As a mom of two young children, I understand the constant pull of societal pressures and the never-ending to-do list that comes with parenting. It can be overwhelming trying to navigate the fast-paced world we live in while also staying true to ourselves and our family's values. But I'm here to tell you, it is possible. And it's not only possible but also essential to our well-being and our children's.
First, it's important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. What works for one family may not work for another, and that's okay. Don't compare yourself to others or feel guilty for not following the "norm." Trust your instincts and do what feels right for your family. Embrace your unique parenting style and be proud of it.
One way to stay true to yourself and your family's values is by setting priorities. We all have a finite amount of time and energy, so it's essential to focus on what truly matters to you and your family. This could be spending quality time together, traveling, homeschooling, or being involved in your church or community. Whatever it is, make sure it aligns with your values and bring joy to your family. And it's okay to change your priorities as your family evolves, it's a natural part of life.
Sometimes we can find ourselves being dogmatic about all the "shoulds" we think we need to have in our lives. We compare, we stretch ourselves too thin, and we take for granted all that we DO accomplish, writing it off as mundane or "not enough". But sometimes a few pursuits that hold your whole heart are more rewarding and foundational than spreading ourselves across too many commitments.
One practical way to set priorities is to keep a journal or a calendar, where you can write down your goals, family activities and important dates. This will help you to have a clear picture of what you're trying to achieve and make adjustments as needed. Another way is to make a "no" list. Write down all the things you don't want to do, or don't want to commit to, and it will be much easier to say no to them when they come up. Sometimes we can feel guilty saying no, but it just means we are saving ourselves for those things that we have identified as being most important to our family and our values.
Another tip is to practice mindfulness. Take a step back and evaluate your daily routines and activities. Are they bringing you and your family fulfillment? Are they in line with your values? If not, it may be time to make a change. You can start by taking a few minutes each day to reflect and meditate or doing a gratitude journal. This will help you to be more present and aware of your surroundings and your feelings, and to make better decisions. It offers a time of quiet, reflection, and clarity, which is increasingly difficult in our fast-paced world, but it's so helpful to push back against the constant state of hustle and insist on saving that time to stay true to your goals for your family.
Additionally, don't be afraid to seek out support and advice from others. Whether it's a trusted friend or a professional counselor, talking through your struggles and triumphs can be incredibly helpful. And remember, it's okay to ask for help! We all need it at some point. Especially as a parent, it's vital to have a support system in place, people you can rely on, and who can offer you a different perspective. Therapy has been life-changing in my own life and has equipped me so much more as a wife, parent, and individual. Small groups of like-minded people have also been so encouraging and helpful, as you have a sense of community to hold you accountable, cheer you on, and offer insight from the outside.
Another thing to consider is the balance between your personal life and the life of your family. It's essential to have time for yourself, to pursue your own interests, and to have some "me time." This will help you to recharge your batteries and to be a better parent. It's also important to have time for your partner, for your relationship, as it's the foundation of your family. Make sure to schedule date nights, or weekend getaways, and to keep the spark alive.
Similarly, sometimes instead of pulling away, it's helpful to actually lean in. Sometimes when I have a weekend away, it feels like it wasn't enough or it's hard to get back into the swing of things with family life. But when I pray for a changed heart to be more oriented toward investing in my kids and enjoying this fleeting time with them to the fullest, it really rejuvenates my endeavors as a mom. I see opportunities to connect with them and have fun together, and find more gratitude in the current stage of life. So if you're feeling disconnected or discouraged, perhaps a family fun date or a one-on-one connection with a child can change perspective and bring a refreshed sense of relationship.
Lastly, it's vital to remember that parenting is a journey and not a destination. We will make mistakes, and that's okay. We will have good days and bad days. And that's okay too. The beauty of it is that we get to learn and grow alongside our children. So, take a deep breath, trust yourself, and enjoy the ride. The fact that you're aware of this stuff is a huge accomplishment in the first place! :)