Happy Mommy, Happy Kids
By Vickie Falcone, M.A.
Taking care of ourselves is the heart of successful parenting. The last time you flew, you no doubt heard the flight attendant’s instructions: “In the event of an emergency, first put on your oxygen mask, then help your child.” Apparently the airlines know the great secret to successful parent-child relationships: Parents must take care of themselves first.
We can only give our children what we possess, so it’s essential that we make it a priority to nourish and connect with ourselves on all levels. If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for your children. They will benefit in three important ways:
- There will be more of you to bring to your child: more joy, love, patience, and connection.
- Children learn primarily through modeling. If you take care of yourself, you’re more likely to raise a child who knows how to take care of herself.
- We teach people how to treat us. When you respect yourself, your child is more likely to respect you as well.
I understand why you might resist the idea of adding one more thing to your already overflowing plate. I intimately understand the demands and time challenges of being a parent. More importantly, I yet know that caring for myself if one of the powerful thing I’ve done to improve my effectiveness as a parent.
Three Secrets of The Peaceful Mommy:
1. Give Yourself Permission
Go to your calendar for this week and make a “take care of yourself” appointment. I’ll bet you’ve scheduled several “take care of the children” items. If you do not find at least one self-care item, please permit yourself to start taking care of number one.
2. Start Small
One January morning my yoga instructor asked everyone to share their New Year’s Resolution. I announced something like, “I will finish my book, start a healing center, and commit to world peace.” I felt so proud, so very…evolved. Then it came time for the instructor to share. This mother of two enthusiastically announced, “My New Year’s Resolution is to get downstairs ten minutes earlier on school days!” She continued, “I am sure that my children will appreciate a happier mom and a more relaxing pace in the morning.”
If I could have disappeared, I would have. Wake up ten minutes earlier! Yes, this was truly the secret to world peace: Begin with my own morning routine. Now that’s evolved. I went straight home and set my alarm clock to wake up ten minutes earlier. And it did transform my mornings. I used the first five minutes to meditate and get centered. When I walked downstairs, I felt calm and that naturally flowed onto my children. I used the other five minutes to leisurely greet my children. They responded immediately to the new and improved mom with more joy and a greater willingness to facilitate the morning’s chores.
What will you do this week that takes ten minutes? Start small, and commit to something you know will nourish and energize you—something simple. I started with one practice: walking. At that time in my life, that was a big commitment. Only after months of walking did I add a second practice. Louise L. Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, says, “Be willing to take the first step, no matter how small it is. Concentrate on the fact that you are willing to learn. Absolute miracles will happen.”
As you affirm your commitment to connect, take a moment to imagine the results. How do I feel as a result of connecting to myself? How do I feel as I relate to my family and friends from a place of connectedness? What’s the emotional climate around me? Although the 239 Tinkertoys on the living room floor won’t magically pick themselves up and fly back into the can, and you’ll still have to call the plumber to extract Raggedy Ann’s head from the toilet’s depths, you’ll do it with more peace and joy. And maybe even some laughter.
3. Get Support
It’s essential, when making life changes, to have the support of caring friends or family. You may want to partner up with a friend to support some of your self-care activities. Research has show that a support system is essential for creating lasting change. That can be a friend a support group or a coach like myself.
You have both my permission and my encouragement to take very good care of yourself. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.