If you’re anything like me, you’re sometimes hard on yourself when it comes to assessing your own parenting. #Mumfail is one hashtag I seem to use a lot, as well as calling myself a ‘bad mom’ sometimes because of something I’ve done – or didn’t do! The thing is, I know, deep down, that very few, if any of us, are actually crap at parenting. We’re all doing our best, aren’t we? And that’s really all anyone can ask. But, there are a few things you can do right now to elevate yourself from ‘okay-ish’ to ‘amazing’ at parenting!
5 simple things you can do right now to be a great mum!
1. Put down your phone. I know, I know, it’s almost impossible, isn’t it? We’re all so attached to our mobiles these days that I’m sure we’ll evolve genetically to grow them in place of one of our hands. I use the excuse that my phone is my camera and so I neeeeed it with me at all times in case I need to snap something to go on the blog/Instagram/Facebook. But, stop and think about the message we’re sending our kids when we’re constantly looking at our phones. Aren’t we telling them that whatever we’re looking at is more important than them in that moment? I’m not saying you have to give it up completely, but if you’re with your children, be properly present and give them your full attention. They’ll notice, believe me!
2. Listen to your kids. I don’t mean just listen, but really listen! Hear what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Children can convey a lot of important information not only in what they tell us, but what they aren’t telling us, and it takes a great parent to spot when that’s happening. You can only do that if you’re really paying attention. We all ask, “so, what did you do at school today?”, but how many of us actually listen to the answer – if you get something other than, “can’t remember,” that is? Instead, try asking, “tell me your favourite thing about today,” or, “was there anything you didn’t like about school today?” Asking the right questions might give you crucial information you might otherwise have missed.
3. Admit your mistakes. Show your kids that you’re human and you make mistakes too! And, more importantly, show them that you’ve learnt from them. Kids need to know that making mistakes is okay, as long as we use them as a learning opportunity. Fear of putting a foot wrong or looking silly in front of others can hold some kids back – whether it’s answering questions in the classroom, playing sports or doing homework. If your kids can see that making mistakes is normal and that the world doesn’t end, it might just give them that bit more confidence to push themselves harder. If you’ve made a bad judgement, or messed up a meal, or forgotten to do something important, tell them about it!
4. Apologise when you’re sorry. Sometimes, we make a knee-jerk reaction to something, and then regret it straight after, but, not wanting to lose face in front of our kids, we don’t admit it. Similar to admitting your mistakes, showing your kids you’re sorry and you recognise you were wrong about something sets a good example. Had a bit of an argument with your other half in front of the kids? Make sure they see you apologise too. (Unless you’re like me and too stubborn to make the first move. Oops.) Learning how to apologise isn’t something that comes naturally.
5. Be emotional. I don’t mean be an emotional wreck, breaking down in floods of tears at the drop of a hat! I mean make sure your kids see all the emotions. Be happy, be sad, be grumpy, be silly, be a bit scared sometimes… The best way for children to learn about which emotion is appropriate and when is to see them in action. If you’re feeling a bit down about something, let them know and tell them why, if you can. This will also give them valuable practice at helping you (and others) to feel better about things, which is an amazing social skill to learn. Similarly, if you’re over the moon about something, invite them to share your joy!
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realise that all of these suggestions are based on one thing: be the example. Our children are like little sponges, taking in so much information about the world around them. As their mum, you will spend a lot of time with them, especially in those years before they start school (or after they leave to be home schooled – eek!) and they will be looking to you to learn what to do, how to act, what to say… If you want your children to behave in a certain way, you need to demonstrate on a daily basis. If you can do this, then you truly can call yourself a great mum. Go you!
Come join our community of fab mums (who will all be great mums after reading this!) – we won’t bite!