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We all want to be better parents, don’t we?
We all beat ourselves up for yelling and nagging and missing and forgetting.
And we worry and worry about not knowing what to do when our kids are hurting.
And desperately search for solutions to make everything all right.
Sure the secret must be out there if we only look hard enough.
But the crazy thing is – I’ve realised – the more time I spend anxting and investigating and trying to come up with an answer to every problem.
The less time I spend on the simple stuff.
I’m so busy trying to be a parenting super star, I forget those tiny habits that matter most.
And more and more it seems to me, it’s the simple day in-day out habits
That give our kids the best chance of handling all the stuff life chucks at them.
And you know what?
That is exactly what my mother’s been trying – very patiently – to help me see for the last 8 years!
The REAL parenting secret is we can only ever hope to be good enough parents.
We can’t solve everything for our children. We can’t fix all their problems.
What ever we mend for them today. There will be something else broken tomorrow.
And tomorrow. And tomorrow. And the next day.
To the last moment of our parenting lives!
So as this year ends, my resolution – for the next – is to keep it as simple as I possibly can.
To chuck out the parenting manuals. Say NO to the late night searches.
And – try to – stick to these 7 oh-so-simple, everyday parenting habits that make a BIG difference.
AND actually just enjoy being a good-enough parent …
7 Simple Habits Of Good Enough Parents
1. Say “I love you” first thing
It so easily gets forgotten in the pell mell scramble out the door every morning but those simple words – with a cuddle, with a song, with a joke – are the best protection we can offer against whatever ills the day may bring
2. Just get outside
There’s not a much a big dollop of fresh air can’t fix is there?.
Tantrums, yelling, whinging.
Coordination, balance, independence, teamwork, resilience.
Playing outdoors is good for the lot of them AND more!
PLUS it helps them sleep.
3. When you’re there, be there
Are you as bad at this as me?
I’m on my phone. Or ruminating over everything apart from what is actually being shared with me.
But just 15 minutes when we’re really there with them in the moment – minus our phone AND our mental to do list – are worth their weight in gold.
It’s those shorts focused moments of truly listening that earn their trust and keep them sharing.
4. Leave them alone
On the other hand kids today barely get a free moment to out of the eagle eye of an adult.
And they SO need it.
PLUS the space to fix their own quarrels without us instantly diving in.
This year I’m going to try harder to butt out.
To be the peace keeper of last resort. And not the rapid response unit to every minor flare up.
5. Screw up, say sorry, move on
I can drive myself into a blind panic with all the different parenting balls we’re meant to juggle everyday – drop offs here, pick ups there, forms to fill in, soggy swim stuff to rescue from forgotten bags, cakes for school sales, costumes for this, kit for that whilst also somehow getting work done, putting food on the table, keeping the house vaguely hygenic AND the rest.
We CANNOT possibly do it all.
AND it struck me BIG time this year that our kids need to see we can’t.
AND learn they can’t either.
BECAUSE life is about choices. Doing some things means NOT doing others.
Seeing us screw up & drop stuff everyday with some vague grace, saying sorry to anyone hurt by it and moving on is one of the best lessons we can share.
6. Share little skills
The other simple lessons we have lost in our busy, busy, barely-there lives are the little things.
Simple everyday skills our kids need us to share.
Peeling potatoes. Boiling an egg. Making a cake. Mending something. Sweeping up.
NOT as chores to be ticked off on a list. NOR rewarded with stars.
But as small shared moments together when we pass on all the little stuff passed on to us before.
7. Say “I love you” last thing
Things WILL go wrong for our kids everyday, however hard we try.
Little stuff that bounces off them. Big things that sear their soul.
Some of it our fault. Some of it theirs. Some of it beyond us both.
We can’t always mend it or solve it or change it. And it’s often not clear we should.
BUT whatever has happened.
That final “I love you” as they go to sleep – especially when we’re hurt, especially when we’re angry – is the most powerful parenting moment of the day.
So there you go. My 7 simple habits for good enough parents.
BECAUSE that REALLY is the best we can ever hope to be!
I do hope they help.
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AND if you haven’t discovered them yet, do check out Pick Any Two, Happy You, Happy Family and Imperfect Families. They’ll about good enough parenting and always help me see stuff I’m struggling with through fresh eyes.