The following post was written in partnership with Store Brand Formula.
When I found out I was having a child I could not see past the pregnancy and first few weeks of having a newborn. I worried about my baby’s health, her nutrition and her sleep. Would I breastfeed or give her formula? Would I swaddle or let her sleep in a romper? I also worried about my sleep. A lot. The shock of parenting, for me, is that they do grow up. Past the first few weeks when you are balancing diapers and snuggles, babies become children and raising children becomes the new challenge. Meshing individual personalities with the need to ‘raise’ them right can be hard. But, as a mom raising three daughters who are getting a lot more right than wrong, I have learned a few things along the way. My secret formulas to parenting success are easy to follow but sometimes hard to implement.
1. Be Consistent
By far, consistency in parenting is the hardest part of the job. We can quickly blurt out in a moment of anger, ‘You’re grounded!’ or ‘No TV for a year!’ and then have to backpedal when you realize that their sister’s birthday party is the next day or a year without TV makes your life a lot harder. The key to consistency, I have discovered, is by making small adjustments at a time. Lay out the circumstances ahead of time, a small one, like ‘Your favorite doll will go to time out for an hour.’, and then follow through if they break the rule. Every time. Consistency comes with smart and easy consequences that everyone can remember.
2. Be Truly Patient
A long time ago someone pointed out that children are ‘professional children.’ Meaning, they have this childhood thing down. We may have lived ours and can remember some things, but they are real time, only aware of being a kid. So they will test the limits and push buttons. It is their job. When we are patient, and I mean, really patient, kids get a chance to test and be corrected without too much of an uproar. But we have to, literally, let them push our buttons to learn. We have to take a lot of deep breaths, remind ourselves that this too will pass, and guide them calmly to the right decision making skills.
3. Be Creative
My best example of this is homework. Two of my three girls balk at homework daily. A while back I was ALL done. The arguing, the tears and the hours on end of complaining was just no fun at all. The kid’s resistance to homework was stressful too. So, one day, I changed it up. I decided that the entire time, while doing homework, we would all talk in an accent. By the time the laughter died down and the kids lost interest in the accent, the homework was done. Now I try to introduce a new, creative idea, every time we have to do it.
4. Let Them Be Them
While we all can see qualities we possess in our kids, the truth is that they are individuals with their own ideas. I have the hardest time parenting when I am trying to get them to do something I want them to do. It is hard when they don’t want to go down a path that we really want for them. But we have to let them be them while gently guiding them on how to be the best they can be.
5. Admit it is OK to Not Know the Answer
There have been several instances where I have no idea what to say or do for my kids. When a lifelong friend decides not to play with them anymore. When a boy they like does not like them back. When they worked really hard and still did not do well on a test. I don’t have answers sometimes and it took me a while to be OK with that. I simply tell my girls that I don’t know what to do or say and offer them love and hugs. Not everything makes sense or has a parenting fix. It’s OK that the kids know that too.
Hopefully, my parenting formula will help you as we all navigate this parenting ride.