That is easier said than done for so many of us. I see myself as expressive and passionate but my kids will describe me as loud and say I yell too much. From the time my first child was born I wanted to be a peaceful and calm parent but found it harder than I expected. Life was hardly as simple as in the this picture from those first days as a new mommy.
When my kids were babies I was working in a job with a lot of travel and responsibility and often felt overwhelmed. This stress ignited the short fuse I had with my kids, especially during the toddler years.Having my Master's in Clinical Social Work I had been trained on many ways to manage emotions, but was not really putting them into personal practice during those years. I was working in a totally unrelated field as a Sales Manager and trying to keep my head above water day to day. Surviving another day was my focus.
In 2013 I had the fantastic good fortune of being downsized from my job. As upset and blindsided I was initially, that was a huge turning point in my life and impacted my most important role, as mom, for the better It is at that time I decided I would return to my first career as a social worker and immersed myself in training needed to return to clinical practice. Not only did I create a thriving career and a business I am passionate about, but in the process I learned so much more.
As a therapist I work with clients to help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression. As I took courses, certifications and read a ton of books in my field I kept coming across resources on mindfulness. I was not really sure about meditation or mindfulness, in fact I had tried yoga years earlier and did not like it. I thought that I just couldn't be that calm or still for that long. I need to be doing, moving and multitasking. I am type-A and a perfectionist and had no intention of slowing down. That's when it hit me that I needed to re-think my own way of thinking. I took a really good look at myself, as a person and as a mom and decided to practice what I preach. After all, how can I help others if I can not help myself?
That's when I made the switch. I learned to accept and forgive myself and become what I call a "recovering perfectionist." A big step was in that process was to practice mindfulness.
I started meditating and honestly hated it at first. I knew the neuroscience studies on the benefits, but I struggled to be consistent. Once I stopped striving and just let whatever happens, happen, I started to see subtle differences. I found myself more aware of my triggers and able to catch myself before melt downs with my kids. Through practicing mindfulness meditation I learned how to be more of an outsider looking in to my own emotions and reactions. I now respond more often with less of a knee jerk reaction. That does not mean I don't still get triggered. I do. Some days are better than others. A crucial difference is now I don't beat myself up when I slip up, I try to recognize it and learn from it. I apologize to my kids and teach them the importance of forgiveness, to others and themselves. I forgive myself and I practice self-compassion and loving-kindness and keep it simple.
Parenting is hard. As moms we often lose our cool. We are human. Learning to let go of trying to be perfect and practicing mindfulness daily has helped me to stay calm and parent on. For more tales and tips from an imperfect mom check out the book "Lose That Mommy Guilt".