True confession: many times I don’t feel like I’m “living up to” what I should be as a parent. I know lots and lots of dads and moms feel this way, but sometimes it feels like an extra weight on my shoulders. After all… I wrote a parenting book, for crying out loud. Are my kids going to be like the cobbler’s kids who have no shoes? Am I the one who has great ideas for everybody else’s kids, but not my own? It’s a lot of pressure, not going to lie. I read a lot about parenting. Blogs… articles… listicles… books. Sometimes I think it helps. Sometimes I know it doesn’t. For me, the struggle is not in knowing what to do, but in actually applying that knowledge. It’s like being healthy. Everybody knows that going for a jog and not eating cheese fries is healthy, but going for a jog is a lot of work, and the cheese fries are convenient.
So what helps? Well… here’s one thing that has been working for me. It’s super simple. I didn’t do it for you (or y’all as we say in Texas). I did it for me, but since it’s working, I thought I’d share it. It’s really easy. Embarrassingly easy. Ready?
I wrote down some goals.
I stuck them on my cabinet.
I read them every morning while I wait (impatiently) for my coffee to brew.
That is it. Seriously. Nothing else. I don’t achieve all of the goals every day, but they’re there. It’s like parenting food for my brain. I’m going to share my goals with you, but I don’t think you should just copy them. I think you should write your own. Here are some tips that will help you:
- Don’t overthink them. You probably have an idea about what will help you in your parenting. In fact. I know you know what to do. Sit down and write them down.
- Try to frame them in the positive. Instead of “don’t yell” write “Speak calmly.” Don’t we have enough voices trying to judge us already? We don’t need to judge ourselves.
- No more than… say… 12. I mean… how many goals can you reasonably have? I wasn’t aiming for 10, but 10 came out. There are 10 commandments. Seems like a good number. But you can have up to 12.
- Just do you. Think of things that are realistic for you. I wanted to put something like “no screen time” on mine. Not realistic. My boys are going to watch Daniel Tiger every single day. I’m fine with that. I’m not judging myself against somebody else’s parenting. I’m judging myself against mine
- Get extra help if you need it. This is the hardest part, but if you need help with your parenting, you can get it! Find a coach. Reach out to a friend. Don’t do it alone; We’re all in this together!
There you have it. Good luck! If it helps to share yours, I’d love to see them! Post a link to your pictures here.
My goals for parenting Clayton and Samuel
- Look them in the eye.
- Notice what they are doing and talk about it.
- Focus on them individually and together each day.
- Avoid working on other things when it is our time.
- Include them in chores and tasks.
- Sing to them.
- Read to them.
- Create art.
- Say yes whenever possible (even creatively).
- Keep a quiet voice and non-towering presence.