Our children take their cues from us. How we react to situations, what we say, down to body posture and even our voice inflections when we speak — they are taking it all in. Kids are, indeed, “little sponges”, absorbing the good, bad and the not-so-good about the way we handle our everyday lives.
As our children’s first teachers, there are methods we can use and steps we can take to ensure that, as much as possible, our messaging to them does not get garbled and mixed up due to our own unidentified or unresolved inner struggles.
Thirty-five years ago, when I was expecting my first child, a good friend of mine who had a 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son told me, “Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. Let your husband or the grandparents babysit, and just get away!” She added, “They did not tell us this in Lamaze class. And it does not mean you’re a bad mother. In fact, it will help you be a better mother.” I admit I was skeptical at first, because as she had said, the concept of parents — mothers in particular — taking time for ourselves just wasn’t a “thing” back then. But she was right. And oh, how I came to understand exactly what she meant by the time my second and third children were born!
Today, in the age of mindfulness, parents have access to several strategies to help relieve stress, center their focus and just take a breath to be in the moment and decompress. Nurturing, positive parenting can flourish when parents make time to care for themselves.