Out of Survival Mode: A Place to Start – Start With Kindness Mini Series Day 1

In celebration of the release of the new poster for 100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child I’m holding a three day mini series that will help you build your own foundation for a connected, resilient relationship with your kids (or anyone, really.) I’m going to tell you my story of going back and re-discovering the best parts of who I am as a parent, and I’m going to help you do the same.

Start With Kindness - Day 1
Sometimes the simple truths of how to have a good relationship with your kids get lost in exhaustion, distraction and overwhelm that come with parenting, not to mention all of the contradicting advice…

I started out parenting with stars in my eyes. I think I believed that if I just tried hard enough I could do everything right and not make any mistakes. In fact I built it up as the one thing I could not make mistakes in.  I would do it right! and everything would be cozy! and nice! and…perfect!

And then came the reality baby.

And oh man, everything was emotions and sleeplessness. It immediately became apparent that having a kid was not going to be just how I thought it would be. I felt jumbled and fearful; I was pretty sure I was doing it wrong, certainly not perfectly. I longed to feel competent again, instead of confused.

Survival Mode

Years passed filled with ups and downs, sweetness and spit-up and adding two more kids to our family.

I kept looking for the perfect solution to things like sleep, tantrums, eating… Each time I thought I had it figured out though, things would change, my kids would hit a new stage, or I'd have another baby.

One day I looked up and realized I was spending most of my time in survival mode, not enjoying the moment, enduring my kids rather than noticing them and worried the whole time that I was screwing it all up. I was worried that I’d be filled with regret later if I couldn't stop feeling so frantic and exhausted.

I needed a starting place to change how I was feeling.

That’s where I was when I wrote 100 Ways to be Kind to your Child. More than anything, I needed this list  as a reminder of all the simple things I knew were good for my kids and I needed to remember that I could do those simple things -this list both reassured me that I'm a good mom, and reminded me how to be better.

I thought about the brightest moments in my own childhood – they were often so simple, like my mom teaching me to shuffle cards or my dad teaching me to whistle with a blade of grass. I wrote those down on this list.

I thought about the simple truths that stand out in the endless piles of parenting advice that wash around us. These are the things I collected onto my list.

Let Go - 100 Ways to be Kind

Letting Go

As I launch a new version of the 100 Ways to Be Kind poster I'm sharing some of the most powerful parts of the list in this three day Start With Kindness series. The first lesson is in letting go.

I began parenting with the idea that I had to be perfect (or very close to it.) With all the responsibility of getting it all right, I hardly could enjoy the “perfectly imperfect” moments that came every day. I had no idea parenting would be so messy, so unpredictable, so freaking tiring. NO IDEA. And the harder I held on to how I thought it should be, the worse I felt.

I had to let go to appreciate what was really in front of me. I had to start looking for these simple and sweet moments that were often happening at the same time as the messy and loud moments.

For the Start With Kindness series we’re thinking of ways we can let go of ‘what if's and fantasy, so that we can hold on to what is.

Download the Day 1 Printable Lesson which has further prompts that will help you apply this to your family here.

What next?

Ok, so even if you let go of the fantasy of how you thought parenting would be, how do you make the most of what's here?

Look for tomorrow's post on that!

Let us know in the comments: Is parenting the way you thought it would be?  What do you need to let go of so you can enjoy what is?