Why We Gentle Parent

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When I was pregnant with my first, my husband and I started to research all the different parenting options. We made a list of parents we knew growing up who seemed to make the best choices for their kids, kids who had a healthy respect for their parents, kids who hated their parents, etc.

We wanted our kids to feel unconditionally loved, respected, and understood. We wanted to create a dynamic of boundaries and rules that promoted learning, growth, and trust. We didn’t want to use punishment as a teaching tool but appeal to their minds with reason and empathy.

These desires led us to authors L.R. Knost, Daniel J. Siegel M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson PH.D. Siegel and Bryson have written a couple of books together that teach parents how a child’s brain develops and what discipline strategies promote that development. They are wonderful works of science simplified for the everyday parent. Knost writes books that encourage the heart of the parent. She lovingly guides parents to view their child through curiosity and innocence. Her books are beautiful.

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Gentle parenting encourages the adults to be understanding, empathetic, and respectful. What kind of kid wouldn’t thrive from that? I’m proud to say that my kids are. Keira is three. She is absolutely full of life. She’s sweet, generous, funny, and just so awesome. Lilah is 15 months and is equally amazing. She’s tiny, chubby, goofy, adores her daddy, and loves her big sister. Keira knows she can tell Daddy and I anything. She knows her voice is respected, her feelings are valued, and that her needs will always be met. Lilah is still learning words but she knows that whether she uses words or squawks, she will be answered (her favorite thing to do is to whisper “out” when she wants out of her highchair and give us about -1 second to respond before she makes crazy howler monkey noises).

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Gentle parenting has gotten us through loads of lessons without much drama. I see our relationship becoming everything I want. My little girls bring Daddy and I their hearts and aren’t afraid when it’s ugly. We see Lilah learning to be gentle and communicate with her tiny words(she’s still so much of a baby that what we teach her hasn’t shown up as clearly as with big sister). We see Keira growing in patience and self-control; making kind choices even after her feelings have been hurt; trusting us to know what is best.

 

How about you? How did you come across your parenting style?

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How To Be A Calm Mom

Maybe you just flipped your lid. You’re crying over the ugliness that just poured out of you. Maybe these moments are becoming uncomfortably common. You desperately want to stop just keeping your head above water. You want to enjoy your kids. You want to flourish together. But you’re stuck feeling irritable, cranky, annoyed—all the things you don’t want to feel.

Mama, you have the strength and power to turn it around. You have what it takes to change. Some days will require the strength needed to throw confetti and some will be akin to squatting 100 pounds. Just remember, you always have what the strength it takes to change.

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A Couple of Tools for You~
Identify your triggers— Big and small, all of it matters. Do some digging and find out what is going on in the seconds, hours, and days before you blow up.

Ginormous laundry pile? Dishes for days? Untweezed eyebrows? No time to yourself?

Finding your triggers will help you recognize the snowflake before the avalanche comes crashing through.

Determine what you can control & control it— You can’t control your kids. You should give them boundaries and blah blah BUT when you are boiling over, you cannot control them. Make sure the kids are safe and take some time to control yourself.

I’ve noticed that when I start letting go of my “controllables” I feel overwhelmed much faster. I need to keep that laundry moving through the system, keep up with my dishes, make sure I feel good about myself, etc.

Control what you can with a consistent routine.

Banish “always” and “never”—“I always do everything around here” “Nobody ever helps me” “You always lose your stuff” “You never keep track of anything” “This will never get done” “I am always….”
Stop saying this stuff. Stop thinking this stuff. It is not true. It is not helpful. It is hurtful to anyone who hears it—even if the only one hearing it is the one thinking it.

These types of proclamations are a breeding ground for drama. You lose sight of reality. Try getting just as mad over something while saying things like, “Sometimes I have to do a lot by myself” “Sometimes you misplace your stuff” “This is taking a lot longer than I was hoping”……….see what I mean?

(If these statements are true and you really are the ONLY one working on your home in your family, delegate some stuff! My three-year old can make her bed, get coffee ready, put away dishes, tidy up her toys, etc and her one-year old little sister is learning. Sometimes, little sister puts one toy in the basket and takes out four but she’s getting there!)

Stay in touch with reality—this is almost an echo of the previous tip but when you feel yourself starting to get ticked, settle yourself with true thoughts.

My house is meant to be lived in.

My house can be clean.

I am grateful to have a home filled with clothes, toys, dishes…

I can teach my children to appreciate a clean and organized home.

Make sure your cup is full—THIS IS SO SO IMPORTANT. Take some time to be selfish and love yourself. Do something that makes you feel good, peaceful, centered, beautiful everyday.

Assuming you aren’t filthy rich and can afford to have professional makeup, hair, guided mediations, massages, and all kinds of other luxuries every day. Keep it simple.

Wake up early or stay up late to take some time to yourself and be off the mama-clock. I wake up at 5am (I’m not much of a night owl these days), about an hour and a half to two hours before my girls. I have time to drink coffee, watch the sunrise, read, journal, meditate, yoga, hair and make up. It’s wonderful. And super cheap. I do it everyday, feel awesome, and don’t worry about breaking the bank.

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Breaking a habit and replacing it with a new one will be challenging. Sometimes you will use all of your strength and still mess up. Luckily, there is always a new moment. You don’t need to wait until tomorrow, Monday, or even next year. You start again in the next moment. Give yourself mercy and grace in every moment. Holding onto your mess ups as failures will flood you with guilt. View the defeat as a teaching opportunity. Feel the discomfort and grow.

Believe in yourself. You have the power it takes to change.