Thursday, May 8, 2014

"STOP!" Yes, Stop. "Stop, What?"


by Amy Rollo, Clinical Director

As I sat down to write the blog for the summer only one word came to mind, “STOP!” Yes, stop.  “Stop what?” you might ask, and I want to respond with “everything.” Stop trying to make everything perfect, stop trying to be everywhere at once, stop trying to make your children live up to the neighbor’s expectations, stop trying to be the perfect parent and just be. Take some time for your family to be in the moment. I don’t know about you, but that gives me a big sigh of relief.

I came across a Huffington Post article not too long ago titled “I’m Done Making My Child’s Childhood Magical.” I instantly related to the article as a mom and counselor. The premise of the article was the pressure mothers put on themselves with the evolution of Pinterest and other social media sites that allows us to constantly compare ourselves to others. “Childhood is inherently magical even though it is not perfect” it states, yet we struggle with guilt of aspiring to be a supermom or superdad all of the time.

I reflect on my childhood and my favorite memories were the spontaneous ones. Going for a bicycle ride with a parent or snuggling during a movie. Sure, the family vacations were fun, but those do not necessarily come to mind first. Disney World was lived out every day with my imagination outside. In today’s world we have every hour accounted for with a structured activity for a child. Meals are spent in the backseat of a car out of a paper bag. Yes, it is the reality of today’s world, but we must schedule some unstructured time to just be.

Allow the family some unplugged time to be around each other. Whether that is a dinner together once a week, a family walk with the dog or just time at the house. Put down the phones, step away from the tablets, and just be present.

Be in the moment. I read recently that we now spend more time on our phones each day than with our partners. I catch myself grabbing my phone to video or take a photo when my child does something cute rather than actually enjoying the moment. I recently went to the park and witnessed three moms sitting next to each other. They were all seemingly friends, but all in their own world on their phones, as their children were shouting “Hey mom watch this!” I immediately put my phone in my back pocket, fearing that was probably me a week ago at the park.

Make sure everyone gets enough sleep. Yes, even you parents! Because children do not have to wake for school, we are tempted to allow for extended bedtimes. This leads to chronic exhaustion, not to mention crankiness. Limit television time before bed and keep a consistent bedtime routine that includes 15 minutes of calming activities, such as reading, light music or quiet talking.

Lastly, allow yourself the permission to not be perfect. You will mess up, your kids will be mad at you, and your day might not be a Pinterest perfect day from time to time. It is okay. Tell your children you love them, be a role model, and give them that extra hug before bed even though it is “so embarrassing!” They secretly can’t wait to get mad at all those hugs!