New Year’s resolutions are good for re-focusing and what is important. I have compiled my own personal top parenting resolutions for 2014. What are yours? I’d love to hear your ideas for your own parenting in the comment section. I’ll probably be able to relate to each one.
I think my attitude has been stinky lately. I try and teach my kids to have a “happy heart,” and yet I see my own heart as often distant from that idea. I don’t have any real good reasons to be grumpy. Parenting can be repetitive and frustrating. I wouldn’t say working with toddlers is a gifting of mine. I prefer hanging out with older children and become easily frustrated with childhood irresponsibility and dependence. I pictured being a mom as a lot more fun. I felt like I had the heart of a child until I became a mom, and I wonder where that heart has gone. Those feelings and shortnesses have robbed my joy. However, I have healthy, smart, creative kids. I have a wonderful husband who loves me well. I have a God who promises that if I dwell in Him, He will be my source of joy. I have an amazing church community and am making friends outside of that community as well. I have a creative outlet in my blog and the way I’m serving at church. My family and my husband’s family are wonderful. I have nothing to complain about. My goal this year is to focus on Philippians 4:8 which says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” I will be memorizing this with my oldest daughter, who also has a hard time finding her “happy heart” when she is feeling down. This is the scripture I will claim. I intend to have more fun, smile more and capture my kid-like spirit through this positive attitude. Part of choosing joy will include seeing the positive characteristics of my kids and focusing on those more.
I think I’ve checked out a bit this year. I’m around my kids all the time. I have chatty kids. They speak at me a lot. Once I became a mom I realized I am more introverted than I ever have known. My current understanding of being an introvert means that I re-charge when I am away from people. It feels like I am rarely away from people, so I think my brain has automatically adjusted to checking out. Sometimes it will take me a few “Mom?” pleas to even be aware that my kids are speaking to me. Sometimes I will listen to my children’s stories without hearing what they even said. My oldest told me about her dream this morning, and I could not tell you right now what she dreamed about last night. Sometimes I tune into my phone and capture moments away to play “Words with Friends,” check Facebook or text. My brain is very present in moments and very not present in other moments. I know there are times to be able to get a break, but I need to be more intentional about what that looks like for all us. I might need to engage my kids in an activity or be better at quiet time so I can steal a few moments to sit and think. I rarely let myself slow down, and I think being willing to just stop and stare out the window, pray or play on my phone for a few minutes is fine and healthy if I’m not just tuning out at random moments. I need to be willing to ask for help, hire a babysitter or even let my kids play on a device or watch a show more often than I generally allow. If I allow myself some of those breaks, I can commit to being more present and really engage in conversation and play during our time together.
Take My Own Advice
I have given a lot of advice here on Meaningful Mama. The first year I was giving a parenting tip every day…that is 365 parenting tips. I want to make those come alive on my blog again somehow. I want to make them come alive in my life too. It’s good advice. I believe it. I do it. However, I get lazy and don’t do it consistently enough. I know that I want to instill first time obedience, but I don’t want to stop what I’m doing to enforce it. I know I want to teach to the heart of my kids, but it takes a lot of intentionality to sit down with every infraction and get to the root sin and memorize scripture to tackle the heart issue. I know I want to make sure my kids are trying to put others ahead of themselves, but to navigate that in sibling relationships is exhausting. I think that is part of what has stolen my joy this year. I am not on top of the behavior enough, and when I let go of my diligence, things start to slide out of control. I think my flaw in parenting is that I have always hoped that I would “arrive.” Apparently, you never do. I have talked to oodles and oodles of moms who have warned me of that very fact. It gets tiring to try and be on top of everything all the time. However, I know that if I reign them in tight and re-train the way I know how I will enjoy my children more. We will see improvement (I know from previous experience), but when things start to slide again (which they will) I need to jump back on the train and…well, train. I need to not only put the systems in place but live them out better.
Of course, I know this kind of joy and focus only comes as I root myself more in God’s Word and my relationship with Him, so I will seek that more. I didn’t structure this post to present this last idea as an after thought. This is the thought I want to leave on because it is the most important. I would say my time with the Lord has been inconsistent this year. There have been times in the Word and speaking with God often. There have been very dry times where I’m not doing what I know will fuel my soul and give me the strength to show the kind of love I want to show to my family and everyone else I encounter. Since I’m often trying to do it on my own strength, it is no wonder I don’t feel like I have the strength and joy eludes me. I will re-establish accountability, goals and consistency in the relationship that matters most. This will mean sacrificing other things, but I believe and have experienced God’s grace as I rely on Him more.