Parenting is anything but static. (Source: Getty Images)
As we roll, slide, walk or crawl our way into the new year, it's natural to take stock of the year gone by. We then proceed to make resolutions or set goals for ourselves for the coming year. We decide we want to eat healthier, stick to our exercise regime, carve out a little more time for ourselves and our loved ones and strive to achieve that elusive work-life balance that we all keep chasing. But, the one thing that many of us don't do is take stock of our parenting in the year gone by and set parenting goals for ourselves.
As we've all realised by now, parenting isn't easy. Parenting is frustrating, messy and guilt-ridden but it's also meaningful, joyous and fills you up from deep within with this warm, fuzzy feeling. Parenting is anything but static. As our children grow, develop and change, we also need to grow, develop and change with them. As their emotional, physical or developmental requirements evolve, our strategies and ability to cater to those requirements needs to evolve too. So, before you get caught up in the hustle bustle of the coming year, while you're setting your planners and calendars in place, deciding on your schedule and routine for the coming year, take a bit of time out to reflect on your parenting in the last year.
Sit quietly by yourself, maybe with a hot cuppa by your side and jot down your thoughts. Look back at the year and think about all the things that worked out. We spend so much time thinking about our struggles that we fail to recognise and celebrate the smaller victories. Every time, you've said to yourself, "Yes, I'm doing something right", think about all the different milestones that you and your child have achieved together.
Not just the academic ones, but all the million little things that we take for granted. The time that he slept through the night. The time that she finished everything on her plate and asked for a second helping. The time that you started to yell but stopped yourself. The time you apologised for losing your temper. The time that he spilt the milk but got a cloth to clean it up himself. The time where you were able to put away your worries and be present in the moment. The time that he helped his grandparent out of the chair. As you write, don't focus on the things that you didn't get right. Focus on the things you did. Think about how your child has grown and developed, as have you.
And now, look ahead. Think of the year to come. Think of how old your child is turning. What will he be able to do this year? What might his challenges be? Will he be going to a new class or a new school? Will he have to make new friends? Will he be sleeping in his own room now? Will his academic pressures increase? Will he have the time and attention of both parents? Once you've identified his potential challenges, think about yours. Think about the issues that you've struggled with. For some of us, it could be 'being present' in the moment. For others, it could be losing your temper or an inability to say no.
Sometimes, being consistent or following through is a challenge for us. By being aware of the areas that we find challenging, we can put steps in place or use tools at our disposal to help us work around our limitations. If we lose our temper easily, practice stepping away from the situation. I used to tell my children, that I had a temper meter and when it hit '10', I would yell. It allowed them and me time to control our reactions. If I was starting to get frustrated, I would tell them that my temper meter is going up and they needed to dial it down, if they didn't want me to yell. This was a tool that worked to help me moderate my reactions.
But, the first step is to be aware. Once we are able to identify our challenges or limitations, it's easier to make changes to our parenting approach and use the tools available to us. By pausing to introspect and reflect on your parenting trials and tribulations, you are instilling a growth mindset in your parenting approach. And both you and your child will benefit from it.