On Facebook recently, I briefly wrote “conscious parenting is exhausting.” At the time I didn’t have the time or the free hands to explain what that meant. So over the past few days I’ve been adding thoughts to an iPhone note of my thoughts on this. This will be a coherent-ish article about what conscious parenting means to me.
A little background: I’m a stay-at-home millennial mom living in Brooklyn, NY. I have a 1 month old daughter, a daughter who will be 2 in June (I’ll spare you the “month math”) and a bonus son who is 15 years old. I have been married to an extraordinary man for 5 years. Family structures differ from generation to generation so the tools we use as parents should be different. It’s very easy to parent the way you were parented (is that a word?). The conscious parent can look at those methods and see what worked and what didn’t work and choose how they want to parent. You have a choice of what kind of parent you want to be. You have that choice everyday, every moment.
Being a mother is the highest honor in my book. I have the utmost respect for my mother, grandmother and all the mothers in my family. I see it as my duty to follow their wonderful examples and uphold this “Dope Mom” tradition. Enter: conscious parenting (CP).
In a nutshell, CP is being hyper aware that your words, actions and their impact live beyond the moment. In this article, I’ll illustrate what that means in my life. My tool belt consists of: time management, creativity, lots-o-patience, compassion, and tapping into my child-self for understanding and empathy, to be my best (parent) self.
So here’s how it shows up in my parenting:
There are no-brainers that are more like “leading by example.” Things like: healthy eating habits, positive relationships, positive self-talk, and wearing my hair naturally. Other behaviors include: not spending too much time in the mirror, and holding a book or newspaper more than my phone/screen. And of course, having a healthy relationship to money (spending, saving, donating, investing). Things my children pick up on without any explicit directions.
The other behaviors aren’t so much no-brainers. And they take more mental, emotional and physiological capacity- which is why I’m calling it conscious parenting. It could also be called “intentional parenting” because a lot of what I do is done with intention.
In my life, Conscious Parenting is:
- Knowing that she’s her own person first and then my daughter. She has her own thoughts, ideas, opinions, preferences and proclivities. The patience this takes is immeasurable.
- Knowing that toddlers take forever to get dressed so giving myself/us AMPLE time for stalling, breakdowns, distractions, so we’re not late and I’m not frustrated by being late.
- Knowing that how I speak to my children may very well be how they speak to themselves (self-talk/inner dialogue) for years to come.
- Knowing I won’t have all the answers, tools, secrets to make my children their best and that wisdom comes from various sources. Hence: the community of family we build around our children.
- Knowing that my wellness is more important than theirs. It sounds selfish and it is. I need to be. As a SAHM, if I’m not taking care of myself, the castle will come crumbling down from the inside out. Since they’re around me so much, I have the ability to set the tone for our day and how we respond to challenges, frustrations, wins, losses etc. My wellness is top priority (some days).
- Not taking anything personally. Knowing that her dropping food off her high chair isn’t about making a mess (grown-up eyes) that it’s more of an experiment in gravity, sound, depth, and other cool new things.
- Responding more than reacting and being conscious of my knee-jerk reactions to the small and big things. Curbing what doesn’t serve me.
- Disciplining with a lesson at the core, rather than seeking obedience.
- Being mindful of labels I give myself, my friends, strangers.
- Treating homeless people with the same dignity as our friends and family.
- Listening to empowering music when I really just want something ratchet. Somehow we listen to way more India Arie than I’ve listened to in my entire life.
- Watching her cartoons to make sure the message, subtexts and themes match my values. That goes for the messaging on clothes too- you’d be surprised.
- Spending more time in a museum or playground than a retail store. Spending money on experiences more than things.
- Showing them what a healthy relationship looks like, in partnership, in marriage.
- Oh and the genesis of “ALLATHIS” is knowing my worth, to then pick a suitable partner to build a nation with…
I’m far from perfect but I do take pride in my effort to be the best mother I can be. Sometimes I fall short and we’re watching way more television than I’m proud of but “pobody’s nerfect” as I like to say. Truth be told, it IS exhausting, but it’s 100% worth it. My way of parenting is a choice and it’s open to change as needed. I’ll do anything until it’s clear that it doesn’t work.
Holla at me in 2, 5, 10 and 18 years to see how it’s going…