Being a parent is complex work.
Figuring out how you want to raise your children is hard enough, then having to rethink those ideals when you realise it's not all going to plan can send you spinning.
Before having children I knew I wanted to be a “fun mom.” A mom that got down on the floor, played chase in playgrounds and crafted amazing art pieces with her children.
I hadn't put much thought into the other stuff. After all, I had worked with children most of my adult life and had been babysitting since I was 12. I knew children well, we worked well together.
Then I had my children and suddenly everything wasn't so crystal clear.
I found myself swinging between being a permissive parent: “Yes darling you can paint on the couch, we'll just wash it off later,” to an exhausted, stressed Mama on the edge of losing her cool: “I told you NO painting today, it's too messy and you NEVER clean it up!”
I was tired.
I was confused.
I was defeated.
I had a huge emotional rainbow of feelings getting in the way of my thinking.
And then just to make things even more complicated—I went back to work part time, funnily enough teaching children's services at a technical and further education college!
Luckily, just as I was resigning myself to the fact that I would ALWAYS be tired and emotional (“Aren't all parents? Nobody said it was going to be easy,” I told myself ), I discovered Parenting by Connection. It was a game-changer.
Through it, I learnt how important support for me was. I found a listening partner and a community. Finally, I had someone to listen to me cry and moan about how hard parenting can be, how guilty I felt when I spent time on my work rather than with my children and how hard I was trying to be a good mom. How great it felt to have someone to laugh with on days things had just not gone to plan… again!
I learnt that sometimes the hard bits in parenting are the bits that we found hard when we were children and that we can work through these difficulties by talking, crying, and laughing about it, and by being really listened to.
I learnt about Setting Limits in a loving and compassionate way. Understanding that my child was NOT deliberately acting out, that it was their feelings were getting in the way of their thinking – just like mine do at times – was liberating. I discovered that they needed me to help them with those feelings, and that by Setting Limits around unworkable behaviour, I could give them a wonderful gift.
I learnt how to balance my playful side with a supportive side, to not always use play to distract my children away from their intense feelings, but to also be there when they needed support through their tears and tantrums. Just as I now had someone to listen to my woes, rants and worries, I could give this to them, to validate their feelings and support them the whole way through.
And I learnt how to allocate and dedicate quality time to my children. This time helped them feel my love, but it also helped me divide my time well between connecting with them and getting all the “mom stuff” done too.
Learning these simple, effective tools – and being supported whilst I practised it – really helped me find the perfect balance of parenting, working and running a household, giving me ways to find time for me, my children, my husband, friends and family, household and work (Phew!)
Hand in Hand's Tools help me to stay present and be in the moment. They help me be a flexible and fun parent, and they give me a greater understanding of myself and my children. This framework lets me be kind to myself and really enjoy parenting – well, most days, anyway!
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox
Hand in Hand has lots of resources if you are just getting started with connection parenting. Take the stress out of setting limits in this free booklet, and find out why spending as little as 10 minutes of dedicated time a day can help you build amazing connections that will transform your parenting in this free video series. There's an article on How To Find A Listening Partner here, and we'd love to have you receive our monthly newsletter, with tools, tips and updates.
Skye is a Certified Hand in Hand Parenting by Connection instructor in Victoria, Australia. Skye is the mother of a son and a daughter and has 15 years experience as a Child Services Educator. You can connect with Skye on her Facebook page.