PERFECT PARENTING: NOT BEING PERFECT.
A lot of photos that I snap of Lillian go unshared on the blog on social media because I don't like to share everything (contrary to what my sisters believe). But this photo of Lillian is one of my favorites. Every Friday at preschool there is a different dress-up theme and this picture is from Fairytale day.
The Student Council spirit coordinator and Activities Director in me loves nothing more than these dress up days. Not surprising to me, but maybe to others, we haven't had to buy a single item for these dress up days. Lillian has quite the interesting wardrobe I guess!
I'm sharing this photo because someone emailed me and asked how do I deal with the pressure of trying to be a perfect parent and having my daughter always look nice and behave. The truth is, I don't feel any pressure from others- just a vision for how I want to parent. I created this whole blog three years ago and ironically named it "Perfect 10 SF' to show that life isn't really perfect. I never could have predicted how much social media, namely Instagram, would have taken off and how it would be so polarizing to people-- those who go full steam ahead in posting and sharing their "perfect" life and those who feel like they can never live up to that lifestyle. (A quick note on that-- I've been at A LOT of events with influencers and don't assume they're happy. They're usually quite the opposite because they've bought into the game so much that they can't ever feel satisfied with what they have (clothes, travel, followers) because someone always has more than them and they have to keep working for "more".)
One of my most popular posts ever was my post on how parenting is all about navigating transitions (you can read the full post here). I know people appreciated the honesty and the open admittance that it's exhausting to parent. It is the one that I get the most emails about. I just find it so funny because I don't think it is one of my most well-written pieces because I just let my thoughts flow. But I am glad that readers connected with it.
While that post was about my own experience with a touch of advice, this post is going to be all advice. Ready: my advice is STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE. FOCUS ON YOUR OWN FAMILY. TAKE A STEP BACK. TAKE A BREAK. SEEK HELP. LAUGH.
Stay in your own lane. My family always says this. With five kids my parents always raised us to be friendly and support one another but to stay in our own lane. This is so important as adults and new parents. With today's world you can't help but look over and see what everyone else is doing. I cannot encourage you enough to be like a race horse that can only see right in front of them instead of looking around at what other coworkers, parents, friends, neighbors, internet personalities are doing. I really like that analogy-- be like a race horse with a purposeful sight obstruction!! Ha! I'm not sure if it's bad to share this but I hardly follow anyone on social media or read other blogs because I don't care that much what other people are doing. Of course I care about my friends and people I know, but I've never been interested in what other people are doing.
Focus on your own family. This advice takes the "stay in your own lane" piece one step further. Proactively think about your own family and putting it first. Honestly, if you spend time thinking about other people that's time you just wasted not spending figuring things out for your own family. Hmmmm....what I do exactly mean by this. Don't think about the activities families are doing and think about what you as a family enjoy doing and go do that. Yeah, the Marin Country Fair sounded like a great idea but I told Jesse I didn't want to go because it was going to be such a headache all around that we probably wouldn't enjoy ourselves. So we went to the local park.
Take a step back. I'm speaking for most moms when I say we're the CEO of the family- we know where things are, what's in the fridge, when all of the appointments are, and what the weekend plans are. It's tiring, especially on top of having other professional commitments. We're usually tired before we've even started the day. Which makes it hard for parents to navigate transitions (again, read the post here). One thing I always do that helps is take a step back from the situation in my mind. This technique is called "reframing" and it allows you to see situations in a new light.
When Lillian is having a meltdown I don't get upset at her. I honestly feel bad for her. She is trying to communicate her big feelings and it's difficult-- she's only two for heavens sake! So I let her meltdown and then we talk through it once she has calmed down.
Take a break. Taking a break is great for all interested parties. As much as I love Lillian, I know that she needs a break from me. One, because it's healthy for her to be with her grandparents. But two, I am always talking with her about her behavior and expectations. She's probably so tired of it! hahah! And yes, sometimes I take a break from trying to guide her and I just tickle her and we laugh and play.
Seek help. One of my favorite people in the world said to me asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. She articulated how I have always lived my life and how I am encouraging YOU to live your life! But as a parent and individual, you need to decide what type of help you need. Is it a babysitter, house cleaner, massage, therapist, personal trainer, life coach, etc. Don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone in seeking help. If you must know, people who are in service industries like to help others so they will welcome your inquiry.
Laugh. If you're not laughing as a parent, you are doing it wrong. Yup, I said it. It's such a funny world through a toddler's eyes and I am constantly laughing with Lillian and Jesse. My attitude in life is that when all else fails just laugh!
One final note, your role as a parent is to love your child and let them know they are loved. That is all. You're not supposed to control their sleep schedule or their emotions or their life. Parents make the mistake of thinking they are running their kids lives. Nope. When you focus on creating a loving experience for them and guide them in a way that is rooted in love you are succeeding!!!!