Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

How to Transform What's Draining You

How's your self care going? This is the last post in our series on nurturing yourself while raising your child, Self Care: The Secret of the Full Cup. Tomorrow we wrap up with all the links. Then we get back to kids!

"Looked at from a spiritual standpoint, our discomfort in any given situation provides a signal that we are out of alignment with spiritual law and are being given an opportunity to heal something." -- Colin C. Tipping
 
We talked in our last post about getting rid of what drains you so you feel more energetic and alive.  But what if you’ve found a whole list of things you don’t like and can’t eliminate?  Maybe, for instance, your children--or at least some of their behavior?

Kids aren’t “perfect” any more than we are. Your baby resists diaper changes, your two year old runs away from you in the park, your three year old only likes white food, your four year old shrieks when there’s a tag in her clothing, your five year old wets the bed. So you could be excused if you feel sometimes like your child makes your life harder. And we haven’t even started with your finances, body, or love life. How can you “feel good" when life has so many obstacles?

The bad news is, life is not perfect. Sure, there are transcendent moments, but most of the time, our days are filled with small hurdles. The good news is, you get stronger and learn invaluable lessons from overcoming those hurdles. Life, especially life with children, transforms us for the better, if we let it.

The even better news is, life doesn't have to be perfect to be perfectly wonderful. The secret is in your attitude. If you don't like that and want to fight with life, be my guest. There are certainly times when each of us needs to rant about the unfairness of it all. But there's wisdom in accepting things we cannot change. And there's growth in finding ways to appreciate what's good about where we find ourselves.

Life is too short to spend it armored with resistance. Even if you want to change something, you’ll be more effective from your centered, loving self than from your irritated, fearful self.

The paradox is that when you can find a way to more love, how you experience the situation will change. In fact, sometimes that change in ourselves makes us so much happier that we might look back in gratitude at the difficult circumstance that spurred us to change. (Really!) Here’s how.

1. What do you find unpleasant? Do you find it excruciating to take your child to the playground and push the swing?  Find a way to make it fun for yourself. Connect more with your child, or use it as a sort of moving meditation. Do you find diaper changing unpleasant? Use this time to look into your baby's eyes and tell her how adored she is.  Or just stop fighting with your toddler and change his diaper standing up.

2. Notice the times each day that stress you. (Bedtime? Getting out of the house in the morning?) Write out a routine for that time of day that works for both you and your child. Post it, complete with photos for your child. Keep refining it until you can enjoy it stress-free. Make sure you include something you LOVE doing, whether that’s the bedtime snuggle or a family hug/blessing in the morning before you head out the door.

3. Accept “faults” as foibles by cultivating a sense of humor and affection about them.  Research shows that couples who have been happily married for a long time have learned to see each other’s faults as endearing traits.  What would it take for you to accept your child’s challenging behavior as just another endearing part of this wonderful small person you love so much?  For example, you could see your child as stubborn, or you could appreciate that he never gives up, and learn to work with that. Cultivate a sense of humor, an awareness that she’s still growing and changing, a commitment to seeing things from her point of view, and an appreciation that weaknesses are the flip side of our strengths.

4. Redefine Productivity. Become a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism doesn't make you closer to perfect. It just lessens the love you feel, the love you give, and the love you inspire in others. If you try to "do it all," what matters most will probably fall off your list. Most of what's on your to-do list won't matter next year, or even next month.  But those moments that make your heart melt with your child will matter for the rest of her life, more than you can imagine. Move them to the top of your to-do list, let go of your self-judgment, and learn to say No to lesser things. 

5. Find the silver lining. Does your son do well at school all day but get ornery or melt down when you pick him up?  He feels safe enough to bring all his pent-up emotions to you for healing at the end of the day, and he's learning how to handle his emotions in a healthy way from your empathy. Is your daughter strong-willed? You won't have to worry about peer pressure! There is always something to be grateful for, even in the hardest times.

The real silver lining is that you're lucky enough to have this emerging human entrusted to your loving care, and every time you act with love you're stretching your own heart to let more love in. Ultimately, loving our children is what heals us. And that's what transforms everything.

***

This is post #9 in our series on self care: The Secret of the Full Cup

#1 - The Secret of the Full Cup: Self Care

#2- 10 Stress Busting Strategies for Parents

#3 - Let's Get Physical: 20 Exercise Ideas for Parents and Kids

#4 - 5 Ways To Nurture Yourself while Nurturing Your Child

#5 - As Simple As Breathing

#6- 5 Steps to Get Re-Energized

#7 - If You Don't Feed Your Hungry Heart, How Can You Feed Your Kids?

#8 - Want to Feel More Alive? Take the Stone Out of Your Shoe

 



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