3 Quick Tools to Simplify the “Hardest” Job in the World – Parenting!
Posted on October 8, 2019
A few weeks ago we discussed why parenting seems so hard. This week, I want to share three simple action tools that help you, the busy parent, align your goal of shifting from “hard parenting” to “smart parenting.” In order to do this, let’s play the “switch” game:
1. Consider everything hard a challenge:
Let’s say that you are faced with a difficult situation with your kids. You’re at the cusp of exploding. Your inner self is screaming, “This is soooo hard!” Now take five deep breaths to slow down your heart rate and get the dopamine flowing into your brain. Then “switch.” Switch the word “hard” with the word “challenge.” “This is soooo challenge.” If you realize that doesn’t sound right, you are coming to your senses. Now be grammatically correct, and reword that sentence: This is sooo challenging, or this is such a challenge. The minute we say that in our head, we are signaling our brain, body, and being to do what we always do when faced with a challenge: Step up, come up with a resolution, rise to the challenge.
This simple word switch relieves us from the weight of the heavy, unyielding word ”hard.” Switching to “challenge” inspires us to step up, roll up our pants, and wade in. We’re only ankle-deep in the problem, not drowning or gasping for breath.
2. Explore the core (with honesty):
Let’s say that your child is resisting, procrastinating, and complaining about everything: I don’t like this snack. I’ll do my homework later. My tummy is hurting. You’re at your rope’s end already, and you just got home 20 minutes ago. You’re about ready to ship him back off to school or scream, “That’s it. You’re grounded!”
Take five deep breaths to slow down your heart rate and get the feel-good dopamine flowing into your brain. Then “switch.” Switch the words, “You’re grounded” to “Let’s explore.” Yes, “Let’s explore.” Now drop everything, and literally explore the core of the issue with exploratory questions like, “How was your day?” If the answer you get is, “Fine,” or “I don’t want to talk about it,” use leading words: “Are you tired? Was it a long day?” I promise you this will strike up a conversation and lead you in a productive direction instead of aimlessly wandering the “grounding” swamp.
Explore your core, too. Have you had a long day? Maybe you woke up at 4:30 a.m. and have been going ever since. Or maybe you had a rough day at work or a tricky situation with a friend or a co-worker or your boss. And if that’s the case then be honest and reflect.
3. Reflect, reconnect, and redirect:
If you’ve caught yourself before you exploded, and playing the switch game has gotten you on your way to resolve, congratulations! If, however, you have already reacted, know that redemption is totally possible when you reflect, reconnect, and redirect! Don’t stop, though, with the feeling that you were wrong. Reflect on how to make the wrong right. Don’t just think about the brighter side; actually switch to the brighter side. Here’s an excerpt from my book, The “Perfect” Parent that discusses this tool:
When we commit to reflect, it helps us redirect a situation in the direction of progress, which is growth. Why is a trying issue called a “challenge”? Because it challenges us to evolve and grow. Challenges are invitations for us to use our intellect to understand and redirect our emotions, to make better choices so we can guide ourselves and our children toward breakthrough emotions and communication. This is how we can reconnect with ourselves and our kids! By simply taking a moment to reflect on our own true feelings or behavior, we can enter wholeheartedly to reconnect with and redirect our children.
Rise to the challenge. Be open to explore the implosion before the explosion. Redirect your young troops, and reconnect with them by simply being open to reflect. This is what champions do. This is what leaders do. And you definitely are both for your children!
So when you’re feeling that parenting is so hard, Remember to switch—rise to the “challenge,” explore, reflect…and grow.
Here’s a statement that we all have made at some point in time while parenting. Some more often than others. But why is it that the most gratifying experience of our life is often awarded “the hardest job in the world” title?
Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is…” Parenthood is all about not just thinking but also feeling, not to mention all the physical labor that goes into it. It’s a Whole Body experience. Our children and our concerns for their well-being challenge our physical abilities, our intellect, and our emotions. There are constant questions: from what diapers and formula to choose, to what vaccines they need, to how will they deal with the separation anxiety in preschool, to how will they respond to peer pressure in high school, to what college will be the right fit for them, to will they pick the right partner to spend their lives with, to will they know how to put their careers aside to make their children a priority, to will they be around to take care of us?
All of the above arise from a deep concern that I and all parents have about the CHOICES that they will (or will not!) make to benefit the new growth phases of their lives. The truth is that the more we think about our children and their future the harder it is for us. By worrying so much about them, we lose all this precious time that we could be spending enjoying the experience of parenthood. The “JOB” is not as hard as the “WORRYING” that nearly always comes with it.
1. Do the best job you can do. Children will learn best by example. We are all the products of our environment. Focus on providing them a good, healthy, nurturing environment as best as you can.
2. Mis-takes are takes that are missed. They will be plenty more opportunities to make right if you or they have wronged sometimes. Mistakes are made to learn from. Keep the big question, “What can be learned from this?” right by any mistake that they or you make.
3. When worry strikes you, LET GO and FLOW. Know that, just like you made it this far, they will too. We tend to rob ourselves of being present by allowing our brains to over-think into the future.
– Allow the future to arrive at its own pace, unfurling its secrets when it will –
4. Treasure this gift of life and this role of parenting and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! As Neil Postman said, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” They are our messengers of love.
5. LAUGH out loud with them. Laughter magically pops suppressed emotions, yours and theirs.
6. Tell them you love them. EVERYDAY! There is no stronger affirmation than “I love you,” especially when you’re mad at them. Love heals!
At the end of life, we are remembered by the relationships that we leave behind. Gravestones read “mother, father, daughter, son, wife…” not “CEO, customer service representative, President or homemaker”… it’s all about the relationships and amongst relationships, the words “mother,” “father,” or “child” come first. Because as hard as parenting might seem now, it is the most profound, concrete, gratifying, trying, and important job you’ll ever do.
Live your present with a clear perspective of the end and you’ll replace the words “hardest job in the world” with the “most loving job in the world” in a jiffy.