Before I had kids, I heard a talk from a parenting coach who suggested “if you want someone to co-parent with you, you have to let them parent their way.”
Pre-kids, this seemed really obvious and a clear way my husband and I would raise kids. After all, this wasn’t the 1950s, we both would be contributing to our family’s finances and we both would be contributing to raising our kids.
Fast forward to actually having kids, and like so many things I thought before children — co-parenting is easier said than done.
I drive my husband crazy when I tell the kids no treats until they finish their lunch, but later give in after a ‘few more bites,’ and I really wish he would not get the kids completely wound up right before the bedtime routine starts.
But should we really be parenting the same?
Think of any other situation where people work together for a common goal, really no where do two people have the same job or are expected to do it the same way. A baseball team needs a pitcher and a first baseman, a company needs a CEO and CFO, a high school needs an art teacher and a math teacher. We don’t judge the successes of the art teacher by her math skills, why do we judge each other parenting skills based on our own.
My husband and I don’t parent our kids the same way, but I think my husband and I each bring a unique and special thing to the parenting table.
My kids get cleaner in the bath with dad than with me. He is way more apt to wrestle on the floor after dinner or play a board game, where I prefer to suggest ‘movie night’ after a long day. He reminds them to cover their mouths when they sneeze and enforces the “pleases” and “thank yous” more than I do. I let my kids paint the side of the laundry room with mud, but never forget to bring diapers and snacks when we leave the house.
No matter who enforces dinnertime rules or who makes sure the doctor appointments are scheduled, my husband and I are grounded in our bigger parenting goals. We want to raise friendly, confident, independent kids who know they are loved unconditionally, by both parents, and know they are part of bigger team—our family.
What ways do you and your partner parent differently? Can you embrace those difference as a positive?
I am excited to welcome Ursula Markgraf all the way from Germany today for our 3 questions with mama series! (If you missed the first one, you can read that here)! I love meeting mamas who are working towards finding their own groove and embracing their own revival and can give us some tips on their process…and reminders that it is process for all of us!
Hi Ursula! Before we start, tell us a little about you and your family.
My name is Ursula and my family consists of my husband, my two kids and our dog. My son is 3 and my daughter is 7 and I am at the moment still full-time taking care of my son. I am also working in my own business, which I built around my passion “creativity” – my dream is to inspire and encourage other women to be creative!
I started this business because I was super frustrated with the fact that my old job did not allow me to be there for my kids when I wanted to and I had to arrange all my life around that job. To me having a work that I love but that also allows me to live my life the way I want is just a dream come true! You can read more about it on my website www.ursulamarkgraf.com There you can also find my online-shop where I sell my handmade buttons.
Question #1: What is your favorite tip for taking care of yourself when you need a quick pick-me-up?
One of my favourite pick-me-ups is going for a walk. Even just a walk around the neighborhoud for a couple minutes gives me some quiet time and somehow grounds me and lets me be more calm. However, you need someone to watch the kids meanwhile. If I am alone with the kids and things are really crazy I will “take a break” by making myself a cup of tea. Also drawing a couple of deep breaths. This doesn’t sound like much but once I am more calm it is alot easier to cope.
Question #2: How do you find balance between your family and your personal time?
Oh goodness, who says I have balance?! I have to admit it took me quite long to realize that I even need time just for myself – no family, no business. But striving for balance totally stressed me. So I gave up. Best thing I ever did!
I do however make sure that I have time for myself EVERY DAY – even if it is only for a short meditation or 10 minutes of drawing. Just spending a couple minutes each day WITH and FOR myself makes a HUGE difference to how I feel!And better than waiting for a two-hour break at the weekend that might never happen.
Question #3. What is your favorite way to spend time with your kids?
I love to take my kids on “adventures”. (That is what they call it.) Going to the library, the zoo, or just to a park that they might not know yet is just awesome. Being with them in nature. However, those are things we do not do every day. Those are more the “special” days. I try to make sure to have many “calm” days where we just play in the big backyard, read, draw, craft, have a picnic – things that do not take alot of effort to do but are really enjoyable.
Thanks so much for answering my questions!
Be sure to head over to Ursula’s site and check out her amazing buttons, they truly are a work of art!
My son learned how to ride a bike this weekend. He certainly hasn’t mastered it yet, and we still need some practice sessions before we hit the open road…but man is he making progress.
As moms, it is so rewarding when we see our kids make strides towards accomplishing their goals.
As moms, I think we should take as much pride in striving towards our personal goals and we do in our kids’ progress.
Here is what I learned this weekend about accomplishing our goals.
Take It One Step At A Time:
The first day we took off the training wheels, Brady and I went up and down the street once with me holding on to him the whole time. He was successful and it kept it fun for him. We could have spent an hour out there, practicing and practicing, but I think he would have burned out and possibly gotten hurt, discouraging him from going further.
Learning to ride a bike is hard work. You may be feeling that way about your goal too. But try breaking it down into the smallest possible first step and then just do that. Just ride your bike up and down the block once, and you will be on your way to accomplishing your bigger goal!
A Good Support Team and Cheerleaders Makes a Difference
Like I said above, I held onto Brady the whole time that first time out. I was his support (literal and figuratively) and his cheerleader, giving him confidence to try again.
Moms need a support team too! You need someone to hold onto the back of your bike until you are ready to go it alone. Moms need their own Mommy Advisory Board. Pick the people on your advisory board who support you the way you need to be supported in different situations. That friend who always cheers you up? Call her when you are feeling down or confused. The friend that tells it to you straight, call her when you need help making a decision (but don’t call her when you just want to vent)
Going Faster is Sometimes Easier
This bit of advice actually came from my husband when he watched Brady ride. He was right, once Brady picked up his speed, he could balance better.
Starting something new is really scary and we sometimes inch along. But sometimes you have to leap, or pedal faster, and it is actually easier that way. Build up some momentum that will keep you moving toward your goal.
You Have to Learn to Recover From a Few Falls Too
Luckily, Brady hasn’t had a major crash yet, but he did tip over once while trying to learn to stop on his own. But he untangled himself from his bike and tried one more time.
We are all going to hit roadblocks and have our own versions of a fall. The day we plan to work on the draft of our novel, someone is going to be home from school sick. The day our marathon training starts, the car is going to get a flat tire. The emergency trip to the vet is going to trump working on you new business.
But its ok. Get back up, untangle your self from your bike, break down your goal, call your support team and pick up your momentum.
Your goal is at the end of the road.
What personal goal are you working on? Tell me in the comments!
We take care of our families, our kids schools, our coworkers, our friends, our communities, and sometimes strangers.
Its often not until everything else and everyone else is taken care of, do we stop to think about ourselves.
I wrote about the importance of being our own mothers and taking care of ourselves with the same level of care we put into to caring for everyone else. We ARE the caretaker of our families and our world and they need us. So we need to be on our game, and that can’t happen if we are not taking care of ourselves as well.
We would never expect our car to function if we never fill it with gas, so today I challenge you to pick some way to fill your own personal gas tank. I have given you 50 ideas of something nice you can do for yourself. Which one will you pick?
Go to bed early
Light a scented candle
Buy a new iphone app
Blow dry your hair
Put on makeup
Sit in the sun
Write in your journal
Buy a new lip gloss
Call a girlfriend
Shave your legs
Sip a flavored coffee
Pick yourself flowers
Take a nap
Get a pedicure
Go for a walk
Hide a note in a loved ones bag
Plant a seed
Check out a library book
Watch a random tv show under a blanket
Leave the dishes
20 minutes of yoga
Hand write a note
Start a gratitude journal
Buy the expensive chocolate
Drink a green juice
Where the special occasion jewelry on an average Wednesday
Spend 20 guilt-free minutes on Facebook
Leave your phone at home for the entire day
Write your grandmother (living or passed) a thank you note
Don’t count the calories
Google something you always wondered about
Jump off the diving board
Pay for a strangers bridge toll/coffee/gas/groceries
Invest in yourself
Purge without feeling guilty
Make fresh squeezed lemonade
Do a face mask
Take a bubble bath
Choose the take out
Play your favorite song…loud
Go for a run
Put your feet up
Cook your favorite childhood dish
Create a mantra
Look at old photos
Say out loud, “I’m am a perfect mom for my family”
Leave me a comment below with which act of kindness you’ll do for yourself today. I can’t wait to hear how well we are all taking care of ourselves!
I love lists. I love bags. And I have found that these two things have made me a more efficient, more relaxed mom.
I remember reading the story of how Julie Morgenstern started her journey to becoming a professional organizer. She had a brand new baby and decided to take her on a walk to the park. She frantically ran around the house searching for all the supplies she might need on their outing: diapers, toys, food, etc. As they were about to leave, she worried it might be too cold outside, so she rushed around again looking for a sweater for the baby. Her morning continued on like this until she had missed her window to leave the house with the baby (before the next nap or feeding or whatever it was) and they decided to just stay home. She realized if she was ever going to leave the house again with a child, she was going to have to be more organized.
As a new mom, I could completely relate to her story. Once I had two kids, each with different supply needs and different time schedules, being organized was essential to getting out of the house in any reasonable amount of time.
I started pre-packing bags and keeping lists of what I needed for any specific outing, so I didn’t waste time searching for items, frantically running around the house and stressing about what I might have forgot.
Motherhood is a crazy, fun, sometimes frantic ride. The more I can cut down on those frantic moments, the more we can enjoy our time as a family. Nothing ruins a picnic at the park, like a blow-out diaper and realizing you have no diapers in your bag.
Although it seems like a contradictions, pre-planning also always for more spontaneity.
With unpredictable spring weather, we have been having record heat waves followed by freezing cold days. I have started leaving a completely packed pool bag in the back of my car. If I pick up my son from school and it is a warm day, we can zip to the pool for an hour for some one-on-one time before we pick up his sister. If we had to go home and pack a bag after school…we’d never make it.
The other thing I have realized my lists and my plans have created — More time for me.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I got to sleep in, my munchkins brought me coffee and a hand-made card in bed and I got to take a shower, with the door closed, for longer than 5 minutes! It was already a perfect day!
After that, my husband surprised me with the one thing I think every mom wants for Mother’s Day (or any random day really), the gift of time! He had scheduled me a massage while he planned to take the kids to the Farmer’s Market for the morning.
Time alone?? You don’t have to ask me twice!
I was able to hand him a pre-packed diaper bag and grab my own pre-packed ‘office bag’ and head out the door with enough time to sit at a coffee shop with my latte and my journal before my amazing massage.
I thought about Julie Morgenstern’s story, and how, with out my lists and bags, I would have been frantically running around the house getting my family and myself ready. I would have missed out on my extra alone time and my son would have missed a few extra turns on the Farmer’s Market bouncy house.
My Mother’s Day Gift To You– LISTS!
So, in honor of Mother’s Day, here is my gift to you. The gift of time. I have created 6 downloadable lists to help you stop wasting time searching for what you need, frantically running around your house and stressing about what you may have forgot. Whether you are heading out with your newborn, or off to the beach with your older kids, these lists will help you pack your bags, keep them stocked and go have fun with your kids! Print them out, use them over and over and never leave the house unprepared again!
Oh, and once you have that bag packed, be sure to hand it to someone else once an a while and take some time for yourself too!