If I am being totally honest with you guys, I worry all too often about being a better mom to my kids. But really, the very fact that that’s a worry means I probably am a good parent already. If you worry about being a better parent, you’re already doing a good job! NEWS FLASH: BAD PARENTS DO NOT QUESTION THEIR PARENTING. They just don’t. The fact that you clicked this article to read shows that you are already GOOD.
I am no parenting expert, but I do have three kids (11, 10, and 7) that are pretty great and I am not just being biased when I say that. My kids have really BIG hearts. They are kind children that care about other people. I have
And if you have ever spent time with them, you can vouch for them and their GOODNESS.
Now that I have shared a bit about my background/kids, let’s dive into the advice I have to share with you.
Onto the parenting tips…
And try to remember, they are only YOURS for so long. Time really flies by. Don’t waste it wishing and hoping. Make NOW count.
- My very first and best tip, forget everything you know and start with a fresh, open mind. No matter what you know about parenting when someone hands you your own baby, everything you “know” becomes irrelevant as that kid grows up. You get to decide what kind of parent you’ll be and it should be a little different for each kid you parent. People are so different and well, kids ARE PEOPLE too. What will work for your first kid might not work for your second. Keep an open mind and be flexible…
- Be flexible. Seriously, learn to go with the flow and let things go. The phrase “pick your battles” will become a mantra for you. Let it. I promise you, sometimes it is just easier to let them pick their own outfit even if it doesn’t match, or pour their own cereal bowl (even though you know it WILL lead to a mess, that is a lesson that your kid needs to learn! That mom has patience (and let’s be real, it will test your patience) and that they can clean up their own mess. By now in life, you know that things just don’t always go the way you plan… why would raising humans be any different?! It isn’t. Parenting is messy. You have to kind of learn to go with the flow and tackle each obstacle as it comes. There is no crystal ball that predicts the future. You can plan and plan but you simply can not plan for everything.
- Communicate. “This one is too easy, Amber”, you probably said as you rolled your eyes a little. But, is it?! How much do you REALLY communicate with your kids? There are some days that life gets so busy the only real chat we have ends up being “How was school? How was your day?”. That is okay! Life gets busy, so make that conversation REALLY count. Talk about their day, listen to their stories that might not fully make sense or might seem really dramatic (and goodness some will). Pay attention to them, ask them questions and focus on them while they answer you. If you don’t listen to what they have to tell you now, why would they come to you later with ACTUAL problems? That phrase ‘kids should be seen an not heard’ is so beyond outdated! My husband and I both try to talk to our kids about all the things. We’ve always kept it on levels that they would understand as they’ve grown. It is important to explain things to them from a young age; how things work, why people do the things they do, that it is okay to feel how they feel and think what they think., etc. etc.. Don’t discredit them just because they are young. Communicate with your kids, listen to them and talk with them, not at them. Have conversations with your children about everything and anything. Make sure they are comfortable talking with you about the weird things and the hard things.
- Give them space to grow. Kids need to learn to be self-sufficient and the only way they can do that is if you back off some. Let them pour their own milk and if/when the mess happens, teach them how to clean it up instead of yelling at them about it. The way you react to things shows them how to react to things and do you really want to teach them to freak out about spilled milk? Messes will happen, they’re part of life. Let them help in the kitchen, give them chores around the house (age appropriate, that they can do of course), teach them how to do things, be a little more hands off and let them try to do it. Instead of whining that they loaded the dishwasher wrong, teach them how to play Tetris -dishwasher version- and explain how things need to fit to ensure they get cleaned properly. Again, communication comes in play. Encourage them to ask for help if needed. Guide them instead of doing things for them.
- Manners. Manners are so important, and I don’t mean in the old school ‘please/thank you/respect your elders kind of way. We teach our kids in more of a ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick, you’ll go far’ kind of way. We try to teach the kids how to be kind — to an extent. A nice, polite tone will get you farther than approaching someone with anger and a rude attitude. But know the limits of that kindness, don’t let people take advantage of you and that kindness. Say ‘thank you’ when someone does something nice for you. Tell someone when you appreciate something, compliment someone when you see something you like. Respect other people’s property (Not yours, don’t touch). Spread kindness, but know your limits.
- Say ‘yes’ more. Again you’re probably rolling your eyes a smidge at me, but hear me out … how many times have you been scrolling aimlessly when
a kiddohas asked you if you want to play with them? How many times have you been too ‘busy’ to play? The dishes can wait a bit, dinner can start 10 minutes later than usual. It will be okay. Take the time out for that quick little tea party, a book read, or snuggle sesh. Before you know it, they will stop asking. Start a pillow fight, surprise them with rootbeer floats after school, let them have an extra few minutes on that device. Little things like that just brighten their days. Silly jokes and rootbeer floats go a long way, friends. Nobody says you have to buy your kid(s) a pony or be with them 24/7. But be present with them when you are with them. Have some fun, say yes more. Dance in the kitchen, sing loudly in the car, make the fart sound (I’d say “boy mom” but Maddie giggles her head off too). Be silly just to make them giggle. Have fun.
- Have physical contact with them. Hug them. Fist bump, high-five, dance, snuggle and cuddle with them. It helps kids develop trust and shows your affection for them. Teach your kids the importance of touch and the boundaries that they need to know there. Do not let your babies grow up not knowing how nice a hug feels, but make sure they know when the hug crosses lines (again, back to communication and how important it is – even the hard topics).
- Let them be THEM. Water their seeds of weirdness. Encourage their uniqueness and spirit instead of negatively calling them ‘weird’ or telling them to ‘be normal’. (Side note, WEIRD is NOT a bad thing. And “normal” is just a setting on the dryer). Help them grow into the wonderfully unique human beings that they’re meant to be. Help them to be comfortable in their own skin. Remember, each kid is different and that is a very beautiful thing.
I asked my kids…
I ran this post by my kids and then asked them (separately) what made us good parents if they thought that we were and wanted to share their answers too because *insert tears here* oh my heart.
Owen (7yrs) said “You teach us how to do things so that we know when we’re grown-ups”
Fin (11yrs) said “You guys give us choices. If you didn’t give us choices or ask us about things like what we wanna eat or watch on tv, life would be …… boring”
Maddie (10yrs) “You don’t give us everything that we want. If you did our rooms would be SO full and messy and we wouldn’t have anything to save our own money for or be excited about spending our money on”.
I was honestly shocked by their answers. I fully expected silly ones like “You let us put on our own ice cream toppings”, or “You don’t make me wear jeans.” but wow, they shocked me. Then again, they often surprise me with their hearts.
And there you have it…
There you have it, y’all … my best advice on being your best parenting self and raising good kids in a cruel world. (that’s a mouthful). I could have rambled endlessly here and shared many more stories and encouraging thoughts and ideas, but figured this was already more than long enough. 🙂
I hope you are having a great day!
Be YOU and be REAL. Don’t compare yourself or your parenting ways to others. Don’t stress yourself out trying to be that Pinterest perfect mom. Just be the best version of you that you can be.
And really, cut yourself a little slack.
Here’s a few other parenting posts you might like:
5 reasons I don’t force my boys to cut their long hair.
Age appropriate chores (4/5year olds)
Let them be little.