In Australia, we’re very fortunate. Mums and some dads can take months off after having children. This is a remarkable opportunity to bond with our children and re-evaluate our life as our priorities shift with the welcoming of new, impressionable persons into our households.
When a new baby arrives it’s a constant source of joy and worry.
Is my baby putting on weight? Is he developing properly? How do I ensure she’s smart? What can I do and what courses can I enrol him in so that he gets the best chance of succeeding in life?
These are the thoughts on most mums’ and dads’ minds. Some parents bring corporate or military efficiency into the home from their workplace in hopes that strategies and action plans applied to their household will mean that the children thrive and grow up to be highly functioning members of society.
I fall into that category.
The truth is, no two days will be the same in the early years. Lucy is now two and she’s transitioned, as have her peers from having several naps to no naps, at varying hours of the day with bedtime routines constantly changing as we also try to find the best arrangement for everyone.
It’s constant trial and error.
I function best when I get my writing out before the others wake up. If I don’t get any writing out before my family’s up, I feel mentally constipated, irritable, low on patience. What a terrible way to start a day. What a rip off of my own time and others’ time.
Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to know that Lucy will not in most cases wake up before 6:30am so my window to write starts at 5am. Before I get into the blog writing, I journal and meditate ensuring that my inspiration well is filled.
I’m also seeing some of these changes in the mums around me. I’m not certain whether the dads are going through any changes, adjusting the way they live, work and their habits in any way because I don’t get to have lengthy conversations with them. As for my partner, he’s changed in subtle ways too, putting a greater emphasis on his health and being conscious of how much he and I use our phones.
It’s encouraging to see greater awareness in us. Because children are monkey-see, monkey-do. Whatever they see from us, they will imitate. They won’t listen to what we say but will do as we do.
Some positive changes I’m seeing in myself and other mums are:
- Greater Connection with Self and Others
With motherhood, one experiences a profound connection with another being, their own child. You start experiencing the world through their eyes.
When they’re joyous, you feel intense joy and when they’re sick, you feel awful. There’s a rush of empathy that comes into your life and in most cases, you can apply this newly found empathy to feel for others.
I cry a whole lot more than I used to.
Mothers going back to the workplace will bring a whole new perspective and not to mention higher EQ. This will mean they will feel people deeply and that’s a very positive thing as connections, relationships and what is known as soft-skills are becoming ever more important as corporations place emphasis on culture over strategy and tactics.
Our children are intensely in touch with their feelings. Maybe observing them give out so much joy or go deep into the doldrums of distress when they can’t get what they want, puts us in touch with our own feelings too. These days, rather than thinking things through, I’m more prone to feel myself out of situations.
- Don’t Try to Stick to Deadlines for Developmental Milestones
I started my motherhood journey with to-do lists of errands and learning lessons and activities to do with Lucy. I’d sometimes tell myself things like “So and so’s children knows all the colours. Make sure you study all the colours with Lucy so she can recite the primary colours at least…” Of course, children don’t absorb what you want them to absorb.
Their learning process seems random and idiosyncratic.
Different children have grasp of different concepts. Some can count to ten, some can sing, some dance, some don’t speak, some run super fast…
There’s nothing at all wrong with any of them.
Different people have different aptitudes and a child that didn’t say a word until about last week now forms full sentences so it’s a waste of energy to focus on what other children are doing that your kid isn’t doing.
Learn to enjoy what they can do.
By the same token, don’t beat yourself up by comparing yourself to others. We all function a little differently and have different stuff we’re good at.
I will never be one of those mums who’s thought through the full nutritional intake of my child every day, planning meals to optimise her diet. Heck, sometimes I even forget to pack her snacks when we go out.
Fortunately, there are other people who are super gifted at preparing nutritious food to ensure the little ones’ bodies thrive.
That brings us to the next point.
- Don’t Give Anyone (Including Yourself) Shit and Don’t Take Shit from Anyone Either
Kids are born with an innate ability to protect their boundaries. When they’re too tired you know. When they’re hungry, again, they will let you know. They all have varying norms of how much they can take from others, and if they don’t like it, again, they will let you know.
Some kids are completely OK with others taking their toys and they’ll find other stuff to play with. Some will go to their mums to have her sort out the situation. They are fully being themselves and expressing themselves fully without shame or fear at this early stage, toddlerhood.
They are being inappropriate, throwing temper tantrums, but one can’t blame them of not being expressive.
At least, that’s how I’m seeing it.
I find myself being negative too often, hearing myself yell out “no, don’t” which is, of course, a waste of energy. I wonder if I’d be better off finding stuff to encourage Lucy doing so that she fills up her time with more positive and constructive things where her energy and mine don’t go towards her straying off and doing “naughty things” such as knocking shelves off and throwing around kitchen appliances.
The one thing I’m conscious of, in myself, is learning other people’s boundaries and ensuring that every time I’m communicating with them it comes from a good place and doesn’t upset them in any way.
I’d want Lucy to learn this above everything else.
She should always be respectful of others’ boundaries.
Of course, for right now, she’s learning by pushing boundaries and buttons.
However, I’d like to set a good example by firstly treating myself right and fairly, and treating everyone else with respect, as they would like to be treated, then ensuring and clarifying that every adult who comes into my life, be it clients, friends, family, service providers, etc… is treating me with the best intentions and have the courage to call them out when they’re not being fair in their dealings with me.
Over to you…
What are you learning from your own children and what values do you want them to live by?