Being a mom · entertaining the kiddos · everyday life · Parenting

How To Be a Good Parent {one easy step}

I was reminded today of the secret to being a good parent. It’s necessary to remind ourselves of this sometimes, lest we become bogged down by all the negative self-talk we indulge in daily. As a parent, we’re constantly filtering through all these outside {and often conflicting} opinions about how we parent. What food we need to be feeding them, the schools we need to be sending them to, the brand of carseat to buy, the iPad app we need to download so they can learn Mandarin. We’re measuring ourselves against these standards, and always coming up short. Or am I the only one? Please tell me I’m not the only one who isn’t hitting the mark in all these areas of parenting!

There are always going to be other parents who do things differently and maybe do it better.

Whatevs.

We can’t all do all the same things in the same way. We can’t all have big wins every day. That’s life. Some days you’re a superstar parent with your chore chart and your child’s cute little bento box lunchbox all packed with kale chips and blueberries. The next day you’re the parent who sends an empty lunchbox to school thinking it’s full and you let your 2 year old stay in the shirt he slept in. all. day. and then let him sleep in it again that night. That’s LIFE.

So here’s what I believe to be the secret of good parenting: Be Present.

I want you to remind yourself of this when you feel like you’re failing or your kiddos are missing out on something important and you’re afraid they will turn into crazy adult parasites who still live with you and try to make money from youtube channels by opening toys while people watch. {That’s a thing, you know}.

Be there. But more than just being with them in the same space…. BE WITH THEM. Be engaged. Pay attention.

Today Charlie Grace was riding her bike in the driveway while I ‘gardened’. She said “Hey mom, watch what I can do”. So I did. And she came barreling down the walkway with a huge grin on her face and proceeded to crash into the car parked in our driveway. She got up and said “Wait, that wasn’t it. Let me show you again. I was looking at your smile and it made me crash”.

She was LOOKING for me to be LOOKING. Not at my phone. Not at the task at hand {pulling 10 million weeds thanks to the never-ending rain we’ve had}. She was looking for me to be interested enough in HER that I’d watch her ‘trick’. She was looking to make sure that SHE mattered and made rank as one of my priorities. The competition for my attention? Weeds.

I’ve never been more happy that I was looking.

The type of engagement we have with our kids speaks volumes to them. Notice I didn’t say the frequency of engagement. Hours spent in the same room with them vs. 5 minutes of total undivided attention and engagement with them? No competition.

Examine the amount of undivided attention you give your kiddos each day. Any at all? Or is the phone always right there? Is the television always on?

Now, we can’t always be looking. We have to get things done. We have to go to work, write that email, make that phone call, and clean that toilet. I’m not saying we have to spend every waking moment giving our kiddos our undivided attention, because it’s equally important for them to learn to be independent and do their own thing. And also…. that would drive me INSANE. ammaright? I’m talking about making sure there are times throughout the day where they have All. Of. You. Where you are present and engaged with them so they know that they are a priority for you. Where you take a picture of their leaps and twirls and you clap for their performance and then maybe you get up and do a few tippy-toe ballerina leaps of your own.

I’m not an expert. Maybe I should have stated that at the beginning? BUT I do have a lot of experience with children and as a pediatric speech language pathologist, I’ve had the pleasure of observing thousands of parent-child interactions. Thousands I tell ya! Some wonderful, some not-so-wonderful… some just ‘meh’. All of them different in their approach to parenting. The sunscreen they choose, the tv shows they allow, the toys they buy. But in the end, what really impacts their child the most is THEM.

Be present. In the long run, that will outshine any parenting fail. It will mean more than any toy. It will shape them more than a swim lesson.

Xoxo,

Ashley

One thought on “How To Be a Good Parent {one easy step}

  1. I was looking at your smile and it made me crash. – please put this on a t-shirt! 🙂

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