Any parent wants to do better, but your lives are busy, your children’s lives are even busier and it’s hard to find the time or effort to improve things. We don’t want to add to your stress by giving you a list of impossible tasks. Instead, here are five parenting mistakes to avoid. Manage that, and you and your kids will benefit.
1. Over-committing yourself or your children Supermom is on all the WhatsApp groups and on all the committees. She is class mom, she paints the backdrop for the school concert, and she runs the tuckshop once a week. She monitors her children’s homework and drives them to and from school, along with a group of other children in her lift club. And her children do every extra-mural on offer because she wants them to have all of life’s advantages and opportunities. Plus she’s an overachiever at work, so these are all things that she’s doing in her extra time! Most days, she’s stressed out and terrified that she’s going to drop one of these balls.
Thanks for thinking of me, but I just don’t have the time this year.
If this sounds anything like you, make 2017 the year you take a step back from it all. Downsize your children’s schedules to a couple of extra murals that they really love. Turn down requests to participate with a polite, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I just don’t have the time this year.” Free yourself up to spend time doing less. Remember, just because it can be done doesn’t mean that you – or your children – need to do it.
2. Being absent when you’re present Children don’t need your unlimited attention 24 hours a day, but if you are actively spending time with them, try to be mentally present as well. This means setting aside your to-do list, stopping worrying about all the other things you should be doing, and most importantly, putting away your phone.
While it may be hard to disconnect yourself from the online and social media world, doing so when you’re with your children will make your time more rewarding, more focused and more peaceful.
3. Getting angry instead of finding solutions It’s OK to be honest about the fact that your children drive you mad sometimes. Most parents have bad days and yell at their kids, then feel rotten about it afterwards. If you find yourself in a cycle of anger with them, spend a bit of time thinking about what it is that they – or you – are doing wrong, and try to work out a constructive way of fixing it.
Have the conversation about the solution at a time when everyone is calm and happy, rather than dolling out punishments when you are angry. If you can get to the root of the problem, you’ll probably find yourself losing your temper less.
4. Posting about your children on social media without thinking There are some experts who recommend not posting about your children at all on social media. For many parents, this is a bit extreme – after all, social media is how we interact with our friends and family. Even so, it’s a good idea to give careful consideration to what you post about your children, bearing in mind that what appears on social media lives forever. Be circumspect about naked or embarrassing photos, don’t tag your children and, when they are old enough, discuss with them what you would like to post and your reasons for doing so. It’s a healthy discussion that will prepare them for making their own decisions about their online personas later.
5. Being too hard on yourself Parenting is full of dos and don’ts but the truth of the matter is that you’re probably doing a pretty good job and not giving yourself enough credit. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back every day for keeping your children fed, housed, clothed and educated, but most importantly, loved, instead of dwelling on the permission form you forgot to sign or the cake you didn’t bake yourself.
The bottom line Don’t add to the pressures of life by expecting too much of yourself on the parenting front. You SHOULD be enjoying your time with your children – it’s all too short. You SHOULDN’T be stressing about keeping up with the Joneses or aiming for excellence in everything. Take a deep breath, fix the things you can, and stop worrying about the things you can’t.