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Challenge: Life Changes

6 Ways Parents Grow Up While Their Kids Do

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Even if we’ve never met, you know me. I’m the frazzled mama in Target, pushing a cart of antsy twin toddlers while my kindergartner rattles off every single thing he did that day a little too loudly.

In the rare quiet moments, I look around at my life and I’m mystified. How did I get here? I wonder. Wasn’t I picking out my prom dress last week?

And I know I’m not the only one.

Friend, I’ve got some news for you: while you’ve been busy with your own little ones, photographing every milestone, chasing them across the living room while avoiding the LEGOs for dear life, you’ve been going through some changes yourself. But don’t worry — not all of them require under-eye cream!

We may be the adults, but we’re all still learning and growing—and if we’re doing it right, we’ll never stop, either. (Thank goodness — because I certainly don’t have it all figured out!) These are six ways I’ve noticed that we parents grow up while our kids do too.

1. We accept who we are and where we are. As we’ve traveled to adulthood, we’ve made choices that have led us where we are now: some good, others not. You may relish where you are in your journey, or perhaps you thought you’d be somewhere different right now. Either way, be proud of who you are, and embrace the story you’ve written. If you don’t like where you are, remember today is only one page in your book—there’s room for the story to get much better before you reach the end.

2. We stop saying “should.” Statements like “I should know how to do this by now” keep us stuck in what we’re lacking and blind to how far we’ve come. Stop beating yourself up, and replace “should” with “want.” You’ll be surprised how much nicer your inner monologue is, and how much faster you progress toward your goal.

3. We start saying “thank you” — a lot. Think about everything that gets you through your day: your spouse, caffeine (I love you, Starbucks), Facebook memes texted back and forth with your girlfriends (everyone needs a good laugh in the middle of a hectic day). Take time each week reflecting on the people, places, and things that make each day a little bit easier. Make your gratitude tangible by sending thank-you notes (even a quick text will work!) to people who have shown you kindness.

4. We water our grass. The grass is always greener on the other side — but only when we don’t tend to our own. Focus on “watering” your own grass instead. Develop routines that make you feel calm and relaxed. Find 30 minutes every day to enjoy your favorite indulgence. You’ll be in a much better position to care for others when you feel cared for too.

5. We put on social media blinders. When you’re having a bad day, it’s a little too easy to get lost in a social media feed, wondering why everyone else’s life is so shiny compared to yours. But let’s face it: social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s best moments. Comparison is a fast track to an “I don’t have that” mentality that keeps you focused on what you don’t like about your own life. Get rid of that thinking by moving your social media apps to the “back page” of your smartphone. Or remove them completely. You’ll feel much confident in your own successes when you aren’t worried about someone else’s.

6. We embrace “new normal” over, and over, and over. Many things in life aren’t certain, except for one: change. Life will never stay the same, no matter what we do. Instead of mourning the past, make a habit of finding the treasures in new adventures. When you intentionally cultivate joy in the present, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

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