10 on 10: Becoming a Better Parent February 10, 2013 08:29

Starting today, each month we’re going to share a list of 10 on the 10th; 10 fun ideas for rainy days, 10 ways to go green, 10 favorite recipes, etc. This month, it’s 10 ways to be a better parent. I’m a perfectionist, and while I realize parenting is not a perfect science, I do always try to better myself for the benefit of my family and my personal happiness. So here are 10 things I’m doing to try and be a better parent.

1.     Sleep – It seems I never get enough, but I’m my best self on days following a solid 8 hours. Since my kids often wake in the night and I have an early riser on my hands, this means I need to go to bed early. It’s hard for me but it pays off.

2.     Fresh air – My best friend always made a point to go for a walk when she was struggling with post-baby blues. Her determination to get outside everyday made me realize I needed it too. I always feel better about things after a good dose of outdoor air – even if it’s cold and wet.

3.     Down time – I tend to get bored very easily, but when a recent bout of illness through the entire family caused us to be homebound for more than seven days straight, my husband observed how much calmer and patient I seemed to be. Even when schedules get crazy, I try hard to set aside down time with my kids every single day.

4.     Perspective – Whenever things seem to get hard or stressful, I take a step back and remind myself how good we have it. Family close by, healthy children, a roof over our head, healthy food to eat, money for recreation. That’s a crazy amount of blessings – more than what many others have.

5.     Let go – Guilt plagues so many moms (and dads too) from day one of pregnancy. Even more so than going to bed early, letting go of guilt is really tough for me. But guilt is like poison and the more you feel it, the more it will seep into your relationships. So let go of that guilt!

6.     Being me – Whatever you loved to do before you had kids, keep doing it. Your needs may often take a backseat, but don’t lose yourself completely. Someday your time will be yours again, and you want to recognize the person in the mirror. Plus, your kids will largely benefit from energized and happy parents.

7.     Silver tongue – I’m constantly telling my kids to ‘use your words.’ To set a good example, I use good words. I want my kids to grow up to know the art of giving a compliment, articulating appreciation and truthfully sharing their feelings, so I make a strong effort to model the behavior.

8.     Accept Authority – My boys often call me a bad guy when I’m implementing a consequence of their actions. Being the ‘bad guy’ is not a fun job. Especially for those of us who are forever young, providing discipline is hard. I’m trying to accept my authority as a parent and be authoritative and firm while still being kind and understanding.

9.     Etiquette – I’ll admit I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to manners. I think it is important for kids to learn to be polite as a way to show respect for those around them. I’m still working on effective and creative ways to help teach manners (you know, as an alternative to being a broken record repeating ‘what’s the magic word?’ over and over), but whatever the method, manners must be taught and learned.

10. Expectations – Very early on as a new mom, I realized the importance of letting go of expectations. Kids are kids, and we need to let them be kids. Stop expecting so much of your kids, your partner and yourself. This doesn’t mean you should have low standards, it simply means be realistic.