Keeping Your Sanity While Raising Sane Children (Part 1)

Do you feel like you gained children but lost sanity? I know I do.

I thought this topic would make a great post, however, there really are two parts to the equation: 1) Keeping your sanity while doing the parenting and 2) Developing your parenting so that it raises sane children as well. I'm a big believer on doing any kind of 'life fixing' type of work on the inside first as evidenced by a quote from the very first post here on Taking Care Of You...and one you may not have seen!

Much like the flight safety announcement telling you that in the event of a crash you must first put on your own oxygen mask and then help others, the concept of taking care of us first needs reminding, as it is most important.
So, this next awareness focus is going to be covered in 2 posts; Part I is today and Keeping Your Sanity While Raising Sane Children - Part II will be posted in one month.

Why? Well, with the information overload we face these days, I think the first post needs to mull around in your mind for awhile before we move on. You'll have had time to be immersed in real life for awhile after considering the first post and your mind will feel more open to what you read when you read Part II. That's my belief anyways. :-)

Part I: Keeping Your Sanity

Increase the good moments. The good stuff, the stuff of good memories of our experiences, can occur because we consciously looked for opportunities to make them happen. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Waking my child peacefully; starting with slowing myself down, then adding in moments of tenderness with a back rub or quiet talking, and maybe even snuggling in with them for a few minutes.
  • Turning up the radio in the car when a favorite song is on and parent(s) and kid(s) alike are singing right along.
  • Sharing a private moment in a room full of others by making eye contact and flashing my child the 'I love you' sign....which might become the thumbs up sign later on down the road, if that bit of affection might not be so welcome anymore.
Besides making your child feel good, this helps you to feel good. Free from all the 'have to's' in our day and the 'same 'ol, same 'ol' feel, you get to reconnect with your child in a most simple and loving way.

Weather the difficult moments as best as you can. Whether it's a tantrum by your 4 year old or your 14 year old (yeah, they still have them!), how you deal with the tantrum will affect your feelings about your child, yourself and your parenting success.

Additionally, learning to filter out the stuff that just doesn't matter will greatly help you in the moment and beyond. That lady in the checkout line giving you the look, or worse, her unsolicited advice? Subtly smile and nod on the outside; and hold true to who you are, your parenting objective and to remember that your child will not base their childhood memories on this one incident. I promise. :-)

Embrace being the 'Mean' parent. Some may call it 'not being their friend', some may say it's 'tough love parenting', etc. but what I intend by being the 'Mean' parent is when a parent performs an action, allows a behavior, etc. based on their own heart's intentions and not at the whim of the child.

I once read this humorously titled post by Corey from Simple Marriage on a guest post at SimpleMom called "What Kids Need Most -- Cool Parents". Here is a gem that highlights what I mean by being the 'Mean' parent:
Let natural consequences teach the lessons. Give up the goal of being liked by your kids – parenting is not a popularity contest. It’s not for wimps – it’s a sacred charge to be in charge. Let the consequences do the screaming. They didn’t do their homework, so let the low score teach the lesson. Meanwhile, you are an understanding and empathetic ear for them to talk to. You get to support them, but not necessarily their choice.
Most especially, may I please emphasize, no helicopter parenting! I know why some parents are so protective of their children's childhood experience but the consequences to the child in the short- and long-term should not be cast aside because of our own needs.

Enjoy yourself. I'm sure you already know that children don't only play for fun, but for many more reasons as well. The sense of joy and well-being that fills them during play permeates many of their daily actions and doesn't allow life to get too heavy for them. I think we should take a cue from this approach and remember to bring out the inner child still within us.

Finding a balance between stuff we HAVE to do and stuff we WANT to do is child’s play. Kids do it all the time: school, homework, sports, recitals, chores… AND FUN. Fun is always in there because it is as important to a child as all the others put together, maybe more so. (Be sure to read the Comments on the link as well!)

So there you have it...a few of my ideas on how to keep your sanity during this life experience called 'Parenting'.

Part II - Raising Sane Children will be here before you know it! Use this month to work on yourself so you can share the sanity with your precious progeny next month and beyond.

In the meantime, how about sharing your parenting wisdom with us. What inspired thoughts can you add about your parenting journey? Have you come out the other side and managed to keep your sanity while you raised sane children? Please, share your success story with us. We'd love to read it.

Until next time...Take Care Of You!

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Lisis said...

Haha! That link totally busted me trying to be the "best friend" parent instead of the "mean parent"! I can't help it, for two reasons:

1. I feel like a kid myself.
2. My son is an only child. I figure, I either need to play with the kid, or have another one (and the first option is WAY easier to clean up after!) ;)

My basic take on mean parenting, or tough love, is exactly what Corey said... let the consequences teach... If he does something dumb, and a crappy consequence follows, I'll be there as a shrink to listen and say, "How does that make you feel? Do you think you should do the same thing next time?" Bottom line is, he's a smart kid. If he chooses crappy behaviors, HE inherits undesirable consequences (not me). Soon he'll learn to optimize his choices for the best possible outcomes.

I'm thinking, either that system works, or I have a small adult, instead of a child, because I don't remember the last time we had a tantrum of any sort. I pretty much refuse to fuel a frustrated mood... we only discuss things when we are both calm and rational.

My husband, on the other hand... he still has tantrums. ;)

Suzanne Sergis said...

Lisis, I'm so happy that you & your son do have such a close and healthy relationship with a much higher ratio of having fun together than having battles. :-)

Wilma Ham said...

Being present to my children has been a great one for me to become aware of.
My youngest always noticed and always commented on the fact that I was NOT listening and she made me feel the consequences too.
Parenting is great when it is not a fearful business or a dominating affair but a genuine care giving activity.
My children had no tantrums when I was present to them as I did respond to them in a way they respected. Tantrums are an expression of frustration, as I have found out.

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