1. If you are happy, your child is probably happy.
Have you ever noticed that when you are having a bad day – when the dog chews your new shoes, or it’s suddenly started to rain and you have almost dry clothes on the line or, you didn’t sleep well last night, and there’s no milk for your morning coffee – that this is the day your child seems to be really difficult – whinging a lot, accidentally spilling his drink, and crying because the puzzle piece won’t fit. Have you seen that correlation? It happens in the reverse too – when you’ve slept well, and the sun is shining and you managed to drink ½ a cup of hot coffee before you got distracted – that on these days, your children play happily with each other, they are more cuddly, and they use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more often – have you noticed that?
What this tells us is that mothers are pivotal in setting the tone for the day. Children – even very young ones – are sensitive to the moods of those around them. They notice that you are different, whether stressed, or sad, or angry. Often they are too young to understand why this might be, but they still sense it, and as a result, are influenced by it.
This is why I am passionate (and I mention this a lot) about mothers making self-care a priority. Dads are absolutely important too. The reality is that it is often mothers who are at home with the children, and hence this is directed at them…. Look after yourself, take time out to have coffee with a girlfriend, get out in the sunshine, have a bubble bath – do something nice for you on a regular basis. The benefits to you and your sense of well-being is huge… and of course there’s that ripple effect for your children!
2. You can’t do everything – Superwoman does not exist.
I remember when I had my first baby, …… I had left teaching where I had 30 x 6 – 7 year olds in my care daily. I could organise them to be polite, to do what I set them, to enthuse them to learning, to get them to co-operate…. I did this daily, and I did it well. Then my baby arrived, and it wasn’t so easy…. She cried, and at times it didn’t matter what I did, she still cried. I was soooo tired in those early weeks. When she was asleep I’d rush around attempting to do the house cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking dinner, and trying to look ‘nice’ as well. But, rarely did I achieve that in the first weeks. I had to quickly learn that it wasn’t possible to do all of that, and have a happy mum and baby. I let go of my Superwoman imagery and got real, and as a result, I smiled more!
3. Striving to be the ‘perfect mother’ raising the ‘perfect children’ is a recipe for disaster.
I can guarantee you, that if you aim for this level of perfection, you will fail nearly every day. Things happen – we growl, we look annoyed, we ignore our child because we’re engrossed in reading a magazine article etc – all things which a ‘perfect mother/ father’ would never do. Can we please get real here…. We are humans and we’ve all made mistakes at times, or not acted in the best way. If we expect perfection from ourselves and our children, then that’s not realistic!
Let’s instead accept good parenting as our goal, or even great parenting – where we do the best we can every day, and we learn from that as to what works well and what doesn’t – this will lead to success, and smiles!
You are good enough! – believe it, live it, breathe it… AND model that to your child.