Montessori teacher, mama, and mindful parenting coach Victoria Yim is here to help you take a step back and chill. Here are five things savvy parents focus on to navigate the murky waters of parenthood
Being a parent is a big deal. Somehow, we manage to find 150% of our energy to give to our children. Yet, more and more parents are finding that their days whoosh by so quickly that they can hardly recall the sequence of events; at the end of the day they’re left with really tired backs and another never-ending to-do list for tomorrow. Before you resign to your fate, perhaps it’s a matter of changing what you actually pay attention to.
Here are 5 things savvy parents spend their energy focusing on.
Looking at your glass half full doesn’t come easy when you’ve had a long, stressful day of being a super parent. However, many studies have highlighted that it is precisely when we start focusing our attention on the good things around us, only then do we start feeling happier.
Easy ways to start could just be to make a conscious decision to not label your child when he isn’t behaving the way you want. The moment your mind labels him as “naughty”, the punishment to follow will be more severe (and stressful) than if you recognise that your child might not be equipped to manage the situation at this time. In a similar vein, by reinforcing a healthy mindset towards trying, we are also building their resilience and perseverance.
Read More: Growth Mindset and How to Boost It
Another tip would be to limit the time we spend dwelling on negatives (we literally mean using a clock and keeping track) and then listing five things to be grateful for. This constant re-wiring of the brain will train the mind to look at things positively.
Our environment plays a crucial role in shaping what and how our children learn, so it’s important for parents to pay attention to it. In fact, studies have shown than from as early as being in their mother’s womb, babies are constantly being stimulated by their environment.
What this means for parents is that their child’s environment should be calm and safe to ensure a sense of security, as well as positive to support and encourage the child in their developmental journey.
Ensuring their environment is appropriate for their age is another important way of giving them a greater sense of security, which in turn allows for meaningful interactions with their space. An example would be to include age-appropriate toys at home so that your child can learn through play, and not get bored.
Parents often ask me about my opinion on smartphones and tablets; why are our children so obsessed with it? Probably because we, as parents, are pretty reliant on it too. Experts have voiced their research that parents are setting a poor example for their children on healthy smartphone and tablet usage.
Paying attention to the present means removing distractions like the TV or mobile devices and turning our focus to our children instead. This ensures more meaningful engagements. In the grander scheme of things, it also shows our children that we respect them by giving them our full attention.
There is no greater way to learn about your child than to be a curious observer of him/her. Oftentimes, the questions we have about our children can be answered by simply observing them.
I met a concerned mum once who was having trouble teaching her daughter the alphabet. No matter how she tried, her daughter could not remember how to write the letters. The mum then shared that her daughter had no trouble whatsoever with Mandarin characters. It was only then that we realised that she was likely to learn better through pictures and visuals, which was why the Mandarin characters were easier for her to grasp. This helped us tweak the way we were teaching her English to better suit her learning style.
So, if you find yourself getting stressed over what your child “should” be doing, maybe take a big breath and observe what he/she is actually doing. It might give you an idea on what to do next.
Parents are a sacrificial lot; most of us wouldn’t dream of giving second best to our child. So, here we are, rushing from one playdate to another, reading up on how we can best engage our child, with nary a second left for themselves. The truth is that there is enough time to give yourself some space.
Read More: The Importance of Self Care for Mamas
It is essential for parents to also have a sense of themselves, whether it is some time to catch up on reading, or maybe a phone call with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Studies have shown that when parents are able to recharge, they have more energy and patience with the family.
If you need to really make it stick, try scheduling it in your calendar so you can make arrangements for your child’s care whilst you embark on taking some time for yourself. It shouldn’t be filled with guilt, but instead, filled with gratitude as you unwind.
And finally, one thing savvy parents take care not to pay attention to? Judgement.
Everyone will have an opinion, but it isn’t your job to listen if it doesn’t suit your family’s needs. Sure, most advice tends to be well-meaning (even the aunt who tells you your baby needs to smile more), but they don’t know the way your family functions, your child’s real aptitude, and how you want to bring up your child.
Know that you’re doing what works for your family, and that is all that really matters.
Thanks, Victoria! For more parenting advice and insights, mama, check out one of Victoria’s upcoming “Way of 8” workshops in May or June!
This article is part of an ongoing partnership with Oddbods, an award-winning, globally-acclaimed animated comedy show that’s all about encouraging kids to be themselves. Even though they don’t always see eye to eye, the Oddbods love to celebrate each other’s successes (and differences). In the clip above, for instance, notice how lovable, meticulous Jeff from demonstrates the beauty (and sometimes silliness) in being mindful and setting your intentions!