Parenting by the Book
Is there ever a more obvious display of our strengths and weaknesses than when we are parents?
I am discovering (rediscovering, maybe?) that I am a by-the-book type of person. I was always good in school and seemed to know what the teacher wanted, and then was excited to follow through and get a good grade. I am a perfectionist. I like to do things very well - of the highest caliber - and without mistakes.
This characteristic served me well in school, but has proven to be challenging as a parent.
Some days I feel like super woman with all the things I get done before 7 a.m., and other days it feels like we just barely make it through the day in one piece.
Unfortunately, my mood is usually affected by which way our day goes.
By the book and perfectionism doesn't work in parenting, I'm discovering. There isn't one way to do something. There are many right ways, and few wrongs. My daughter isn't a textbook - that book is still being written. By her and us.
So I'm throwing out perfectionism and striving toward what is optimal while making room for real life. The hardest thing for me to adjust to so far is that babies are constantly changing and that means the things that work now may not work next week. It can be hard to keep up. I just can't anticipate what she will do next and that means I fail. A lot.
I think accepting this reality is one of the best things I can do for future parenting success. Especially because I believe that my future children will likely be different than Rooney and I will have to adapt again. This has led me to stress less about things going perfectly and to just relax a bit more. In general I feel like I am an easygoing person and that is how I want to parent as well. Anyway...I am working on my confidence.
6 things I try to remember...
- Don't read too much. I really can't say enough about how much I reference the Babywise Mom blog. I have read most of her posts on 6-9 month olds, even if the title didn't seem like something I needed (like "nap disruptions"). I find so much knowledge there about babies in general (not necessarily Babywise info). I just have to be careful to not read too much and develop ideals.
- Get the right perspective. When making decisions, I try to not get hung up on trivial things, like what organic vegetable to feed her first. I often ask myself, "Will this matter in a week? A month? A year?" And usually the answer is no.
- Does it feel right? One thing I have promised to myself and my family is that I won't do things that don't feel right in my gut or for our family. When I have in the past, I regret it.
- What would I tell someone else who is going through the same thing? It has helped me to talk to other moms who are really laid back (being high-strung is of no interest to me). My friend Michelle at work is laid back (her youngest son is a week younger than Rooney). Our kids are doing the same things most of the time, and the "advice" I give her is so much different than the advice I give myself. So, I need to listen to myself more. And my friend Missy who has four (4!) girls is another mom who I want to be more like. (Missy, let's get together more so you can rub off on me!)
- Pick your battle. One thing I focused on this month was to be firm with Rooney when she is on the changing table. I give her a toy (or something to hold) so I can change her pants, and then I work as quickly as I can. If she tries to roll over, I pick her up and put her back on her back. Distraction is key. I have been 100% committed to change in that area and I know it will be easier to break her of that habit now than it will be if I let her continue. So I am focusing on that right now and letting some other stresses (that I perceive to be of lesser importance) slide.
- Have faith. Everything will work out the way it's supposed to. Everything is exactly as it should be. Let go and give it to God. We pray for Him to cover her in His protection and to provide for her needs.
Have you been in my shoes before? What helped you get past the perfectionism?