Parenting sure does have its ups and downs. I do recognize that every “down” only makes way for some incredible “ups”, it’s just the ebb and flow of life. I have been a mom for exactly 14 years, 4 months, 27 days, and 16.5 hours. It’s fascinating to me that I survived this time. I have another 8 years to go. I guess, if I can manage 14 years, 8 should be a walk in the park.
In the past 14 years, I have learned about the NEW math system, although I am still one to do long division. I have had technology overload, and I no longer have a Daytimer or a Rolodex. Life as a parent has a few complications. But life in general has become more efficient and streamlined.
At the end of it all comes the question: Are you providing your children with the knowledge and experiences to thrive on their own once they leave your home? Yup, when you look at it like this, we have been given an amazing gift, if we proceed the right way.
From 3 years old and beyond, our duty is to coach and inspire our children. Well, at least that is the goal…
Here are my TOP 5 ups and downs to assure you that we are all in this together:
1. Homework, UGH, my least favorite of all.
During kindergarten, I had to dig deep and realize that my kids were unique in how they learned. I could not force them to be me, and I had to chill out on my expectations and allow them to ride the wave of education. Now with high school, virtual school, and hormones, I must, once again, dig deep and realize that I have to encourage my children to succeed. But, in the same breath, allow them to fail. No one wants to see their children fail, but effort, organization, and passion to succeed come to each child. If it comes, at different times, we cannot cram it down their throats. Always remember, the only ones coming out of this with gray hairs is… us.
2. Finding their “thing.”
I am a firm believer that you have to experience different things in life. With those experiences, you will come to like some things and hate others. And that is OK. Hopefully, throughout that journey, one thing will stand out so strong that you become obsessed to know more. Here’s the challenge, I grew up entertaining myself with hobbies, crafts, and sports. Some things I enjoyed, others I tossed away for a later date. To this day, I bring out some of those things to get me out of a pinch or fix something broken.
On the flip side, my kids and their friends would prefer to ogle at someone else doing a craft, hobby, or sport on a video, than to actually do it themselves. You can’t find your thing unless you experience it firsthand and get your hands dirty in the process. Our job is to coach them in creating a balance between real-life experiences and YouTube sensations.
3. Healthy habits.
This is my “thing,” so many times I take for granted that my children understand the benefits of healthy living. What I tend to forget, is that other people live differently and I need to coach my kids to know the difference. Although we have a treat here and there in our home, I do keep our food high on the healthy spectrum. As a single mom, I also have their father’s side to contend with.
I read once, that if one parent has a happy and healthy home, the kids will recognize the difference and appreciate it in the long run. Since they eat out often with their dad, when they come to me, it’s all about home cooking. Anytime I recommend an outing for food, the consensus is to cook at home. This includes a bit of assistance in the kitchen, which is definitely a bonus. For all of the mess that was created in the kitchen while I encouraged my little ones to help and cook, it has now paid off in amazing ways. I can honestly say that they have a healthier pallet. They may enjoy a bit of junk here and there, but their flavorings always go back to a healthy meal.
4. Moving the body.
My kids are 10 and 14. Tack on a pandemic and lazy fits in there so very well. As a fitness professional, I know the importance of moving the body, but I also recognize that it doesn’t have to be in sports or hard-core fitness routines. It’s all about moving it more than sitting still. In my house, we are all happier when I allow my kids to run around outside free-spirited, rather than forcing them to participate in a sport that they don’t enjoy. We walk and take bike rides to see friends and create fun moments of activity that create memories, without challenge.
We are their coach, mentor, and inspiration. What you do in your day-to-day, as an adult and as a parent, is seen through a very tight lens by your kids. They may not say anything about it in the moment, but one day those things you wish they hadn’t seen or heard will come out. Creating a more mindful approach to parenting will save in therapy bills down the road. As a parent, our goal is to prepare our kids to be kind, thoughtful, and empathetic. In the same breath, we want them to know how to cook, clean up after themselves, do their own laundry, and be able to take care of themselves without us.
I know many of you have different ages in the household and different maturity levels, but around that 9-year mark, it’s time for us to start backing off and allowing them to DO! We all want to give our children the things we didn’t have as a child, I get that. We also have to let go, allow them to fall, and allow them to experience the ups and downs of life, so that we can be there to coach them through it without fixing it. My goal is to provide my children the skills of dealing with all sorts of people, good or bad. This is the world we live in, and if they can learn how to navigate different situations without me, I have succeeded.
With more gray hairs popping up on a daily basis, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change it for the world. For me, the ups and downs have helped me grow and to change my perspective. This parenting thing is no easy task, but I do believe it has made me a better person and my hope is to carry that forward with my kids.
Always remember that we are doing the best we can. You got this!!