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-

Isn’t peaceful parenting the same as permissive parenting?

The short answer is ‘no.’ Peaceful parenting isn’t the same as permissive parenting. I know first hand that sometimes, as peaceful parents, we feel powerless and clueless as to what to do.

We know we don’t want to hit our kids, we know we don’t want to yell, we know we don’t want to threaten them… we know all the things we don’t want to do. However, we are left with a void and many of us, who haven’t been raised in peaceful, respectful, positive families, don’t really know what to do instead. That’s when peaceful parenting might become permissive parenting. It’s a matter of us not having the right tools or the right knowledge to come up with a parenting plan that works for our family.

What is peaceful parenting and how do we apply it? After many years working with families, doing research, reading more books than I can count and learning from many experts, I’ve come up with these peaceful parenting guiding principles:

1. Self-regulation: Peaceful parenting starts with us. We need to be in control of our emotions, our own reactions, our own feelings. We need to be able to regulate our responses to our kids’ actions or inactions.

2. Consciousness: Peaceful parenting is ‘present, conscious’ parenting. This means being in the moment with our child, connecting with them in the situation we are in, letting go of our expectations of how our child should be and embracing him for who he is, letting go of our expectations of how our parenting should look like, and stop striving to raise the perfect child. It also means being aware of our own baggage, our past, and our upbringing; and see how they are impacting the way we are interacting with our children.

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3. Connection: Peaceful parenting is based on connection. We need to recognize that creating a healthy parent-child connection is our primary work as parents. This connection is also the key to our children’s optimal human development. Our success as parents is directly proportional to the strength of the connection we have with our children. So, every time you are going to address your child, remind yourself ‘connection before correction.’ Make sure you are connected with your child before you try to make a correction, so they will be more open to listen to your message and to collaborate with you.

4. Respect: Peaceful parenting is rooted in the idea that children are people too, and deserve to be treated as such. The simplest way to figure out if we are being respectful to our children is to ask ourselves: ‘Would I treat this way a friend or my spouse?’ and let the answer guide us in your relationship with your child. Would you expect perfect compliance and obedience from them? Would you hit or spank your spouse when she makes a mistake or doesn’t follow to your demands? Would you send your spouse to another room when he is having or giving you a hard time? Would you ridicule, label or belittle your spouse? … If the answers are ‘no’ then you shouldn’t do that to your child either.

5. Communication: Peaceful parenting stands on a foundation of open, honest trusting and non violent communication with our children. The words we say to our children matter and shape how they see themselves. Always remember ‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’ Peggy O’Mara. When we talk to our children and involve them in decisions, when we communicate to them the reasons behind our actions, when we give them choices instead of commands, when we label their behavior instead of them, when we listen to them and their opinions, when we discuss ideas with them and value their points of view; we are helping them feel empowered, valued, strong, connected with us, and more open to learn and collaborate with us.

6. Empathy: Peaceful parenting cannot be applied unless we can empathize with our children. Empathizing with them means validating their experiences, their feelings and their emotions, without belittling them, without shaming them, and without dismissing them. Empathizing doesn’t mean agreeing with them or sharing their same feelings; it means accepting them and allowing them. Validating their feelings doesn’t mean condoning any type of behavior associated with that feeling. We need to understand that behind every one of our children’s behavior there’s a feeling, a belief or an interpretation. As parents we need to try to understand those feelings and let our children know that all emotions are acceptable. Once we’ve empathized with them, we can help them regulate those emotions and their reactions to them.

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7.Boundaries: Peaceful parenting is about setting limits for our children with kindness and respect. Children need freedom to explore, to make mistakes, to discover their potential and to learn on their own. However, as parents we need to provide them with boundaries as they exercise their freedom. Boundaries need to be: few, respectful, clear, explained in advance, firm, safe, loving, and purposeful. When we set a limit with our child, they need to know that we mean what we say. For example, if we have a limit that they can’t play on the front yard without supervision because the street is too close and it’s dangerous, we need to hold the limit. If they cry and protest because their friends’ parents let them do it, we still need to hold the limit. If we need to run inside to get a snack, they need to come with us inside or the snack can wait, we still need to hold the limit and we can’t let them outside alone. It’s all about setting limits that make sense for our family and keeping them no matter what.

8. Natural and logical consequences. Peaceful parenting rests on the idea of letting natural and logical consequences teach the lessons. A natural consequence is anything that happens without a parent’s interference. For example, when a child doesn’t want to put on globes to go to play in the snow, the natural consequence is that his hands will get cold and he won’t be able to play much, so he will naturally decide to put them on the next time. When we let our children learn from the natural consequences of their own actions, we prevent power struggles, avoid becoming the bad guy, and preserve our connection with them. In the instances when natural consequences can’t be applied, parents can establish logical consequences. Logical consequences must be few, related to the behavior, and respectful. In the example above, if there’s a risk of frostbite if the child doesn’t wear the globes, parents should step in, establish the limit and consequence. The child doesn’t get to play in the snow unless he wears the globes. The best way to phrase this with our children is using the ‘when… then…’ strategy. For example ‘when you put on your globes, then you can go play in the snow.’

 

Peaceful parenting isn’t about being perfect. We all make mistakes, I know I do! We are all imperfect people. Peaceful parenting is about learning and growing; it’s about wanting to be the best version of ourselves; and it’s about remembering that we are raising unique souls that have the right to make mistakes, experience life in their own way and be themselves.

Much love, Diana-

3 bulletproof ways to connect with your child

February is the month of love. The best way to make our children feel loved is to improve our connection and bond with them. As I mentioned in a previous post, every child’s love language is different. However these are three things we can do that will improve our connection with our child, regardless of what love language they prefer:

1) Talk and listen to them:

Ask them questions about their lives, get to know them, discover what makes them feel loved, figure out what you could improve as a parent, and take interest in their interests. Listen with the intent of getting to know them better and creating a connection.

Avoid jumping into immediate judgement or problem solving mode. As parents we tend to offer our advice even before our kids finish telling us their stories. That’s very disempowering for them, let’s learn to listen to them and sit with whatever they’re telling us.

I once read that when we are trying to improve our communication with our kids, we should consider ourselves to be on a “word budget”, and try to use as few words as possible. Listen more than you talk.

You will be amazed what a huge difference these simple changes in the way you communicate with your child, will make in your ability to connect with your child.

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2) Have special one on one time with each child:

Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, make sure you connect individually with each one of your children. Of course, it would be fantastic if you can take more than 10 minutes a day, and if you can incorporate longer periods of time at least once a week.

This special one on one time doesn’t have to be a whole production. You can play together, read together, cook together, go for a walk, go for dinner, lay in bed before the lights go off at night… let them choose how they want to use those 10 minutes that they have you all for themselves. During those, imply BE with them, look at them, set aside the electronics, and dive right into your child’s world. You will be surprise how just 10 minutes of undivided attention can change your whole relationship with your child.

3) Find them doing good:

Make sure you point out when you see your child doing something good, so they feel appreciated and loved. I am going to give you an example, one of my daughters has been going through a phase of pushing boundaries for the past few weeks. We were trying everything we know, but were still not getting through to her.

A few days ago, I remember this positive principle ‘catch them doing good.’ So, that’s what I did, I started focusing on everything she was doing right, and making sure I told her, and it has made a huge difference. She feels better about herself, and she’s starting to do good things on her own without being asked, and taking the time to make the rest of us feel loved and appreciated.

On Valentine’s Day, when I came out of the shower I found my bed already made and two teddy bears on the bed, with a mom and dad hearts. I went downstairs and I learn that my daughter – who actually hates making beds by the way – had made our bed, bought Valentines for us, and placed them on the bed. It melted my heart!

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When we are going through rough patches, we sometimes forget that our children actually want to do good, and when we acknowledge all the good things they actually do, they just want to do more. When interacting with your children, remember the 5 to 1 ratio, for every criticism, correction or negative comment, we should give them 5 positive ones.

Let me know if you try following these tips, and how it goes!

Much love, Diana-

12 Parenting Resolutions for a Peaceful 2018

I hope 2018 is off to a good start. My year has definitely started on a good note, much better than 2017, but that’s another story.

Anyway, we all have resolutions that we want to accomplish in the new year. For me, that includes parenting resolutions as well. I thought it’d be helpful to create a list of 12 resolutions that we can all focus on each month of this new year. By the end of 2018 we will (hopefully) have more peaceful, connected and loving families.

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January: Self-Care

It all starts with us! We have all heard that we cannot give what we don’t have, so we have to start by taking care of ourselves. Moms (and dads) tend to put themselves the last on their list of priorities. That needs to change! January is the best month to start taking care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally.

January is also a great time to reconnect with our spouses and make sure our relationships are prioritized. Our children will feel more secured and stable when they see their family is based on a good solid relationship between their parents (yes! this can also be done even when parents are separated or divorced).

When we take better care of ourselves and our relationship with our partners in live, we are more able to regulate our own emotions, which allows us to be better parents.

February: Love and Connection

Cupid knocks on our doors in February, so what better month to focus on love and connection? The goal of this month is to figure out each of our children’s preferred love language (more on that later on), and love on them the way they want to be loved.

This is the month to be present, really present and engaged when we are with our kids. Love them as they are and enjoy every second you spend with them.

March: Routines

Let’s take the time to review our family routines and improve them whenever possible to make sure our days run more smoothly. 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.

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.

April: Respect

It is always easier to lose our temper when we are tired, stressed, trying to figure out what to do, improvising what to do each day, and completely disconnected from our kids. Therefore, now that we are taking care of ourselves and our relationships, we have re-connected with our kids and know how to love on them a little bit better, and we have established good routines that work for our family, we can start focusing more on modeling good behavior. Good behavior has its roots in respect, it all begins with respect.

May: Electronics Control

I believe taking control of the use of electronics in our house is vital, especially right before our children are off from school and will have more free time. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use electronics, but I believe in being conscious and intentional with our use of electronics. There are many ways we can use our iPads, iPhones, TVs… can be use as a way to connect with our children.

June: Communication – Listening

Now that we have our electronics use under control, the next step would be to focus on improving our communication with our children. Better communication starts by listening better. We want our children to come to us every time they need to share something great that’s happened to them, but more importantly, we want them to come to us when they have problems, when they’re struggling, when they’re afraid, when they’re stressed, and when they are lost.

Unfortunately, they will not come to us unless they know for sure that we are going to listen, without doubting them, without overreacting, without judging them, without putting conditions on our love, without an open mind, without an unconditional and loving heart. So, this month, my focus will be on listening.

July: Healthy Living and Fun

Summer is the perfect time to start doing more outdoors activities with our kids, to create healthy habits and traditions, to play more with our children and to eat healthier.

Sometimes we are so immerse in our daily lives and responsibilities that we forget to have fun with our children, just enjoying the moment, whatever we are doing with them. We all know the joy our children feel when they know they have our undivided attention and we are having fun together. This is the best time to focus on that!

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August: Planning

September is right around the corner, so August is the perfect time to plan our fall, and make sure we don’t start the school year with stress. We have plenty of time to get ready for school, to think about our children’s activities, and to start adjusting our schedules.

September: Patience and Routines

Back to school tends to be a stressful time, both for us and for our kids. We are all trying to adjust to our new schedules and routines, to new classmates, to new teachers, to new after school activities, to lunch boxes, to homework… It’s a lot! Focusing on our daily routines that we had already thought about in August, and focusing on being patient will help us have the best September ever.

October: Responsibilities

Once everyone is settled in their own schedules and we have already found our fall rhythm, I will be more intentional in letting our children have more responsibility. By that I mean reviewing their chores and contributions, and making sure they are accountable for their own work both inside and outside the house.

I want to raise children who own their behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors. I know I sometimes step in to much, and sometimes I ‘rescue’ them when I should let them fail and learn the lessons of their mistakes. In October, I will make the effort to improve in this area.

November: Gratitude

November is one of my favorite months of the year, mainly because gratitude and appreciation are in the air. In our family, we already have many traditions to make sure we make a special effort to be thankful during this month. However, I believe there’s always more we can do to spread joy, to be kind and to reinforce the importance of giving.

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December: Celebration

What better month to celebrate than December? So far, we have focused on improving one area of our parenting every month, now it’s time to celebrate. Celebrate our accomplishments, celebrate that we have made an intentional effort to be better parents, celebrate our family, celebrate our children and celebrate life in general.

That’s it! I believe this is a great starting point. Focusing on one thing every month, and carrying over what I’ve learned and improved the months before, I know I will be a much better mom when January 2019 rolls around.

I hope you join me in this journey!

Much love, Diana-

Two Thousand Kisses A Day

Those of us who’ve decided to follow a gentle parenting approach with our children know that this path doesn’t come without bumps on the road. Many think that gentle parenting is a permissive, lazy, dessorganized or hippy. Others think it’s a radical form of parenting that pushes breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, and elimination-communication on everyone, regardless of the circumstances.

We know that gentle parenting is neither one nor the other. As L. R. Knost puts it in her new book ‘Two Thousand Kisses a Day’, gentle pareting is all about meeting our children’s need for secure connection.
But how do we do that? We are surrounded by articles, books and pareting journals advising us not do use punitive discipline, not to spank our children, not to use rewards and bribes, not to label and humiliate our children, not to yell at them… and to be present, to create moments of connection with our children, to meet our children’s needs, to be firm but loving, to set limits… 
 
ImageHowever, all this general information sometimes confusses many gentle, positive parents. Many of the parents I work with privately or that I meet at my parenting seminars tell me that they understand the general principles of gentle parenting and positive discipline (loving guidance), but need clear examples on how to apply that to their day to day lives with their children.
 
Well, Linda’s book might just be the solution for these parents. Linda R.Knost is a children’s book and parenting author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. 
 
Linda gives clear examples, fantastic suggestions and clear information for gentle parents wanting to develope secure, healthy, lifelong connections with their children. In the book she doesn’t only give guidance on how to parent during the formative years of a child, but also during their teenage years and young adulthood. Linda is a mom of six children herself, which gives her a valuable perspective of 25 years raising children.
 
‘Two thousand kisses a day’ become ‘two thousand points of connection a day’ as our children grow up. As Linda describes it ‘Creating two thousand connection points a day isn’t about quality time, and it isn’t even about the quantity of time spent with our children. It is, instead, about being there in the small moments, the moments that matter to our children, and consciously meeting with them right where they are.
I absolutely love the simplicity and clarity of this statement, because I believe that’s what parenting is all about, it’s about relationship and connection, it’s about meeting our children’s needs, it’s about being consciously present, it’s about making sure our children know they’re unconditionally loved, it’s about being in our children’s lives now.
Much love, Diana Blanco

Spank Out Day

Today is “Spank-Out Day”, dedicated to raising awareness about the damage that spanking causes to children, and encouraging parents to find gentle, positive, loving, respectful and effective alternatives to guide our children through life.

Since as long as I can remember I’ve been against spanking or any other type of corporal punishment. I was occasionally spanked by my mom growing up, and never spanked by my dad. So, I am not one of those people who made the decision not to spank after experiencing it first hand. However, I did experienced the lack of connection, and I know how harmful that is.

Since I became a mom, Dr. Laura Markham’s words always stay with me as I parent my daughters ‘Connection before correction.’ The message sounds so simple, and yet it is so powerful. If that’s your mantra as a parent, even if you thought spanking was an option, you would never spank your kids. If you take the time to connect with them, to really CONNECT with them, with their feelings, with yours… from that place, it’s impossible to make the rational decision to physically harm your children in order for them to learn a lesson.

For those of you who need a little bit more convincing or information about the negative effects of spanking, and who need effective alternatives to it, here are some articles that are absolutely worth reading.

Great readings about alternatives to corporal punishment:

Love,

Diana-

 

Nightmares & Night-terrors. What to do?

Children spend more time dreaming than adults do, so they have more dreams than we do, both good and bad. What is the difference between a nightmare and a night-terror? and what should you do in each situation?

Nightmares

Nightmares are bad dreams that happen during rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep. He may also be afraid to fall back asleep, and he’ll probably remember that he had a bad dream. A baby or child who had a nightmare is likely to have a clear idea of what scared him, although he probably will not be able to his fright until he’s about 2 years old.

Night Terrors

Night terrors occur in at least 5% of young children and can start as early as 9 months. These mysterious disturbances happen during deep, non-dreaming sleep. When a child is having a night-terror will cry, whimper, flail, and even bolt out of bed. Although his eyes may be wide open, he’s not awake and isn’t aware of your presence.

The night terror can last anywhere  from a few minutes to half an hour or more. Once it is over, your child will return to a sound sleep and have no memory of the incident in the morning.

How to respond?

The best response to a nightmare and to prevent future nightmares is to help your child confront and overcome his fears of the dark, such as letting a nightlight or a special stuffed toy to sleep with.

The best responses to a nightmare are:

  • Be there and offer comfort.
  • Stay with your child until she feels relaxed and ready to sleep.
  • Stay calm and convey to your child that what’s happening is normal and that all is well.
  • Reassure your child that he’s safe and that it’s OK to go back to sleep.
  • If your child wakes with a nightmare, stay with her until she feels relaxed and ready to go to sleep.

The best responses to night terrors are:

  • a gentle pat, along with comforting words or “shhh” sounds,
  • make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. Don’t speak to him or try to soothe him,
  • don’t try to shake or startle him awake or physically restrain him — all of which could lead to more frantic behavior.

If it’s a night terror, in 15 to 20 minutes, your child should calm down, curl up, and fall into a deep sleep again. If it’s a nightmare, he might need a little more time to calm down and go back to sleep.

What to do to prevent them?

To prevent nightmares, the best thing to do is to prevent things that scare your child during the day; and to help him comfront and overcome his fears.

To prevent night-terrors, make sure that he is getting enough sleep, since children who go to bed overtired are more likely to experience these type of sleep disturbances.

Much love, Diana-