I'm going to take a wild guess that you want to be a better parent. Most of us do. Parenting is one of the only jobs with zero training or experience required where we hand out full responsibility for a human life and say "Good Luck!"
You may feel that if you spend more time with your child, if you buy that baby miracle learning machine, if you got your child into the best school district, if you moved to a bigger house, if you spoke two languages at home, if you did all those crafty projects from Pinterest THEN you would be a better parent.
It's actually much simpler than that.
Being a better parent isn't about reading more books, taking your child to 3 after school classes, or buying the best toys/education/house/etc. It's how you take care of yourself.
No, really. Of the hundreds of parents I've worked with, the ones who feel most calm, most in control and were handling their children with grace had purposefully designed their mindset, routines, and environments to best support their needs as an adult and as a parent. Adopt these six ideas as priorities in your life, and you will become a better parent too.
A well-designed environment
Your environment is the physical, emotional, and cultural spaces that influence every aspect of your life. They make things easy, or they get in your way. Think about how much easier it is to cook when you have all your ingredients ready at your fingertips. A space that enforces limits, offers independence, and is easy to tidy goes a long way towards parent well-being.
Did you know you can design the best space for your children in under 2 hours with an online home design project? Learn more here.
An attitude of guidance
Most of us do too much for our children. We over-help, entertain and attempt to keep them happy all the time. Adopting the role of guide instead of Mrs. Fix-it takes the pressure off you while supporting your children's needs for independence, problem solving, and practice.
A strong support system
Parenting is difficult and demanding, and you can only do so much yourself. Keep around a team to back you up, people you trust who can give you a break. This might be your spouse or partner, close family or friends, or an online community who can offer an answer to "should I be concerned about this?" and cheer you on.
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Clear values about what matters most to your family.
Your values and lifestyle will determine which parenting methods will work best for you, and how to design your environment. Spend some time considering what to make space and time for in your life, what matters most to you.
Judicious consumption of parenting advice.
I'm sure you've noticed by now that there is SO MUCH parenting advice and information available. Reading and adopting all of these ideas will drive you crazy and isn't helpful. Find a few experts you trust to help you filter out the noise and get the information you need.
Curious, light-hearted, flexible mindset
Things are going to go wrong. Instead of beating yourself up, approach these moments with an attitude of light-hearted curiosity (hmm, I wonder why that didn't work this time) and remain flexible in your thinking and actions. Adopting a not-yet attitude works for adults too!
So, how will you take care of yourself to become a better parent? Share your intentions with us on Facebook! And, if you want my help putting these ideas into action, just drop me a note and we'll make it happen!
Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. She particularly loves to hear from you! You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions.