How to be a happier parent: Six Don’ts

Last week I posted six tips to help you be a happier parent. This week, I am going to talk about what NOT to do.

1. Don’t Compare the Kids

I don’t mean avoid talking about it out loud, I think we should stop comparing the kids period, including mentally in our own heads. Perhaps it is the way I was raised, this one is really hard to do. First time moms tend to compare the time babies reach developmental milestones such as rolling over, walking, talking etc. Experienced moms tend to be sucked into the ‘how well your kids behave vs. mine’ kind of thing.

We’ve got to stop this, at least try to, for our own sake! Every baby develops differently and every kid has his own personality. Comparing does not change the kid we have (this goes to the Accept The Child You Have point in last week’s blog), and if your child cannot even recognize his own name while your neighbour’s younger little girl is already reading Greek Mythology, it will only make you feel bad by comparing. And this does not mean that your child will forever be 3 grades behind your neighbours!

I admit at some point, there will be competition in life (please don’t tell me there isn’t because some aspects of real life inevitably will be). Before that point, let the kids take their time getting there and let us parents try to enjoy them just the way they are!

2. Don’t Compare with Other Parents

Just like we don’t need to be perfect, we do not need to compare ourselves with others either. Two weeks ago, my son brought home the dreaded stomach flu and all of our family got a fair share of it. Finally when everyone was perfectly fine and went back to their work/school routine, I was beat. With my hair all scruffy, in my sweatpants full of lint, I arrived at Rainbow Songs with Scarlett all happy we actually made it there. I swear the mom sitting next to me looked like this:

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I learned not to compare to be happy. I don’t feed my kids all organic and I buy jarred baby food (gasp) for Scarlett. There are days I bake an awesome batch of cupcakes filled with home made strawberry syrup and vanilla icing whipped from vanilla beans of Madagascar, and there are days I need to order take out from Gerrard and skip a bath for my baby, or myself. I don’t compare myself with anyone anymore. I am sure everyone has bad days, we just don’t get to see all of them.

3. Don’t Get Angry at People Who Don’t Understand. Speak Up or Let Go!

This one is important. I’ve heard so many moms telling me that they are angry because someone passed judgement on their parenting while not understanding what they were going through. And they all kinda did this:

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Do your self a favour, if you can’t let go, then tell them how you feel!

When I had my son, I called up a long time friend who lived in Asia and also had a baby at the same time. While we both struggled with breastfeeding, I chose to bottle feed and she persisted and successfully breastfed her daughter for one year. So she commented, half jokingly: “You are just lazy! You didn’t want to do the work!” What she said gnawed at me first. I kept on thinking, with four grandparents on call and a full time nanny hired the day the baby was born, what did she know about hard work? How could she understand what I was going through? Later on, I realized that her life was so sheltered, that she could not possibly imagine my situation and breastfeeding was probably the most physical challenge she has ever had. So I let it go, and we are still best of the friends today and I am proud of her for her persistence.

In another situation however, I had to speak up. A friend from high school also had a baby girl soon after I had my son. To this day, she is still a sweet little thing that would not step out of line if you told her to stand between 5 cm of space. Naturally, her mom/my friend could not understand my challenges with Blake, and complained about us being fussy parents who were stuck to a schedule. Needless to say, after a while, I could not hang out with her without getting upset about her comments. I actually considered ending the friendship for good. Finally, one day I decided to give it a last go: I confronted her and told her how I felt. To my surprise, she had no idea I felt that way and really acknowledged that she could’ve been more understanding. It was a fantastic outcome!

Sometimes speaking up is hard, but it will make you feel much better, and in the case of parenting, it’s worth the uneasiness.

4. Don’t Blindly Follow any Parenting Philosophy

I’ve seen attachment parenting devotees chasing their crying 3 year old, trying to babywear them while all the kid wanted was to walk. I’ve seen parents swearing off sleep training only to find themselves having to do it because they could no longer nurse a 13 months old to sleep every 2 hours without passing out at work. The theories are exactly what they are: just theories. It is good to explore and have an opinion on these different philosophies but until you try it with your own child, who by the way has her own personality and growth pattern, you will never know if it is gold or a dud.

Don’t make things harder than they have to be. After all, having a philosophy is nice but it is what your child and family need that matters the most!

5. Don’t Feel Guilty

Stay at home or have a career, breastfeed or bottle, make your choice and ditch the guilt! Be confident of the choice you make, and be happy! Enough said!

6. Don’t Lose Your Cool

This is a tough one but we have to work on achieving this. We can be firm but not lose our cool. I am the first to admit that I have lost my cool many times. Did I mention I had a very smart 4 year old who constantly challenges authority? I have to say, I never felt good after getting angry. At the time, it may have scared the kid into doing what you want him to do, but the long term results are very unsuccessful, at least for me.

All those tips we teach our toddlers to practices to regulate their emotions? We can use them too. Show them by example, and keep your cool. You will be more effective and much happier over the long run!

Want to share your parenting tips and experience? I’d love to hear from you!

My Week in Instagram

 

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I have a love/hate relationship with babywearing. My shoulders hate it (trust me, it is not that I am not doing it right, I think it has something with the shape of my upper back) but then there is the moment I look down and I see this…

 

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This past week was tough as my whole family caught stomach flu. My poor kid ended up in Sick Kids hooked to an IV for 24 hours. Finally by Friday, all the family members had been symptom free for 48 hours and my son wanted a treat. With Blake’s help, the milk chocolate chip cookie dough was all ready to be put into the oven.

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Really impressed with Joe Fresh’s children’s collection these days, not to mention a great price!

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Sunday morning skating with dad

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Finally, after a crazy week, my wonderful husband sent me to get a massage. How thoughtful!

By the way, did you watch Jerry Seinfeld on Jimmy Fallon? I miss this guy’s brutal honesty. His opinions on parenting? I absolutely agree and love the way he said it. Here is a little laugh for this snowy Monday:

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Have a great week!

How to Be a Happier Parent: Six Tips To Help You Be A Happier Parent

I always post on my Facebook status that the job of being a mom kicks my ass. Being a parent is hard and there are times that I hate to hear people telling me “enjoy every moment”! Seriously? I am supposed to be enjoying the moment when my son was so angry that he threw a toy at me while my baby daughter’s painful cry due to reflux is the background music?

We all get caught up in the ups and downs of parenthood and there is no magic that can take away all the bad moments, but I’ve summarized a few things I learned to help me be a happier mom in an overall feeling kind of way. I hope they work for you too.

1. Accept the child/children you have and stop trying to mold them into the ones you wish you had

We all had expectations and imaginations of what our kids would be like before and during our pregnancies, until the day they were born. Then all of sudden, we had a real human being on our hands complete with her own strengths, challenges and personality. If you are a parent like me, whose anticipated sweet image of gently holding a quiet baby was shattered by screeching colic cries right from the get-go, then you know exactly what I mean. It took me a while though, to realize that it is better to work with it then against it.

This is particularly true when the kids get a bit older and their personalities really come through. Accepting who they are would make parents feel less frustrated and the kids’ natural qualities more appreciated. After all, as a parent, I am here to guide the kids to become the best version of themselves, not the perfect children for myself.

2. Accept the fact that no matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes

When we make parenting mistakes, we are especially hard on ourselves. The reality is, we will make mistakes, and plenty of them (I wish I had not yelled; I wish I had been less strict; I wish I had been more strict etc etc), that is just part of life. Since there is no way we can avoid making them, then it is ok when we do, so we learn from them and move on. Blaming ourselves and dwelling on them does not change anything.

3. Let it out once in a while

Most parenting advice tells parents to take some time for yourself every now and then, but if you are like me without any family help or extra cash to hire anyone and have more than one child, it is not all that possible. Sometimes the stress, the constant work really get to you. Every once in a while, when I feel overwhelmed, I just let it out. I either talk to my husband in a really honest manner about the stress, like admitting that staying home really sucks sometimes, especially in this weather or I’d have a good cry when things get really tough. These emotional reliefs are important, they allow me to unload and reset so I can continue being the parent I want to be.

4. Have good friends you can talk to

I have to say that this is a huge part of my emotional health – being able to talk to those who ‘get it’. I am fortunate to have friends who are parents themselves and are always willing to listen and provide emotional support. The fact that we also hang out sometimes and share some of our kids’ happiest moments is a bonus and blessing. I can’t imagine being half as happy if I didn’t have these friends!

5. Throw perfection out of the window

I used to be very particular. The way my husband put it: I still am but I have put my OCD tendencies on hold. My house is a constant mess consists of various tacky, plastic toys and my son’s immense collection of Lego pieces, especially the kind that would hurt you like hell when stepped on. My hair needs to be coloured and half of the time I am out of the door without a trace of makeup these days. But this, not pursuing perfection makes me a happier parent because I am able to achieve what is important to me at the moment: spend the time with my kids and may be a tad more sleep. The stilettos will be back on and the house will be properly decorated one day, but right now, I don’t need to be perfect and my definition of fabulous is making to their scheduled activities on time.

6. Be confident that the kids will be alright

Here I will quote Dr. Lise Janelle’s philosophy: Everything in life has a balance. There is a yin and there is a yang, they all balance each other out. As a parent, when we think we are inadequate in certain areas, the inadequacy also gives the kids a chance to be independent and expand in that area, in turn, they could develop more strength in that area to our surprise. This is so evident in life; my husband’s lack of financial resources growing up provided him great motivation and taught him humility. Never feeling entitled, he is always working hard to earn what he wants in life.

We can’t give the kids everything they need, but know that what we fail to provide, it is life’s chance for them to figure it out on their own, and become stronger because of it. What’s important is that we strive to be the best parent we know how, and with all the love we can give!

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