By Kelly Oriard | mom of 2, Slumberkins co-founder
There are many difficult moments in the life of a parent - to say the least. I had many ideas about who I would be as a mother, most of which completely unraveled as I set into the reality of the complete paradox of becoming a mom. With two amazing, sweet, and spirited little boys, Aidan (5) and Olli (3), there are the messy moments, frustrating moments, and straight up out-of-control moments. I’m not going to pretend that all those moments fill my heart with delight. It’s easy to love the sweet moments; the times our child snuggles in close, says something kind, or is... fast asleep. But the times they are tracking mud through the house with their boots, or defiantly telling me they will NOT eat that food I made for them... those moments are usually not as fun or joyful, right? It’s not just me is it?
What I know from my training as a therapist and who I (actually) am when I show up at home, often do not really resemble each other all that closely. BUT WHHYYYY?!?! I learned all about this stuff so I could be a “good mom” and I know in my head all the right things to say! I can tell all of you and all my friends how to approach raising an emotionally healthy child, so why are there parts of me that pop up and sabotage all my good intentions? Well, my therapist training started to answer that question for me when I was in school, but it wasn’t until I was living the #momlife and needing to seek my own therapist that I truly started to grasp what was happening. Most of my reactivity with my kids comes from old patterns and ways that I was raised, what I personally experienced as a child. Ways that I was spoken to, punished or praised all of a sudden were showing up when I was in my most vulnerable and overwhelmed state and I could almost see it happening. I didn’t want to, but I was not responding in those moments, I was reacting and passing down family patterns and rules. I was shutting down parts of my kids that were shut down in me as a child. Most of the time, these moments happen in the chaos of life, one muddy footstep at a time or pea thrown on the ground.
So, how do we actually change course? How can we encourage the beautiful parts of our children when all we see is the mess? All we hear is the whining? The screaming? The fighting? We need to REFRAME it. For ourselves and for our kids. Those big little feelings need to be acknowledged, validated and appreciated. These are the same feelings that will guide their behavior and self-worth when they are adults. Our children NEED us to see their inherent strengths and goodness, so they don’t lose sight of that as they grow up.
The messy glitter all over the kitchen for an art project--- Creativity at its finest!
Child refusing to eat the lunch I just made--- Knows what he wants, has strong will.
Found my child putting makeup all over their face--- Love the curiosity to try something new!
Child is defiant, screaming NO to me--- My child trusts me enough to show big emotions.
Does seeing the positive in the moment mean that we just let our children do whatever they want? Of course not! Continue to set boundaries as normal. These are REFRAMES for your own mind. Notice how shifting your mindset around the behavior shifts your approach and emotion behind the boundary setting. You may notice that children show increased compliance in these moments, when we can remain calm and in positive connection with them when these things occur.
Now here is the big A-HA moment that is part of my life’s work. Thinking this way isn’t just for our children, we must do it for ourselves too. Our children are so tuned into us, they are WIRED for survival to be. They see and feel more than we give them credit for. If you are harsh with yourself and don’t do this work inside your own mind, you will likely see it surface in your child at some point. There is no end to this process (hence life work) but the more we practice reframing imperfect moments, the better we get at it. Here are some examples:
I was so lazy today-- I LOVE my ability to prioritize leisure
My house is a mess-- I LOVE how live-in-the-moment we are as a family
Ugg, I forgot to do that thing-- I LOVE how human I am, and how I learn from my mistakes
I feel horrible I lost my temper today-- I LOVE my integrity and ability to take responsibility for my actions
What are some things you are especially hard on yourself for? What would it look like and feel like to find the positive in that moment? Feel free to share in our comments section below or on our social media handle @slumberkins. Learning to reframe things can feel awkward or even cheesy at first. That’s normal. It’s because you are literally building a new thought pathway in your brain. Strengthen this new pathway with practice. It’s usually best to practice when you are in a calm and relaxed state. Find the humor in the moment, and the more we practice, the better we get. I can’t wait to hear all about the imperfect moments from you all and the reframes.