feelings. Our frustration makes them feel frustrated our joy makes them feel joyful. Over time I noticed that when I was having a good day my whole family had a good day. My kids hardly fought and everyone was much happier. Then too, when I had a bad day my frustration seemed to drag everyone’s energy down and my whole family was cranky. In being aware of my energy I was able to catch myself when I was feeling irritable and do something about it. Sometimes I would go for a walk with the kids outside to the park or if we were having a really bad day we would all do some down time together and meditate or rest. Everyone always felt better after a good nap.

So next time you’re having a bad day, try being aware of where your energy is at and do something to shift it into a more peaceful, happier place. If we take note of how we are feeling when our kids are misbehaving or cranky we can try doing something to help everyone feel better. Taking some quiet time to meditate, reading funny stories or having a family nap will help. Going outside for a walk in the forest or to a park in your neighbourhood will help because we pick up the good energy from the nature around us. Even sitting down and watching a funny show together can change the energy of the day to be happier and more joyful. One person’s awareness can make all of the difference in the world to the outcome of  your day.

Always Make Time For Yourself!

As busy Moms we are constantly multi-tasking. Taking kids to school and after school activities each day, Dr & Dentist appointments, cooking, cleaning, laundry, tidying, helping with homework, and dealing with the endless paper trail of mail, forms to be signed and notices from the school….. The list goes on and I am exhausted just thinking about it all. When do we ever get a moment to ourselves? Maybe an hour or two after the kids go to sleep or 5 minutes if they procrastinate on going to sleep and then we have chores to catch up on before it is our turn to rest.

Has anyone of your kids (or partner for that matter) Ever said,

“Hey mom, you work so hard, go and take some time for yourself and I will finish folding those clothes for you.”

Or

“Hey honey, you need a break I will finish scrubbing the toilets and washing the floors for you”

Ha! Pretty Funny, I think I would fall over on the spot from shock! As a mom when it comes to breaks it’s a fend for yourself world. If we don’t make time for ourselves the family is quite happy to have us as their caregiver 24/7.

A Mom's Escape is Just What I Need!

A Mom’s Escape is Just What I Need!

Ever since my kids were babies I have always made a point of squeezing in some time in my day for me. Taking care of myself makes me a better mom. I am a happier, more peaceful person and have more patience and energy with my family when I have created some time in my day for me.

Here is a list of my top 10 escapes…

  1. A quiet space, cup of tea and a good book.
  2. Meditate – I can do it anywhere and in 20 minutes I feel like a new person.
  3. Coffee with a friend – a chance to unwind and relax together
  4. One hour Pedicure- a bit of pampering goes a long way
  5. A Nap – Babies need them and so do I (still one of my favorites only now I nap and my kids don’t)
  6. Grocery shopping By Myself! – No screaming kids, whining or I wants’, could take 2-4 hours, Heaven
  7. An afternoon at the beach – Lying in my portable hammock, basking in the sun, with a good book
  8. Actually sit and watch an entire movie without interruptions – Rare but possible
  9. Girls Days – a day with my friends walking on a beach, shopping and lunch. (then maybe dinner and a movie if we are lucky)
  10. Girls Weekend- The Best! My Favorite! Girl time and me time all in one. I try to get in at least 2-3 per year depending on my friends schedules. I always come back relaxed and refreshed.

So think about all things you used to love to do when you had spare time and make sure you schedule an “escape” in your day, every day. Even if it is just 15-20 minutes of doing something you love it will help you re-energize for the rest of your day.

February – The Month of Love!

Fill Your Heart With Love!

February may be the month dedicated to love but, why can’t every day be full of love? People spend their lives looking for love. Could it be love is within us and when we find the love inside we will feel the love all around us.  Take a small child for instance; children are full of unconditional love. They live in the moment and love every second of it. They are new to this world and have so much to explore they can’t wait to start each day and see what it will bring.

When my son was two years old he used to wake up every morning as I came into his room and say enthusiastically, “Mommy, It’s a Beautiful Day!” The first few times I would open his blinds, take a look outside, see the sun shining brightly and agree with him. Then one day it was dark and stormy outside when he woke up and still he said with a beaming smile, “Mommy It’s a Beautiful Day!”  I looked outside at the gloomy day and started to say “Actually it looks kind of gloomy out today.”  Then I stopped myself, it finally dawned on me, he wasn’t talking about the weather at all. He could care less if it was sunny, or windy and storming out he was just so happy to be alive and awake and to have his mommy whom he loved so much come into his room, greet him and take care of him that every day was perfect and Beautiful. He was so full of love for his world, all the exciting and new things he would do that day, all the people he loved and loved him he couldn’t wait to get started! I could feel his love for his world radiating out from him and my heart melted. I turned and gave him a warm hug and said, “Yes James, It is a Beautiful Day!”

Let us all work on living in the moment this month, look out each day and see the beauty in it, feel the love within ourselves and in our life. Do something nice for our selves and find the joy in our relationships with our loved ones. Let us make every day a Beautiful Day!

A New Year Is a New Beginning…

Happy New Year! Celebrate each New Opportunity!

Happy New Year! Celebrate each New Opportunity!

I have always loved the beginning of a New Year! It is a time of fresh starts, a time to make changes in my life that I may have been thinking about but done nothing about. A time to reflect on the relationships in my life with my children, my parents, brother and other friends and family and decide what I can do this year to make them better. If the previous year was not a good one I can put it behind me and choose to make this year a better one.

I always start with me. What can I do to be happier? When I am happy it is easier to focus on everyone else in my life.  I have always found I am a better mom when I can make some time for myself in my day. It may be as simple as taking a half hour out of my day to have a cup of tea and read a good book, have a bath, take a nap, meditate or write in a journal. As a busy mom it is so easy to do everything for the family and neglect ourselves. I find when I make time for me I have more patience with my children throughout the day and can focus on them when they need me.

If I am having a difficult time in one of my relationships this is a time to ask myself “What can I do to change how I react to this person?” If it is one of my children I keep butting heads with maybe if I change how I react to them I can create more peace in my family. I don’t always need to be right or have the last word. My oldest daughter loves to argue just to get people going, many times she will catch me up in it and I find myself getting angry. When I choose to be silent and not react to her bait or just agree to let her be right instead of having to have the last word myself, we have a much more peaceful relationship. As easy as this sounds in theory I still find myself taking her bait quite frequently. Maybe this is one for me to work on this year and remind myself that I have the choice to take her bait or choose peace.

Whatever it is you choose to challenge yourself with this year I wish you the best of luck and may you succeed and create a happy, peaceful and healthy year for yourself. Cheers!! 🙂

A Christmas Story from the Heart…

Touring the Christmas sights, Hyatt Regency Vancouver's Gingerbread Lane

Touring the Christmas sights, Hyatt Regency Vancouver’s Gingerbread Lane

We celebrated a first this Christmas. Instead of cooking Christmas dinner my mother-in- law and I decided to take the family out to dinner at nice downtown restaurant. I wanted a Christmas Day without all the fuss and work for a change, a day for all of us to enjoy being together and relax rather than spending all day cooking a turkey, prepping the dinner and decorating tables to feed everyone. We had a wonderful Christmas day with gifts in the morning, brunch with my brother and family, a nap and then a lovely dinner downtown.

We enjoyed a delicious meal with family and friends and us ladies did not have to lift a finger. Then as we were walking the streets going from hotel to hotel checking out the Christmas lights with me bringing up the rear my son came back to me looking very sad. I was surprised at his expression and said,

“Honey, what’s the matter were your sisters bugging you?”

“No.” he said wiping a tear,

“Did your dad say something?”

“No Mom.”

Then a thought occurred to me “Did you maybe see a homeless person back there on the street and that made you sad honey?” I asked him gently.

“Yes Mom,” he said quietly, “He looked so sad, he probably didn’t get anything for Christmas, can we help him Please?” and he looked up at me with pleading eyes.

I was so touched and moved by his thoughtfulness, “Of course we can honey. How much would you like to give him?”

“Could we give him ten dollars on the way back to the car mom?”

“Of course dear”

So after our tour of the lights James walked back with his dad to pick up the car and tucked $10 into the gentleman’s hand wishing him a Merry Christmas. I was so proud of him for thinking of others on this beautiful most giving day of the year. If we could all do just one act of kindness for another person each day think how much love could be spread throughout the world.  Sometimes it can be as simple as holding a door or offering a seat to someone with a smile. Shovelling a sidewalk, or mowing a lawn, the gift of time is a wonderful thing.  If you can spare the money, buy some gift cards to your favourite grocery store and pass them out to people you see that could use a little help or buy a meal for someone who needs one. If money is tight then donate any clothes, baby equipment or toys  that your children have out grown to the outreach workers or community support organizations in your neighbour there is always a need somewhere greater than ours and by giving directly to the community support groups it goes to the people who need it for free. Give the gift of kindness and love this holiday season, it is the best gift of all as in giving to others we fill our own hearts with love and joy.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sibling Rivalry- Understanding the Jealous Sibling

Jealous Siblings –  Children can be our greatest teachers…

"No I don't want to Play!"

“No I don’t want to Play!”

We think when we have children that we have a lot to teach them, but it is really the other way around we are constantly learning from them . It is no coincidence that our children are our mini me’s.  I finally understood my relationship with my brother after I watched my two youngest children interacting. Anya was 21months older than James and had been an angel baby until the day James was born and then she was consumed with jealously. It didn’t matter how many times we explained that love was not a piece of cake and there was less cake left over with each sibling that came along to enjoy it. Love grew with each person to love and got bigger so there was enough for everyone.  She just could not get it and wanted James out of her life. Her kisses would leave teeth marks on his forehead, blankets and toys were left on his face, pushing, shoving, hitting, the list was endless.

When James was around 2 years old and was following Anya around everywhere wanting to play with her I finally got it.  They were just like my brother and me. James loved Anya so much he wanted to be with her, act like her even to be her. Anya wanted nothing to do with him and would push him away or hit him for no reason. Yet still all James wanted was to be loved by her.

I finally saw my brother for who he was. Like James he was a little soul who looked up to and loved his sister so much he just wanted to spend every minute with her.  I had treated my brother the same way Anya treated hers. I wished I could go back and change the way I had treated my brother but all I could do was change the future.

I explained to Anya how much her brother loved her and how he just wanted to be with her every minute of the day; he was only copying her because he wanted to be just like her. When she was mean to him I would have her do something nice for him afterwards to make up for the way she had treated him and we would talk together about how it felt to be him and what was happening for her that she was feeling angry or jealous. I also made extra efforts to spend some quality time with her each day laying with her at night so she could get the mommy time she was missing and including her in taking care of James so she could learn some empathy toward him. It was not easy for her going from being the youngest to the middle child and she just wanted to have mommy and daddy all to herself again.  Their relationship did not change overnight but slowly she started to get it that even though her brother was not going anywhere, she was still loved too and he was kind of fun to play with sometimes. I had a long healing talk with my brother too and apologized for all the hurtful things I did to him when we were children.

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Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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