Wakey Wakey Parenting by Susie Rose
When I first heard the words Conscious Parent I wondered what would an UN-conscious parent look like? Is it a mum passed out unconscious in a sleep deprived coma? or a dad being knocked out cold in a game of gone-too-far indoor cricket in the hallway?
What I have come to learn in the last 6 years since my first born son arrived is that SO much of parenting and my relationship with my children is fed through the way I communicate, respect and look after my own well-being. Being a conscious parent means ‘think before I do’ and being fully present in the moment. A big part of this is modelling good behaviour (like the time I hurled a falafel at my husband when i was full of pregnancy hormones - dont do that).
The trick for me is around being assertive and firm without being controlling and punishing. My 6 year old had a difficult time adjusting to primary school last year, all of the changes and big emotions were too much for him at times. I initially tried to come down on him and resulted to time outs, threats and punishments that did not fit the crime. As a result the tension in the house escalated, doors were slammed (his) and tears were shed (mine). Trying to hold a 6 year old in time out was like trying to wrestle a crocodile on energy drinks.
It's easy for us to see the difficult behaviour as the problem rather then the solution for what the child is currently experiencing. The turnaround came for me when I started looking at WHY my child would be behaving in certain ways and asking myself - how can I be sure it is true that he is ‘doing it to annoy me’ or ‘disrespecting me as a parent’. It’s difficult because the problem isn't always on display and is often internal. Reading the love languages for children helped me immensely also as I began addressing Quality Time and Affection with my son before going out into the day. When he felt more secure his behaviour improved.
Here are my tips for being more conscious in parenting:
Create the Pause - I do this with daily meditation which has helped greatly in being able to ‘think before do’.
Respect & Reflect - Not talking down to children. Treat them with respect and reflect each evening. Where was I out of line? what can i do differently tomorrow? I write these reflections down every night with the hopes of incorporating the lessons into a plan for a better tomorrow.
Monkey see monkey do - Try and model good behaviour. Treat people with kindness and love. When you want to road rage at someone for taking your parking spot , pause. Is it really worth it? Usually it isnt.
Choose the choice - Instead of placing demands, give children choices within reasonable boundaries. This gives them a sense of responsibility and freedom in their lives.
Age appropriate realistic expectations - When your feeling furious because your 2 your old isnt hanging out the washing, its time to check your expectations and look at age appropriate duties. Children learn by doing so involve them in all aspects of home life where possible.
Don’t over structure life - Children need down time and empty space to be creative. Trying to fill their social calender can be counter productive and cause over stimulation. I was 30 before I became able to sit in stillness and now find this such a valuable thing to teach my children. Being busy does not mean being happier or more fulfilled.
Children are unpredictable, crazy and powerful teachers sent to teach us some big lessons and aid our own personal growth. Here’s hoping mine win the lottery and split the profits with me!
Susie is a Sydney based mama of two beautiful boys. Passionate about womens wellbeing, conscious parenting, meditation and mindfullness, she writes about all this and more on her blog Take The Long Way Home.