I'm not the biggest fan of the whole resolution thing. Personally I try to examine myself every day and when I feel like there is some growth that needs to happen, I work on it. I don't like to think that I need a specific date in time to try and be a better person. With all of that being said, there is nothing wrong with using a "reason" for growth. No matter how we label it or why we do it, any chance we take to evolve into the person we were meant to be is a win. When I examine what could use some improvement I obviously think of parenting because that's the season of life that I'm in right now, and for me the most important job I will ever do. Feeling validated and loved is one of the, if not THE, most crucial way to ensure that our children grow up to be fulfilled and well adjusted human beings. If you ask me if I appreciate my children my answer would unequivocally be YES. Now ask me if I show this all day, everyday...I'm not so sure. I mean I would love to think that I live what I believe to be true in my heart, but let's face it, life gets in the way. What I really want in the New Year (and in this very moment) is for my children to know how loved they are and how much I appreciate them. I want to take every opportunity I can to show more gratitude. To tell them and show them that I am forever grateful that they are my kids and that I get to be their mom. Here are some ways I plan to do this.
Let them know I'm happy to see them each and every morning- I will tell them "I'm glad you're awake" when they rise in the morning. I have 4 kids and a baby who still likes to nurse every few hours at night. I'm TIRED in the morning. Of course I'm happy my kids wake up but my face and the tone of my voice may not always match what I feel in my heart. I am resolving to let my little ones know that they give me purpose every day and seeing their faces in the morning lights up my life. MAYBE even more than coffee.
Tell them I am proud- I have this thought daily. Something one of my children does or says stops me in my tracks and gives me a little glimpse of the person they are becoming. I beam with pride. Sometimes I let them know but more often than not I'm already sidetracked by something else before I am able to tell them. In the New Year I will strive to voice my admiration for them whenever I feel it. From identifying their generosity when they share with their siblings to letting them know I think that the love they have for their favorite hobbies is inspiring. I won't leave one good thought or feeling unsaid.
Let them HELP- Let them help with dinner, and cleaning, and laundry and whatever else they ask to help with. I know. I KNOW. This is tough. Yes the meal takes longer, yes the table gets set entirely wrong, yes most things go back where they don't belong and yes the pillows on the couch are asymmetrical (I can't be the only one this bothers), but when I say no to their offer of help I am slowly, yet surely, diminishing their light. Children are naturally inclined to be loving and giving. They are eager to feel a level of importance. I resolve to let them help me more and as a result will show them with my actions that they are a valuable part of the family.
Get on their level- Literally. I will try my best each day to get on their eye level for conversations. It might not occur to us very often, but we are super intimidating to our children. They depend on us for everything and therefore the balance of power is already uneven. Add the fact that we tower over them physically and they naturally feel at a disadvantage. I plan to try as much as possible to get down on their eye level when we are speaking. Especially when they are being corrected. This will show them that I am grateful that they are my children and I never want to abuse my power. It will show them that in my eyes, we are equal souls on the same journey but just at different points. No one better or less for it.
Discipline with love-Our children need and crave boundary setting and discipline, but I think it is so important that this is done with respect. If we choose to discipline our children firmly but with love and calmness they will learn that we appreciate their well being and we only want what's best for them. Turning discipline into an opportunity to show our kids that we are bigger and better will only result in shame and in turn they will feel as though we take their existence for granted. I plan to use any opportunity for discipline as an opportunity to show my children that I want what's best for them. That I appreciate their individuality but it is my role as their mother to set boundaries so they can grow into the person that they were meant to.
Hang more of their artwork- I have a gallery posted in our downstairs playroom of their best work, but my oldest daughter draws all day, every day, and I being the anti-clutter person that I am, try to secretly get rid of them when she's not looking. I want to show her I appreciate all of her efforts, even if it means hanging one thing per week on the fridge and then changing it out. I don't want to send the message that only the best of the best will be put on display. Our lives are messy and far from perfect so a little scribbling is actually a great reflection of that. I resolve to show my children that ALL of their efforts and expressions of creativity are worthy of acknowledgment and celebration.
Give them one on one attention- If you have more than one child this isn't always easy. And actually I'm sure with even one there are times that this is a constant juggle. I do my best to divide my energy, both mental and physical, as much as I can but in the New Year I am requiring more for myself and ultimately for them. Reading a book, brushing their teeth, a trip to the store or watching television; in all of these occasions I am going to find more opportunities to fit in one on one time with each of my kids. When a rare time happens that I have, let's say my oldest for example, I am amazed at the real and in depth conversations we have, it's how you learn to understand them and I plan to do much more of this starting now.
Treat them like I want to be treated- this is like kindness 101 and I've been told this mantra since as long as I can remember (thanks Mom) but every now and then I catch myself acting in a way towards my children that I am not proud of. I would NEVER snap at or talk down to my friends (or actually even a stranger) so why do I sometimes find myself treating my kids less than they deserve? I am always so careful to be kind to everyone. Whether it be the waitress or a family member. I choose my words very carefully and I always want to leave a positive impact on everyone I meet...if I'm being completely honest with myself this is not the way I am with my kids 100% of the time. Maybe 80% but they deserve 110% of my very best. From now on I plan to take my time with my responses to my children when they are missing-behaving or acting in a way that doesn't align with what I want from them. I plan to ask myself this before I respond to them "Is what I am about to say or do something I would be proud for the world to see?" If the answer to this question is no then I need to really take my time and space until I can respond to them in a more loving manner. I am not better than my children just because of our age difference, and truthfully I believe that most children have more advanced souls than us adults and that they come here to teach US. My kids deserve loving words and loving actions ALL of the time. Even if, and especially when, I am angry.
Say yes more- and actually mean it. I'm a positive person by nature but if I take a honest examination of my daily interactions with my kids, I say no an awful lot. And not just no, but many variations. Not right now. Maybe later. Give me a minute. Let me think about it. I have to ask your father. I know you can all relate. What if my first response was, "sure!". What type of adventure and inspiration would that ignite in my kids? And clearly I am not saying "why the hell not?!" to dangerous or inappropriate things, but the little things. Can I go jump in that puddle? Can you read me this book? Can you put batteries in this? Can I play with your makeup? Can my friend come over? Can we go ice skating? By coming from a positive place, I will open more opportunities and avenues of exploration for my kids. And most importantly by saying yes I am showing appreciation for their wants and needs. I believe that this will then lead them to live life with a more care free attitude. I will use every opportunity not to limit them, but to show them that their dreams are limitless.
We only get one shot at this parenting thing, no pressure or anything. They are going to develop into adults in the blink of an eye and by then, although our parenting job is far from over, our influence will decrease. We don't have to be perfect and ALL of us will mess up, but I aspire to give it my all every single moment I have with them. Every morning when I wake up I set my intention for the day and most of the time this includes being the best mother that my kids need, but if I or anyone else needs the freshness of a New Year to do a little tweaking, well then that's a better time than any! And I will continue to remember throughout the year that if there is a change I need to make in my parenting, or any other role for that matter, I will not put it off for some future date. Right now is all I truly have and I will use the now to show my love and appreciation for my kids.