Parenting with a Smile

Remember when you thought everything would fall into place once you were all grown up? You would be able to eat pizza for breakfast and stay up all night long. But in the end, we end up going to bed at a certain time, and being careful about what we eat and when we eat it. Ironic isn’t it?

And then we thought: “Wouldn’t it be perfect to hold that tiny being in our arms and stroke his hand as he sleeps?” “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to dress her in a darling dress and show her off to the world?” Ah, but once again, when we actually get there, the whole story changes. Instead of cherishing the few precious moments we have, we become obsessed with the things we are missing out on.

It’s all about balance

To be excited about anything you do regularly, you need a break from it, that’s why most jobs give you the weekend off. When you don’t have to deal with that set of responsibilities for a couple of days, you are better prepared to face new challenges. This concept rings true with parenthood as well, although most parents don’t find a way to get the break they need to achieve this balance.

Let’s consider what happens if you don’t get that break. Imagine it is a rainy day. You’re going somewhere and your tire goes flat. You waste an hour or two taking care of that and then you realize you are supposed to be at the doctor’s office right now and you totally forgot. As you sigh in disgust, your 4-year-old is in the backseat taking his shoes off again and screaming about the toy he dropped.

Now, Johnny’s situation isn’t really that big of a deal, but because it is on top of the pile of frustrations, it could make life seem unbearable. What are you likely to do? Will you speak to Johnny kindly in an effort to diffuse his frustration; or will you lose it and scream at him, releasing some of your own? When you don’t have a way to get a break from your everyday challenges, they can build up and turn a nurturing mommy into a monster.

So, what can you do today to make sure that you stay out of monster territory?

Find other families like yours

When you engage in play dates, whether they are highly organized clubs or a spontaneous stop at a nearby park, you invite balance into your life. While your child plays with others (or even alone), you get a break from being her main source of entertainment. You can keep an eye on her from a distance while you sit back and get a breath of fresh air. At the same time, you can meet other mothers who live nearby and have similar lifestyles.

Offer your talents to others

What better way to get a break than to ask someone else to take your place while you get away. Sometimes, because of a lack of money or trust, this isn’t an easy option; however, it is never impossible. Each and every one of us has something special to offer. Are you good at baking, sewing, or storytelling? Maybe you are a whiz at math or you love to do hands-on science. Be creative and find a way to offer yourself as a tutor, caterer, or sewing teacher. This small investment of your time will help you in many ways. It will help you meet more people who recognize your talent. In addition, helping others will lift your spirits. And, most importantly, it will put you in a position to exchange services. Once you spend some time with other parents (or responsible teens), you will find new opportunities to exchange your time with others for mutual benefit.

Get involved in your local community

Keep up-to-date by reading your local newsletter or newspaper. Along with helpful information for your zip code, you will find opportunities to connect with others. It isn’t only other mothers who can help you. It could be that your neighbor has a special talent that you or your children can put to good use. It’s all about networking. Once people get to know you and your family, more and more opportunities to share each other’s talents and time will be revealed.

Family matters

In an ideal circumstance, we would like to count on family members for free childcare. But, the reality is that most people are being pulled in all different directions these days, and as a result, our family members might not be as available as we would like. Here’s a hint. Try to sweeten the deal by figuring out a way that you can help this person with her needs, something that she would not expect or ask for. Especially concerning family relationships, people tend to be shy to ask for help, or to make themselves available to help, for fear of long-term consequences. But, when the opportunity begins to look mutually beneficial, the situation can change dramatically.

Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid becoming a mommy monster. We all need balance in our lives. It’s not always easy, but with a little creativity, we can create opportunities to help each other with win-win situations.