One thing I have learned about parenthood is to be on top of things, be the best you can be in this job and always, always be on top of your game. I say this from learning experiences, meaning I have learned quickly after giving birth to my two boys that life with kids is never predictable, but you can prepare by setting some ground rules and sticking with them. Sadly, it is so easy to slack and not be consistent when life hits you; every day challenges of being an adult, never mind parental duties added to that, can leave you just not wanting to fight that good parental fight. It happens to the best of us, we are so tired that anything goes because we just can’t. Some days the mere thought of being consistent just sounds so exhausting, but lucky for us, our kids usually can adapt and get back on track; if you do.
For slightly over the last year or so I have started to lose myself, honestly, it started about two years ago and every so often I end up in a situation that I chose incorrectly or maybe I didn’t chose it incorrectly, I simply went that path because it was intended to be another learning experience when I had thought it was something else. This time around, my environmental change has made me start to slack as a parent, and I didn’t realize how much I had slacked until I start talking about “how I do things”, reality is, I haven’t done things my way in a long time.
I can cite some examples that I completely messed up, it didn’t happen all of a sudden either, each of these thing slowly ended up here:
- Sitting at the dinner table for dinner was always a rule, not an option, but somewhere in the last couple of years that has gone completely out the window. No longer does my family sit together as a whole and that needs to change. There’s a reason I firmly believe in sitting around the table for one meal a day together, it helps keep the bond strong and communication open between everyone in the household.
- You must at least try what is cooked for dinner, no choice otherwise; this is something that had been fully enforced since my first born was brought into this world nearly 13 years ago. At some point I started cooking a quick, not healthy, meal for the boys because well my older one just stopped following the “rule” that I had no longer enforced, thus started to eat unhealthy options and thinking he can demand he won’t eat dinner that I cooked. My youngest is picky, but he used to go without dinner if he didn’t try what I cooked, pediatrician assured me the child wouldn’t starve if I stuck strong with this rule – just advised me to add a vitamin to his diet.
- Strict timeframes on any electronic time, I was always good at keeping a balance between electronics, outdoor play, pretend play, art time and even board game time. Again, that balance ended when I started living in the environment I am currently living in. I have let my oldest son, high functioning autistic, have more time than necessary on his YouTube videos to the point he started to pull away from all of the progress I had worked on to get him more interactive with his siblings and family.
I am sure the list could go on, and while my situation is unique because this is on me, no one else, as the other parents of my children do not live with me. I have had a partner, who is also a father to teenagers, but that is part of why I started to sink down this path. We both are two different people as well as two different parental types and as time went on, I just started being exhausted, from trying my hardest with his two kids and with our relationship; it has nearly depleted me. I slacked off. I became inconsistent, yet it took me time to realize that over the last two years I had done this, it is as if I woke up recently and went “who is this person I have become”, “this is not me and not how I parent”; I simply woke up.
Once I had that awakening moment, I realized I need to quickly nip this stuff in the butt and as time is going on, I work on the things I started slacking off on slowly. The kids have come around to it and I am sure in time I will be back to being that consistent, rule enforcing mama, because the one thing I am 100% sure about in my life right now is this: It is my first priority to be a consistent parent to raise three healthy, well rounded, balanced children who have respect for themselves and others. I am so disappointed in myself for not being so self-aware about these things, I am normally right on with anything I have to work on or when I become inconsistent but I was blinded by the outside stress of other areas and my kids paid for it, so to speak. No more. Enough is enough. This mama is back in business … time to ride the parental road strong, consistent and confidently back to the way I know things need to be.
When you realize you are being inconsistent, hop back on that parental bandwagon and start over again, kids are resilient and they will bounce back almost as quickly as you do! The most important lesson I have learned about parenthood is to STOP the guilt trips, no parent is perfect and we all parent differently, that is okay – the key is to be a parent, in whatever way works for your family.
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