Friday, August 29, 2014

8 Helpful Tools Every Mother Should Remember to Use

My girls.

Now that all my kids are grown, out of the house and some of them are having children of their own I feel like I can really talk about this subject.  Not because I'm a pro and I did a fantastic job but because I have certainly learned and made mental notations of what I believe I did right and what I did wrong.  We are always our own worst critic so who best to grade me on my mothering skills than me, of course!  I did at least one thing right - I had beautiful daughters!

Such a proud and happy aunt!

Our two main goals in life as parents are to make sure that our children are safe and that they feel loved and in this regard I think I did alright.  My kids seem to be fairly well rounded individuals with a great capacity for love and compassion so I think I scored there.  But over the years there are things that I have noticed that I could have been better at and worked harder on had I been more thoughtful and relaxed about my role. Luckily, I don't think my kids have suffered because of my failings.  At least I don't think they have but if any of you know them, you should ask.  They are all very honest and would tell you the truth!

As a young mom I thought I had it all figured out but obviously since I was new at the whole mothering thing, I didn't have a clue.  The beauty of being a young parent is you can make mistakes and still have time to fix them or alter bad habits - usually! You think you already have it all figured out but deep down you know you are pretty much winging it and that's alright.  When my youngest was born, my oldest was 8 years old and I was stretched pretty thin.  I was always tired.

Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy.

If we were supposed to be perfect mothers from the beginning, God would have made us that way!  What He did do though is he built into each one of us the ability to love, nurture and teach them to be good, loving and charitable people but there are a few other tools in our toolbox that we should really make use of on a regular basis in order to be the best mothers we can be.

I have listed below the 5 tools I believe are so important for mothers to practice every day.  There are certainly others that are important too but these are the 5 that I found ranked the highest for all of us to be aware of and work on each and every day.

All because I wouldn't let him paint up and down my walls with purple popsicle.
If I could go back in time and change one thing about my mothering experience it would most definitely be that I practiced more patience.  I was such a young mother the first time around and honestly, I was uptight and anxious for everything to be perfect.  I am so over that!  Enjoy your children not matter what is going on.  You are blessed to have them AND they do remember everything so let them remember you as a fun and relaxed mom.  There's nothing cooler than that!

Have a Sense of Humor

Try not to take yourself too seriously, like I did.  I'm not saying that this isn't the most important job you will ever do in your life, because IT IS!  But what I am saying is see the humor and joy in each moment and let your children see and feel that.  As they grow they will learn to have that same happy attitude and it will carry over into everything they do. Sure, things can be bad but it is all how you deal with them that counts.  Have the attitude in the morning that no matter what happens you will laugh your way through the day.  Your kids will thank you when they are grown!

Ask for Help When You Need It

Let your kids know it's okay to ask for help by asking for help yourself!
Unless you are a "Super Mom" and by the way, I don't know anyone who is a "Super Mom", you are going to need some help along the way.  Ask for it.  Our kids learn so  much by example so let them see you ask others for help.  Ask THEM for help!  You do not need to do everything yourself.  Reach out to a friend, a neighbor, a sister or your mother if you don't have a spouse and ask for help when you just can't do it all.  You will feel so much better, your spouse will and your kids will most definitely be glad you did!  

When Your Kids Need Your Support - Drop Everything!
Whatever it is, being there for your kids is always more important than anything else you might be doing.  Unless of course you are helping another child and then you will need to be able to micro-manage!
I know that I think I always did this but I am sure there were times when my kids felt like I didn't necessarily give them my undivided attention.  Don't miss those parent teacher conferences, don't miss any of the spring, winter and fall band and/or choir concerts, try to get to every sports game and you really don't want to miss any award ceremonies or church programs.  This is really hard in the spring time when it seems like there is a program for everything but if you aren't there, your kid will notice.  And some of them never forget this stuff either.  BE THERE!

Think First Before You Get Upset
I don't have any pictures of me being angry because I never got mad at my kids.  (wink)
It didn't happen often but I remember one time when my dad got mad at me.  I can't remember what it was about and I can't really remember what he said but I do remember the way I felt when he expressed his displeasure with me.  He wasn't and isn't a yeller so his unhappiness with me cut even deeper.  The feeling I felt when he looked in my eyes and told me he was disappointed in me couldn't have hurt more.   I learned from this experience that a parent can have a powerful impact on a child by expressing their displeasure and unhappiness without yelling and that it could leave a more powerful impression than yelling ever could.  Yes, I yelled as a mom but I think I yelled less because I realized that my kids would hear and understand me - even if I spoke in a gentle voice.

Try to See Things From Your Child's Point of View
She is not his mommy but she will make such a good one some day! 
Try to think about how your little one sees the world.  Not just from a height perspective but from an emotional level.  Depending on how old your children are, they understand the world differently than an adult does and they need help in navigating all waters.  If all else fails, just listen to their little voices and understand that as long as they are talking to you, they are trying to help you understand so that you can help them.  They get to a certain age and sometimes stop asking for help so make sure that while they are still willing to seek your help, you are there to listen!

Always Let Them Know You Are Proud of Them - No Matter What
Oh how she loves her little man!  She is doing such a great job with him.
My kids know that I love them and they also know that I am proud of them.  But just because they know it doesn't mean they wouldn't be helped by hearing it from me on a regular basis.   (This one I am still working on!)  Tell your kids how proud you are of them and tell them WHY you are proud of them.  While they are young, you are their biggest cheerleader and they certainly aren't going to get it from anyone else - especially from anyone else that matters.  As long as they know you are in their corner, they can press on and meet life's daily challenges.  It is important for them to hear words of encouragement when they are struggling and it is important for them to hear it when they aren't.  The easy times are when they are building up their self confidence for the tough times. 

Take Time Out for Yourself!
This is one of the sweetest people I know.  
Here is another one that I refused to learn early on in my mothering experience.  Once I had children I felt like I should always be with them no matter what.  Even when others told me that it was important for me to do things for myself so that I could recharge my own battery, I still wouldn't do it because I didn't want to take time away from my kids.  I wish I had listened.  Take time every now and then to do things for yourself.  Go to the store, get a massage, go visit a friend, do something fun with your girl friends, it doesn't matter.  Again, you will appreciate it, your spouse will and your kids will probably be happy to have a few minutes on their own too!

So whatever stage you are currently in of your life of "mothering" I wish you the best and hope that some of these tools might be helpful for you to remember and use. Enjoy your children because they are out of the nest far too soon and then you are left with memories of this precious time.  Make sure they are GREAT memories!

Happy Mothering!

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