It is no surprise that parenting comes with huge lessons of ‘overwhelm’ – the common feeling shared by almost all parents if not all. Life feels like an overflowing fountain of ‘demands’ – not demands from children all the time but demands from life. Come to think of it, parenting is a wonderful SPIRITUAL JOURNEY. Many people do not completely understand the word spiritual. ‘Spiritual’ is anything that forces your ‘spirit’ to grow by having to go outside its comfort zone. Spiritual is anything that teaches us better values or to be a better version of ourselves. Having walked a wonderful parenting journey for 6 years and mentoring many parents through articles and direct conversation, I will like to share 5 simple ways to lessen that ‘overwhelming’ feeling and reduce your frustrations.
- Organize your home and learn management skills
- Prioritize social life
- Plan your career life
- Realistic expectations from your child
- Realistic expectations from yourself
- Organize your home and learn management skills – Organization is the master of leadership skills. A great leader is the one who has the skills to multi-task, prioritize, put things in order, stay focused and organized. Remember that being a parent is a lot about being a LEADER. What happens if your supervisor at work reaches work late, leaves work even later, doesn’t eat on time, has no proper places to file his work and has no idea what the day and week ahead will look like? Same is with you as a parent. If you want one successful day, week, month and year with your kid/s, you must know how to ORGANIZE and PLAN your life, your home, your health and your agendas.
One part of organization is your physical space: how well are your things and your kid/s things kept? Can you tell me in your sleep, where ANYTHING is kept without having to get up – whether it is anything in your kitchen, bedroom, dining, etc. Use organizing bins, trays, holders to make sorting easier. E.g. I place puzzles in zip lock bags, her stationery in a heavy-duty organizer on her table, soft toys in a laundry basket, all bed sheets in one drawer, etc.
Another part of organization is time management. How well are you with your routines? If you sleep and wake up more or less the same time daily, your life will be 80% better with your kids than you ever estimated. Your sleep-rest and body cycle has a huge impact on your mood, on your health and amount of energy you feel.
What you feel, you transfer to your kids. Mentally plan your meals for the next day rather than having to wake up with a huge frustration question mark of – “Now what to cook today?” Standing in front of the kitchen cabinets, scratching your head over breakfast and lunch deals for the day is poor management. Think of every minute of your life as a great investment towards your kids. How many minutes do you want to waste and how many do you want to multiply?
- Prioritize your social life – Yes, we love to party and meet, greet and laugh. But Parenting is a lot about learning to make adjustments, compromises and changes in one’s life. Before my child, I would be out every Saturday and Sunday with husband and his group of friends. Once my child was born, not only did I have to change my routines for the 1st few months, but I made permanent changes to my social life. I don’t mean to say stop having fun but the AMOUNT and DURATION of your outings can be reconsidered. How much do you want to cook for your guests? Is it important to ‘impress’ them or to spend time with your children? I judge each day as a trade.
When I plan a day in my mind, I ask myself- how many hours do I want to spend today with my child, based on that I make my other decisions. I may not be able to deny guests from coming home or having to attend parties but I surely DEFINE how much energy I want to put into preparations or having to stay at a party. My time with my child is not the time that is LEFT OVER after everything is taken care of, my time with my child is the 1ST thing I set aside or plan for the day and then everything else revolves around it.
- Plan your career life – Once again it is about need vs. demand. What do I demand from my life vs. what I need. For 5 years I dedicated my life, time, energy to my child because I CAREFULLY CALCULATED it this way – once she starts full time school at age 5, she will NEVER EVER AGAIN IN HER LIFE have a FULL WEEK with me at home. She will be spending more time at school than home and never again will I get to PLAN or SPEND 40 hours in a week with her. Hence, I rather set my career aside for those 5 years, even if there were financial challenges, I rather save money and my time with my child than give away that time to a stranger in a day care for whom she will be ‘one of the 20 kids’.
I don’t mean to influence your decision or to say that parents that chose to send their kids to day care are wrong. Sometimes finances have to take a top seat. Do understand that time with your kids will never return and make a wise choice based on that along with all the other needs of yourself and your family.
- Realistic Expectations from your child – Would you rather have a ‘smart’ child who attends 5 or 7 different classes and tops in math, academics, dance, etc. or would you rather have a child who tops in ‘the language of love’. While classes can teach your child ‘skills’, sharing valuable time with the parent teaches the child invaluable lessons of love and self-growth. Exploratory play at home can be nurtured by the parent which teaches many skills to the child along with learning to build a bond, show and receive care, feel secure and important.
No number of classes, education or training can teach your child that. Also, an apple tree can only grow apples, an orange tree grows only oranges. Not all kids are made for the ‘A+’ game. Grades is not everything and success is not correlated to grades alone. Don’t overburden them with expectations that their body or mind is not made for. Focus on their strengths, explore their talents and be realistic about their limitations. A rational and loving approach will make your parenting life easier, simpler and more successful.
- Realistic expectations from yourself – Now tell me that you do this – take over way too much than you can handle. You invite guests today and then accept the birthday invitation for tomorrow, then realize you had bought tickets to a party, then have groceries left to do, wish to be a super mom but also need to be super sexy, want a super skin, miss watching the latest movies and can’t stop browsing the entire world’s Facebook! P-R-I-O-T-I-Z-E !!!
There is no need to be a super mom. Just be a mom, that itself is great. Chose the top 5 important things in your life. E.g. here is my list:
- Spend at least an hour with her on weekday and 5 total hours with her on weekend.
- Health – exercise 4 days a week, eat healthy 5 days a week, care for skin / hair twice a month (not the priority right now).
- Career – Advance in one’s career at a steady pace and build business slowly on the side.
- Socialize – Have an enjoyable outing 2ce a month if not more and call any close friends and family members every 2 weeks. (No receiving calls on weekdays or times when I spend with her).
- Learn – learn something new every month either from book, training, observation, etc. (No reading news or news channel, Facebook only to learn new skills).
I hope this article helps you settle down some of your frustrations and overwhelming feelings of parent-hood. Focus more on enjoying and less on the other demands of life. Life can wait, the time with your kids cannot. They will be older and gone before you know it and who knows if we will be alive tomorrow or not to see them or if they will be alive tomorrow or not for us to see their smiles.
It is nice to be hopeful that life will continue well and it is wise to be realistic that life can change anytime! Make the most of today. Investment in your kids is the greatest investment you can ever make and that is not about how much money you invest in them or their future, it is about how much QUALITY INTERACTION you live with them in this very moment, HERE and NOW.