I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on myself as a parent since my dad died unexpected in July. He was just such a wonderful father and role model, and I want to make sure I’m half as attentive and fun with my daughter as he was to my sister and me.
Of course, life often gets in the way of all my good intentions, and if I’m going to be completely honest, I have spent the bulk of the last 4 and a half months since he passed trying to keep myself as busy as possible so I don’t have to come to terms with the fact that I will never get to see his smiling face or hear his infectious laugh ever again.
It just hurts too much, you know?
But with 2015 quickly approaching, and kindergarten in the not-so-distant future, I feel like I need to slow down and make the most of my time with my little girl, so I put some New Year’s resolutions together that I feel will make me a better mom. And since I know I’m not the only one who needs to be reminded every once in a while how precious life is, I figured I’d throw them into a post and share them with all of you.
Please let me know what you would add to my list!
1. DON’T MAKE YOUR KIDS BEG FOR YOUR ATTENTION
If your kids have a tendency to pull at your legs while simultaneously demanding snacks and sippy cup refills the moment you pick up your smart phone, chances are they’re just vying for your attention. So instead of checking your Facebook feed, take some time to actually engage with them so they don’t feel the need to beg for your attention every time you need a few minutes to yourself.
2. SMILE OFTEN
When I first read Anna Luther’s eBook 75 Ways to Have More Fun at Home, one of the things that stood out the most for me was her advice to SMILE when you’re happy. Now please don’t get me wrong. I don’t spend my entire day with a growl on my face, but it wasn’t until I read that part of her book that I really realized just how infectious a smile really is, especially when you MEAN it.
I don’t know about you, but my daughter likes to talk about a lot of things over and over and over again, and while I love seeing her find joy in things like Cookie Monster and her beloved LeapPad Ultra, I sometimes find myself responding to her chattering on autopilot. And that’s okay. We’re all guilty of this. But every once in a while she will repeat herself a few times before I realize she’s actually asking me a question, and it makes me sad to think I wasn’t actually paying attention to her. Because if she’s talking about something that’s important to her, it should be important to me. Right?
4. PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS!
I spend a lot of time sharing great crafts and activities to do with my daughter on this blog, but I would be lying to you if I told you we try all of them. I mean, I always have good intentions, but the idea of cleaning shaving cream off my kitchen table for the sake of 5 minutes of fun doesn’t always appeal to me. But I don’t want my daughter to look back over her childhood and remember me as the kind of mom who would rather spend my afternoon on my computer and iPhone than on the floor playing with her, so effective immediately, we’ll be trying out more of those crafts and activities. Together.
5. SLOW DOWN
When I was growing up, my mother was always in a hurry to get things done, and while I inherited all of her “GO! GO! GO!” traits, I make a conscious effort to SLOW DOWN and enjoy my time with her daughter. I’m pretty sure this drives a lot of my mom friends absolutely mental, and I’d be lying if I told you my blood pressure doesn’t take a beating every now and then, but I figure I only get one chance at this whole parenting thing, so I’m sure as heck going to do my best at it, you know?
6. CARVE OUT SOME MOMMY-AND-ME TIME
As a SAHM, the only time I am not with my daughter is when she’s either sleeping or at preschool, or when I’m running errands on the weekend, but I often catch myself feeling as though I haven’t actually CONNECTED with her when I tuck her in at the end of the day. We’re just so busy running from one place to another all week that we don’t always find the time to sit down and actually enjoy each other’s company, if that makes any sense. So I’ve started to designate a chunk of each day for mommy-and-me time so we can do something we enjoy together, and I find it goes a long way not only in making me feel a connection with my daughter, but in warding off unwanted temper tantrums. You should try it sometime!
7. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
When I quit my job to be a SAHM, I somehow convinced myself I wasn’t allowed to have a life outside of our home. I just felt like changing diapers, scrubbing our toilets, and cleaning up spit-up was supposed to leave me too fulfilled to want to do anything else. But as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, I soon realized I was going to totally lose my marbles if I didn’t do something that was just for me. And that’s why I started this blog. It began as an online diary at first, but it has exploded into so much more since then, and it gives me a purpose other than being a mom, wife, and toilet scrubber. And I’m a much better person because of it.
8. PUMP THE TUNES
Before we moved to Singapore in 1984, we lived across the street from my best friend, and I spent a lot of time at her house. She had 3 sisters, the most amazing mom I’d ever met, an entire cupboard full of junk food in her kitchen, and no matter what time of the day it was, there was ALWAYS music playing in every room of their house. I absolutely loved spending my time there and often fantasized about her parents adopting me, and while I don’t profess to be as amazing as her mother was, I don’t let a day go by without blasting tunes for my daughter. There’s just something so magical about spur-of-the-moment family dance parties, and I have especially loved introducing my daughter to all of the artists and songs my dad listened to when I grew up over the last 4 months. It’s a great way to keep his memory alive!
9. GO FOR A WORKOUT
Whenever my friends hear that I drag myself out of bed at 5:15 am every morning so I can spend 30 minutes running on the treadmill before starting my crazy busy day of preschool, errands, cooking, laundry, and keeping up with this blog, they think I am absolutely CRAZY. But you know what? It goes a long way in making me a better parent (and wife!). Not only does it help me manage my stress so I can be more patient throughout the day, but it also makes me feel fantastic. And the better I feel, the more likely we are to have a rocking day, right??!
10. DO YOUR BEST
I came to the realization a long time ago that I am not, and never will be, a perfect mom. And you know what? I’m 100% okay with that. Because as long as I know in my heart that I try my best each day to give my daughter the kind of childhood I want her to remember, that’s all that really matters to me.
And you know what?
My best is pretty darn good.
And I bet yours is, too.
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