Beata, 2 ½, had always been a restless sleeper. It was a challenge to get her to sleep each night, and once asleep she would burrow herself into the side of one of her parents. She woke up screaming inconsolably from her naps each day and many times at night, as well. Sleep training was something that her parents decided they did not want to do, but Scott and Beth were tired. More than that, they knew that Beata was probably not getting a good night’s sleep, either.
Our patterns, or how we deal with situations like this unconsciously, are set very early in our childhood. What we saw, felt, and experienced on every level is repeated, especially when we’re stressed. How do we change our patterns?
It seems that sleep-deprived parents are given two choices: cry- it-out or just wait until they outgrow it. But is there another way? Was my son’s lack of sleep more than just an inconvenience? Was he trying to communicate something to me through his night waking?
She paused for a moment. This pause was for her. She centered herself around the realization that her child was distressed and this was how he was expressing it in this moment. She wasn’t going to do what he was demanding. That would not be healthy for either of them. But she stopped what she was doing and gave him her full attention. She ignored his behavior in this moment and focused on him, her child, who was clearly having a rough time.
Mother’s Day is a wonderful reason to do something extra nurturing for yourself and I hope that’s what you’ve been doing today. But remember that we can’t save our nurturing time for once a year. I hope that every day, you find a way to celebrate your mothering journey, even in small ways. After all, this is the most important work we’ll ever do. If we don’t appreciate ourselves, no one else will, either.
Red light, or our survival brain, isn’t a state we want to spend all our days in. But when necessary, it can provide the energy to lift a car off of another a person, or do whatever else is necessary to protect our families. That is truly the gift of the Mama Bear.
The challenge of being a parent today isn’t a lack of information. In fact, information overload has made parenting more challenging. Especially when you consider that the answers for your family aren’t going to come from the outside, but from within yourself. After all, who knows you and your family better? Sometimes, though, we find ourselves needing some guidance or some suggestions beyond the usual time-outs or other parenting strategies that just don’t seem to be working.
As a parent and partner, technology takes on different meanings and challenges. In the context of family life, I know what a big issue this can be. In my own family, we’ve experimented with the many ways technology can be handled. From no limits to almost no technology at different ages and stages, we’ve found there is no one answer.
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“I’m scaring my kids,” she said as she sat in my office one summer day. “What scares me the most is that I don’t know how to make this different for me or for them.”
This is a common theme I hear from parents. They’re feeling completely spent, whether they’re going through a rough patch with their spouse, have just begun the process of separation or divorce, or perhaps there’s stress because there simply isn’t enough support to parent effectively.