Moms, Get the Big Stuff Right

Every mom worries about failing her kids. We wonder what we will do if our kids turn against us, grow up to hate us or end up disliking their lives. These are natural worries, but these fears can drive us crazy. 

They can also drive us to focus on minor details, hoping that if we can control the small things, the big stuff will fall into place. But, posting the perfect “first day of school” picture on Instagram or making sure that our son gets the right football coach won’t improve our parenting. It will just give us a false sense of control.

So, I have a suggestion. Why don’t we forget the multitude of small parenting details and start focusing on getting the big things right. I believe that when we do this, life goes a whole lot better for moms and their kids. Here’s where we can start.

Be Kind. I’ve pulled the car over a few times in my life with a backseat full of fighting kids. I know firsthand how hard being nice can be. So I think that it’s important to train ourselves to be nice.

moms get big stuff right parenting

Personally, I need some alone time in order to keep myself calm and less irritable. Some moms need to work a little, exercise, pray more or go out with friends periodically. These aren’t selfish things. They are important because they help us be kind, and being patient with our kids is crucial to good parenting.

Speak Well. We often spend more time with our kids than anyone else, so they hear everything we say. They hear us talk to friends, our husbands, parents, and neighbors. And of course, they take to heart what we say to them.

Words are powerful. They can heal relationships or crush them, shape the identity of your children or deeply injure it. Pay attention to your words and the tone that you use.

Love Unconditionally. As much as we’d like to believe that we are good at loving our children unconditionally, the truth is, we’re not always very good at it. We always want more from our kids. We want to show them that we love them, but we also want them to succeed and love us back. 

Loving them when they’re flunking fifth grade, not liked by any of their friends or doing things to embarrass us is tough. But loving them when no one else will is what being a good mom is all about. That’s where we shine. 

Be Tough. The kids who I see in my practice who get in trouble aren’t the ones with strong mothers. They are the ones whose mothers have no spine.

parenting moms get big stuff right be tough

Forgoing discipline, failing to stick to rules and blurring boundaries makes kids crazy. Kids need to look at their moms and see stoicism. They won’t listen to a mother who is a pushover, who can’t make up her mind or who has no convictions. But they will listen to a mother who knows who she is and makes no apologies. 

Assert who you are, and your kids will stay close by your side.

Moms, you’re doing a great job! Hang in there, focus on love, kindness and discipline and most of all, don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

About The Author

Pediatrician, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is the country’s leading authority on parenting, teens and children’s health. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, certified by The American Board of Pediatrics and serves on the Advisory Board of The Medical Institute. She lives and works in northern Michigan where she shares a medical practice with her husband, Walter. They have four grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. To read more from Dr. Meeker, visit her website here.

 

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Dear Anxiety, You Are Paralyzing.

Dear Anxiety,

 

I see you.

 

In the last two years I have gotten to know on a pretty close level. You have come in and out of my life. We are not friends. To be honest, I kind of loathe you, actually. More recently, you have become a daily battle for me. You can take any moment, any situation, and use it to bring some of the greatest panic and fear I have ever experienced. It’s been a tough season for me as a Mother. I am trying hard to be strong, to be brave; to find my value in who I am as Mom. There are times I feel lost in raising tiny humans, but I know I am doing a good job. I know that Motherhood is not having the right answers. It is sometimes simply winging it and not having a clue what you are doing.

However, if I am being entirely honest, the days you sneak up on me I have a pretty hard time seeing just how good of a job I am actually doing, especially when I feel like I should have the right answers. I should know how to handle tantrums. I should have a well behaved children. You are a master at speaking lies to me. You are crippling. You instill fear. You cause me to worry about things that may never even happen. There have been days when I can’t even take my kids to the park because I am afraid they will be kidnapped.

You are paralyzing.

dear anxiety hate you

I first encountered you after the triplets were born. You used sleep deprivation to suffocate me. I had no amount of energy and could never catch up on my sleep. The panic attacks kicked in and swallowed me whole. At the time, it was hard for me to even recognize and admit how difficult things were for me as a new Mom. I wasn’t enjoying the season. I waited for so long to become a Mother and you hijacked my heart with guilt and told me lies about who I was as a Mom. You stole moments I could have shared with my babies. I felt so lonely, so misunderstood.

I hated you then like I hate you know.

Eventually, I saw what was happening to me. My husband, friends and family-they saw it too. And I got the help I needed to learn how to manage you.

And yet, here we are, two years later, and I see you trying to poor the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion over me once again. You are using the terrible twos to make me question myself as a Mom and if I can even handle this tiring and often thankless job. You use tantrums to suck every piece of patience right out of me. You constantly steal the grace I should have for myself as a Mother and exchange it with panic and guilt. You use Mom-shamers to steal my confidence. You know all the tricks to make me believe untruths about who I am as a Mom.

However, the difference between two years ago and now is, now, I know how to face you a little better than I did before. I know the importance of being vulnerable even when it is hard, even when I don’t want to. I know that I have to talk about the fact that right now, I am having a hard time enjoying this season of Motherhood; and that it is okay. I have to cling to the people I trust most in my life; the ones who don’t judge me when my kids are throwing yogurt across the room during breakfast and enjoying a lollipop before 9am. The ones who still love me even when I lose my temper. The ones who know I am just as mortified when my kid bites theirs. The ones I can share my secrets with and know they are safe there.

dear anxiety

I know when my husband says, “Go to target. Buy a new dress. I will get the kids to bed tonight,” I need to let him because he means it. I see you and so does he. I have been incredibly impressed by the actions he took to ensure we could walk through this season together and find solutions to help me through some pretty tough days. He made the big moves. He was willing to be there for me however I needed, to help me through this strangling season.

I know that I have to be willing to face you even when I am ashamed of the events of the day and how I responded to the whining, biting, fighting, crying, and hitting (And yes, sometimes all of that happens within minutes of each other). Those are the days when my Mom anger kicks in, guilt takes over, and I am entirely ashamed of who I have become and how I have responded. Any kind of grace I could have had for myself is gone. Those are the hardest days. I have learned how important grace is. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t have all the right answers. I fail every day. And that is okay. That is grace. I have to pray. I have to pray hard and know that God chose me to a be a Mom to my babies because He knew I could handle it.

dear anxiety parenting

I know when it is time to make a Doctor’s appointment and talk about medication to help. To be honest, this step was probably the hardest for me. It is hard to walk into the Doctor’s office and admit that you don’t have it all together. However, I know that sometimes going on medication is just the best way to manage you. There is no shame in that. And this time around, I knew I needed to take those steps to get the help that I needed in order to get through my days a little better.

I am in the trenches of Motherhood trying to hold onto every bit of patience I could possibly have for my kids. My days spent with three pretty active testing your limits two year olds are filled with all kinds of challenges. The days are getting better and you and I aren’t as close as we used to be, but it is still hard. However, the beautiful thing is, is that God always makes beauty out of our ashes. It is seasons like this that change you. They allow to grow and become a stronger, wiser version of yourself. They give you hope and remind you just how great of a Mother you actually are. And that is what I will choose to take away from this incredibly exhausting, yet entirely empowering season of Motherhood.

Sincerely,

The I still don’t always have it together Mom

 

Desiree Fortin is a Mom to almost 2 year old triplets. Her journey to become a Mom was not easy, but it is one of hope and beauty. Desiree is a blogger and photographer.  You can read Desiree’s blog, visit her on Instagram, or visit her Facebook page to learn more.

 

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4 Ways to Tell You’re an “Un-Mom”

For those of us who find motherhood less ‘natural’ than we expected, life can feel more like a circus than a life choice. We love being a mom, and cherish our kids, but we’re a bit less Proverbs 31 woman and more Lucille Ball when it comes to the daily tasks of mothering.  But rather than feeling defeated or “less than,” when compared to our more organized, ‘together’ kind of friends, God’s showed me how to let go of my need for perfection and appreciate the free-spirited, joy-centered mom I am, despite endlessly burnt dinners and Pinterest fails. Here are ways that you can identify, and celebrate, if you too, are an un-mom:

 

Child-centered activities send shivers down your spine

All it took was one “mommy & me craft time” at the town library to realize I must be missing a maternal chromosome causing other moms to seemingly feel complete joy while gluing pipe cleaners to rocks and begging their kids to stop eating crayons.  I felt similar dismay after loneliness and boredom led me to the unthinkable act of joining a local “mom’s club,” in hopes of scoring some adult company and snacking with both hands if my toddlers detached long enough. But instead of adult conversation about hobbies, current events, or perhaps pre-child stories of days past, there was only chatter about proper breast milk storage and organic baby food recipes. “How ‘bout that Trump?!” Silence. Same goes for activities like volunteering for the church nursery, and basically any other activity related to other people’s kids. Bless each lamb of God, but the last thing we want to do is swaddle someone else’s newborn or ration Cheerios when this is the first time we’ve left the house without yoga pants all week.

 

Your domestic life isn’t for the faint of heart

We’re not talkin’ a little clutter and dishevelment that a quick run ‘o the Dust Buster can’t  remedy. We’re talking the kind of disorder and mess that causes a dead panic when an uninvited visitor arrives, or when a friend texts she’s stopping by in ten. Because for un-moms, “keeping house” brings more than the average amount of difficulty for those of us who’d rather do just about anything other than vacuum or chart the kids’ chores on a white board. It takes focus, self-discipline and constant reminders that if we don’t put the laptop down (okay, yoga mat) and do laundry, our kids will be left wearing their birthday suits, or a Halloween costume to school tomorrow. Dinner looks more like a health risk then a meal time, and I’m fairly certain my only food-related Instagram post was that of a meatball so over-cooked, it permanently melded to the oven tray.  Who wants pizza guys?

 

not a pinterest mom

 

School activities

True un-moms immediately recognize there is no need to expound beyond this heading. Because for us, school-related activities like finishing a science project the night before… “you have to bring in how many pics of tree frogs?!”… searching for ever-elusive school library books, and trying to “help” with eighth grade algebra can be altogether overwhelming. I don’t know when the descent took place, but somewhere between Generation X and millennial movement, school has become so much more involved for parents. We’re talkin’ endless amounts of signatures, checks needed for book fairs, candy-o-gram forms and a hundred different little projects that require our participation. In the course of one month last year I had to construct a “green” boat, decorate a turkey symbolizing our family culture (who makes this stuff up?!), and write handwritten notes as my children’s “pen pal,” thanks to another stellar program initiated by an overmedicated PTO president. I think we celebrate more than the kids on that last day of school, clicking our bare footed heels in the air to embrace a three month break from making mediocre lunches with one eye open at night or tearing apart the house for school store money at 7 a.m.


It’s not that we can’t manage to keep sharp objects out of reach and sanitize plastic all day.  We just sometimes question our very existence after getting stuck atop the McDonald’s play scape or massacring another weekly Cub Scouts project. Especially come summer time, we can be tempted to skip our quiet time with the Lord because we’re so busy with the kids, and well, it’s hard to find time. But I’ve learned to somehow get my time in daily, even if it means hiding in my prayer closet, because I’m more patient and energized when gaining strength from him, not just the Death Wish Coffee. We need the Lord, and we need him now. Jesus, take the wheel…

 

Jessica Kastner is the author of “Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet,” and a contributor for Beliefnet.com, Huffington Post’s Christianity blog, and CBN.com.  When she’s not on the trampoline with her three boys in Connecticut, she offers her “fluff free” commentary at www.JessicaKastner.com.  

 

 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorJessicakastner/
Facebook Community: #UnMom

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessKastner

 

 

Parenting ADHD: 6 Things I Wish I Had Known

My oldest has ADHD.  We hit eight years old and man did I need help parenting a child with ADHD.  I reached out to other moms but all shared a resounding “I’m just trying to survive” mentality. Parenting ADHD is difficult. Four years later, here are six things (from one struggling mom to another) that I wish I had known when parenting a child with ADHD.

Parenting ADHD Success

1. ENGAGE WITH THE SCHOOL

My hubby and I did not communicate with the school too much about our son and his ADHD. Conversations started to become more frequent than one would like in 2nd grade and by the time he was officially diagnosed in 3rd grade, we didn’t want to give teachers a pre-set idea of who/what he was. Bad idea. Before I knew better, I shared my concern about telling them he was ADHD with my close friend; their reply was, “Either they have the stigma of ADHD, or the stigma of the bad kid.”  Ugh! They were right.  

I became forced myself to be brave. I started the conversation with my son’s educators right from the start, sharing behaviors I knew would be distracting, my expectations of him in the classroom and concerns about his education and abilities.  You would be surprised what lines of communications this opens; and with parenting ADHD, communication is vital. This quickly places you and the educators on the same page and teaches them that you are open and an ally.  If this doesn’t happen — find a new teacher! Educators will make or break your child’s success in school.

2. SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOUR CHILD TO OTHERS

As we sat in our teacher’s meeting with two teachers, two counselors, one special education teacher, the hubs and me — totally not overwhelming, right? [Super Huge Eyeroll] I listened to an obviously frustrated teacher tell me all the things my son was doing that he shouldn’t be doing. Umm…yeah…I know. I get it. No, really. I super get this.  Uh-huh…yeah…right…yes, he does that…and that…and that…STOP TALKING! It was new to her and it is frustrating. However, she just kept rehashing everything he did wrong, repeatedly. We tried to give them some insight into our son but I could tell the frustrations were too raw. It’s important to realize that parenting ADHD includes including others in the process. 

By the next meeting my husband and I consciously chose to make sure the team we were meeting with knew all the amazing cool things about my son. He is a whiz in science, he loves helping people, he is hilarious, he is amusingly sarcastic, and so much more! We watched their conversations about our real-life-son, not just the frustrating student, change before our eyes. This frustrated teacher started complimenting my son at school on his science scores and laughing with him.  Don’t forget: they see hundreds of kids a day. Chances are your ADHD child is getting under their skin. Change their mindset from obnoxious pupil to a real human-child that has feelings and is amazing.  Make. Them. See.

Parenting ADHD Help

 

SEE MORE:  4 Ways to Measure Kids’ Success That Have NOTHING To Do With Grades

 

3. EMOTIONS RUN DEEP

ADHD kids feel. They feel emotion deep in their soul and sometimes you would never know.  Understood.org says, “Kids with ADHD don’t have different emotions from most of their peers. They feel hurt, anger, sadness, discouragement, laziness and worry just like everyone else does. What is different for many kids with ADHD is that these feelings seem to be more frequent and intense. They also seem to last longer. And they get in the way of everyday life.”

Take the time to ask your child about their feelings, with open-ended questions. Pay attention to their body language and demeanor. Once their emotions overflow, sometimes it is hard to have a logical conversation with them. Have patience and understanding; acknowledge their feelings and try to redirect the negative emotions when possible. Parenting ADHD is about listening and engaging with your child.

4. SHAMING: DON’T DO IT

Most of us in the trenches of ADHD never intend to shame our child. We are overwhelmed and frustrated; our tongues drip a little looser than we’d like.  Shaming can be as innocent as saying, “Your 5-year-old little brother has his shoes on, why on earth don’t you?”. This makes them feel less than and you are essentially comparing their behaviors. Comparison brings nothing but hurt feelings and resentment.

We also had to engage a strict hand with the non-ADHD siblings. We started noticing them saying things like, “You’re being so crazy!! Go take your pill!”. This will not fly in our house and we put our foot down hard when we hear it. Shaming is never a useful tool in parenting, but when it involves a child with ADHD, it can make a child already prone to depression and anxiety feel more shamed and inadequate. Parenting ADHD is about awareness of everyone involved: parent, child and siblings.

5. LYING WILL HAPPEN

It is going to happen…a lot. You cannot realistically punish them every single time they lie (yes, it happens that much). Prepare yourself for this quirk and decide how it will be handled.  If the lie is significant (depending on any number of factors) a consequence follows. However, if it is a little thing here or there, we express our disappointment that they lied and it is not acceptable and move on. We finally hit a stride where a lie comes out and is quickly followed up with the truth and an apology. It’s only taken 4+ years of pulling my hair out. [insert more patience here]

 

SEE MORE:  How It Really Feels Being The Mom Of A Bullied Kid

 

Parenting ADHD Advice

6. GIVE THEM OPPORTUNITIES TO SUCCEED

This is huge!! ADHD kids are insanely intelligent, smart, creative, funny, loveable and the list goes on. Sometimes their impulses get the better of them. If you think you’re frustrated, just imagine being them. Take EVERY SINGLE CHANCE to point out their successes and moments that make you proud. Did they hang their backpack up right after school? Make sure you say “Hey…thanks for getting your backpack put away. That was super helpful.” The small thank-you will do wonders for their self-esteem and remind you how fantastic your child is. Know they are a great pancake chef? Ask them to make the family breakfast! School and life are hard. They have a lot more hurdles than the average child; give them a chance to do things right and be rewarded.

Parenting ADHD comes with extra trials, but we learn so much if we take the time to understand our ADHD child and how to help them be successful. These six things are the first items I think of when people ask me about parenting ADHD. I wish I would have known these from the start, but I’m learning and still making mistakes too. Hopefully my mistakes can give you a leg up when parenting your child with ADHD. They’re some of the raddest people I know.


Looking for additional resources? A few of my favorite ADHD websites are:

http://www.additudemag.com

http://www.understood.org

https://add.org/

Parenting ADHD with Love

 

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