I am a flawed mother. Deeply flawed. If I ensure one thing then I inevitably forget the other. There has been days [thankfully not too many], when I honestly couldn’t tell if I’d fed my child 3 meals that day. I’m that kind of flawed. Motherhood has been the single most challenging task for me to adapt to.
I see mothers around me all the time, capable, strong – epitome of patience & persistence. Who are relentless in making sure that their kids get 3 healthy meals a day, become math whizzes and reach the height of their extra- curricular excellence – they make sure of it all on top of earning a living, maintaining a family & heading the child’s school board council. I’m not one of those super women.
As I’m writing this sitting in a restaurant watching over Ariana in the play area through the glass door, I see such a super woman come & sit on the next table. She has 4 kids & looks as impeccable as a freshly napped soul. And here I am, looking like a bum, half paranoid about being at Mcdonald’s at 8 pm on a Friday night and half excited for writing on my new netbook!
So what I was saying… I haven’t figured out how those women juggle so many balls so skillfully and put on so many hats – transitioning from one to another with skillful elegance. I always felt inadequate & intimidated in the presence of them.
Since I had to pick my priorities carefully in order to make sure that the important things are covered; I had to be really choosy on what I’ll invest my energy when it comes to raising Ariana. I’ve narrowed it down to these areas:
1. Begin with the end in mind. Make a vision board.
I found Steven Covey’s philosophy hugely beneficial. We not only need to be the cheer leaders to encourage them to BE their best, but before, we need to help them figure out WHO THEY WANT TO BE. I think it’s the biggest favor any parent can do to their children to help them find their own map & not make them follow our map of unfulfilled dreams.
See what ticks them, their natural inclinations. Does she love to draw? Then set a high benchmark & start communicating that with her. Call her an artist. Demonstrate what being an ‘artist’ looks like? Make a vision board or a pictorial representation so that she identifies with it. Encourage her to keep making art frequently. Create an environment so that she effortlessly slides in that activity. Begin with the end in mind.
2. Make it an everyday ritual with a practice sheet.
If I’ve learned anything about being great at what we do, it’s this – we must develop a DEEP PRACTICE. That means, doing something over & over & over again, slowly & deeply, then over & over & over again. Wash, rinse & repeat –until it becomes second nature. Until it becomes – that’s just what she does every day!
Make the piano practice an everyday ritual for her where she gets to check her practice sheet. Set a timer, even for 10 minutes. And stop the moment the ringer goes off. Give her a reward when she practices 5 days a week.
3. The power of spoken words, say it as you want it!
This is so very crucial in giving our children a healthy mindset so that they won’t need to overhaul their old system over & over again. The bottom line is – speak as you WANT IT TO BE. ‘Mommy, I absolutely positively HATE daal, bhat & veggies’ needs to become ‘I’m going to try to enjoy daal, bhat & veggies as best as I can.’ ‘I’m surely failing this swimming test’ gets questioned – is that how you want it? NO. So how do you want it? I want to pass! So say it… say that I’m passing this swimming test and going to level 4 & getting mommy bankrupt over the 10 toys that I’m going to win as per our agreement!’
It’s really simple. Not easy, but simple. You just need to practice about 563,749 times before they start to get the hang of it!
4. Keep a gratitude log.
When we teach them to count their blessings from an early age, we build a lifelong asset that will help them in ways beyond you’ll ever know. Yes mom. It’s absolutely possible. Even on top of the daily homework & piano practice. Take them to chapters, buy them the cutest journal / diary that THEY want & let them write on it every single day. Again, you have to be patient & focused through their innumerable excuses of how they can’t find even ONE thing to be thankful for let alone 5! You stay firm & help them excavate – they’ll thank you when they grow up.
5. They’re their own best friend, watch the inner dialog.
It ultimately boils down to this – positive self image & strong sense of self worth. This is specially true if you’re raising girls. Unfortunately, they are more susceptible to the screwed up messages they are constantly receiving through media & our overall surroundings. It’s important to train them to build their inner talks with positive messages. That brings us back to the power of spoken words. The more we gently bring them back to positive spoken words; the inner dialogue also becomes positive.
Catch them saying self-defeating words. Gently ask them if that’s how they’d treat their friends. If not, then why are they saying that TO themselves? It’s all about relentlessly bringing them back when they drift away. You just need to be patient & persistent – about the first 7-8 years. By then, you’ve successfully set their automatic switches to the positive tunes.
6. Teach them to trust their bodies.
It is amazing how much wisdom our bodies hold & how it literally guides us to our authentic life. Our bodies are one of the greatest vehicles that we’ve been gifted to carry us through life. Our bodies communicate by various sensations – in an oversimplified example – by feeling expansive & free when we’re someplace that’s good for us; and queasy / nauseated when we’re not! The human body works as a compass while steering through life.
It’s also sad how we don’t always consciously learn how to trust the wisdom of our bodies from childhood. A healthy connection with the body can deter eating disorders, many diseases & many wrong turns when we learn to pay attention & listen to what it wants to say. The practice can start by helping them name various emotions.How does happy / sad/ angry / joyful / tired / energetic feel in their body? Helping them be aware of it is a great way to get them connected to their innate wisdom.
All parents have natural instincts when it comes to raising their children. Would love to know what works for you in raising your children!