When my twins were born two years ago, fear gripped my soul as I wrangled with how I would be enough mother for my three children. In addition to my newborn boys, waiting at home was my strong-willed not-yet-two-year-old daughter. Convinced I would fail all of my children and lose the woman I knew myself to be, my mind started to spiral.
That’s when I had to slap myself into reality and remember some key things I could do to help us all make it through. Despite all the madness, I can credit a few purposeful, respectful parenting techniques to surviving the chaos that is our life.
What is Purposeful Parenting?
In brief, it’s all about making mindful decisions for both the parent and child. It’s not a set of rules or a list of things to do. Purposeful parenting is a way of being.
I am far from a perfect parent, but I always have these tools in my back pocket when I need them (and can remember them)! And that’s what purposeful parenting embodies. It’s some tools and ideas to help mamas like us make it through the day and connect with our children a little more.
5 Purposeful Parenting Tools
Taking Care of Yourself
Mama, your well-being matters! We’ve all heard talk of self-care, but what does that mean? And is it even accessible or realistic for every mom? (The answer to that is no, it’s not). A parent’s mental health and emotional well being are crucial for their child. If taking care of yourself looks like turning on a movie for your kids while you sneak a power nap? Do it. Taking care of mama doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity.
One way anyone can incorporate this into their day is by doing something with the mindset that an action is just for you. Even if it’s getting dressed in something that makes you feel good. That is a moment just for you, embrace it, and utilize it.
There Are No Bad Kids
One of my favorite parenting books is titled No Bad Kids, by Janet Lansbury. Lansbury’s approach says that there are no bad kids, but there can be unacceptable behaviors. Sometimes in the heat of a tantrum, a screaming teenager, or a brooding tween, it can be helpful to remember our children aren’t bad.
In reality, it could be that our child’s behavior is really just trying to tell us something. Maybe take a moment to consider the why behind the “bad” behavior. Perhaps your child is trying to tell you what they need or how they are feeling. Maybe they are trying to let you know that they need you.
Let Go of Perfection
As an Enneagram Type 3, it is incredibly easy for me to get caught up in being the “perfect” mom. But when I sit back and think about it, what does that even mean? Perfection looks different to almost everyone! I have to work HARD to let go of being my ideal of the perfect parent.
That means some days I might yell at my kids, some days they may watch more TV than they should, some days a “naughty” word flies out of my mouth, and most days that means my children eat far from healthy. However, when I let go of my ideal of being a perfect mom? I find my stress levels lower, and I am a better parent.
Play With Your Kids
Being playful is my favorite purposeful parenting tool; I believe it’s also one of the most powerful. Taking a moment through the week to connect with your kids through play can make a big difference in their little hearts. The simple act of focusing solely on your child for a small part of the day can speak volumes. Playing with your children doesn’t look like something specific; it mostly involves stopping what you “need” to get done as a mom and just being there with your kid(s).
Being mindful is really what purposeful parenting is all about. It means being aware of yourself, your mental health, physical well-being, and being mindful of your child. Their feelings, their physical well being and even their basic needs.
Think about how your actions, attitude, and interactions with your children affect them. Nearly every moment of the day, motherhood assaults us with everything we have to do. Work, cook, clean, be there for our children, play with our children, be a great partner, walk the dog, work out, finish laundry, and the list goes on and on and on. However, pausing to be present with your child can make all the difference in both their day and ours.