This parenting malarkey, it never ends does it? Just when you think you have cracked it, along comes another challenge, another situation to negotiate, work out and make decisions on.
As a mum of 2 boys aged 10 and 8, I am in the thick of my ‘must do better’ parenting resolutions, resolving to do better, act better and think better all the time to make me that ‘good enough’ parent we all strive to be.
By putting so much pressure on ourselves (as if the world around us doesn’t do that enough already) is it any wonder we mums are constantly questioning ourselves, thinking we ‘could do better’ and go straight for what we are doing wrong rather than what we are doing right?
So what are the top resolutions that us mothers want to make for 2018? I asked a group of online mums to share their two biggest resolutions with me. Here’s what they had to say…
Resolution 1: I want to be more organised so that my mornings are less stressful
Chances are if you have managed to get your children up and out of the house for school a gazillion times already with all their paraphernalia then you are already pretty organised. However, if it is not feeling good then it is likely that you are focusing on what has gone wrong with your morning, rather than what has gone right.
So, to address this aspect of your life as a mum, here are some things which may help your sanity;
Make packed lunches the night before. I know, that sounds like the last thing you want to do when you have had a busy day, but believe me it can make a massive difference to your morning if you can try and get into the habit of doing this. Think of it as one less thing to think about.
Stay off your phone until after school run. Unless it is a dire emergency. This can be a challenge as the temptation is to check in with the phone in the morning when everything is running around you. The thing is, you can get sucked into this time warp where half an hour has gone by without you feeling like you have blinked, and then you really are late!
Give your children ‘useful stuff’ to do in the morning. You may or may not already do this, but try giving them a tick list or visual chart so they know what needs to be done. This means you are less likely to be repeating yourself a million times over and you can remind your children to check their list or chart rather than getting exasperated about having to go through everything… again.
Make it a game, time them to see how long it takes them to get everything ready. Anything to get them to focus their minds on the jobs in hand rather than dragging their feet. Remember, if you find mornings boring and monotonous then it is likely they will too, so injecting some fun into it can make a massive difference.
Resolution 2: I want to spend more quality time with my children
I know this one well, that feeling that you are missing out on your children growing up, that they are growing too fast and with all the time they spend at school, you will blink and miss this part of their lives.
Thing is, while you are thinking and dwelling on what you are missing out on, you are missing out! Just 10 minutes a day just focusing on your child can make a massive difference to them feeling listened to, understood and valued.
Sometimes we get caught up with the idea that ‘quality time’ means big days out or activities which take time and effort to prepare or organise. This really isn’t the case and here’s how you can make it more easy to be a resolution you can fit into your world.
Keep it simple – children, if asked will tell you where they want to go and what they want to do, trips to Legoland, on trains, on buses, football matches, the lists can be endless. Or sometimes they say, ‘I don’t know’. The trick to this is realise that it is not what you do when you spend time with your children, it is how you do it.
Putting the phone or tablet down is a good start, and any other distraction for just 10 minutes of your time. The washing can wait, as can the dinner. Find an activity which your child enjoys, reading a book, playing a game, building Lego, even playing on the Xbox and show an interest.
If you haven’t got a clue what they are doing, then ask them about it, get them to tell you what is going on, they will love that you are interested and listening to them. You can learn all sorts if you are with your child when they are engaged in something else. Remember how much they chat when you are in the car and you are not looking directly at them? You can really learn what is going on their world by focusing your attention solely on them.
If you have more than one child then this can be more of a challenge, and take some planning. Is there an opportunity when one is at a club or activity so you can spend time with the other? Remember, if you stop trying to make it lots of time and focus on just 10 minutes, it becomes much easier to fit in, and more enjoyable as you don’t feel so torn.
Know that you will never get everything done before you can spend time with them. There will always be ‘stuff’ on the list which doesn’t get done, the list will never end and there will always be things added to it.
No-one will know if you don’t answer that email straight away, and the world will certainly not end if everything isn’t done immediately. Accepting and knowing that you can and will make time to get everything else done can really help you focus on the here and now.
Your children will know if you are distracted by something else and this reduces the value of the precious time you have given over to spend with them.
So there we go, some top tips to keep in mind when thinking about the mum we all want to be in 2018.
Focus on the what you are doing right rather than what you are doing wrong. Use my 7/10 rule too, no-one can get it right all the time and please don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong as nobody is perfect and we are ALL good enough!
Clare Cogan is committed to supporting ‘mums on the run’ to find some balance in their lives. Giving them the tools to be calm and in control so they can be the best mum they want to be for their children.