Written by Ayah E. Sarhan – Certified Family Coach
“My child hits me” – “My child says I am a monster” – “I feel guilty leaving my child with another care giver but I can’t bear changing my whole life because I have become a mother” …..
Motherhood can be accompanied by some feelings of discomfort as mothers face the need to adapt to a new way of thinking and doing things. Some mothers may become resistant to change, while others may totally surrender to the needs of others and forget their own needs. It does not have to be either way. Mothers can get their needs met as well as the needs of their loved ones.
The following steps can help mothers adapt and get both needs met:
- Take the decision that you have the right to love and accept yourself, and fulfill your needs.
- Think about what you can control – not the things out of your control.
- Accept and respect others and genuinely listen to them – even your pre-verbal child who expresses non-verbally.
- Put your relationships on your priority list and invest some time understanding how to nurture them.
- Think of a challenge as a learning opportunity. So regarding the above comments or reactions, think what makes you or the other person act or say so. Most of the time people want to connect and feel loved but can’t express it.
Now back again to the actions we get from our loved ones that can sometimes hurt or make us feel guilty. Both of you have a need to connect and feel loved.
The first response I get when I start talking about connecting in order to build a loving relationship with children, parents immediately respond, “But there is no time, we are already exhausted and need another 24 hour”. We are all busy all the time, and there is always something urgent to do. But is everything on our ‘To do’ list really important?
Well, think again.
Take some time to reflect on this question, because “Yes” is a normal answer but I need you to really think deep about this for the coming couple of days.
One of the magical ways to reconnect with ourselves and our priorities (the really important things we want to do) is to take a walk and slow down. Simple!?
I will help you out by making some suggestions. I can’t promise that everything will work with everyone, so pick up the one(s) you like and give it a try:
1. There was a time when I was so busy starting off my business and studying and I couldn’t find the time for structured activities for my kids. Instead of feeling guilty, connecting to nature was what saved the day! Now list 5 places that you can take your children out to connect to nature and talk about it for a few minutes (e.g. sea side, club, flower shop, veggies & fruit store, garden, horse stable, farm, zoo, fish tanks or a pet shop).
2. Now list 5 adventures you could engage your child in, e.g.
- Take a walk with your child, it will help you connect even if there’s nothing to say at the beginning – just walk and see the magic works.
- Planting, harvesting of herbs, or simply watering plants at home,
- Cooking/ salad preparation (with safe knives)/ washing fruits & veggies,
- Picking veggies and fruits from the store,
- Making a recipe book or simply searching for a recipe.
These are just simple but amazingly powerful learning experiences for your child. It teaches them about growth, seasonable cycle, and origin of food, sense of involvement, ownership, responsibility, care, color, shape, size, name, smell, and touch. Isn’t that incredible?!
3. Gratitude game; take turns with your child naming 1 thing you are grateful for.
This will help you both pay attention to what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong.
4. There is a general misunderstanding when it comes to structuring our kids’ time. Sometimes, we over-structure their time with scheduled activities. As much as it is important to get them into scheduled activities and help them understand the importance of structure and having a commitment, it is also important to “structure” some unscheduled time.
Yes, it is good to have a general routine, but I don’t recommend planning for every minute. This week try to allow some free play time where your kids can do something other than a scheduled activity. To help you move towards the right structure between scheduled and unscheduled time, list 5 talents you have and 5 talents your child has. Then think how to structure some scheduled time and unscheduled time for both of you to practice your talents. Don’t forget to talk with your kids about that.
5. Free play is important for children of all ages and even us as parents! Yes we need to have a little fun as well as we play with our children.
When children learn and discover by themselves in a safe and supportive environment especially from you as their parent, they feel proud and fulfilled.
Children benefit most from open-ended toys/games/raw materials that encourages concentration and focus. A white piece of paper can be a drawing, a poem, a magic carpet, etc. The same applies to clay, recyclable objects, stuffed animals, etc. When our children become so absorbed in play, their ability to sustain attention is developed. Don’t worry they will figure something out. Start with half an hour to an hour and check out what they came up with.
“When we trust their individual flow of ideas, they learn to trust themselves. They grow into empowered thinkers as adults who can take decisions for themselves.”
If you find yourself micromanaging, then it might be a sign that you need some play time yourself. So take out a pen and paper and write down 5 ways you played in your own childhood. How did you feel then? Free, open, safe, happy?
Our job is to facilitate our children’s exploration of the world and to encourage them with genuine interest.
6. De-cluttering and organizing are important; a place for everything needed, wanted, necessary otherwise just get rid of. This provides a safe environment for your kids and teaches them to keep only what they need. Try to involve your kids, make it a game, or position it as a time to work together. It would be nice to take some items and go visit an orphanage and show them how some of their unwanted things can be valuable for others.
7. Set boundaries together with kindness and respect and your child will follow. Warmth, kindness, and humor can go a long way. What do you appreciate? E.g. I appreciate it when you say good morning with a smile.
Build those bridges of connection through little moments so that when they grow up they can cross over to you, and that you can let go without feeling the urge to hover over, control, and micromanage. The point is to enjoy them in all sizes; they grow up too quickly. Bonding, engaging, and sharing good moments together is what is important.
Life is hard already, and our children – through their appreciation of life – help us rediscover the world and see it with a fresh perspective.
In my journey with my children, I wanted to do the best for them and everything that can be in their best interest. Along the way of discovering who they are, I started discovering who I am. I started realizing the space between the mother “I thought I should be” and the mother “I really am”.
It is amazing how small things can put a smile on our face and it is usually my children who bring these small things to my attention when I listen to them.
Shifting my thought from fear of isolation from what I love because of motherhood, into being present has helped me connect with myself and my children.
Everyday instead of focusing of what I cannot do because of my children, I think of what I can do with my children.
How motivating do you think this can be for you? How can this thought help you rearrange your day, week, or month? How will this make you feel?
I would love to hear your ideas and adventures, so feel free to comment or e-mail me.
I would also like to help you further by coaching you through scientifically research-proven methods to build and maintain a loving relationship with your loved ones. Check out the Parent Effectiveness Training Program (PET) and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll in the upcoming round.