There’s a question up for constant debate; What makes a good parent? Now just to be clear – I don’t judge. We all parent in different ways, and my ways are no better than yours.
One of my first ever posts, My two cents on parenting, shed a bit of light on how I regard my parenting and my views on life in general. I always try to take a positive outlook on all matters. Which is definitely not easy. Especially when it comes to having kids.
I’ve now been a parent for approximately 6,5 years. Peanuts in other words. I have no idea what the teenage years are going to bring along, and even less, what it’s like to parent a grownup. (Yup, that’s a thing, you can ask my dad.) Anyhow, my 6,5 years of motherhood have been mind blowing. The first 2,5 years were somewhat of a breeze, until the twins came along. Even then, in the beginning, though exhausting, it was still pretty easy. But now.. Welcome to a whole new world.
The twins will be four in a couple of months. I’m excited to watch them grow and develop, but there have been quite a few backlashes I simply was not prepared for. And even more so, multiple occasions when I have felt utterly helpless and alone as a parent. I’ve honestly felt at times like I’m failing at parenting.
So am I still a good parent in my opinion? Sure. I try to provide all three girls with individual attention, I make sure they’re fed and dressed, they’re extremely loved and they have all their basic necessities and more fulfilled. But there’s so much more to being a good parent.
One of the most important things parents need to do for their children is set boundaries. Again, so much easier said than done. Remember Pavlov’s dog? That’s exactly what kids are like too. They will push you to the utter limits of your sanity to see how much you can take until you give in. Give in once, and it’s game over. Kid 1 – Parent 0. You need to start all over again, and after every win, they become more persistent. It’s like feeding a fire.
Setting boundaries for children is the foundation for a good life. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true. If you want to foster a healthy relationship with your children, boundaries are a simple must. Parents are responsible for creating a safe, loving and reliable environment for their kids to grow in. It’s not worth beating yourself up for deferring from a rule in a moment of weakness, but lay out the groundwork for your family and stick to it as best as you can.
Kids can simply not do whatever they please, and quite frankly it’s up to a parent to set those boundaries. Now I speak of genuine personal experience when I say, it is extremely hard at times to stick to those boundaries. But it is also extremely important. My own kids have gotten slightly out of hand, and I blame myself. Even to the point where I’ve been concerned if my lack of enforcing strict enough boundaries could have some permanent impacts on their future behavior. Deep and dark, I know.
What are good boundaries?
I’m not going to begin listing examples of what kind of boundaries you as a good parent need to set up for your own children. As said, we all parent in different ways, and I’m not in the position to tell you what works best for your family. But you are. You know what your family needs and what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in your house. Be it enforcing a strict bedtime rule or limiting screen time, sticking to sweets once a week, that’s up to you. Just as long as you stick to those rules.
Kids will probably not like them, or that’s how they will likely express themselves in the beginning. At the same time though, every single positive parenting research ever conducted on setting boundaries will beg to differ. Bold statement, but children feel the most loved and cared for when they have an adult in their life that they can count on. They feel protected and safe.
The easiest way to implement boundaries is of course by beginning as young as possible. But don’t worry, kids are very flexible and adaptable in the end, it’s never too late to begin. Have a family get together and discuss what kind of rules are important in your home. You would be surprised at how early children are able to think about these matters. Lay the groundwork out together, involve the kids. When they know that they’ve been a part of setting up the rules in your home, they’re also much more likely to comply by them. Simply the word “no” is not exactly what I’m after.
The internet is full of positive parenting advice, if you want to read more about creating and setting boundaries, here’s a good one from Michigan state university.
Spend quality time with your kids
We’re all busy. Like super busy. But you know what? We’re exactly as busy as we ourselves choose to be. It’s a cliche stated a million times, but time goes by extremely fast. You will never get back those moments when your child was little. In a blink of an eye, you’ve missed it. What does last though, are memories. Work on your own time management skills and set your priorities straight. Quality time spent with your kids and memories created together will stick with you and your kids forever.
These past months I’ve been working around the clock. I just set up a new business and I’ve been pouring hours of concentration and energy into it. This year has begun with a lot of sick-spells in our family, meaning the kids have been at home with me a lot. A few weeks ago, one of my girls asked if I could please put down my phone for a while and come play with her. It hit me hard. I know I’ve been spending a lot of my time glued to my phone and laptop, and yes, I’ve noticed the looks the kids give me, but to have a three year old say it out loud.. It hurts and it’s a wake-up call.
Yes there are pressing matters that we as adults need to tend to. And no, not everything can be put off until later. But the things that you can impact and do at another time, well, it’s definitely worth a consideration of priorities.
If you have more than one child, you know the struggle when it comes to providing individual attention. My kids need to constantly share me. I’m alone with three kids, which makes it even more difficult to get alone time with the girls individually. I try my best to have specific things that I say to each one of them and pamper them with things that each one cares most about it, but it’s a constant juggle.
I took my eldest out for a mommy & me date yesterday. We left the twins at daycare having their nap and went to the mall, which is something she’s been wanting to do for a long time. I asked her how she wanted to spend the afternoon. “First we need to go buy something special for my sisters, and then we should go for coffee, because that’s your favorite.” So I asked again, what about you, what do you want? Her reply melted my heart: “I just want to be with you.”
So of course I spoiled the little lady rotten; helped her pick out little presents for her sisters and got some coffee for me, but also bought her a little glittery notebook and some more legos (as if we didn’t already have enough) and took her out for pizza. When given the opportunity to do something special for herself, my six year old first thought about others and their “needs”, before even considering herself. And that is a memory I will always cherish. It was a win-win for all, we got to spend some one-on-one time, the twins got their presents, I got my coffee and my eldest got to spend time with just me, plus got some presents.
Take time for yourself
You cannot be a good parent if your cup is empty. It’s just not possible. An exhausted parent will fuel no-one. Parenting will get overwhelming at times, it’s a fact. If your completely wound up, tired, stressed, miserable, everyone looses. So take time for yourself.
Trust me, I know it’s not easy. Taking time for yourself doesn’t mean your only option is a weekend spa-getaway with your friends. It could be anything, heck even spending five minutes alone in the bathroom! This is also another topic that I’ve discussed previously, if you want to read more about it head over to my post on the importance of self-care. All in all though, when you look into your time-management and priorities, make sure to include yourself on that list!
Cut yourself some slack
Being a parent is golden. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s also by far the toughest, most trying, exhausting commitment I’ve ever made.
Say for example you’ve decided to never give into a whining child at the supermarket. I don’t recommend you make it into a habit, but moms and dads, cut yourself some slack. You’ve had a long day, possibly not in the best mood, you have mandatory errands to run plus a toddler screaming at you. Pick your battles. Evaluate yourself. Is this the time and place you want to start arguing with a child? Ignore the rest of the world, that lady glaring at you across the isle will be around every corner if you let her. People will always judge no matter what, so ignore them and think about yourself.
Take a breather and think. Can you get around the situation in some way? Buy your kid a banana to munch on instead of the expensive new toy they’re crying for? Threaten to leave the store completely? (Don’t say things you can’t follow through with!) Distract your child with something else than what they’re after, and you might have a win at your hands. If it fails, consider aborting the mission completely.
Truth be told though, you’re not always going to be able to walk out of the store in a frenzy of good parenting. You’re definitely not always going to win when it comes to kids. Bribes usually work better than threats, but neither are fool proof. Basically, you’re faced with two options: keep your cool or give in. Both alternatives are going to happen to you numerous times, and guess what, you’re still a good parent.
Embrace the moments and live your life
With all this said, in my opinion, what makes a good parent is you. The choices you make in life, well, they all have an impact in one way or another, but in the end, it’s just life. You make a mistake, learn from it. You succeed in something, learn from it.
Embrace the moments, both big and small. Create memories. Laugh a lot. Be childish and adult appropriately. Pick your battles and live. Be genuine and true to yourself. You don’t need to always be on top of the game. But you need to be okay, you need to be you. And that is what makes a great parent.
Have a great weekend! xx