5 Ways to Stop Being a Toxic Critical Parent

After my last two posts, you might have realized that you are more critical than you would like with your child. No need to go into instant panic mode if you’ve caught yourself being overly critical, but it is time to change your ways. Experts say that the negative impact on wellbeing that overly critical parents have, is comparable in scale to that observed in people who have suffered a bereavement. Thankfully, We can overcome our natural tendencies and break the cycle.

1. Awareness

You’re probably the last to know whether you’re an overly critical person. If someone says you’re too critical, you probably are. The first step to change our ways to be aware that we need to change. Go back to my previous post and check yourself.

2. Listening

There is no better cure for constant criticism than patient and respectful listening. Listening to our children doesn’t mean we have to agree with what they’re saying, or that we have to give in to all of their demands. It just means that we make a sincere effort to understand their point of view, and to acknowledge their feelings and perspective.

If you find yourself constantly repeating things, and frustrated because your child doesn’t listen; check how you’re modeling what listening is.

 

3. Avoid Overreacting and Creating Mountains Out Of Molehills

Before opening your mouth to criticize or point out something wrong about your child, stop and question yourself. Is that really a necessary, useful, constructive and uplifting feedback? If the answer is no, learn to put things in perspective and let things slide every once in a while.

Strike a balance between being in charge and letting your child have freedom. Even if you don’t like the mismatched socks or the messy playroom, swallow your criticism and give your child space to learn from his mistakes and become the person he’s meant to be.

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4. Describe Behavior, Not The Child

When there’s really a behavior that needs to be addressed, show respect to your child and focus on the negative behavior rather than speaking negatively about your child. By focusing on behavior, you can help your child see her actions as something she needs to work on rather than questioning her self-worth.

Of course, avoid any kind of insults and character assassination. As you know, our words become our child’s inner voice. We want that inner voice to be positive and empowering, not critical and destructive.

Finally, avoid making generalizations. When correcting your child, describe the specific situation. Instead of “you never listen,” try “you did not listen to me now when I asked you to empty your backpack.” That way, your child understand that there’s something specific they can work on and change. Whereas if it’s something they ‘always’ do, they will assume it’s part of their character and will feel less capable of changing it.

 

5. Give 5 Positive Comments For Every Negative One

Like Dr. Phil says “It takes 1,000 ‘atta boys’ to erase one ‘you’re an idiot.” Make it a rule for yourself to make sure you give 5 positive comments to your child for every negative one. At the beginning it’ll be difficult to focus on the positive and embrace your child as she is, but the more you do it, the easier it will be.

Make your praise and positive comments as descriptive as possible. Avoid using empty or vague comments such as “Great job” or “Good girl.” Instead describe what they’ve done that you felt needed to be note “You were very loving when you helped your sister climb up the stairs,” or “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys after your playdate.”

Try to make you statements about them, not about you. Notice I didn’t say “I like how you cleaned up your toys,” but “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys.” There’s no condition for my liking them. The idea here is to help your child develop a sense of internal evaluation, allowing them to take responsibility for their actions and pride in their achievements.

Let’s all work on being less critical to our children!

Much love, Diana-

Effects On Children Of Constant Criticism

As parents, we often tell ourselves, that our criticism, of course, is well-intentioned. We criticize because…

  • We are anxious about our child’s future
  • We want them to be their best selves
  • We want them to reach their potential (whatever that means in our head)
  • We want the best for him
  • We want them to have a great life and career
  • We are setting high standards for their lives
  • We know better
  • ….

We wholeheartedly believe that of our criticism is constructive. We might even think it is not criticism at all, but rather necessary nagging and well-intentioned, unsolicited advice. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

As I very well know first hand, children raised by an overly critical parent often suffer from long-term negative effects from this type of childhood. These are some of the many negative effects that constant criticism has on children. When frequent criticism persists, all efforts to improve our family dynamics will surely fail.

1.Damaged Self-Esteem and Low Confidence

Children of overly critical parents will spend most of their lives wondering what’s wrong with them and why they can’t seem to do anything right. They will not be able to understand that the problem lies within the parent, and will believe it lies within themselves. They will be left with the constant and uncomfortable feeling that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them.

They will become overly critical of themselves, because their inner image is damaged. They will have a constant inner critic ready to tell them all that’s wrong with them. This will lead to a very low self esteem, low self-confidence and a feeling of worthlessness.

2. Damaged Parent-Child Relationship

Children of an overly critical parent will often grow up to resent that parent. Children will certainly tend to distant from us when we display this behavior. Being constantly criticized will make them not want to be with us, not trust us, and not want to share anything with us. They know that regardless of what they share, they will be criticized or questioned, we will find something wrong with them, and they will be made to feel inadequate.

Who would want to have a relationship with someone who makes them feel that way? Not me! The problem is that children can’t really escape from this relationship until they reach adulthood, so they have a sense of being trapped. Additionally, they love us, with all their heart, so their feelings make them feel even more insecure and inadequate, because they realize they love a person who’s inflicting pain on them.

Constant criticism will most likely lead to anger and defiance, or secretiveness and withdrawal; which will then lead to even more criticism then more defiance or withdrawal, and so on. This cycle will repeat itself over and over again, creating a completely toxic relationship.

 

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3. Long-Term Mental Health Issues

As I very well know for personal experience, an overly critical parent can create an anxious or depressed grown up. Unfortunately the effects constant childhood criticism  don’t stop at childhood. The effects often carry through into adulthood, often requiring therapy to heal the inner child and stop the destructive inner voice created during our childhood.

Children of overly critical parents, spend their adulthood trying to be “perfect” while fully believing they never will be; trying to figure out what’s wrong with them; wondering whether anyone will ever love them just the way they are; and questioning and testing anyone who dares to do so. Therefore, they will spend a big part of their adult life trying to recover from their damaged childhood.

4. Self-Sabotage, Addiction and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

According to many studies, children with overly critical parents are more likely to fall into addition patterns as they get older. Addition can be in the form of illegal drugs, alcohol, obsession with physical appearance, sex or food among other things.

In my case, food was my go-to drug. Whenever I felt inadequate, which was most of the time, I would turn to food to soothe and calm my inner child. This obviously led to obesity and other health problems, that I have slowly overcame. The road to recovery from this type of childhood is difficult and never ending.

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Those of us who were raised in an overly critical environment are more prone to repeat the cycle, because we don’t know how to express love to our child in a different way; because we are trained to focused our attention in the negative things; and because we still try to fix ourselves.
This is one of the reasons why I became so interested in positive and conscious parenting. I don not want my daughters to go through what I went thought. I don’t want them to have a happy life despite their childhood, I want them to have a happy life and be well-adjusted adults because of their childhood.
Were you raised by an overly critical parent? Do you see yourself suffering from any of these long term effects? I hope if you do, you are on the road to recovery, and I applaud you for doing all you can to better yourself for your own sake and the sake of your children.
Much love, Diana-

 

Parenting Books

Audible

Audible has been the biggest discovery for me last year. I used to have a huge pile of books to read that I wasn’t able to get to before a new one added the pile. I love reading, especially parenting books, and I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t find time to read. Enter… Audible!

With Audible I can listen to my books wherever I am with their free app— in the car while I wait the pick up line, on my treadmill while I exercise, in my town while I walk my dog, in bed before I go to sleep, in the bathroom while I take a relaxing bath… just about anywhere! I love Audible and I recommend it every chance again, because it’s been life changing for me. If you love reading and don’t have time to sit with a book, you should definitely check it out.

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

My friend, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who became Oprah’s favorite parenting expert, has written the most enlightening and revolutionary parenting book. This book completely resonates my idea that ‘parenting starts with us.

This book uncovers the many ways in which we unconsciously react to our children, and how we can stop our daily struggles as we uncover better ways to let our children thrive in their own way. In my opinion, this book should be in every parent, grandparent, educator and teacher’s library.

The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Another wonderful book by Dr. Tsabary. This book sits on the premise that in order to be the best parents for our children, we need to first parent ourselves. We need to address and deal with our own issues, struggles, and automatic reactions as the key to coping with the challenges that come with raising little souls.

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, D. Ross Campbell

This book is about how to love your children. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, as it turns out, it is not as straight forward as we may think. How many adults are still dealing with feeling unloved as children? In most cases, their parents did love them. However, those parents didn’t know how to SHOW each child that they love them in a way the children understood.

Some of us feel loved by getting individual attention, others by words of affirmation… Everyone of us speak our particular love language. In order to make sure our children feel our unconditional love, we need to figure out their love languages. In this book, Dr. Chapman clearly explains the 5 different love languages children have.

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen


This is a very practical book that teaches parents how to discipline their children without the use of time outs, punishment, shame or guilt trips. As I mentioned before positive parenting is not permissive parenting.

This book gives parents the tools to raise their children without any punitive measurements, as they help build their decision-making abilities, their communication skills, their respect, their awareness, their confidence, their self-esteem, and their maturity.

Moms of 3 Are the Most Stressed Out

I thought I was the only one who thought the level of stress with 3 children was way higher than with 2. I had twins the first time around, and I dealt with it pretty well. I had my routines and structure in place. I had regular one on one and special times with each of my daughters. I was calm and collected… Then, after a long wait, our precious third daughter arrived.

Oh, My! I was in for a tough ride. She was way more determined and strong-willed than the other two from day one. But I knew that alone couldn’t be the only contributing factor to the increased stress I was experiencing, and to the whirlwind our lives got into. Everything was turned upside down, and I felt (still do a lot!) that I I have it all together, and that I was far from the mom I used to be to my twins, and that I wanted to be for the three of them. Cue… guilt trip!

Then, I read a TODAYMoms.com survey, and it all made sense. Apparently, when it comes to parenting, three is the magic number… for disaster and stress! Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels. Surprisingly, four kids seems to be the magic number when stress lowers for mothers. Who would’ve thought?

I believe this is in part because with four kids, you definitely has to let some things go, and assume you just can’t do it all. On the other hand, I think with four or more kids, you have to be organized and disciplined, there’s no choice. Being organized, helps reduce the stress and last minute fights and rumbles.

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This week, I have two of my friends’ children living with us due to a family emergency, and I’ve been more relaxed than ever before. Even though I’m now in charge of 5 kids instead of 3. I am more organized and things get done in time because I plan ahead, which is giving me time to have smoother mornings, bedtimes, and plenty of time to connect with the kids.

I’ve always wanted a big family, but I don’t think I could get my husband on board to have my children, despite the clear benefits 🙂

What are your thoughts? Did your third one threw you for a loop? What do you think is the perfect number of kids?

Much love, Diana-

Stress-Free Mornings Hack #7 – Remain Calm

This is one of the most difficult things to do as parents. We all have triggers that make us react in ways that we later regret. One of the keys to have a smooth morning routine is to remain calm in the face of mishaps, mistakes or delays. If we have implemented the first 6 hacks we’ve covered until now, remaining calm will be much easier. Here are some tips to accomplish it:

1. Breathe Intentionally

When things start to unravel and your plans of a smooth morning start going out the window, take a breath, so you don’t make an already chaotic situation much worse. The best way to find your calm is through intentionally controlling your breath.

Start by observing your breath just as it is. Notice where the air flows through your body– upper chest, lower belly, front, back, sides. After you do that, start intentionally taking several deep breaths into your belly. You can put your hand on your tummy to feel how it fills up with air. After that, take several breaths into your upper chest and lungs. Let the air flow slowly out of your body. You can close your eyes as you do this intentional breathing.

This exercise doesn’t take a long time, just a few seconds. The goal of intentional deep breathing is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which initiates the relaxation response, lowers heart rate, decreases blood pressure and slows down your respiration. Most people experience a sense of calm after doing this exercise, and feel more in control of their emotions.

2. Take a Break

If breathing alone doesn’t work when things start to get crazy in the morning, take a step back. Don’t add into the problem the problem by escalating the level of chaos and stress. Often chaos escalates unnecessarily and builds momentum because we leap into irrational action without logical considerations.

The best thing to do at this time is to excuse yourself for a bit, and regain your objectivity. Make sure you leave your baby in a safe place, like an empty crib or a baby swing; leave your toddler in safe area such as their bedroom or a baby proof living room; leave your older kids in a place where they can’t hurt themselves.

This will let you think through the situation and come up with constructive solutions to get things back on track. You want to rejoin your kids when you can be the voice of reason, and continue leading them into a peaceful morning.

3. Identify and Manage Your Triggers

Triggers are things our child does, says or feels that lead us an involuntary negative response, such as yelling, getting angry, shut down, spanking out of anger and even out of control sometimes. Your response to your triggers can feel automatic and completely out of proportion.

Our parenting triggers are often associated with things from our own upbringing, and from our past experiences. The most important part of addressing your parenting triggers is to realize that you’re not really reacting to your child’s behavior. You are having a strong emotional reaction because of the meaning that behavior has to you and based on your own past experiences. Instead of focusing on your child’s behavior, you should focus on what is happening within you.

I will cover this at a later time, so we can dive into the power of triggers and how we can overcome them. For the moment, focus on identifying your triggers and write them down. Then stop yourself in your tracks we you are faced with a situation that triggers you.

You may not know yet why you are being triggered, you may not know how to avoid them, you may not know how to re-parent yourself or re-wire your brain to get them under control, but you certainly can spot them and you can stop yourself before acting out on them.

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4.  Keep Things In Perspective

Some situations spiral out of control because we only focus on negative side of what’s happening. For example, our child may have cleaned her room, put on her clothes, prepared her backpack, and maybe forgot to brush her teeth. We then overlook all the positive things she’s done and we hone in on the one thing she hasn’t done. This makes our child feel confused, angry and without any desire to cooperate the following morning. Focus on the positive, on what was accomplished, and celebrate your child for that.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You know that not all the tasks on your child’s morning routine are equally important. Some of them can remain undone for later with no major consequences. Don’t make a rule out of this, but cut them some slack when appropriate.

5. Control What You Can Control and Let Go of What You Can’t Control

There’s no need to waste your energy trying to solve problems that are completely out of your control. Identify and resolve the issues you can solve and let go of those you can’t. For example, if you are out of milk for breakfast, there’s no need to stress about it or get mad in that moment. That’s not going to make milk magically appear. The best course of action is to brainstorm possible ways to go around the problem, and think of ways to avoid falling into the same mistake in the future.

Accept that you will be late

This is a hard one for most of us, but sometimes you will have to accept that there’s nothing you can do to avoid getting late to drop your kids to school, to take the bus or to leave them at the bus stop. It will happen sometimes!

For example, you blow up a tire just as you’re leaving your home, your baby has a poppy explosion as soon as you strap him in the carseat, your child falls on a mud puddle on your way to the bus stop… Things happen, and it’s not the end of the world. Acknowledge the situation and accept if for what it is, and move on.

7. Smile and Break The Tension

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Having a positive attitude is half the battle in any chaotic, out of control and stressful situation. Putting a smile on your face might sound like an idiotic or pointless solution to a moment of morning craziness, but it is not. By smiling, we are not dismissing the seriousness of the situation, we are simply breaking the tension to make things more manageable.

Smiling alone helps release all those wonderful feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. This release relaxes your body and  lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, the simple act of putting a smile on your face can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental state.

Furthermore, according to many scientific studies, the neurons in our brains have a synchronizing feature that keeps you in sync with who are you interacting with. Therefore, if our children see us smile, they will smile as well, improving the atmosphere in our home.

When smiling is not enough, we break the tension caused by a morning mishap, by adding fun. Yes, I am not crazy! I know it may sound counter productive to introduce a fun activity in the mist of your morning chaos. But believe me the stress released during the activity will make you and your children drain the stress and be more focused to accomplish the remained of tasks on your morning charts.

Therefore, when smiling doesn’t work, break up the tension with fun – start a pillow fight, engage in a tickle fight, put on music and dance like crazy people, play tag around the house, tell a joke… This doesn’t have to last more than a few minutes to completely transform the atmosphere in your home.

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I hope this tips will help you remain more calm in the mornings. What other things do you do to avoid or dissipate stress?

Much love, Diana-

 

Stress-Free Mornings Hack #4 – Wake Up Before Your Kids

This is one of the best morning hacks you can follow! Waking up before your kids is truly life changing. We all envision our mornings having breakfast with our kids,  smiling and leaving the house with plenty of time. Unfortunately, for most families, mornings are dissorganized, reactive and chaotic.

10 Tips to wake up before your kids

  1. Schedule. Have a set schedule of what’s going to happen in the morning, so you don’t have to improvise while your mind is still foggy. Consistency is essential to be successful with any kind of routine, so make sure you have a set schedule on paper, and you do the same thing every day.
  2. Go to bed EARLY! For me, that means anytime before midnight, so my current goal is to go to bed 10:30pm, even though my mind and body still craves some alone time at night. The good thing about waking up early consistently, is that eventually, you will be exhausted at night and will naturally crave going to bed early.  but it took some time for my body to WANT to go to sleep that early.
  3. Set out your workout clothes (or regular clothes if you don’t want to workout) the night before. Make the decision of what to wear the night before. I know of many people who actually sleep on their work out clothes, so they don’t have any excuse to exercise upon waking up. Maybe that’s the way to go for you?
  4. Have coffee ready. If you have a coffee maker that will brew coffee on a timer, set it up the night before. If you don’t have a coffee maker with a timer, you can do what my husband does. He brews his coffee at night, and keeps it on an amazing thermos we discovered years ago that keeps coffee very hot until the following morning.
  5. Turn on the lights with a timer. If you can put a timer on your bedroom lights, do it! That way, the room is lit as soon as you need to get up. If you don’t have a timer on your lights, you can use light alarm clock like the one my husband got for us. This alarm clock turns on a light slowly when it’s time to wake up, so your eyes have time to adjust to the clarity of the room.
  6. Place your iPhone (or alarm clock) far away from your bed. I place my iPhone on the counter of my master bathroom, which is 10 steps away from my bed. That way, I have to stand up, even if I want to hit the snooze button. Once I’m up and in the bathroom, I’m up!
  7. Splash of cold. Drink cold water (left in your nightstand or bathroom counter the night before), wash your face with cold water, and brush your teeth as soon as you hit the bathroom.
  8. Start your day with something you enjoy. Create a morning routine for yourself that you’re looking forward to jumping into. For me, the first thing on my list is to have a quiet time while I write on my gratitude journal. Then I grab my ice cold water bottle and protein shake, and I head down to our home gym and jump on the treadmill. You can start your day with whatever makes you the happiest (No, going back under the covers doesn’t count! 🙂 )
  9. Don’t wake up your kids. This can be a tricky thing for some parents, so here are some tips to help you with it:
    • Set up a silent or light alarm, as mentioned above. If you use your phone or iPhone watch put it on vibration.
    • Close your kids’ bedroom doors, so they don’t hear you in the morning. If they don’t like falling asleep with the door shut, you can close it after they’re asleep.
    • Try to make as little noise as possible, leaving things as prepared as possible the night before.
    • If they do wake up, despite all your efforts, make sure they know what to do, and when they can leave the room. They should have their morning routine charts at hand (we will talk about them in a future article), and they can have a clock that lets them know when they can start their day and come downstairs.
  10. Get ready before you start the day with your kids. Take a shower, take care of your ski, put on your clothes, comb your hair, put on make up if you use it, brush your teeth again. You want to be ready to hit the door when needed, right from the start. Besides, being clean and ready, we’ll boost your mood in the morning.

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Motivations to wake up before your kids

I am not an early riser or a morning person by nature, so this is one of the hardest things to implement for me. However, I try to keep in mind the main reasons why waking up considerably earlier that my daughters makes a huge difference in how our mornings and our days flow.

Self Care

If you haven’t done so yet, check out my previous post about self-care for moms (Janurary Resolution). When you wake up early, you have time to take care of yourself and fill in your energy cup before having to take care of anybody else.

I personally recharge my batteries by having silence and quiet time for myself. Finding silence while being a full time, work from home mom can be really challenging. However, it’s life changing. I am an introvert and very sensitive to noise in general, especially constant loud noise; so silence is vital to me. I usually write on my gratitude journal and meditate in the morning as well, and I know both things make my days so much better.

At least 3 times a week, I exercise in the morning. This is great, because I know if I leave it for latter in the day, it will probably be skipped. And, a bonus of exercising in the morning, is that I have time to ‘read.’ Well, not read per se, but since I discovered Audible, I’ve been devouring books. I ‘read’ while I’m exercising, while I’m cooking, while I’m at the drop off and pick up lines, when I’m grocery shopping… pretty much everywhere! For those of you who don’t know about Audible, check it out! It’s Amazon’s audio book app, and it’s fantastic!

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Purposeful Day

Waking up early gives you time to plan your day. When you take the time to plan your day in the morning, you stop reacting and putting out fires, and start leading your day with order. Besides planning, set your intention for the day, which will give you a focus for the day.

Quality Connections

Waking up early gives you time to enjoy a cup of coffee with your spouse, time to cuddle with your children before they get out of bed, or time to walk your dog. All these nurturing connections established in the morning will set the tone for the day. I will talk about how to establish loving morning connections with your children in the morning in the following post.

 

Have Everything Ready for Them

When you wake up early, you have time to finish up all the things you couldn’t finish the night before, such as their lunches or snacks. If you haven’t read my article about ‘preparing the night before to have a smooth morning’ I invite you to take a look at it.

You will also have time to prepare breakfast in a calm way, put on a load of laundry and even take care of some of the house of organization before the kids wake up.

Lead By Example

Waking up early sets a great example for your children. When your kids see you up and ready in the morning, they’ll model the same behavior as they grow up. They’ll see you full of energy and already filling accomplished as the sun is rising, and they will want to follow on your footsteps. To the contrary, if they see you dragging your feet in the morning, complaining of how tired you are, rushing through things like a chicken without its head cut off,  your children will end up doing the same.

I hope this was helpful and has encouraged you to set that alarm clock an hour earlier! Let me know how it goes!

Much love, Diana-

 

March Parenting Resolution: Routines

Let’s take the time to review our family routines and improve them whenever possible to make sure our days run more smoothly. Routines give our children a sense of security, predictability and independence. Routines help everybody in the family what needs to be done, who should do what, when things need to be done, in what order things need to be done and how often each activity needs to be done.

Our routines should prevent our daily quarrels to get out of the door, to get kids to do their homework, to transition from one activity to the other, etc.

The best way to establish routines is to set the expectations and involve the children in how things should flow. The more involved they are, the more committed they’d be to follow them.

The first routine I’d suggest to work on is the morning routine. The way our mornings go usually determine the way our day will flow; so this is a vital routine for all of us. These are my tips to make sure mornings run smoothly:

  • Write them down – children can help making a visual representation of their routines. For younger children, your child and you can create a chore chart using pictures of the different steps that need to be followed. For older children, they can handwrite or type and print, their own routines.
  • Do as much as you can the night before – this includes preparing snacks for school, setting up the breakfast table, preparing backpacks, choosing the clothes for the following day…
  • Wake up before your kids – give yourself time to start your day without rushing. Take a shower, meditate, write on your journal, review your agenda for the day, have a coffee… whatever you need to do to start your day peacefully and calmly.
  • Wake them up with plenty of time to go through their routines – we don’t want to wake up our kids yelling at them to ‘get up, rush!.’ We all need time to wake up, even early risers. Make sure you take a few minutes to connect with them in the morning to welcome the day, and remind them to follow their routines.
  • Be consistent – if every day there’s a different routine, it’ll be impossible for our kids to fulfill our expectations for each particular day.

The next routine I would work on is the bedtime routine. Our bedtime routines should be calm, relaxing, loving and smooth. Later this month, I will give tips about how to set up a good bedtime routine that fosters connection, good sleep habits and peace.

Our schedules should allow for certain flexibility, for family time and connection, and for unstructured play for our children. Not every minute of every day should be scheduled.

What are the most challenging parts of your day with your kids? What routines will you work on first? Let me know how it goes!

Much love,

Diana-

5 Steps to Help Get Rid of Mommy-Guilt

Mommy guilt is a massive phenomenon these days. Moms (and some dads) always find a way to feel guilty about something, and most of the time it is a never-ending cycle.

For example, if I spend all morning working on my business, I feel guilty because I haven’t taken care of the house and the laundry has piled and the dishwasher is still loaded…; if I decide to spend all morning taking care of the house, I feel guilty because I haven’t dedicated time to my business; if I decide to go volunteer to my daughters’ school, then I feel guilty because I haven’t worked on my business, or taken care of the household. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? In all cases, there are reasons why I should feel happy and accomplished, but the predominant feeling, most days, is GUILT.

This happens to most of us, we can always find a reason to feel guilty about. If we work outside the home, we feel guilty for missing school events, for not being able to help our kids with homework, take them to after school activities or put them to bed… If we are full time stay at home moms, we feel guilty for not contributing financially to the household, for not being an example of a working woman to our kids… We can always find ways to make ourselves feel guilty.

The problem with feeling guilty is bifold. In one hand, we feel horrible about ourselves, which only makes us feel more and more horrible about ourselves. On the other hand, these feeling inevitably pours out contaminating our family life and family dynamics.

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How do we fix it? How do we get rid of this mommy guilt?

Well, I’m not sure, we can fully rid ourselves of it, but there are certainly a few practical things we can to keep it as bay as much as possible:

1. Take care of ourselves. I know I sound like a broken record, but it all goes back to our physical, emotional and mental health. It all starts with us, and we need to have our cup full.

2. Find the good in you. Every day, make sure you sit down and write all the good things and accomplishments you’ve had as a mother. Nothing is too little or insignificant. This will give you perspective. Yes, there are things that you haven’t accomplished. Yes, there are things where you messed it up. BUT, you have accomplished many things! Remember those! After weeks of doing this, you’ll start shining a different light on your performance as a mother, I promise!

3. Don’t compare yourself with others. Comparison is the thief of joy. We all know that! Then, why do we compare our lives to the ones our friends or neighbors post about on Facebook or Instagram? We each have different circumstances and aspirations. What compare? Even if comparing was healthy (which is not), that is a really unfair comparison. We are comparing our ‘behind the scenes, messy life’, with their ‘picture-perfect’, ‘stage-ready’ moments of their lives. Its not a fair comparison, and we need to stop doing it.

Sometimes, when I am feeling specially guilty or bad about my role as a parent, I put myself on a social media diet. The simple fact of distancing myself from those beautiful pictures of other people’s life helps me find perspective on my own life.

4. Let go of the idea of the perfect parent. I am sorry to break it down to you, but there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all make mistakes, we all have good and bad days, we all get sick, we all mess up, we all make bad decisions at times… We are imperfect human beings, raising imperfect human beings. It is going to be messy at times.

Having the expectation that every single moment of motherhood needs to be filled with joy, smiles, organization, tenderness… is not only absurd, but it is harmful to us. It is the main source of guilt for most of us. This unattainable idea of what a perfect mother is, is what is causing us so much pain. We need to let go go that idea!

We can (and should) strive to be the best parent we can be, we can work on ourselves, we can learn new ways to better parent our children, we can improve our behavior, we can change our family dynamics… we can be amazing parents, we can be the best parents to our individual children; but we will never be PERFECT, because there is no such thing.

5. Have a sense of humor. My husband will probably laugh when he reads this, because I don’t have the biggest sense of humor in our home (one of my daughters and him do!). However, I see the value in it. I see the value to finding humor in our messes. It lightens the situation and helps us accept ourselves as imperfect human beings.

Besides, when we have a sense of humor about our shortcomings, when we are with our kids, they learn not to take themselves so serious. They also learn that we all make mistakes, and that mistakes are good as long as you learn from them. They also learn that when we mess things up, we can always find a way to make it better.

 

Mommy-guilt is a terrible disease that many of us suffer, and that robs us from enjoying our children’s lives and our own lives. I’m making a vow to work on these 5 steps to reduce my mommy guilt. Will you join me?

Much love, Diana-

What am I doing wrong?

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about my own parenting. Over the past few year and a half there’s been a lot of emotional and physical challenges, and many changes in my personal and family life, which have inevitably affected my daughters, my relationship with them and our family dynamics. Unfortunately, in some areas we need to course correct.

Recently, I’ve been having issues with some of my daughters’ behaviors, nothing major, but some things that I would’ve never expected from them. I’ve been wondering at times, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ ‘What am I missing?’ I know the answers are within me, so today I’ve decided to ponder on this guiding principle, so I can figure out what I should improve within myself, so I can better guide them to improve their behavior shortcomings.

IMG_5181.PNGWhat can you improve within yourself today?

Much love, Diana-

Your children are watching you

Sometimes we forget that what our children learn comes more from our behaviors than from our words. They are always watching us.

I believe that just being aware of this would help us be better parents. They notice our disposition when we wake up in the morning. They see how we live. They see whether we face the day with a smile and a great attitude, or whether we are despising getting out of bed and starting our day.

They see how we talk to and treat our spouse. They see how we show love to each other, how we have conversations, how we disagree and grow from our mistakes, how we apologize, how we appreciate each other, how we forgive and we respect each other.

They see how we treat their siblings, how we address little mistakes, how we listen to their stories and worries, how we have fun with them, how we share little moments with them, and how we respect them as human beings.

They watch us and learn. When they grow up they will emulate what they’ve lived in their home. If we want them to be good citizens, kind people, respectful and loving spouses, present and caring parents… we need to be that ourselves.

What are your kids watching?

Much love, Diana-