I’ve got a fantastic positive parenting guest post today from Annie of Motherhood and More. I discovered Annie through her hilarious and insightful facebook posts and was instantly smitten.
I absolutely love her idea of spring cleaning your parenting each year. It can be so easy to get stuck in our habits and routines without putting much thought into what we’re doing.
By putting a parenting spring clean on the calendar every year, you’re ensuring that you’re not parenting on auto-pilot!
Here’s Annie with the details…
Don’t you just love spring? Warm weather. Flowers. The world bursting into life.
While many of us take this new beginning as an opportunity to clean out closets, wipe down floorboards, and shake out throw rugs, I also like to take some time to spring clean my parenting.
Like my home, I feel like my parenting can get stagnant and cluttered. My relationships with my kids can use some freshening, and my habits can use a little sprucing up.
If you’d like to join me, here are five steps to spring clean your parenting.
Step 1: Declutter Your Time
As the school year winds to a close, it’s time to choose how our summer will be spent.
Some things to keep in mind:
- While structured activities can be great, overdoing it can cause undue stress on you and your children.
- Leave some free time in your schedule to just be. Sit and sip lemonade. Picnic at the playground. Go for leisurely strolls. Toss a ball back and forth. Simplifying your family’s time and activity schedule is one of the best ways to make sure you have time for meaningful connection.
- Decluttering time suckers can help with that, too. (I’m looking at you, Facebook!) Now is a good time to set some new screen time rules for yourself as well as your kids. Moderation in all things.
Step 2: Air Out Your Expectations
Kids go through so many stages and phases, it can be hard to keep up. Now is a good time to reexamine the expectations you have of your children.
Are they ready to take on more responsibility? Or have you been expecting them to behave in ways that aren’t really age appropriate? Take a little time to think about each of your kids’ unique personalities, strengths, and ages.
What’s one expectation you can bump up?
What’s one area where you can cut them a little slack?
You might want to check your expectations of yourself as well. Are you the mom who tries to do it all and then some? Do you go, go, go, and then burn out? Or are you the mom who struggles with self-discipline and tends to let things go too much?
Determine what’s healthy to expect of yourself and shift your mindset accordingly.
Step 3: Dust off Your Own Interests
It’s so easy to let the daily craziness of motherhood monopolize your time and energy. But it’s so important to maintain your own personal interests and hobbies outside of motherhood. A fulfilled mother is a happy mother.
What’s something you enjoy that you’ve let slide while raising kids? What’s something you’ve always wanted to do or try but haven’t made the time for?
If your kids are little, finding time for yourself can be tricky. Think small, and incorporate your hobbies into your parenting.
Do you like to draw or paint? Work on your own mini-project while the kids are fingerpainting. Love to read? Pop on a video for the kids once a week and sit down with a good book—no guilt. Crave the outdoors?
Take your kids on a hike. Even bits and pieces of the things that satisfy your soul can help keep you from losing yourself in motherhood.
Step 4: Clean Out Your Emotional Closet
Most of us have some emotional baggage that can interfere with our parenting. What fears and worries have you buried deep down? Are there issues in your past that you haven’t addressed but know you should?
Just as you clean a house bit by bit, start small.
Choose one emotional issue to work on.
You could try:
- Talking things through with a trusted friend or spouse
- If you’re more private, start a journal. Write down your thoughts and then burn the paper if you don’t want any evidence.
You’ll be amazed at how much lighter and more positive you’ll feel ditching some emotional weight.
Step 5: Polish Your Parenting Plan
One of the best pieces of parenting wisdom I’ve ever gotten was actually some coaching wisdom from head Seattle Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll. He said he never yells at players because he’s already planned out how he’s going to respond when something goes awry.
We can save ourselves a lot of headache by simply anticipating possible issues and deciding ahead of time how we’re going to handle them. The beauty of having set, measured responses in place is that it removes the emotional response that tends to kick in when kids don’t listen, don’t do their chores, fight, lie, or otherwise misbehave.
Of course, different issues come up at different times with different kids, so being proactive is an ongoing process.
Take a little time with your parenting partner to discuss what’s going on with your kids right now and what you might run into in the near future. How can you bring out the best in each kid?
How will you react if X, Y, or Z happens? It’s impossible to predict every scenario, but striving to be proactive in your parenting can save you—and your kids—a lot of heartache and drama.
Finally, when the work is done, remember to enjoy this beautiful season. Spring is fleeting, much like childhood. So take deep breaths, smell the flowers, and make the most of these magical days while they last.