Being a mom is so much harder than I thought it would be.
As soon as my brother was born (I was three), I fell in love with babies and children. I started babysitting at 11, and even when I wasn't babysitting, I was around babies. I would take the fussy kids during church so their parents could listen, I was always holding at least one baby or playing with kids, and I knew I wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember.
When I actually became a mother, I realized that babysitting partially prepared me for being alone with my child, but in no way did it actually prepare me to be a mother. I was always able to give the kids back, and I can't do that with my daughter.
One of the biggest challenges I have had with parenting is find out what works for our family. Since parenting is all about what works for you and you instantly find new things and change old things, it can be exhausting.
So I came up with a way to keep my life less stressful while parenting in a way that is comfortable to me!
(Someone might have thought of this already, I truly don't know).
I call it Back To Basics Parenting.
I have a few perfect tried and true ways to parent that I always come back to when things start to become dicey with new ideas.
I try to stay as close to Gentle Parenting as I possibly can, and some days, I end up putting myself in "time out" more than once just to calm myself down. There is only so much whining a person can take.
1. I always come back to trying to not say the word "no" unless I need to really get her attention. I'm still working on this one, saying no is just so easy but after hearing that for every little thing, it loses its clarity and meaning. I can tell by how she reacts to it when I say it how often I have been saying it lately. If she looks at me in shock and wonder, she truly grasped the meaning and I have only used it when absolutely necessary. If she giggles and keeps doing it, it has completely lost all meaning.
2. Quiet time! She is four and hasn't really napped consistently since she was 2. She will nap maybe twice a week, but if I'm not careful, she will nap at 6:30 at night. So every day, we have quiet time. We put in a movie that she picks, and we have to lie down through the movie. It doesn't mean she will nap, but if she is tired and most times lying on my chest, she will sleep. And even if she doesn't, I get an hour and a half to recharge without going off my rocker (mainly only if it is a bad day).
3. I love doing crafts, I have been doing them most of my life, and I want my daughter to have the same love of homemade that I have. Everyday I try to do at least one craft or make one food with her. It could be anything from drawing some pictures or playing with playdough to baking a cake or brownies. I learn a lot about her and we have a lot of fun during this time. Plus, when we bake, we love to lick the bowl clean ;)
4. Having a bedtime ritual was something we never did. My daughter hates to sleep, and has fought going to sleep since she was about eight months old. Some nights it would be three or four hours of fighting and screaming before she would finally fall asleep, and even then, it was really restless sleep. My husband used to work until midnight and our daughter hated going to bed without him, so it felt pointless to have a "bedtime" before then. When he started working days instead of nights, we started a night ritual of getting our pajamas on, reading a book that she picks, saying our prayers, and then going to sleep. She knew when it was bedtime and stopped fighting us as much. Lately I have been really slacking with this since my husband is back to night shifts, and I really need to get back into it.
5. On the days where being cooped up is getting to both of us, we try to go outside, even if it is just out onto our porch. Nothing like a good dose of Vitamin D and fresh air to calm you down and make you feel like you can go on for a few more hours.
6. Try to talk to an adult (other than my husband) once a week!! This one may seem odd, but only talking to my husband and my daughter every day mas me feeling more cooped up than normal. Having a real conversation with someone can bring me back to earth and recharge me for another week of toddler speak.
It isn't much, but these are the things that I can come back to to not only recenter myself but find out if what I was trying to change was working.