Last year I hit rock bottom, I had been doing the stay-at home mom thing for 5 years without much of a break. I started suffering, my marriage started suffering and I felt lost. The worst part is that I didn’t even realize how lost I was because I was on auto-pilot and 100% focused on my kids. Which is exactly how I wanted to parent (focused on my kids) but I started feeling myself less patient, more snappy and just not very happy.
I knew something had to change but I didn’t know what and so I did what the only thing I could at the time. I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks about self-development and spirituality, with lots of inspiring content.
I started analyzing myself and slowly I started to realize that a lot of my thoughts and actions come from things I learned in my childhood or from experiences I lived during my childhood that marked me, both in good and bad ways.
And it truly hit me, how I am parenting my kids TODAY is shaping who they will be as adults and it’s shaping their internal voice. That voice of doubt we have sometimes, of fear, of encouragement – that voice starts developing when we are kids and a lot of it comes from what our parents told us and how we perceived life at that time.
It was at that moment that I realized how important it is for me to be a happy person, to be fulfilled in life because this would lead to a happier family life. More importantly, working on myself made me discover the things I did not want to do to my children. I don’t want my children dealing with the same issues I’m dealing with once they become adults so I knew that I had to start working on myself even more. The more I discovered about myself, the more I worked on myself, the more patient, understanding and kinder I became as a parent.
Let me give you an example, one day my toddler broke our TV. As you can imagine we weren’t happy about it but because I had been working so much on myself, I was able to stop myself from having an explosive reaction. And as I stood there thinking how I would handle this situation, one of the other adults in the room told my toddler: “you are a bad kid (for breaking the TV)”.
The moment I heard that a light bulb went on in me and I immediately went to my child and told her:
“You are NOT a bad kid, you are a GOOD kid who did a bad thing.”
Why did I say this? Because a few weeks earlier I was reading a self-help book where the author talked about a woman who was having a really hard time in life and it all boiled down to some impactful but negative words she heard as a child.
I knew I didn’t want my child to record this moment in her brain and internalize that she is a bad child. I wanted her to know that she can make good and bad choices and if she makes a bad choice she can make it right, but that it doesn’t define who she is.
Had I not been working on myself, I wouldn’t have realized the importance of those words, of clarifying that she is not bad, but that she simply had made a bad choice.
It is because I made time to work on myself that I can see more clearly what my child needs, how I should talk to my child, what I want to say and what I don’t want to say.
Peggy O’Mara says: “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” Have you stopped for a moment to think about what this really means?
That little negative voice in your head that instills fear and tells you you are not good enough could be coming from things you heard in your childhood. And we have the power to change this for our kids and give them a kinder internal voice, one that says you ARE good enough.
But, in order to give our children the best, we must feel our best.
You cannot be a kind, loving, patient and peaceful parent if you’re not already feeling this way internally and this is why self-care is crucial. This is why, as parent, we cannot afford not to work on ourselves because by working on ourselves we not only become happier people, we become better parents.
When you work on yourself you start connecting with yourself, you start listening to your intuition more and this helps you to become a better parent – a more calm and patient parent, a parent that guides their children in a loving way, that recognizes their child for who they are and doesn’t parent from a place of fear.
7 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Be a Good Mom
So, how do you start working on yourself to become a better person and a more peaceful and loving parent? Here are 7 things you can start doing today:
You have to want to do this
This is the very first step! Working on yourself is something only you can do, and so you have to want to do it. Really want to do it. Personal development is not something you do in one day, it’s a life-long commitment to yourself and something you do a little bit of every day.
You might fall off the wagon sometimes, and that’s okay, what matters is that you pick yourself back up and keep on going. Your happiness and your child’s well-being is what’s at stake here, so ask yourself, can you really afford not to work on yourself?
Make a conscious decision that you want to become a better version of yourself, that you want to heal the pain you’re carrying and keep this present in your every day life. Working on yourself is a choice you make every day and it drives the decisions you make in your life.
Become aware of yourself. We tend to live in auto-pilot and live a life that’s driven by our habits, we wake up, eat, get dressed, work, cook, clean, go to bed and repeat. It’s very easy to get lost in the busyness of it all.
The first thing you need to do is to start paying attention to what you’re saying and how you’re acting. Once you start paying attention you will start recognizing things in yourself that you want to change or improve. This may sound simple but it is truly powerful. Start paying close attention to what you say, how you’re acting and how you feel as things happen.
Once you start becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings, when your child behaves in a way you don’t approve off, you can stop yourself before you react and actually think more carefully about what you want to say and how you want to handle the situation.
Pause before reacting
A lot of the times when our children act in a way we don’t approve of we immediately have a reaction, sometimes one we end up regretting later.
When my daughter broke our TV I was so shocked that I knew if I said anything right then and there I would regret it, because I was aware of my negative thoughts and feelings. Instead, I stood in silence for a few minutes looking at the TV and looking at my child.
Eventually I was calm enough to deal with the situation. And here’s the thing, when you yell or you’re explosive your child complies out of fear. What we really want is for the child to learn and understand, so when we approach any situation in a more calm and loving way we can get through to our children on a much deeper level.
Once I started thinking before parenting, once I stopped being a reactive parent, my children’s behavior started changing, for the better.
Once you start recognizing things in you that you don’t like you need to start working on them. Depending on how deep are the scars you might need professional help but if this is something you can work on yourself, then you need to find inspiration in order for you to know where you want to go in life, who you want to be.
Find podcasts, books, audiobooks, videos, guides, coaches or teachers that show you a different way, that inspire you to be better and that help you connect with your true self so that you can start living your life from a place of love and happiness.
What inspires one person, might not be what inspires you. You need to try a few different things until you find what’s right for you. You will know that it’s right because it will make you feel good, it will make you feel happy and it make you feel pumped to keep on being the best version of yourself.
Many years ago my mother told me: “listen to the advice from those who have what you want in life.”
Find people who are living your dream life, who are parenting in a way that you’d like to parent your children and listen to what they have to say. No one is perfect but everyone evolves in different ways, at different times and what they are doing or the advice they have for you might be exactly what you needed to hear right now.
Keep an open mind and filter everything through your heart. If it feels right to you and you want to try it, then do it. If it doesn’t, then move onto the next thing.
Quiet down your mind
A lot of the things that we do in our life are decided by our minds, but our minds are not the only part of us, we have a soul and we are more than just our minds. This is why it’s important to NOT live in auto-pilot and become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Awareness and stillness go hand in hand. It’s when you quiet down your mind that you can “hear” your soul, that you can tap into your intuition and that you can get clarity in life.
If you find yourself thinking too much about something and not being able to make a decision; it is because you need to quiet down your mind. And quieting our mind happens anywhere, it’s just a matter of you setting that intention.
You can do this while exercising, listening to music, cleaning, cooking and of course, meditating. Just focus on one thing, one song, one affirmation or mantra. Allow your mind to fully focus on whatever it is you’re doing so the rest of your thoughts can dissipate.
Our minds are like a TV with many channels and sometimes all the channels are on. To quiet down your mind you need to focus on one channel, and eventually turn it off. That’s why focusing on a guided meditation, a song or an activity can help to quiet down your mind.
Make this a regular practice in your life and try to do this every day. If you don’t get a lot of time away from the kids, do this with the kids. Lay down on the grass, look at the clouds, take deep breaths and just relax, with them by your side.
Make time for yourself
For a long time I felt that self-care was selfish and impossible because I didn’t have any free time. But making time for yourself doesn’t mean you need to go to a spa for several hours. It means that you are with yourself, doing something that brings you joy.
Self-care could be collapsing on the couch after a long day and just resting. Find something that brings you joy and helps you relax, that is your self-care for the day. Try and do something just for you for 10 minutes a day. It will start improving your mood almost immediately.
If you want to be a good mom, if you want to raise your children to be better people, to be independent and happy, to live a fulfilling life, it starts by working with you. It starts by being a conscious parent – by being conscious of the way you’re acting and of what you’re thinking.
When you work on yourself, everything else around you gets worked out too. We stop ourselves from doing things that might scar our children or that might shape them in a not very positive way. We start feeling happier and this makes us better parents.
And while we cannot control everything, we have 100% control of how we react to things. Choose to react in ways that are more peaceful and loving. Your children are watching your every move and learning more from what you do than what you say. If you start working on yourself, they will know that they too can turn their lives around if they need to once they’re adults.
Start making time for you, you cannot afford not to.
If you need daily inspiration, check out my Instagram Stories. I share there the things that I read and inspire me with the hopes they inspire you too. I also go into more detail about these topics on my Podcast. You can find The Mama Instincts Podcast wherever you like to listen to podcasts, like Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, etc.
If you would like some ideas on what books to read, check out this list of 15 life-changing books.