I recently stumbled upon a humorous quote that read: “If parenthood came with a GPS it would mostly say…recalculating,” which inspired me to write this article.
Imagine you have a great trip planned. You have high expectations and have done all of the things to prepare. You packed the essentials and of course, like most, packed more than you needed, just to be safe. Everything is ready to go and you are so excited. You punch the destination into your GPS and off you go! Then, to your surprise, you hear the GPS say: “Recalculating.” At first you get flustered, but notice that this recalculation doesn’t take you too far from your original plan and it only pushes your estimated time of arrival back 5 minutes.
You keep driving, it is a beautiful time and you are enjoying the beautiful views. Then you spot “lane closed ahead” and soon approach bumper to bumper traffic. You are annoyed, but it is early in the trip, so you still have time. You decide to put on a good podcast and open a bag of snacks, although the plan was to eat those later but your just going to roll with it. The traffic starts moving and your excitement peeks, only to hear that annoying GPS voice yell out, “Recalculating.” This time, it delays your arrival over an hour.
This was NOT part of the plan you had in your head. You did not plan for traffic, detours, flat tires, weather advisories and recalculations. At this point, your temperature is high and you are seriously thinking about turning around and just going back, but you can’t. You have come too far to not complete the trip, but it is hard to enjoy because nothing, literally nothing, is going as planned.
This is parenthood. Not only can I relate to this as a mom of two toddlers, but this is a common theme I get from parents I work with in my office and many friends also navigating life as parents. Below are some tips to help enjoy your parenting journey regardless of the recalculations…
Give yourself grace. As parents we put so much pressure on ourselves. It is important to recognize that you are a new parent at every age and stage of your child. You are not supposed to be the expert because this is new for you too. Give yourself grace and work collaboratively with your child because there is not one size that fits all. Even if something works with one child, it might not work with another. And that is okay. Remind yourself that you are human and we all make mistakes. Get back up and try again.
Look through a different lens. What if instead of becoming angry and annoyed when things don’t go the way we want as parents, we decide to look through a different lens? When a child isn’t listening, look through a lens of understanding to see that they are struggling with something. When you have asked repeatedly for your child to clean their room and yet it still looks like a tiny bomb went off inside, challenge yourself to look through a lens of compassion and offering to help to create a solution. When you change your lens and your attitude, you will see your child’s attitude will change as well.
Stop comparing. Do not compare your parenting to how others parent. Do not compare your kids to other kids. Do not compare someone’s highlight reel on social media to your real life. Instead, focus on the positive qualities that you provide in your role as a parent. Highlight the positive qualities of your children, no matter how difficult it may be.
Trust your gut. That’s right, your gut! You are the expert on your child. No one knows your child better than you. The mind can be so LOUD. It chatters incessantly, making us constantly question things. I would encourage you to remember that your gut never lies, although we often ignore it. If something feels wrong, it probably is. If your gut is telling you that you need help, ask for it.