Every parenting blog or website you visit starts with something like, ‘being a parent today is tough’ and ‘it’s difficult fitting it all in’ etc, etc..
And it is! You certainly won’t find any disagreement here. In fact, my own website pretty much says the same! In fact, I have to admit, I used to say, “Yeah, it’s not easy, but I’m doing my best.”
I’ve since discovered that this was actually a lie … a white lie to make myself feel better.
Two years ago, we upped sticks as a family and went traveling around Latin America. We took our then 6-year-old twins out of school and ourselves out of the rat race and we headed for Mexico!
How Am I Doing as a Parent?
Taking this step back from the chaos of daily life allowed me the luxury of seeing things in a different light, which had me asking some very different questions about how I was parenting. One of these questions was learned as an apparently common one: ‘Am I doing my best? Really?’
My own answer to this was ‘No, I wasn’t.’ Not by a long stretch.
Being brutally honest, I could in fact, do a whole LOT better.
The reality is that we only have one shot at getting this parenting thing right. So, I decided to take a look at where I was falling short and then think about what practical steps I could take to improve.
Hopefully this article will motivate you to look in the mirror, ask yourself the questions you would honestly want to know the answers to and find the solutions for them, if necessary. For me, the most important question was …
Am I Working Hard Enough as a Parent?
The reality was the exact opposite of this lie. If I compared my approach to parenting and any other serious undertaking in my life, you would notice a significant difference.
I didn’t approach my career without thought or preparation. I didn’t start a business without research, a plan and regular progress checks. Hell, I wouldn’t even go to a job interview or a meeting and just ‘wing it.’
So if this approach wasn’t good enough for these areas in my life, why was it good enough for my kids?
This was not an easy realisation to come to terms with, but raising a child is an 18 year (at least) commitment, surely it’s worth putting in some effort along the way?
Before my twins were born I read loads of books. I wanted to be as prepared as possible for this new adventure. Then somehow I’d lost that thirst for knowledge, that desire to be ready for what was coming. Now that they were growing up and it wasn’t so ‘new,’ I had become content on relying on my instincts to parent without thinking.
What did I do about it?
I’m not saying my instincts were totally inadequate, nor am I saying I am perfect by any means, but I knew that if I worked harder on me and on my parenting skills, I could potentially do a better job.
So I read and researched. I looked at what I was doing through the lens of my values. This enabled me to truly understand what was important to me about being a parent and it and helped me to identify the specific areas I wanted to improve. I then came up with a plan of what I was going to do and how with a review process built in so I could keep getting better.
If you are of a similar mind, I would urge you to do the same as it was hugely beneficial. You could take a course or read an article or a book or whatever floats your boat.
Pick one thing, maybe the one thing that would create the most positive change in your family life or the thing that scares you most! Research it, read about it, come up with a plan of how to get better, while you try one day at a time to improve.