Parenting can be a particularly thankless job sometimes. There are days when people fill your ears with unsolicited advice or judgments. There are days when your own self-criticism about your parenting choices are far harsher than a stranger would ever be. There are days when a child tells you that they hate you. There are days when the many demands of work, home, kids and life can feel absolutely overwhelming. There are days when we worry that we are bad moms or dads.
Yet there are the good days too, the beautiful fleeting moments of joy and appreciation and wonder and growth. The times when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are doing things absolutely right.
Stopping in the busy whirl of life to fully notice and appreciate those good times and the good stuff we do for our children is a powerful act. We can give ourselves permission to focus not just on what we wish we were doing better, but what we are doing well. We can sink deep into those gossamer-glimmering-glowingly perfect moments we share with our families.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in feeling like we’re not doing enough… it’s easy to just skip over the acknowledgment part of the whole thing. But how will you know how far you’ve come if you’re not looking at what you’ve accomplished and saying, “Heck yeah, I did a good job!” along the way?” – Jessica Swift + Michelle Ward, The Declaration of You
Here are some ways we can celebrate our successes as parents and remind ourselves of our awesomeness.
Make memories of your OWN milestones and finest parenting moments.
Keep a notebook or an online document in which you write down some of the nifty things you’ve done as a parent.
Focus not so much on the awesomeness of your kiddo – that’s for any memory books or baby books you might be making for them – but on your own amazing or just everyday-good parenting moments. Acknowledgments and compliments about your parenting from your child, partner or friends can go here too. Moments of sheer delight that you shared with your child are also great to include.
Moments that you are simply glad to have made it through can go here too. Sometimes just making it through the day is worth acknowledging yourself for.
Here are some things I’ve recently written down in mine:
Treated myself to a latte after LittleA’s first drop-off at preschool
Focused fully on my yoga while enjoying the sounds of Daddy and LittleA playing upstairs – yay enjoying me-time and hearing them enjoy each other!
Said the exact perfect thing to LittleA today to acknowledge and empathize with his anger, while still setting a firm boundary
Made it through an evening of tantrums including kicking and biting… everyone survived! (whew)
LittleA said, “Mama, you made all the foods I like the most. That was so nice of you. Thank you!”
Of course, not all of your parenting moments are going to be stellar or easy. But dwelling too much on the hard stuff will sap your morale. Just as you try to praise your child for doing things right, praise yourself for the things you do right too. Verbalize that positivity, save those words and use them to lift your spirits on the days when things don’t go so well.
Seek out parent friends who enjoy hearing about parenting successes.
It can be satisfying to vent, complain and commiserate with other parents, the folks who really understand how hard it can sometimes be just to get through the day. But the friends I rely on the most like to hear not only about my challenges on the tough days, but also about my delight when good things happen.
If your parent friends tend to react with competition or insecurity when you talk about your child’s accomplishments or your own proud parenting moments, consider whether that’s a dynamic that works for you. Maybe you can change the tone of that friendship or focus some energy on relationships with people who can help you celebrate the positive as well as share the occasional satisfying whine.
Nurture your relationship with yourself.
It’s hard to truly celebrate yourself as a parent if you don’t also have a sense of the person you are outside of that role. Cultivate your relationship with yourself with at least as much love and care as you give to the other important people in your life.
That means taking care of yourself in ways both basic and pleasurable, dedicating (at least a little) time for your passions and hobbies, and simply committing to spend time with yourself in whatever ways you enjoy.
Every so often, at the end of a day, raise a glass of something yummy into the air and say out loud or in your mind, “To me!” And enumerate a specific reason or two that you are fantastic, either as a parent or a person.
Do you celebrate your awesomeness as a parent? If so – how do you like to celebrate? If not – are you willing to focus on celebrating yourself more? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
As part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, I’m thrilled to write a blog post about celebration, alongside over 200 other creative bloggers who are writing about topics included in the Declaration of You book. Newly published by North Light Craft Books, The Declaration of You gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover their uniquity, and uncover what they are truly meant to do.