I’m just going to come right out and say the thing that every parent in the world is thinking (but is too afraid to say out loud)… THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR. This parenting thing, being solely responsible for producing a couple fully grown adults who are going to contribute to the world in a very real and meaningful way, is soooooo much harder than I thought it was going to to be.
I have to make sure they are kind and loving but not a pushover, strong and courageous but not overbearing, confident and ambitious but stay humble. They need to be able to experience and process the full gauntlet of emotions without imploding. They must be trustworthy, dependable, respectful, disciplined. I could go on and on and on. Basically they need to be physically, emotionally and mentally prepared for every single thing that could possibly happen to them over the next 60-80 years. No pressure.
The first few years of this journey were relatively easy for me (I can’t even believe I’m now in a place where I can say that). I grew two humans, pushed them into the world, nourished them with my body, and with the help of my husband taught them the basics of life. It was difficult, exhausting, at times even frustrating, but we all came out stronger.
Now that my kids are a bit older, and I can officially say goodbye to the infant stage, I am faced with the reality that I am now charged with the task of raising people… real people who are one day going to exist in the world separate from me. The decisions we make as parents are potentially going to impact the lives of our children for the rest of their lives, so clearly there isn’t a ton of room for error.
I used to stress about everything, and I mean every single thing, when it came to my kids. I was wound so tight, I was one diaper rash away from completely falling apart. I knew that I couldn’t continue living like that, nor did I want to model that type of behaviour to the little human sponges I was spending all my time with. So, after one particularly bad day, I opened up my computer and did a 15 minute yoga flow before bed. And I felt better for it. So the next night I did the same thing, and the day after that I went for a walk outside with the kids. I said hello to my neighbours as we passed them on our walks, and said an ernest thank you to my husband for taking the garbage out. And I even sat down while my kids were playing and read a book that had no pictures, just because I wanted to… I basically started living my life as the person I hope my kids will be when they are adults. Kind, considerate, grateful people who do what they can to serve their community while still recognizing the importance of their own needs. Not only did I end up happier, but my kids started modelling that behaviour instead of the stressed out, hypersensitive example I used to set for them.
Now, almost a year on from that day, I am constantly amazed by the actions of my tiny humans. Granted they are still young, but they are already showing signs of being ready to conquer this big scary world one day. There are a few things my husband and I do as parents to make sure we are raising strong, empowered and mindful kids.
- We practise gratitude every day. We often talk about how lucky we are, both in regards to our material possessions and our emotional wealth. Love is a blessing and we have it in abundance, it is important our kids grow up understanding that.
- We do yoga. Yup, all of 4 us do yoga. Sometimes just for a few minutes, and not always as often as we need, but we get together to stretch, laugh and grow together.
- We’ve replaced the traditional time out with a 1 minute meditation. When things inevitably head south and someone needs to hit the reset button, we sit down in a quiet space, and for one minute repeat the affirmation “I am calm”. Sometimes we use a sensory bottle, or a strand of beads as something physical to focus on.
- We prioritize time spent with our extended family and friends. This is so cliche, but it really does take a village, and we are lucky enough to have a pretty awesome one. Everyone has a story to tell, or some wisdom to impart about a lesson they learned the hard way.
- We have regular dance parties. Music is such a powerful tool that can elevate your mood and your endorphins. We tell the kids to really pay attention to the sensations in their body while they move, teaching them about the importance of caring for and nurturing their bodies
A house without a strong foundation isn’t going to last long in a storm… and the same goes for our children. I’ve learned it’s important to teach them from a young age how to be strong, kind, independent, compassionate, loving, and courageous people.
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