Have you grown to feel resentful of your child and the lack of boundaries, the lack of time for your own dreaming, the lack of time for planning?
It is time for a CHANGE!
First of all, have you ever just congratulated yourself in the excellent job you have done being a mother? It is difficult in those early years to learn how to surrender your time, your body, your breasts, your bed and your bath to a little baby with such intense needs. Those days where baby or even small toddler and you are together, a beautiful open oneness.
Until the day comes that perhaps you realize your child is changing and you realize that your child is not just a reflection of you, a part of you, an extension of you. They are their own wonderful, unique separate human being! A marvelous being who is completely different from YOU. You are not the same as your child.
So how do we regain some balance in our homes and in our lives?
First of , we do accept that if we have a baby, our baby’s needs deserve to be met and we are CHOOSING to meet them in the way we are responding to our baby. We also accept the fact that our parenting must change as our child grows and goes through different stages. If you need help knowing what is appropriate when, please do look through past posts on this blog regarding the developmental stages of the three, four, five, six and seven-year-old.
Secondly, we accept those moments in parenting that are a challenge. In the book “Everyday Blessings” Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn write that, “Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart. Each time I come to understand something about one of my children, I also learn something about myself and the child that I once was, and that knowledge acts as a guide for me. When I am able to empathize and feel compassion for a child’s pain, when I am accepting of the contrary, irritating, exasperating behaviors that my children can manifest, try on, experiment with – the healing power of unconditional love heals me as it nourishes them. As they grow, I grow. My transformations are inside.”
We start to look for ways of balancing not only the needs of our child (once our child is old enough), and the needs of ourself and our family. Here are some suggestions:
1. Practice Mindful Parenting /Being in The Present–
Ask yourself, “Is this establishing connection and trust with my child?” “Is this a respectful way to treat my child?” Ask yourself, “Is this a short-term solution that has really bad long-term consequences?” Ask yourself “Is this about my inner balance? My own stuff?”
2. Practice Acceptance –
In Everyday Blessings, Myra and Jon Kabat-Zinn write that acceptance is an inner orientation which acknowledges that things are as they are, whether they are the way we want them to be or not.
“How I respond to this episode is determined by how I see or don’t see my child in that moment.”
“There are so many different ways to view what we often call “difficult” or “negative behaviors” in our children. What might be completely unacceptable to someone else might be normal behavior to me, and vice versa.”
They suggest practicing in these ways:
-Try to imagine the world from you child’s point of view, purposefully letting go of your own. Do this every day for at least a few moments to remind you of who this child is and what he or she faces in the world
-Imagine how you appear and sound from your child’s point of view, i.e., having you as a parent today, in this moment. How might this modify how you carry yourself in your body and in space, how you speak, what you say? How do you want to relate to your child in this moment?
-There are very important times when we need to practice being clear and strong and unequivocal with our children. Let this come as much as possible out of awareness and generosity and discernment, rather than out of fear, self-righteousness, or the desire to control. Mindful parenting does not mean being overindulgent, neglectful, or weak; nor does it mean being rigid, domineering and controlling.
3. Acceptance is Easier If We Know and Understand Normal Breastfeeding Behavior and Normal Developmental Stages….
4. Stop describing yourself as busy because this is viewing a situation as negative and it is not helpful to you! ( from the book The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood, page 15) Try re-framing your thoughts!
5. Guard Your Mind (pg. 15 from The Hidden Feelings Of Motherhood) “Pay attention to what you watch, listen to, and read…Try to be selective and look for material that builds you up and nourishes your spirit.”
6. Take Care of Your Body (pg. 15 from The Hidden Feelings of Motherhoood) “You need to consider it a priority to eat well, exercise, sleep and get regular physicals.” Those of you out there struggling with low milk supply and nursing, do know that anemia, hypothryoidism and other physical factors can impact milk supply! Get checked out!
7. Be Unavailable at Least Some Time Every Day.
8. Plan Restorative Vacations at home – time to do the things that would make you feel better!
9. Practice Being Grateful for What You Have
10. Laugh more – do not take everything in mothering so seriously! There are many things that three, four, five and six year olds say that do not need to be given such all-serious weight!
11. Seek out a mothering mentor –someone who is POSITIVE
12. Cultivate a spiritual life and seek out the beautiful in life!
13. None of this is helping –Consult with a professional right away!
- Baby Blues – Usually occurs days three to 7 post-partum
- Post – Partum Depression – Depressed mood continuing past the “baby-blues” time frame of three to seven days postpartum, suffered by at least one out of every 8 mothers. Often accompanied by severe anxiety/panic, spontaneous crying, agitation, insomnia, obsessional thoughts, disinterest in baby, suicidal thinking.
- Depression = social isolation is a contributor to this! Feelings of extreme sadness or despair lasting two weeks or longer, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, disturbed sleep or appetite, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, feelings of worthlessness, withdrawal from friends or family, suicidal thinking.
From page 26 onward “The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood” talks about being committed to getting well, ruling out physical causes, knowing your treatment options, getting good nutrition, nutritional supplementation, exercise, use of cognitive behavioral therapy (which is the only talk therapy that is as effective as medication for treatment of depression and anxiety), use of herbs and antidepressants. This is a great book, please do check it out!
- Burn Out – feeling negative (sad or angry every day), interpersonal problems, health problems, loss of enthusiasm and feeling meaningless, substance abuse. Kathleen Kendall Tackett advises us to stop denying, get reconnected (people have a tendency to withdraw when they are under stress), set boundaries, get some help with your work, get treatment for depression.
- “Depleted Mother Syndrome” from the book “Mother Nurture” has a checklist on page 28 regarding possible areas where demands are placed on you, and has short-term and long-term stress relievers.
- What about ANGER?? There are posts on this blog regarding anger, please do go to the tags box and look them up!
The book “Mother Nurture” suggests stopping things from building up- defuse BEFORE you blow up. Do not over give, blow off steam as you go along, take a break before you get to the breaking point.
Mothers who feel “manipulated” by their children often feel angry – check out normal development again! See the fast little “quiz” below – can you guess what developmental behavior comes when? Children below the age of 7 do not have the logical and cognitive abilities to be “deceptive”. Are you prickly to “challenges to your authority”? Is your own childhood getting mixed into your family? Are you taking it all just way too personally? Understand the way you are perceiving things is the true source of anger…..What is beneath the anger?
Check out NonViolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg or Love and Anger by Nancy Samalin for further help!
Everyday Blessings talks about when your children are babies and toddlers, the struggle for balance takes the form of continually tapping our own resources to provide intense care-giving.
|My baby…||My baby is “X” weeks/months/years old|
|Is breastfeeding 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period||Newborn to ????|
|Nurses once every 24 minutes for about three minutes||Newborn to ??? in countries where baby is carried while mom works|
|Has six or more wet diapers a day, and at least three bowel movements a day.||After mature milk comes in|
|Breathes with regularity, has a steady heart rate, no longer has an erratic temperature||(4 weeks)|
|Has preferred positions to lie in, and loves to sit supported and look at the world||(16 weeks)|
|Coos, laughs, chuckles out loud||(16 weeks)|
|Prefers to sit and can maintain it, and loves to have something in his hands.||( 5 to 7 months)|
|Cries at the sight of strangers||(32 weeks and 44 weeks)|
|Darts and dashes and flings things||(15 months)|
|Gets into everything||(15 months or once walking)|
|Will climb stairs endlessly||(18 months)|
|Says “No” to everything||(18 months)|
|Is loving and affectionate and warm to other people||(2 years)|
|Is rigid, inflexible, wants everything exactly how she wants it, domineering, demanding, wants the exact same routine every day||(2 and a half years)|
|Loves to be a “we” with Mommy||(3 years)|
|Has poor coordination, stutters, has hand tremors, blinks her eyes, bites her nails, frequently cries, whines, questions Mommy, is bossy.||(3 and a half years)|
|Out of bounds – hitting, kicking, throwing, loudly laughs, fits of rage||(4 years old)|
|Loves to know about the details of things, better can deal with his frustrations,||(4 and a half)|
|Thinks Mommy is the center of her world||(5 years old)|
|Loves Mommy one minute and hates her the next, is demanding and rigid and inflexible, is very negative, has to be praised, has to win. Fights with his words and his fists.||(5 and a half, 6 years)|
|Is moody, morose, mopes and is fatigued a lot. Says no one likes him.||(7 years old)|
|Is expansive, speedy, starting a million different projects. He is interested in what Mommy thinks! Literally haunts Mommy and wants to be around a lot.||(8 years old)|
|Is much more interested in friends than family. Wants to have his independence, maturity and separateness respected.||(9 years)|
|Really wants to be good and do what is right.||(10 years)|
|Was a really poor eater, but we have seen a big rise in appetite||(4 and a half to 5 years)|
|Can’t sit still at the table||(6 years)|
|Is now an excellent eater!||(8 years old)|
|Goes to bed willingly but has night terrors||(5 years old)|
|Wanders around the house in the middle of the night||(3 years old)|
|Could nurse 7 or 9 times a day, but we can also negotiate about when to nurse, nursing length may last about a minute||(4 years old) – from Mothering Your Nursing Toddler and studies of nursing habits of 4 year olds in Bangladesh.|
|Nurses like a newborn again!||( 13 months to 18 months)|
|Nurses a lot, but my friend has a baby the same age who only nurses a few times a day and for naptimes and bedtimes||(2 years old, 2 and a half)|
|Naturally weaned, nursing just tapered off and I don’t know when the last nursing was||(4 or so and up, some sources say at least two and a half and up)|
|Can live with some limits on nursing||(3 years old) This is from “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler” published by LLLI|
You are the grown-up, but you need energy infusions from family, friends, to keep going. When we are balanced, we can be child-centered, but not child-obsessed. We can be excited about our children, appreciative of our children, relate to our children, but not be over-involved and over-invested. We can set some boundaries and say them without being hostile or rejecting our children.