Becoming a parent changed everything for me. Everything. It is without a doubt, the best and hardest work I’ve ever done, especially because I want so badly to do it well. I’m sure most parents would agree.
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 I wish that I had learned 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 along the way 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:
What are my priorities?
What am I trying to do/be/accomplish in this situation?
Is this what I really need right now?
Does it fit with my priorities? Will it make things easier or harder for me? 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?
What works best for me? What works for my family?
What are our routines? What do we love? How do we learn best? How can I support us all 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 want to respond, 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.