Taking Control of your Health Destiny
Have you heard the saying “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”? Maybe you’ve heard this one: “Happy wife, happy life.” Although these are humorous expressions that may seem a bit simplistic, I believe they speak a lot of truth. Mothers set the emotional tone for the household. I am not intending to place blame on mothers, but I do want to empower moms to learn how to influence the emotional environment of their families. Parenting is absolutely a skill that can be learned, but remember nobody is perfect. Surprisingly, despite being a pediatrician, I would not nominate myself for the world’s most patient mother. Many of the skills I share with you today I am still practicing and refining myself, and despite my best efforts and successes, some days I fall flat on my face. Life is not constant and some days will feel blissful with kindness and harmony at home, and other days will push you to your limits. My hope is that these tips will help you navigate and ride the waves of parenting and family life.
Take care of yourself. We’ve heard it all before, right? You can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. This is both the most exciting, and in some ways, the most difficult tip to implement. Learn the skills to tolerate and process your emotions. Try to get plenty of sleep and find time for yourself. Make a list of things that help you feel recharged, joyful, and peaceful. If you run yourself to the ground and leave yourself for last, you won't have anything left to give to your family. This can lead to feelings of resentment and negativity. Give yourself a little of that love you give to others, and you will see it actually ends up amplifying the joy you project.
Let go. Don't try to control everything and everybody around you. You only have control over your own thoughts and actions. When you release the need to be in control of other people’s actions and behaviors, that release brings a sense of peace and calm. It can improve relationships, and may actually be a way to achieve what you were seeking in the first place. I confess - I have been known to be a bit controlling. I tend to get more controlling when I am under a lot of stress. But although in my brain it seems like it would make things better, it often makes things much worse. First of all, the need to control usually comes from a place of fear or anxiety. And secondly, the people you are trying to control don't usually appreciate it and tend to push back. It leads to strain in the relationship and more stress. Although it is counterintuitive, let go to feel more peace.
Be Honest and authentic - It's ok to admit when you are anxious or scared. It doesn't make you weak; it makes you real. It also allows your children to see first-hand how an adult can process difficult emotions in a mature way. If you lose your cool, admit that you were feeling overwhelmed or irritated, apologize, and promise to do better the next time. This has been huge in my life. Just recently I was having “one of those days”. I ended up saying something negative out loud, and I told my younger son who was nearby, “I’m sorry, Mommy is having a really rough day”. He looked at me, gave me a hug, and said, “It’s ok, Mommy, sometimes I have a bad attitude too.” It was adorable and heartwarming. It was a great example of how we can all be open and honest and acknowledge one another's humanity. After all, even as adults we are not perfect, and this allows our children to learn how to work through mistakes and tough times.
Find creative ways to say “yes” to your child more often - this doesn't mean being a lenient parent or saying yes to every request. It takes practice, but there is a way to reframe every potential “no” into a yes. I am not opposed to no, but as parents we probably overuse the word. “No responses” limit thinking outside the box and promote conflict. The other day, my older son had some friends over, and they wanted to build some sort of dirt ramp in the back yard. (Talk about “letting go”!) He ran inside, grabbed a glass pitcher, and asked, “Mommy, can I use this in the backyard to get the dirt wet?” Immediately my brain flashed images of broken glass, bleeding children, and complete disaster (I’m a pediatrician, people; I always imagine disaster!). In the old days I would likely have said something like, “No way! That’s glass and it’s going to break!” But this time I remembered to find a way to say yes. Instead I said, “Oh, what a great idea! That sounds like fun! I have a plastic container right here you can use!” Of course, he was thrilled, grabbed the container, said, “Thanks mom!” and ran off. I patted myself on the back for fostering a positive interaction.
Respect and speak highly of your spouse or significant other - I admit that this is something I have had to learn and practice…repeatedly. My husband works a lot. I got into the habit of groaning about Daddy being late again or not being home with us. But it was not helpful to me or anybody in my family. I noticed I was projecting my rotten attitude onto my kids. The truth is he works hard because his job demands it, but also because he is the primary bread winner for the family. Not only did I take this for granted, but I taught my children to do so as well. When I realized this, I flipped my attitude. Instead of saying, “Daddy is working late again!!”, I now say things like, “Daddy is such a hard worker! He wants us to have a comfortable lifestyle. He isn't home right now, but he is getting his work done so he can spend more time with us this weekend.” It has made me happier, and has allowed my children to value their father more. And this is valuable for everybody in the family.
There are no perfect families or households, and you will still have your ups and downs, but remember you have the ability to set a tone that radiates throughout your house. And even though you can’t and shouldn't try to control everything, if you take care of yourself and let go, you can have more days of feeling peaceful, calm, and happy despite living life with a crazy, messy, and WONDERFUL family.
Do you agree that mothers are the emotional gatekeepers of the home? What are some ways you foster harmony in your home? Comment below, leave me a like, and share this blog post. Thanks for reading and have a plantastic day!