We all know the struggle of dealing with society’s pressure on us as parents. All the dos, don’ts, and mismatched suggestions we hear daily, but what about our expectations? What can we do when we aren’t living up to our OWN expectations of who we want to be as a parent. We all have this magical, not-so-realistic vision of what we will look like as parents. Some of us more realistic than others, but for the most part we had this dream of being a well put together parent who never loses their cool and always knows what they are doing. Now that we are parents, it’s hard to even catch a moment to reflect on how we are being affected by our expectations not matching the reality of parenthood. Maybe we wanted to be screen free but now grab the screen for a second of sanity or wanted to be the chill mama who always keeps her cool but now catch yourself snapping more often than not. Regardless of what it is, it is important to make sure your expectations are realistic, but also that you are meeting your own expectations. Here are a few suggestions on how to make those expectations a reality and get a little closer to being the parent you actually want to be.
P.S. Go easy on yourself mama. Just loving your kids is the most important thing you can do.
Physically write down and visualize the parent you want to be.
Do you want to be calm, give clear expectations, limit screen time, have dinner as a family? Write it all down and be as specific as you can be.
Don’t fear being inconsistent while transitioning to being a better parent. Give yourself time to adjust, accomplishing one or two shifts at a time.
They don’t even have to be parenting related. Sometimes the best way to be a better parent is to give your mind a little break from being a parent. I noticed I was getting really impatient and frazzled around bedtime and nap because my little one takes forever to fall asleep, but it was a parenting goal for me to rock her to sleep. I started listening to podcasts while doing this and immediately improved on my patience and attentiveness because I was no longer focusing on her falling asleep. I think she also noticed I was less focused on it and she started falling asleep easier as well! Not to mention, it’s been so good for my soul to listen to something I’m interested in outside of parenting.
You can also listen to parenting podcasts. They are helpful for not feeling alone, getting advice, and sometimes a good laugh.
There is no shame in seeking professional help. Sometimes all you need is someone outside of the situation to talk to in order to get some clarity and make improvements.
A mom tribe is essential in maintaining sanity. Seeing that NO mom is perfect helps you feel less stressed and relieves some of the anxiety around being a “good” mom, which actually makes you a better mom. Just remember you don’t need to try and force a connection with someone who you don’t relate to. Try to find someone who is in a similar life situation and parents similar to you.
Planning how you react to a common issue in your household will help to prevent a bad reaction that may not fit into your “ideal parent” mold. For example, my little one was exploring random screaming. This obviously frazzled me a bit and I found myself reacting in a way that did not align with how I wanted to be as parent. I thought about it and made a plan of action for when she does this. I decided to identify what emotion she may be trying to express and give her an alternative: “it sounds like you are wanting to express how you feel, if you are excited you can clap your hands and say yay.” She quickly got over the screaming phase after addressing it calmly a few times.
When I feel myself approaching my limits I ask my husband to step in. Enlist anyone you have, even if they might not do things exactly how you want. As soon as you find your calm you can step back in and address anything that may not have been how you wanted it.
If no one is available it is okay to tell your little one “mommy is feeling overwhelmed and needs a moment to calm down.” Even if they aren’t happy about it in the moment doing this is amazing role modeling in teaching children how to calmly deal with their emotions.
As a family, decide what you want your home to be like. Clearly write out and post these expectations, even if they are just for you to read. It will be a nice reminder of how you want things and help you to be consistent with everyone. It will also help any co-parent to get on the same page with their approach.
If your expectation is stressing you and has not been realistic, change it. It is okay not to meet all your expectations, we really have to choose our battles as parents.
Keep positive ideas about your child in your head as often as possible. Viewing your child in a positive light will help you feel better about their actions, allowing you to react in a more positive way as well as set your children up to succeed. Science has confirmed the self-fulfilling prophecy is true. If you tell a child they are a certain way, they will act that way a majority of the time.
You got this mama.
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