Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Don’t forget to call your mom or even better, visit her.
The other day I was talking to a young mom friend — her child is barely 2 years old. She works full time and as with many mothers, she feels pulled in numerous directions each and every day. She asked me for advice — saying I seemed to have figured it out.
I well remember those crazy years with our four children — especially the crazy times when Paul traveled with work and I felt like a single parent.
As far as advice goes, I can probably give advice based on things I did wrong, or things I wish I could have done better. On that note, forgiving yourself is important. No mother (or father) is perfect, and certainly there is no such thing as a perfect child.
I remember being so tired and frustrated and bursting into tears once I had a few minutes alone — something I rarely had. In those times, it is worth remembering tomorrow is another day. Another chance to brush yourself off and move ahead with that whole parenting thing.
I do remember we tried to stay united as parents. By that, I mean when our little people were told “no” by one of us, they often went to the other parent hoping to be told “yes.” We had to nip that in the bud — at least in front of them.
In private we had plenty of arguments over various decisions. Speaking of arguing — try super hard not to argue with your spouse in front of your kids. Of course that is not always possible, but try. If you do argue or just disagree, do so with respect. Remember those little eyes are watching and their ears are tuned in to all you say and do.
Try to eat dinner together. I realize in today’s crazy world of school, activities, etc., it is difficult to carve out a regular dinner hour. Still, try to do so at least a few times a week. Dinner is a great time to reconnect after a busy day. We used to go around the table and have everybody say what the best thing about their day was and what was the worst thing. This is a great way to get a conversation started —even for very young children. Of course when they get to be teenagers, there will be nights when they are not interested in the conversation — that is an entirely different topic.
Read to your young children and continue to encourage reading with your older children. I loved reading books from my childhood to our children — and they loved all of them. When our children got a bit older, we used to read classics such as Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” (aka Allice in Wonderland), or C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
We talked about the stories and then loved watching the movies. I saved all of those books. They are safely housed in a big box in the attic. I cannot wait to pass those on to our future grandchildren.
Have a solid bedtime routine — the earlier the better. This is important for so many reasons. Of course we all need our sleep — and children need even more than we do. Not only that, as moms, we need time away from our little ones. Time to read, to watch a favorite television show, and time to reconnect with our spouses — without the interruption of children. We used to have a rule that we could not talk about the kids when we had time alone together at night after the kids were in bed.
We did the same thing when we had date night out or just date night after the kids were in bed. Inevitably talk of the children crept back in our conversation, but the other person reminded the offender of the no-talking-about-the-kids rule.
Don’t try to be best friends with your child — be the parent. I used to tell my kids, “We will be friends when you are 30 — I don’t need any more friends right now.”
Too many times I used to see moms trying to be the “cool mom” and not wanting to parent. Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart, but your children need discipline and rules. They also need to know their actions have consequences. I am happy to report being best friends with your kids may very well happen long before they are 30.
Keep your sense of humor. Sometimes I think this might be the most valuable advice I can offer. There will be bad days, there will be terrible days. But there will also be more good days than bad. Keeping your sense of humor about you and laughing about things you cannot control will go a long way to helping you keep your sanity.
This Mother’s Day, count and remember your blessings. Your own mother, your sweet children (even when they are not being sweet), your spouse, extended family and friends. Say a prayer of thanks for your tribe.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Be sure to check out my food column on Friday when I will feature some brunch recipes and tips for making Mother’s Day brunch special.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at adlen@adlenshomematters.