Lessons in Parenting

The Gratitude Momma Mindset

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This summer was a lot different for us than any other summer. 

And at first I thought it was THE WORST. 

In summers past I had nothing but time with my kids. We focused on lazy mornings, beach days, and outdoor adventures.

But not this summer. This summer was different. The kids and I all had a hard time wrapping our heads around it. I should be totally honest and say there were moments that I was kind of bitter about the whole thing which is kind of silly considering this was my choice.

Let me backup just a bit: for over 2 years I have had a part time gig outside of holistic health coaching that I love just as much. I have taught adult basic education for a local non-profit. 

I love that gig. 

And when they offered me a full time position, I couldn't say no. 

But a full time position outside of my home was a huge change for the family and for me. When I accepted the new position I did so knowing there were be some bumps along the way.

I began my new full time position July 1st, right as summer began. 

So there we were, kicking off summer by getting up earlier than they had during the school year, the kids seeing me less, and all of us adjusting to a brand new reality of a full-time working mom. (And yes, of course I am still coaching! Couldn't make me stop if you tried, haha!) 

There were tears some mornings, sometimes at night. (From the kiddos and from me.) 

I was sad about all of the things I was missing. I wondered more than once if I was doing the right thing. 

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My kids were super lucky to be able to spend the summer days with their generous and fun aunt who planned fun-packed days at the snap of a finger. I couldn't have asked for a better arrangement. But I still spent some time feeling bad and even grieving the end of how things used to be for us.

As moms I think we are pre-programmed to feel guilty ABOUT ALMOST EVERYTHING. And this new situation was no different for me. I had to pep-talk myself out of guilt and regret many times because ultimately I wanted this new gig. It came with adjustments to my home life but that is what life is about, right? Nothing stays the same, everything changes and being able to flow with those changes is key. 

I could see all the adjustments as "sacrifices" but I refuse to go there. 

Instead I decided (somewhere in the middle of the summer and bad feelings) to find all of the silver linings, all of the blessings, and all of the happy moments. 

Life is what we focus on.

If I CHOOSE to focus on the hard parts of change the hardships will overwhelm me. 

If I CHOOSE to focus on every precious moment this summer, those moments will carry me through. 

Although those moments might be fewer this summer than they were in the past, guess what? They are just as precious to me and my children as well. When recently asked about a favorite part of the summer, my oldest could have chosen any of the adventures she has had this summer while I was as work: beach days, road trips, museums, zoos, aquariums, boardwalk arcades.... 

...but she named one of the days I was able to steal away with them, when we headed to a local amusement park, got caught in the rain and had ice cream for lunch. THAT one day stands out for her. It stands out for me too.

I learned a lot this summer about the power and importance of a gratitude mindset. Whatever it is that makes us think that guilt needs to be a part of everything should just back off.

I am shaking the guilt and embracing the gratitude.

I am endlessly grateful for all of the days I have had with my children this summer. I am grateful for all of the ups and downs and all the lessons learned.  This summer might have had limited adventures for the first time ever, but if I can see it for what it is really worth, it makes all the difference. 

 The kids are alright. I love these little monsters. 

The kids are alright. I love these little monsters. 


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The Teachable Moments of a 3rd Grade Presidential Campaign

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Y’all might know that my son recently ran for 3rd grade class President. He was nominated by his classmates and was quite honored. In class the candidates picked their campaign teams, created posters, and brainstormed speech ideas. 

This class election was a part of the 3rd grade unit on government. The election between 3 candidates came with some basic rules of fairness and other guidelines. The teacher was clear about not making empty promises like, “I will end all testing for the rest of 3rd grade.” Not really something you should promise because it just ain’t gonna happen. 

Honestly, my son left my husband and I out of a lot of his strategizing and we really had to pry to find out campaign updates. He did finally open up when he was seeking some extra support from us for his big speech, the one he would deliver to his classmates before the vote.  

A few hours of working with my son on his Presidential speech presented us with some remarkable teachable moments about leadership that I am so grateful to have had.  Not sure when we would have had these mini conversations otherwise. 

I spent a lot of time after the speech was complete thinking about those teachable moments and how special they really were. I spent enough time thinking about them that I finally thought maybe I should share them with you. 

 

Teachable Moment #1: Breaking down leadership qualities.  

At first my son was stuck in his speech writing because he really wanted to promise his classmates something. He couldn’t get rid of tests, or homework, or behavior charts. What could he promise?

This was our first opportunity to flip the script on him a bit, to ask him to suspend the idea of promising something and instead promise that he was right for the job because he has what it takes to be a leader.  

So, what does it take to be a leader?

The answers didn’t flow as easily as I thought they might have for him. However we did eventually come up with some key qualities: 

  • Responsibility
  • Compromise
  • Honesty
  • Confidence
  • Service (this was a biggie)  

With this list my kid could start to write and focus on examples showing he had these qualities

 

Teachable Moment #2: You are not in charge

 Teleconferencing with supporters. (Aka Face-timing with his cousins.)

Teleconferencing with supporters. (Aka Face-timing with his cousins.)

We all had a good laugh when my son announced he really hoped he won so he could “be in charge and make decisions”.  

Nope, not exactly the way it works, Bud.  

Imagine his surprise (and mild disappointment) when we used that opportunity to teach him that leadership isn’t about being in charge but rather about working with everyone and being of service.  

He hadn’t really thought about it that way but now that we mentioned it he could see how that made sense. 

Then he started thinking about how exactly he could work for his classmates and working that into his speech.

 

 

Teachable Moment #3: The Art of Creative Compromise

I think the teachable moments we had jumped on so far were a bit of a humbling experience for our candidate.  Positions of leadership, even 3rd grade Class President, were not about glory and unchecked power to declare lunch on Fridays will from now on and always be gummi bears and ice cream. 

So far his speech was coming along nicely with some strong examples of valuable leadership qualities. But he definitely wasn’t satisfied with that being it.   

I agreed.  

His dilemma was that he couldn’t promise anything.  

Or could he?  

Leadership means trying to work with everyone to find a compromise everyone can feel good about. Thinking outside the box is a hard thing to teach but with a few awkward examples from me, my son decided that even if the teacher’s rule meant there would usually be homework on Fridays, maybe they could at least start their homework in the last few minutes of class on Friday and get head start. 

Ah ha! Creative compromise.   

 

This candidacy was a rich opportunity to for all of us to revisit the idea of what it means to be a leader. Personally, I followed up with a bit soul searching and thought of my own role as a leader in my home, in my career, in my community. This experience made me do a mental checklist of which qualities I would like to see more in myself.  

For my son, he walked away with a much better sense of what leadership is truly supposed to be. And that even if you bestowed a leadership position, things get more challenging from there. It is work. 

I am going to say this was a meaningful experience for all of us. 

 

There are times when I mess up the whole parenting thing but I think things turned out alright this go around. These kids might possibly stand half a chance despite me. 

 

Phew.