I absolutely love this article from Elsabe who blogs over at Mother In The Making Naturally… It is like she read my mind. We seem to have a lot in common! Except she is way more hardcore – she is raising adorable twin boys, Pieter and Hanlé (I take my hat off to all moms of multiples), and she is living my dream – living in an Equestrian Estate with lots of horses, bunnies, geese, squirrels, guinea fowl, owls, two jackal buzzards and a porcupine! (Can I come visit and never leave?)
“I am bit of a strange one as I don’t see myself in one particular movement of Parenting. I seem to take what I think best from parenting styles (and life in general) and make it my own.”
You can read more about Elsabe here, make sure to follow her blog – she has such a wonderful outlook on life.
10 Things I’ve Learned from Parenthood…
Never in my life have I learned so much as now… Since I became a parent, my world has been shaken, rocked and stirred… sometimes all at once, so instead of crying like the baby I sometimes can be, I choose to learn from my experiences and share what I learned, so here goes.
1. Its not about you!
Since i was a little girl, I tend to think things are going wrong because of me, or if someone had a bad day, I did something wrong or if someone is laughing, surely they must be laughing at me. This I must say is actually very self-centered even though it might have sprouted from other childhood issues. Evidently now as a parent, when there’s a party and my child is not invited; or someone is pregnant and no one tells me; or my kid throws a huge tantrum in front of everyone who thinks I’m such a great mom; or my daughter says “NO” with a face that says “stay away from me” when I lovingly ask for a kiss… especially on those days… I realise that It’s not always about ME! Sometimes theres good and logical explanations for all these things. Your child might not have been invited to that party because there really wasn’t money for lots of children; your friend may not have told you about her pregnancy because her life has been as hectic as yours and she didn’t send you that message just as you haven’t sent her one (or maybe she was afraid of losing the baby and didn’t want to tell a lot of people); and maybe your kid threw a tantrum because he is teething and not because “you must surely be a bad parent”; and maybe your little girl is working out some things in her little 2-year old brain and her way of showing you that she loves you just gets a little mixed up sometimes.
2. Each child is different
I have the privilege to raise a boy and a girl at the same time, of the same age, yet they are in completely different stages of their lives. Not only can I clearly see a difference between boys and girls, but I can see a huge difference in their personalities. I can honestly tell you that they have reacted different in every little place their development has taken me. Wether it was breastfeeding, sleeping, eating solids, sitting up, crawling, walking or potty training, they each had their own consistent way of handling things that absolutely portrayed their personalties. The most important thing as a parent, wether you are raising twins, or two kids of the same age or wether you just think your friends’ kids and their development is better or faster, children are different and they need different methods to learn and develop. There’s no rule-book or DIY guide for parents… well there are lots but my point is don’t think you can read one and just follow it blindly. Observe your child and learn from them, you will be surprised at the ways you can learn to raise them.
3. Sometimes, just sit
My husband never gets how I can read and answer a message while I’m on my way to fetch a towel, or why I would read a book while I am walking to make dinner (and sometimes even read while making dinner). Well apart from me being a woman and able to multi task, I also find myself constantly forgetting things so I try to write everything down in dozens of lists on my phone when I think of something like that item I have to put on the grocery list or that event I have to put in the calendar. If I don’t put it in, I just don’t remember. My ADD is partly to blame but mostly my brain is just so full of stuff that I never get a chance to just sit and relax to enjoy the moment. This constant need for me to be busy caused me to do unnecessary stuff like constantly checking for messages or checking my Facebook while standing in a que. It became so bad that I’d check something on my phone (whatever popped my mind to check first) the moment I put on my computer cause you know theres that minute you have to wait for the stupid thing to turn on and who has a minute to wait you know… or I’d sit on the chair at the hair dresser and the moment she goes to fetch something I’d check my mail cause you never know when shed return right… Even eating became something that has to be accompanied with doing something cause who has time to sit and just eat right? Its actually scary how busy you can make your mind with absolutely nothing. I was constantly tired and took it out on the kids. The moment they started playing amongst themselves happily I’d jump on the phone to get things done. The problem with this is not the quick check for messages, its what you will do with the messages once you saw them. The answering of messages can easily take 10-30 mins or even more out of the moment you should be experiencing right there. So I have learned to “Put the phone down” like that viral video suggests and sometimes, just sit. At first it was awkward but soon I learned that I had a general feeling of contentment and that I had more energy and less stress.
4. Don’t let people step on you
Basically this translates to stand up for yourself. Mommy wars.. oh mommy wars… I will write a different post about that some time (especially cause I’m Switzerland in Mommy-World) but I have touched on it in this post. Don’t let other parents TELL you how to raise your child. If you don’t take a stand and figure things out for yourself you will likely make more mistakes by just following what other people do. I am pretty sure a large percentage of the 1st world countries are mainly raising children on advertisements and on whatever everyone else is doing. I bought a birthday present for the kids the other day, you know something nice that I couldn’t really afford but I figured its something they could both enjoy and would keep them busy for hours in future for many years. Imagine my disgust when I set up the present to find that the quality is so bad it will break within a week. When I went back to the store to return it, they said “bad quality” is not an acceptable reason to return something, there must be something physically wrong with the item. I didn’t leave it there… oh no I just walked right over to the coffee shop next door, ordered a big cappuccino and sat on the phone to head office. I explained to them that I could have gone to “Toy Store X” to buy an item half of the price I bought this one for but I didn’t because I trusted in their quality. Naturally the Customer Care operator was taken aback and organised quickly for me to take back the item and that they would look into that product. They guy behind the counter back in the store told me I was the second person who wasn’t happy with the quality. So why was it so important for me to get my money back? Because I spent my last money in order to make my children happy on a product that was manufactured and sold out of greed, not ethics or pride in a product. And also because someone worse off than me may fall in the same trap and may not have a voice to stand up for themselves! Very important for me personally is to check my temper at all times and try to handle things with dignity and a smile… It can go a long way, well most of the time….
5. Smile and talk to strangers
This may seem weird to some people but Parenting can get lonely especially if you’re a stay at home mom. Since I was pregnant with the twins I sort of got the idea that a mother of multiples should just look in front of her when entering shops and pretend you don’t see the stares or that old lady on her way to come and talk to you… cause honestly sometimes you can loose a lot of time. But I came to realise in time, the blessings you can receive daily by being interested in others and allowing them to be interested in you… talk to that mom sitting alone next to you at the swings, you never know what kind of battle she may be fighting. Lift your head and smile, theres power in positive thinking!
6. Let go
Letting go is not one of my strong points, but I’m working on it. Part of the pitfalls of ADD is, because you have trouble focusing on one thing, when you actually are focused, you are so focused that you are completely zoned in to what you are doing and you absolutely have to finish something while you are busy with it. If someone interrupts you, you get aggravated, not because of the interruption but because you know if you leave now it will take you lots of motivation, effort and time to get back to the train of thought you were touching on. As a parent I realised sometimes I just have to leave that article, design or message just there and get to it later because my children needs me and because of that I have learned to let it go… its not that important. Most things really can wait and my children needs me more than what or who ever keeps me busy. Its quite a life-changing experience to start letting things go. You become less neurotic, relax more and enjoy life more.
7. Other parents lie… a lot!
You know that friend/ colleague/ friend-of-a-friend that says their kids slept through from the moment they were born… well most of them are either lying or they are so tired they can’t think straight! All children go through bad patches and most parents have sleepless nights at some stage. Its always funny how those parents are often the ones to say how tired they are and how the child kept them up all night… I always bite my tongue when I wan’t to ask’ “So “Tom”, “Sarah” or “Jane” is not sleeping through after all?” And when you do ask the answer is always that they are just teething now, or they have a cold now… well most kids’ lives are filled with large stretches of events until late in toddlerhood so relax, you are NOT the only one, hence you are not doing something wrong, your kid is just a kid and its totally normal! This leads me to the next one…
8. Kids will be kids
Sometimes I just have to smile and nod when one of my twins put something disgusting in their mouth. Mostly I run and ask them to spit it out and say “yuck, no, gggggg” but sometimes I just let them savour the moment they are clearly having and remind myself that kids will be kids… and they will be. Like I said before they have a tendency to choose their moments perfectly to embarrass you and of course the tongue clicks and accusative stares of bystanders will hit a nerve most of the time but I have learned to brush it off and just remind myself that Kids are kids and sometimes they have to work things through in their own unique way. In defence ot the bystanders… they just don’t know better. (I have to add that this is not an excuse for bad behaviour and that I will never tolerate outright rudeness or disobedience from my children, but lots of these tantrums could have been avoided, had I managed my day better like I’d keep them in the shops too long and they would get over-stimulated or I’d go out in their nap time… don’t let them pay for a mistake you have made.)
9. Make time for your spouse
Taking care of a family can put a huge toll on your relationship and a family can fall apart if the bond between the two parents is not strong as a rock. A family is as strong as the relationship between the parents as they are the glue that holds everything together, not the kids as many would believe. In general I would hardly ever go anywhere without the children but if your spouse is in desperate need of some TLC, sometimes its best to leave the kids with Gran (or whoever you trust), breathe in deep and go for that weekend alone. Make your spouse feel needed and relevant in your life and you will reap what you sow.
10. Have fun!
The little things you do is sometimes the things they remember best. Sometimes I’d tell my dad about the stories he used to tell me when we were on the road but my dad can’t remember that. The fact is that he probably told me a story once when we drove… maybe twice but in my memories it must have been every time we were on the road. Sometimes just rolling on the floor, laughing with them or sticking two straws in your lip to look like a sea lion is something they will remember for the rest of their life and you will be remembered as a fun mom. Most of all, its good for you to have some good old brainless activities once in a while. Enjoy Parenthood, enjoy your kids and you will enjoy life!
These are the things I’ve learned from parenthood.
What are some of the key lessons you have learned?