Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This Month's Marvellous Mum's Theme: Positive Talk- Mothering Mottos

Dear MMs,
Do you ever talk to yourself? I do! I knew I did, however this was highlighted the other day when I saw my daughter in her play kitchen saying to herself,
“Okay, now what needs to happen...?”
Ahh I have to laugh when I see my children walking around talking on their toy phones saying “shhh” to me as they chat to an imaginary grandparent or friend and using the same expressions that I do.
This month we will explore the idea of positive self-talk in relation to the unpredictable task of parenting.
I’m going to see if I can examine how the words we tell ourselves, can affect the way we parent or cope in the stressful or frustrating situations we are faced with daily AND see whether we can adopt some encouraging mottos to help us through difficult times.

There’s often a lot of discussion about talking in a positive way to others, especially to our children. Using words that build them up etc. And whilst this is extremely important, I believe it is just as paramount to talk nicely to ourselves as mums. And here’s why…

When asked the question, ‘What is your current motto/mantra?’
some of the responses were:

-I really must go to bed earlier (I can SO relate to that one)
-When you know better, you do better.
-Trust your instincts.
-Cherish every moment; tomorrow is only around the corner.
-Close your eyes and pretend it’s not happening.
-If you can change it, why worry about it? If you can’t change it,
why worry about it?
-Whinging is a type of communication.
-Don’t take yourself seriously. Nobody else does anyway.

A motto?
Okay so some of them are pretty humorous but I must admit, they did get me thinking. All of a sudden I wanted to examine what I said in ‘those times’ of frustration, tiredness or exasperation and, more importantly, were they words that would help or hinder me? What was my mothering motto?

Practice, practice, practice!
I think it’s really important to have phrases that we tell ourselves during these trying times of mothering that help to revitalise us, empower us and remind us that we can cope, that we are the parent and that it’s going to be okay. It sounds silly to say but I also think that we need to practice telling ourselves these things when we’re not stuck in the moment. If we practice them before we need them, then we are already in the habit of talking to ourselves positively and eliminating negative thoughts. We would not say negative messages to a friend who is a mum so; we should definitely not say them to ourselves.

We always have a choice.
Our motto may include words that remind us about our choices. We have choices about how we can view a situation and also about how we can react in a situation. None of us like hearing our baby cry for hours on end. I remember this especially with my first two children. Some nights I thought the cries of my daughter during her reflux would never end, but they did! As mothers, we do learn to tolerate stressful situations and cope with things that we never thought we would.
It’s okay to feel angry, hurt or frustrated about things. We all have these feelings but we then have a choice about how we behave in response to those feelings. And there will always be consequences good or bad for our actions.

Thermostat or thermometer?
I remember when leading on kid’s camps we were told to act like a thermostat not a thermometer. A thermostat sets the temperature where as a thermometer reflects it. As mums, I believe we need to set the temperature/ mood/ atmosphere of the home and remember to keep being calm, in control and
loving. Sometimes it is easy to get in the rut of reacting to our children’s behaviour; they are grumpy so we are grumpy, they are speaking in a loud voice at us and so we speak the same
to them etc. By having a positive motto remind yourself that you can be confident to respond to their behaviour appropriately and take comfort in the fact that you are modelling to them what you want them to learn to do.

But I blew it…
Don’t forget that we all have days when we muck up or don’t handle situations in an ideal way because we are not perfect. Just pick yourself up, apologise and move on. Keep on telling yourself words that will help you to make the right choice next time.

Is it worth it?
I am also trying to learn which fights to pick. Some times when I am feeling frustrated by my children’s behaviour e.g. wanting to do some thing repeatedly, wanting the same book AGAIN, carrying a sleep aid around during playtimes (dummy, blanket, pillow etc) which I feel is unnecessary, I just have to ask myself, ‘Does it really matter?’ and if it doesn’t then I should just save myself the grief, relax a little more and accept that there is a certain amount of predictability and certainness that children need, so why let it annoy me.

Take advantage of difficult situations and use them as opportunities to become stronger within yourself. Be your biggest cheerleader… give yourself hope and confidence to parent purposefully AND be sure to create a mothering motto (or two) for yourself today!

Here's a few suggestions to get you started.

What I tell myself- 7 practical mothering mottos that I have:

Situation: When making choices about what to let your children do, watch
or go to.
Motto: The decisions we make today will affect not only ourselves but also
influence future generations- so make the right ones!

Situation: When frustrations come and people don’t do what we want…
Motto: The only thing I can change is myself and how I parent.

Situation: Kids crack it at the dinner table and won’t eat.
Motto: I will keep being consistent and eventually I WILL win!

Situation: It all seems too much to cope with…
Motto: It's better to persevere than to live with regret.
I will be a woman of extreme perseverance. I will not let difficulties or
delays discourage me.

Situation: The house is an absolute mess.
Motto: I am developing healthy, happy relationships with my children, not
showcasing a display home.

Situation: Bedtime routine falls in a heap.
Motto: That was really hard … but tomorrow is a new day.

Situation: You lose your cool and speak to your kids in anger.
Motto: Tell yourself “You’re better than that” and apologise.

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