I'm in love and I want the world to know it. Yep, I'm having a love affair.... with my kids. I'm adoring being their mom right now. It hasn't always felt so easy or beautiful, it times it has felt HARD but right now, we're in this little perfect bubble where it's a beautiful thing and so I want to celebrate this moment by sharing 3 Tips to Be a Happy Parent with you.
I remember back to their first years of life. Once I got my son sleeping at 4 months it was dreamy. Not that it wasn't pleasant before we were sleeping but it was exhausting, anxiety provoking at even a little stressful. Once I taught him to sleep I was so proud of him, and myself! And our daily interactions were that much more enjoyable once we were rested and I felt that much MORE in tune with his needs.
After that, I remember saying... "this stage is the best" and then he would meet another milestone get another month older and then think... "no this stage, this is the best." He was/is so precious. But then we hit those toddler years and things got harder and harder and harder.
But I'm back to "this stage is the best." Oh how my kids and I have grown. I look back on those toddler years and think about why they were hard and why I'm SO HAPPY being their MOM right now?
3 Qualities of a Happy Parent
1. I have so many more tools in my parenting tool box. When you become a parent you default to the tools that were used by your parents. Those tools are often about control and authority. They are outdated because they usually don't foster connection. In addition they may not feel good to you, they may not match your current life philosophy, and you may realize there are situations that trigger episodes from your childhood that maybe don't feel that awesome. I have done so much work on developing my parenting tools through personal development, parent coaching and taking RIE foundations. I'm so grateful to my instructor Melissa Coyne for some thought provoking conversations.
2. I know who I am and what makes me happy. Why were those toddler years so hard? Well I look back now and there I was having moved from Canada to the USA with two little kids, no work visa, no support system, no family and not really even knowing what made me happy or who I was, no wonder everything felt so hard. I was having a hard time! And that rippled into my toddler's behavior. Parenthood does that to you - forces to take some really hard looks at yourself and what makes you happy. The process usually isn't all roses and gumdrops to get there though. I have spent hours and hours on personal development to figure out what my core values are and what makes me happy.
If you're interested my core values are: Adventure, growth, connection, curiosity and health. And I'm SO fortunately to be able to implement those daily in my work with parents.
3. I let go of what I though parenting "should" look like. I let go of worrying about what other people think, about what I though was appropriate behavior, I let go of control and listening to my inner voice and noticing how things "felt." In the process I developed radical self love, self compassion and obsessive gratitude for myself, my kids, my life. In doing so... by being a happier individual, being able to see my children for who they really are rather than what I or society thought they should be I built an even deeper connection with them. In a recent conversation with their Dad about how my daughter didn't want to go to her afterschool program anymore I asked him... "What's more important, the inconvenience of the situation of not having after school care or the connection with her. It's more important to me that she feels safe to tell you something's not working for her and that she knows you're on her side and will listen." We can figure out the after school but if you want her to come to you when she's a teenager with real problems, you have to respect and listen now, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable and is inconvenient.
4. Oh and YES I did teach my kiddos to sleep!! Colson at 4 months and Violet from 4 weeks in the newborn stage! (You can grab all those step by step tactics in my best selling Amazon book The Helping Babies Sleep Method.) For all of the naysayers out there shaming other parents for their choice to set limits and change the way the respond, my kids and are are totally attached, happy and thriving. Don't knock it until you try it;) and why can't we all just be kind to one another, aren't we all just doing the best we can?
How to Be a Happy Parent
Here's what it comes down to people. Being a happy parent with well adjusted kids come downs 3 things.
Its about YOU.
1. Your ability to emotionally self regulate. If you can't do that, how can you expect your children to do so? And no you do not have to make them happy or stop their tears. You do need to be present and attentive. It's not your job to stop the tantrum, it's your job not to have one.
2. Time management. Yep putting kids down too early or too late will make it harder for you and trying to rush them will always backfire.
3. Curiosity. The behavior is a symptom. Your child isn't giving you a hard time they are having a hard time and it's your job to come from a place of curiosity and figure out what that could be.... even if it's inconvenient to you.
Lastly... please don't ever call me a "sleep trainer." The work that I do with parents is so much more than training a baby to sleep. It's about understanding the thoughts that drive you to respond the way you do. It's about knowing what your child's needs are for feeding, sleeping and PLAY! It's about teaching your child a new skill and letting go of control. It's your entry into a deeper connection with your child.