Parenting is a hands-on job (understatement!) and it can be easy to get so caught up in the daily and hourly tasks – diaper changes! baths! another meal! – that I can lose sight of my overarching parenting goals.
As I was getting ready for the start of a new year, I spent a little time thinking about the kind of mom I want to be and made a list of the things that are most important to me.
I’ve been amazed at how helpful just writing these down has been, helping me focus on what really matters to me as a parent. Here’s the ten characteristics I’m working on this year:
#1: Not in a Rush
My personality tends toward running at full-speed most of the time, but it’s clear to me that my girls HATE being rushed, so I’m trying to take life a little slower and let them explore the world at their own pace.
#2: Not Distracted
Adult life, I’ve discovered, is just very distracting. There’s so many things to keep going – parenting, household duties, relationships, errands, work, hobbies, church – that it’s easy to never fully pay attention to any one thing. But I don’t want my children to only get my distracted self. This year, I’m trying to be more focused.
Although my older daughter wasn’t particularly cuddly as a baby, she’s really grown into a very snuggly toddler, and my younger daughter has been a snuggler right from the get-go (hooray!). I want them to know I’ll sit down and snuggle them any time.
It’s so easy to snap a lot at little ones who have constant demands and not a lot of understanding of other people’s wants and needs, but I want their memory of me to be a cheerful, pleasant mom, not someone freaking out because my magazine got ripped.
#6: Fun Surprises
And, while I do want our regular life to be pretty orderly, I love a fun detour from the ordinary, whether that’s a late night out as a family, a matinee movie on a weekday afternoon, or a fun little gift for no reason except that they are the best thing in my life.
I’ve discovered that my girls really thrive on routine (and I think most children do). We keep a pretty organized schedule, with regular nap and bedtimes, and outings to the library, church, and playgroups. I want them to feel secure so they can learn and explore.
I want my daughters to see me doing things that scare me, reaching for new adventures and opportunities, and embracing life. And I hope they do the same.
#7: Fun Traditions
I don’t really love complicated things, but I do love easy and memorable traditions and want my children to leave home with an arsenal of happy reoccurring memories.
#8: Vocal about my love
I hope my actions let my girls know how MUCH I love them, but I want them to hear me say it too. And often.
I’m not a very silly person (those pictures where they say “everyone make a silly face!” are not my favorite) but my girls love it when I joke around with them, do goofy dances, and make them laugh. And really, nothing is better than making a baby laugh.