Every day I wake up with the same goal. TODAY, I will be a perfect parent! Yep, today it is. And then the kids wake up.
6: 45am. Rise and shine. Time for school. A brand new happy day! I say with a skip in my voice, only to be greeted by grunts and heads buried deeper under the covers. What would you like for breakfast my dears? Oh, not hungry again? I see. Your stomach hurts. AGAIN. Because I cut your fingernails too close and the tips hurt, so you can’t pick up your spoon. Uh huh. And because there was a bump on your pillow that was hurting the spot where I made your ponytail too tight. Makes your head hurt so you can’t eat. Got it. Okay, (pretend to take a deep breath to make myself think I am good at centering in situations like these, but really I am just hyperventilating.) Making your lunch, putting a happy love note in there too….I think in my sing-song Mary Poppins voice that lives in my head. Darlings, lets brush our hair and teeth. Sweeties, did you brush your hair and teeth? Time for hair and teeth! BRUSH YOUR FLIPPIN’ HAIR AND TEETH!!!! Okay, okay, perfect today, perfect today. (2 minutes to get in the car, take the fast way to school, run all the stop signs, cut in the drop off line and shove them out the car door crying….but we can still make it!)
7:59 ½ am. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Just my house? Please don’t tell me that I’m the only one that understands gerbil mommies most days. Aren’t they the animals known for eating their young? Just asking….
Some of you may have noticed I skipped a few steps in our rainbow-laden morning routine. You ask when do I get dressed? Um, well, yes, many mornings, I throw on the special-forces-pajama-disguising-uniform. Black fleece and fake aviator sunglasses, convinced the carpool ladies can’t see my fleece pj bottoms and fuzzy slippers hiding below the window-line. And, my final special secret weapon: Peppermint gum. (I learned to add the peppermint gum the day my then 5 year old REFUSED to get out of the car and I had to park, exit (fuzzy slippers and all), bride/beg/threaten him to walk the plank, I mean the sidewalk, to the school door, sweat rolling down my back at this point, and then it happened. Ms. Perfect Parent suddenly appeared at my car door. Poof. Like a perfume drenched cloud that had just left the makeup counter at Nordstroms! Aaaack!) It was then that I learned to add the gum.
If you can relate, hold my hand (if you are up for it, I could use a hug) and lets dive in to this joyful journey called parenting together.
Clearly, I’m not perfect. But, I am stubborn. And, I won’t give up on trying. So, I read a lot (stuff by those perfect parent authors). And here are some things I have learned:
- Focus every day on YOU before you ever try and be Perfect Parent. Research shows it only takes 5 minutes of mindful deep breathing to reset your nervous system and positively affect your brain’s neuronal superhighway. There’s a reason the airlines tell us to put our oxygen masks on first!
- Commit to CONNECTING with your darling each and every day. Make it part of their daily routine. Teach them to look forward to this time. 10 minutes! That’s all it takes parents. Research shows that your most powerful parenting intervention is a deeply connected, mutually trusting, safe relationship. Invest in THE RELATIONSHIP, not the breakfast cereal (remember, they aren’t going to eat it anyway!)
- Reinvent your typical knee-jerk response with your kids. Instead of feeling like you need to immediately correct, fix, admonish, punish, shrink with guilt and shame because no one else’s kid would do this (yes they do!), take one of those breaths and ask yourself, where is the teachable moment here? What does my child need from me? And then guide, teach, coach, empower vs. punish. Punishment doesn’t teach our darlings what to do instead. Your guidance will.
10: 23pm. As we all fall into bed and vow that tomorrow we will all wake up ready for the Perfect Parent Day, we will remember our 3 simple rules. Then, let’s gently pat ourselves on the back for NOT being like the gerbil.