Approximately 99% of parents can admit that they have felt, at least once, so swept up in daily schedules and chaos that they have forgot what is truly important.
Okay, you got me.
I made that one up. Although that statistic is fully and completely made up, I am willing to bet it is pretty spot on.
We all feel bullied by our kids sometimes, and feel as if our free time is violated by a busy schedule; however, it doesn’t all have to feel like a chore. There will be plenty of time to clean and sleep when they are older. When parenting starts to feel more like work instead of the family you dreamed of as a kid, you may just need to adjust your mindset.
The Long 24-Hour Work Shift
There was a time when I would rather clean out the Porta Potty in the middle of Arizona, during August, at a Taco festival than put my kids to bed.
Saying if felt like a chore, was putting in nicely. If I am being really honest, I’d say it was pushing me closer to insanity. A mom version of psychosis, where I felt like I was living a recurring nightmare.
Of course I disliked the incessant demands for another late night snack. Battling the groggy laments that they were NOT tired would drive anyone crazy. And the 20 minutes fashion show to pick out the perfect pajamas would make even Mother Teresa impatient. [make a decision ALREADY….you are going to bed!]
However, for me, there was something else that felt like a chore. My daughter would ask that I lay with her until she falls asleep. Now I know that, with some work, I could sleep train her to fall asleep on her own; however, my nighttime fatigue trumped any logical thinking. At the end of a long day, laying with my scared 6 year old just became our nightly ritual.
As much as I love my daughter, I felt that lying in her dark room for 30 minutes was wasting away my super valuable time. It sounds harsh, but it is the honest truth.
My mind would race through things I did that day: Did I remember to buy milk? Did I do a good job at work? Did I pay our water bill?
And it would race through the things I had to do when I left her room: I will move the laundry to the dryer, then I will do the dishes in the sink, then I will make lunches for everyone.
I would just lay there in darkness, feeling like I was working overtime at an exhausting job. My daughter would ask me questions or ask me to tell her a story, and I would quickly hush her; telling her that it was late and it was time to sleep.
Adjusting Your Mindset
One random day, I was looking through old pictures of my children. I noticed how fast the last few years went.
All of a sudden, I had the equivalent of a swift slap in the face.
Each night, while I lie in bed with her, living in the past and future, she was getting one day older. And one day closer to NOT wanting to cuddle with me. One day closer to going away to college or moving out.
I was instantly ashamed that I ever wished away even one of those precious seconds with her. Life is not about ‘to-do’ lists or clean kitchens.
Life is about the time we spend with the ones we love.
I was finally seeing clear. These little moments were not chores. In fact, these little moments were the exact reasons why I wanted to be a mother. The moments that I dreamt of when I found out I was pregnant.
5 Step Method to Reset Your Mindset
When I started to actually listen to what my daughter was trying to talk to me about during our bedtime ritual, I was awoken even more. Throughout the day, when I ask her about school and how her day was, I get a wishy-washy “Good” as a reply.
However, at night in her dark room, when it is just the two of us, she opens up. She started to tell me stories of who she played with at recess. She tells me the nice things she did during the day, and the things that made her sad. She tells me silly stories, not just “need to know” things.
Whether at bedtime or any other moment, it is crucial that we connect with our kids and do our best to enjoy them.
This 5 Step Method will help you reset your mindset and be ready to engage with your little ones.
1) Give Yourself a Quick Pep-Talk
Remind yourself that:
- Your child needs your attention and love
- They will only be little for a short period of time
- Someday, you are going to miss this
Put your phone aside. Literally leave it in another room. Your children need your undivided focus when you are reconnecting with them.
3) Get on their level
Don’t try to talk to them from across the room while you are doing dishes. Sit across from them and talk.
4) Start an actual conversation
Ask open ended questions such as:
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- What made you sad or mad today?
- What would you like to do this weekend?
- What was the nicest thing you did for other people today?
- What did you and your friends talk about at school?
5) Take time to engage in activity they love
I guarantee if you will both enjoy yourself if you do an activity that your child loves, even if you can only spare 15 minutes. Some simple examples include:
- Throw a baseball, or kick soccer balls
- Play dolls
- Paint, color, or do a craft
Parenting should be more about interacting and enjoying each other, Build healthy relationships and strong bonds with your kids, and you will both benefit.
Do you dread bedtime? How about bath time, or your morning rush? If parenting feels like a chore to you, change your mindset! Remember how blessed you are and how fast these years go.
If you found this helpful, share it! And check out my other recent posts!
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- 5 Ultra Quick and Easy Mindfulness Hacks Designed for Parents
- Is Your Daughter a Mean Girl? 5 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore
- How to Romanticize Your Life and Find Beauty in the Simple
- How Returning to Our Roots Can Help Moms Embrace Their Authentic Self
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