How do you give your kids your best? For when you do give them your best, you give them a healthy understanding of our world.
Here you are, with little people who see you as Mommy. Or Daddy. And you’re suddenly that person who’s supposed to be “in charge.”
Sometimes, when your mind has a few split seconds to wander, you pinch yourself and ask, “How did I get here? I thought only old people were parents, not me!”
I mean, perhaps you looked forward to it someday. But, having spent 18 years (or more) of your life as “the kid,” you never could’ve imagined the roles would switch. And, if you’re honest with yourself, it sometimes seems scary! What the h*ll is going on?!?
Maybe that’s not you. Maybe you have this parenting thing all figured out. If that’s you, I certainly applaud you. But, for the rest of us, it’s a learn-as-you-go job. And oh, there’s so much to learn!
You are standing in a unique space right now. I don’t know exactly how old your kid(s) are. I’ll imagine they’re 8 and under. That means you’re busy. Life often seems a blur.
How do you leverage the moments and truly give your kids your best?
And how do you cultivate in them a heart for this great big, messed up and hurting, but oh-so-beautiful world?
There are no one-size-fits-all prescriptions. But there are some key principles:
1 | Don’t neglect your own health and self care.
I cannot emphasize this enough. When you’re down, the kids feel it. Do whatever you can to take care of yourself with good food, exercise (squeeze it in, with or without them), and sleep. I know, I know! You wonder how you can get that last one. You have to fight for it! Choose it over doing “one more thing.” Try this, and see if it works.
2 | Nurture your marriage.
I know, many who read this may not be married. It’s possible you may be in a cohabiting relationship or a single-parenting situation. Here, I’m speaking about the value of nurturing – truly taking care of – the partnership upon which your kid’s lives are based – as much as that is possible. Don’t neglect it. Treat it with value. Give time to it. If your kids see it as shaky, it will make their world – and sometimes their self-esteem – shaky as well.
3 | As you are, so will your kid(s) become.
One wise friend told us early on, watch how you use and spend your time. If you are always busy, your kids will develop that as a value as well, and become busy themselves. Some of this has played out. Fortunately, my husband had a mellowing effect on our parenting. I feel as if our three kids picked some of that up. None of them seem to be the “busy bee” I once was. Whew!
4 | If you want your kids to care for others, you must show them you do, too.
If you focus only on your kids, they will come to see that they are to be the focus. Of course, you do not want to neglect them. But bringing other people into your life, especially with a mind for service (not just fun all the time), will communicate to them the value of serving, too.
We did that by serving in an outreach to international students for all the years our now young adult kids were growing up. Now, all of them have a heart towards service – and all three see their own futures connected with something international.
5 | Don’t be a tyrant gatekeeper when it comes to your kid’s tech use.
If you are, your kids will develop resentment. They'll see you as a barrier between them and what they want. Instead, find constructive ways of developing boundaries from the very beginning, and help your kids learn to self-monitor all along.
This is a huge topic and I'll write more about it in the future. But one principle you should follow from the earliest stages is this: All tech is a privilege and not a right. If you raise your kids with this thinking, especially from the earliest stages, then they will learn to value it better and, with some effort, you can gently and wisely lead them understand WHY using technology responsibly is good for them.
Ultimately, we need to keep the end game in mind. We are raising children to become responsible adults, even from the earliest stages. When we do, not only do we and our kids benefit, but so does our world.
And our world in 2019 needs, more than ever, healthy, grounded people for the challenges ahead.
What are ways you "fill your own cup" as a busy parent?