Okay – if you’re practically perfect in practically every way, raise your hand. Wait – I don’t see any hands – LOL! That’s because nobody is practically perfect in any way (unless your name is Mary Poppins). However, that may be by design. So, it’s not a bad thing. What’s important is that you are open and strive to become a better person. If you’re a mom (or if you’re a dad or if you’re just raising kids), well – kids are always there to give us challenges, problems, etc. … all of which are opportunities for growth. Here we go!
1. When You’re at Work, Be There. When You’re at Home, Be There. In other words, leave work at the job site (even if you’re working from home these days), and be open and available for time with your kids. That brings us to the next suggestion.
2. Put Your Phone Down. If you’re like many modern moms, your personal and business life seem intermingled. Especially if your phone is for both realms – personal and business – learn to turn it off at least for specific times. Some moms put their phones on vibrate so they can check if there’s an emergency call, but do not text or call anybody back if there’s no emergency. Try for example, from about the end of the workday to 8 or 9 pm, or when the kids go to bed (or are supposed to at least).
3. Schedule in Some “Me” Time. This is also called self-care. Every human being needs some time to themselves to center and reboot. No, it’s not selfish – it’s smart. So, make sure this doesn’t fall off the to-do list, as you will be more maximally stressed out and then that’s going to adversely affect your being a good mom.
4. Make Sure You Prepare or Procure Healthy, Delicious and Nutritious Meals. This is a critical part of your own calmness, behavior, feelings, and thoughts – and the same applies to your kids. Experts tell us that 75% of overall health – inclusive of thoughts, feelings, subsequent behavior, spirituality, and physiological health – springs from the food you ingest, so make it healthy because life is challenging enough, and we don’t need any breakdowns because we’re eating junky, fast foods.
5. Learn and Practice Good Time Management for both You and Your Kids. Don’t overload yourself and your kids’ schedules with tons of activities. While they are important and healthy, make sure that everyone’s schedule – including yours if you provide transportation, etc. – is realistic and will not make you crazy. In other words, don’t overschedule anyone. Parents have rules – for incredibly good reasons. Learn and implement what works best for you and your family. If one thing is not working well, try another.
6. Take Time to Actively Listen to Your Kids. Active listening is just what it’s called – an active process. So really listen to what they are saying – put your whole attention on them when they’re talking. Respond to what they’re saying with love and kindness but enforce your rules. Yes, you can be flexible, but don’t flex to the point where the kids end up controlling your time and your schedule. Remember how easy it is to sacrifice your “me” time! But you need it as much as they need their time.
7. When Responding to Your Kid, Make Sure You Add Words of Encouragement. Be positive. Don’t just point out what’s wrong, or give monosyllabic answers, make sure they know what’s right and how you feel about them, how much you care about them, how proud you are.
8. Always Be Ready to Ask for Help If You Need It. Remember – no shame, no blame. Nobody is perfect, as we established above! Sometimes things just get too overwhelming and you actually need some help. So, it’s a good idea to build a support system around you and also seek professional help if it’s needed.
9. Remember that Your Kids Respond More to What You Do than What You Say. Taking care of yourself likely means you will be a better role model to your kids. Don’t be the mom who says one thing but does another! While it’s true that some things are more appropriate for adults than for kids, basically keep to this rule in everyday life. If you want your kids to be polite to others, then be polite to others yourself. It’s a win-win. You get practice at being a great mom and human being and your kids emulate your behavior.
10. Don’t Forget to Make Time to be With Your Significant Other. This, plus “me” time, is necessary for your relationships to flourish and for all of you to feel good inside individually and with each other. If it seems like there’s not enough time to do all of this, then go back to time management, and identify areas that are over the top. Remember that balance is an integral part of the whole picture.
11. Celebrate Your Kids’ Time as Kids. This means that you don’t want them to grow up too fast, as they might miss integral components of their childhood. Remember the point about having a good support system around you … you just can’t do it all, all of the time! Try not to give your older kids too much responsibility so they can just be themselves as they pass through their developmental milestones at their own pace. Some kids at age 12 look like adults, but they are still 12 in every other way and need to be kids.
12. Be Wary of Comparing Your Kids to Others and Labeling Them. This can set off negative consequences such as lowered self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) and self-efficacy (how you feel about what you can do). If a kid is labeled, this can have the unintended effect of behaving according to the label instead of growing out of something. This happens a great deal with kids labelled ADHD or Bipolar. Please understand that in the world of diagnosing behavioral and mood disorders, symptoms can appear to belong to one category, but practitioners often end up re-diagnosing when symptoms change. Sometimes symptoms even disappear completely. Kids sometimes grow out of certain phases and a solid diet is immensely helpful at controlling behavior and moods. So be sure few to no comparisons and labels are made; instead, support them in being all they can be. At times there are real limitations that will not go away, so it’s a great idea to be creative and support your kids to overcome and compensate in a positive manner. Think about certain media personalities such as athletes who had trouble in school, but they still went on to college. It may take a little longer, but it is still do-able.
As always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.