Imagine you have a trip planned. You’ve been looking forward to it for months and have done all of the things to prepare. The essentials are packed and,maybe, packed beyond what’s necessary- just to be safe. Everything is ready to go and the anticipation is mounting. You hop into the car, punch the destination into your GPS and off you go! Shortly into the trip, you hear the GPS say “recalculating.” While slightly frustrating, you notice that this recalculation is minor and doesn’t take you too far off your original route. You continue driving- it is relaxing and you are enjoying the beautiful scenery. All of a sudden you spot a sign that reads, “lane closed ahead.” Before you know it you are in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Now you’re annoyed, but you try to be calm. You decide to turn on a podcast and open a bag of snacks, although the plan was to eat those later on. Finally, traffic starts to move and you’re ready to roll again, but that trusty GPS has other plans. For a second time, it states, “recalculating.” All of a sudden your arrival time is pushed out over an hour. That was NOT part of the plan. You did not plan for traffic, detours, flat tires, weather advisories and recalculations. Your patience is almost on ‘E’ and though you contemplate just turning around and going back, you know you can’t. You’ve come too far to not complete the trip. In that moment, it is hard to enjoy the journey, even though you know the trip is worth it.
This is parenthood. Keep the following in mind as you find yourself running into traffic, detours, and accidents.
Give yourself grace. As parents we put so much pressure on ourselves. “New parents” are parents of their first infant. We give “new parents” lots of breaks and support. It is important to recognize that you are a new parent at every age and stage of your child. You are not supposed to know everything because this stage is new for you, too. Give yourself grace and work collaboratively with your child because there is not one size that fits all. Even if something works with one child, it might not work with the other. And that is okay. You will need to work to find the best route for each individual child.
Look through a different lens. What if instead of becoming angry and annoyed when things don’t go the way we want as parents, you decided to look through a different lens? When a child isn’t listening, look through a lens of understanding and accept that your child is struggling with something. If you can change your lens and look at it from another perspective, you and your child will be better able to work together to figure out a better way to get where you want to go.
Stop comparing. Do not compare your parenting to how others parent. Do not compare your kids to other kids. Do not compare someone’s highlight reel on social media to your real life. Instead, focus on the positive qualities that you provide in your role as a parent. Highlight the positive qualities of your children, no matter how difficult it may be.
Trust your gut. That’s right, your gut! You are the expert on your child. No one knows your child better than you. The mind can be so LOUD. It chatters incessantly, making us constantly question things. I would encourage you to remember that your gut rarely lies, although we often ignore it. If something feels wrong, it probably is. If your gut is telling you that you need help, it is okay to ask for directions.