How to Avoid Epic Parenting Fails
So you’re supposed to live your life from a “core of peace”, right?
That sounds good doesn’t it? There are no epic parenting fails in the core of peace.
Well, this morning I was unfortunately living my life from a big fat core of chaos.
It was time for my daughters’ school camping trip. All the kids love it and get super giddy as the day approaches. They have so much sleepless fun that when they return the following afternoon, still amped of course, the teachers look like zombies. They deserve sainthood. Or at the very least a full spa treatment.
The trip is an exciting but stressful event for my girls, and that’s why I wanted to mindfully send them off in a calm, nurturing manner.
Instead, I plowed through the house getting increasingly irritated, emanating waves of stress so strong they were probably visible. I could feel my energy whipping around and building on itself. My body tightened and my breathing got quicker and shallower. My brain refused to perform simple tasks I’m usually great at, like checking items off a list as I organize and pack them efficiently.
L took one look at me and asked why I was so angry and about to cry.
When M couldn’t find the bug spray because she had hidden it in her room, I lashed out as if hiding bug spray represented a character flaw that would get her booted from a college admissions interview.
In fairness to myself, I admit I was extra nervous because of the weather. 1000’s of people’s lives were just majorly messed with in Oklahoma, and we’d been getting strong storms locally for the past couple of days. Even if you don’t live with anxiety, it’s tough not to be nervous about sending your kids into the woods with 80% chance of severe t-storms, possible hail, and 60mph winds.
But I know better.
I know that unless I’m being chased by a lion or some kind of commonly occurring imminent danger like that, things will go infinitely smoother if I’m calm and centered, that is, you got it – living from a core of peace.
I wanted to be a grounding presence for my girls to start their day out right. So where did I go wrong? How could I have avoided this parenting fail?
One answer lies in Intention, the first concept in iLU Parenting, a simple but comprehensive set of tools and resources I developed to give you exactly what you need to parent with calm confidence..
Here’s how you can use Intention to avoid parenting fails
Maintain a Parenting Plan
It’s critical to spend time focusing energy (written, meditative, creative, interpretive dance) on your parenting intentions and capture those intentions in a Parenting Plan. This Plan serves as a high-level description of your ideal parenting relationship, from now through your child becoming an adult. It includes your commitments to how you’ll parent, the type of relationship you’ll build with your kids, and what values you’ll impart to them.
Think about a business without a mission, goals, or operating procedures. Nobody knows what they’re working toward, WHY they’re working toward it, or how to achieve success.
Parenting isn’t a business, but it needs the same elements in order to achieve success.
Just as a business changes, so do you and your kids as life dishes out its normal ups and downs. To adapt, you need to revisit and revise your Parenting Plan often.
Had I reviewed my Parenting Plan, I would have been reminded that staying calm and not freaking out is important to me in my parenting. And that I can usually avoid that by preparing for stressful situations ahead of time.
This means I would’ve spent a few minutes of quiet time the night before visualizing what I wanted the morning to be like. I would have gathered & packed most of the items needed for the trip and planned a breakfast to ensure the girls would hike on a full stomach. I also would have gotten up early so I didn’t feel rushed and stressed about getting there on time.
Intention is critical on a smaller scale as well. For every interaction you have with your kids, try to keep the intention of being fully present in the moment instead of having your thoughts in the past or in some imaginary future.
When you interact with your kids, focus on what’s in front of you, in this very moment.
Put down your phone, ipad, computer, and all other distractions and give your child your full attention.
Even when your kids are whining, yelling, or melting down, work on staying calm and mindful by remembering to breathe slowly and deeply. Ask yourself “What is my intention for this interaction?” The second question should be “What is needed in this moment to achieve that intention?”
If you feel yourself getting fired up anyway, it’s positive to model the behavior of getting out of there and taking a break. I try to use words like “Mama is getting angry and irritated right now, and I need a bit of time by myself to calm down. Then I’ll come back and we can deal with this.”
(Then I rush off into the bathroom and bite my hand to keep from screaming.)
Your child will get the message that if she’s upset or mad, it’s ok for her to take a time-out to chill out and regroup.
Had I focused on my intention of being present, I would’ve felt my body tighten and my energy start to rise. I would’ve tried to breathe deeply and slowly. I would’ve asked myself what I wanted out of this situation and realized that to achieve that, I needed to relax and slow down. When I realized the bug spray disappeared into the black hole of M’s bedroom, instead of exploding I would have taken a time-out for myself.
I did feel like total crap for a while today. I regretted my behavior and spent some time venting and giving myself internal dirty looks for sending the girls off with nervous, angry energy.
But I got over that as quickly as I could, reviewed the situation with self-compassion, and figured out what I can do differently next time.
Intention is a powerful tool to have in your ongoing efforts to avoid parenting fails! Try it!
Now I want to hear from you!
How has Intention worked for you in your parenting? Do you have a Parenting Plan?
Would you like to learn more about iLu Parenting?
Check out these free resources!