Updated: Sep 20
This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none. This little piggy went, "Wee, wee, wee," all the way home! Mother Goose
As the time for me to return to work is quickly approaching, I have mixed emotions: sad, blessed, nervous, etc. One thing I've loved about this bonding time has been that, with Nas being my third child, I feel I have been able to pull from past experiences, do better, make better decisions and to be more aware overall. That's always the hope, right?
Reflecting on days when I felt out of control and a failure as a mother, I can also recognize what worked well on the days I felt like Mother of the Year; on both types of days, my children were blessings, but can you guess which days I felt like they were children of the corn? You're smart! I know you guessed it. It's all about perspective and leading by example. So, in the spirit of Mother Goose, I have come up with the 5 Little Ps of Parenting, each one piggy-backing off of the rest, to help you get through the day with your little one(s) fairly unscathed and with an attitude of gratitude:
Pray | What wings are to a bird and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul. Corrie Ten Boom
Before the kids get up, start your day with prayer and meditation. It doesn't need to be lengthy. God knows that during this season in our lives, quiet time is scarce. But, we still have the privilege and responsibility to carve out that time. It helps us to be more intentional because of the discipline it requires to swap sleep for that sacred time. It causes us to center ourselves; we can lay our burdens down, give thanks, make our requests known, confess our weaknesses and trade them in for the fruits of the Spirit [22 ...love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23]. It's part of our self-care. We ultimately set the tone within ourselves, which sets the tone for our kids, which sets the tone for the day. Yes, we are that powerful when we start our day in communion with God, our Creator and Parent of us all.
Prep | If you stay ready, you ain't gotta get ready. Suga Free
This is big. Whether you have one little, but especially if you have multiples, the more you prepare, the smoother things will go. Consider what you will need in advance. Make sure you have your essentials packed for an outing, or for a day away from home. You may even be able to get this done after your prayer time in the morning, or the night before, after they are down for the night. Preparation when it comes to food and snacks helps save money and maintain healthier eating. I keep a First Aid Kit in my trunk along with extra diapers, pull-ups, wipes, blanket(s) and things of that nature, and I have them in a clear container so they are not all over the place, easy to access. I love the Cloud Island Playmat from Target we received for Nas because it’s generously padded and easy to tote in the trunk; we use it for tummy time, diaper changes, naps, etc. That entire line is so cute and handy. Another gem we purchased is the Regalo Cot for Kids via Amazon; it includes a fitted sheet and travel case, perfect for setting up anywhere and for packing up and storing in the car. I also love my boba; there are tons of baby-wearing wraps out there. Affordable, portable solutions to help you maintain nap-time and other routines wherever you go!
Pick | It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. Frederick Douglas
We've all heard the cliche, "Pick your battles," and it's true! This one is two-fold:
When it comes to meltdowns, offering our kids choices, etc., stretches during the day can be overwhelming. It's good to take a deep breath, consider their age and development, and to know that we do not always have to provide a, "Yes," or "No," to their requests; we can say, "I need time to think about it," or provide a qualifier or incentive, "After we eat lunch, you can have a cookie." I want to go back to understanding your child's development. For example, the incentive I mentioned may not work. Delayed gratification is better grasped around age 5 going forward. A great website for info and tools on child development is www.pathways.org. The more you know and are attuned to your child, the more you will be able to meet them where they're at and just let certain things go. Natural consequences, as long as your babies are safe, are also your best friends.
We also need to pick our battles with our spouse and others in the presence of our children; there's a time and place for adult conversations and issues to be hashed out. If it's a tiny problem that has the promise of showing our children how well we love each other and problem solve, great! Protect them by choosing wisely.
Ponder | Please, let them be little, 'cause they're only that way for a while. Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day. Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle, let 'em sleep in the middle. Oh, but let them be little. Billy Dean
Oh, to keep that child-like wonder! This is actually something I struggle with because of my own childhood experiences. and an area where I really have to push myself, but it's always worth it. We live in a fast paced world with instant gratification at your fingertips. We have to be ever so mindful about slowing down and not missing it. Prioritize connection and play. Prioritize safe and significant people and things (i.e. routines). And at the same time, be flexible. Let them make mistakes and turn it into a teachable moment. Listen to their behavior; both positive and challenging behaviors tell us how they tick and what they need. Create experiences for them that fuel their imagination and unique gifts. Cherish that unconditional love and make memories that will last a lifetime, ones that you'll be able to dig up when things get tough. Let them be little.
Praise | Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. Dr. Suess
As adults, appreciation goes a long way. As children, praise goes a long way. They work much the same. The more accepted, loved and supported we feel, the more we thrive. Give them lots of opportunities to feel good about themselves. For example, age appropriately, "Would you like apple slices or grapes for snack?" Then, praise their healthy choice. You've developed a sense of self-esteem by giving them a choice, and you've set them up for success because we know both are healthy options! For some additional tips on how to engage your babies and foster connection, go to
http://calm4kids.org/positive-parenting-and-pride-skills/. And when you must discipline, be sure your child[ren] knows they are loved simply for who they are [Sister Maria Tigolo].
Parenting is everything. Mother Teresa said, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." We need tools though, and we need support. You're likely already doing most, if not all of this, but refreshers are good, and reminders that we are doing
something well are nice.
If any of this is new information, I hope this is a start. With our 5 Little Ps of Parenting: Pray - Prep - Pick - Ponder - Praise, let's continue to change the world!
Jennifer J. Jones