This blog post was written by Hannah Tovar.
Being a mother is something I would dream about as a little girl. It is all I ever wanted to be and something I knew I was called to be. However, becoming a mother didn’t come easy for me. I struggled with infertility for two years. Two of the hardest years of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world and would do it all over again. When I became a mother two years ago, I quickly learned that although I read every book on parenting known, there was still no “how to” manual for my baby. It was a dream come true, but learning how to balance it all was something I had to figure it out. And still figuring out. But my priority has and always be making my child my priority. Which can be hard between work, the errands, the laundry, the grocery shopping, not to mention keeping a house clean. I, by no means, have it all figured it out, but I am sharing some tips that have helped me stay connected with my little guy and not feel the overwhelming pressure of the business of life.
1.BE WHERE YOU ARE.
If you are at home with your kids on your day off, be with them 100%. Try not to think about work or stress about it. If your at work, be at work 100%. This has helped me to stay focused and not feel like I am all over the place. We all set boundaries in our life for different reasons, we need to set boundaries with our children too. Meaning, protect the time you have with them, because you will never get that exact moment back. One boundary I have is my phone. I set specific times to dedicate to my phone while Hudson is napping or asleep at night. Now this doesn’t mean I am unreachable, it just means that I am not scrolling through social media or emails while I should be digging in the dirt with my little boy. Life is not an emergency, it was meant to be enjoyed. You will also get a lot more out of your children when they know you are only focused on them.
2. MAKE LISTS AND HAVE A CALENDAR.
This has also helped me not to stress about deadlines or the list of things I have to do, because I know I have set time aside for it to get done and I can enjoy my little guy. It helps me utilize my time wisely. I make a list of things I need to get done by the week. Then I organize them by priority and schedule them by days. This prevents me from over committing in a day (or week) and taking away time with Hudson. Making lists also helps me get things done more efficiently then when I don’t. Sometimes I feel like I have so much to do I don’t even know where to start and before I know it, an hour has passed by and I have accomplished nothing. I also do the same with a calendar. I have a calendar for the month and then one for the week. I write down appts, meetings, play dates, and my blog deadlines. If it seems like a full week that I can not manage, I know I need to cut something out. This gives me plenty of time to cancel and adjust my time by priorities. For example: if you have a big event for work that week, don’t try and schedule a dinner date with a girlfriend, schedule that another week when there isn’t a lot going on.
3. PLAN SOMETHING SPECIAL AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK.
I’m not taking about a trip to Disneyland. Just something that you know your child would love and enjoy to do with you. It doesn’t even have to cost a lot of money. Sometimes let it be a surprise and other times let them pick. When I was little my mom would write mommy and me dates on little pieces of paper and put them in a jar and we would get to pick one. It was the best! Here are some things we love to do: *A special lunch in the park *Making a craft (or working on a school project) *Going for ice cream or frozen yogurt *Painting together *Going to the store and letting your child pick out a special candy and popcorn for a movie night *Trip to PetSmart to look at the animals and fish *Getting your nails done (if you have a girl) *After school coffee or smoothies date: my mom would do this every Friday with us kids and I will never forget it! *Saturday morning breakfast at Starbucks (or donut shop): We live within walking distance to a Starbucks, so we go for a walk and I get my cardio in too! *Bike Rides *Swimming: if you don’t have pool, check to see if your city has a community swim center with fun slides. You can also buy a family swimming pool for $30 (best investment we ever made) *If you have a couple of children who are older, having a one on one lunch or dinner date with them. Hudson loves to do this at Chick-fi-la *Have a Friday night camp out in the living room or on the floor in your child’s room (Hudson loves when we do this with the mattress!) *Get some glow sticks from the dollar store and bath crayons and paint and have a bath party! *And maybe your a working mom who just wants to be at home on your day off, set up a picnic lunch in the backyard.
4. MAKE IT YOUR MISSION TO MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD KNOWS YOU ARE THERE FOR THEM.
Telling them is great, but actually showing them is another. Children, humans in general, won’t always remember what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel. What I mean by this is, when you pick up your child from school or baseball practice, ask them how it went and actually listen. Engage in a conversation with them. This lets them know you have an open ear. Sometimes you have to sit and listen to their crazy stories, and actually pay attention. When you do it in the little things, they will trust you in the big things. Like if they are being picked on at school, or struggling with something. The more this happens the more of a bond and trust is created. A trust and bond you will want when they become teenagers, who naturally close themselves off. Prior to having Hudson, I spent a few years working with Jr. High and High School girls. Sometimes I would have different girls in my office struggling with the same issues, but I could tell which young girls had a bond with their parents and which ones did not, just by the way they talked. That space has to be created and it’s not too late to start. Hudson is two-years-old (almost three) and he will tell me to “sit with him.” What he means by that is he wants me there so he can tell me all about his dinosaurs and what cool line he made with all his trucks. If I am too busy looking at the TV or down at my phone while even sitting there, all I am communicating to him, is “what I am doing right now is more important”.
5. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE.
You will be a better mom because of it. We all make mistakes, WE ALL DO! It is so easy to compare ourselves to other mothers, even other women. All that does is drain you and rob you of every ounce of joy in you. You were given that child for a reason and God choose you to be their mother. No one can do it better than you. Your doing a great job. If you go to bed at the end of the day and feel like you could have done better (I do this all the time!) then try again the next day. Don’t beat yourself up. One thing I have learned in my experience with working with children and being a mother is, children are the most forgiving human beings in the world!