We all want to give our children what’s best. We would do anything to keep them healthy and happy. However, with all the good intentions, sometimes we forget the basics – that we are the most important role model for our daughters and sons. Have you ever thought what your child might learn watching you?
Wether we like it or not, our children copy our behavior, draw conclusions from what they see, you do and accept them as 'the truth'. Especially before the age of approx. eight years old, a lot of children have difficulties distinguishing where you end and they begin, so they can actually take some of your beliefs, as their own. When you are angry or upset, they might behave similarly or go very quiet, not to add to your pain, as they can sense your mood better than you think. Kids pick things up subconsciously because their brain is programmed for learning and you never know which of your patterns they will copy…
So what to watch out for? Where to start?
I don’t want to make it sound too big of a task but it all comes down to living a happy life. To you living the live, you would like your children to have. And I’m afraid, you can’t fake it! If it’s not genuine, they won’t believe it, they are clever beasts 😉 So what exactly we, as mothers, can focus on*?
- Take good care of yourself – Women often put their children and family first, e.g. I’ll finish my dinner when the kids go to bed; I’ll get some sleep when I iron the shirts, etc. Well, we do it because that’s how we think we can express love and there is nothing wrong with that, unless we don’t go negative on our energy, which we unfortunately often do. If we don’t sleep enough, don’t drink or eat enough because there is always something more important than our basic needs, what are we teaching our children? That your health and well-being is less important than household chores or the needs of others! If we don’t go for walks, eat healthy food at normal times how can we expect our children to have healthy life style in the future?
- Love yourself the way you are – We love our children above all and we’d never say to our 6 years old daughter You would be so pretty if only you lost 5 kg/1 stone. So why are we doing it to ourselves? In our eyes, our children are perfect but it seems we don’t look at ourselves with the same eyes 😉 If you criticize yourself in your head or out loud (sometimes you can’t be sure how you do it!), your daughter or son is very likely to do the same. Of course it’s important to love and compliment your children but it’s as important to love yourself, as the children will pick up on your self-confidence that comes from that and copy it.
- Don’t forget to play – Yes, we spend many hours in playgrounds and soft play centres and the time spend with the kids there is precious. Nevertheless, in the midst of motherhood duties we tend to forget about our own hobbies and free time. If you never go out, meet girlfriends for coffee without children, go running or to zumba, what is your daughter or son learning about the role of a woman in the family? That when you are a mother, you are not supposed to have your own life and instead become a martyr, who sacrifices herself for others and then complain about it all the time? Mothers can have fun and time without children, so they can love those children even more!
- Have a good work-life balance – No matter if you work full-time or are a stay-at-home mum, it’s good to know what exactly is your work and what counts as life. In my dictionary, work are all the things, we think, we have to do – like earning money, going to work, cooking, cleaning, making sure the kids are dressed for school. Life, on the other hand, is all the things, that we want to do – read a book, spend time with the partner, play with the kids. Work is a task to do, life is something to enjoy. And what for some is work, for others might be life, depending on the person. Sometimes, we confuse the two and end up treating our children or partner as another 'project'. Very often we bring our work home – check company phone while cooking, answer emails in the evening. Yes, it’s OK sometimes but we have to be careful not to slip into the 'efficient manager' role at home. Nobody wants to cuddle with Mrs Productivity Ninja 😉 We adults tend to think that work is so important but is it really # 1 on your list?
Of course we are only scratching the surface here. You know best how quickly kids pick up things and that we shouldn’t be talking about some stuff in their presence, if we don’t want the whole neighborhood to know the story. You also know your sacrifice for your family and that you always want the best for them. So let’s make it clear. The best you thing you can do is to take care of yourself first!
Let’s assume that your energy level is a tea cup, where full cup means you are OK (no bitching, moaning, shouting or crying but also not jumping up and down with joy – just OK). If your cup is empty, you have nothing to give and not only you are thirsty as hell but also your family is suffering. If your cup is overflowing, you have enough to share and spread the love. Let’s keep our tea cups full Ladies and our children happy 🙂
*Please apply common sense while reading – e.g. newborns need the mum all the time, same as when the baby is not well, etc. You can’t do it ALL the time but it’s good to try:)