Dear Caring Parent,

Parenting is like hiking on trails (for those who don’t hike, imagine walking new routes through a major city). Some days are so full of beauty, our hearts burst with joy. Some days are so full of the worrisome, our mind fills with fear.
Some days we enjoy it so much, we are certain about why we do it.

Some days it is so hard, we are wondering, why did I say I wanted to do this?

Some days we relish how our skills are used. We are prepared for this parenting stuff, most certainly! Some days we can’t even find the skill that’s needed. We are in over our heads, OMG! And what do we do?

We react. We respond. When hiking, we might wait for other hikers to pass by and ask for directions, or try to figure it out ourselves by looking at the direction of the sun.  We might feel overwhelmed or excited. We might get exhausted or go into hyper-drive. We might feel so stupid for trying this or we might feel ready for the challenge.

How we react is based on what we have learned before about hiking and ourselves, what we believe is possible, and who is on the journey with us. All of this, in turn, affects how we think things through and our drive for continuing on the hike.

We may have to learn about how our gait is affecting us, or how to deal with getting down rocks or how to read trail maps. We may have to contemplate the self-limiting thoughts we have when we are challenged on a trail. Over time, because of this learning, we change our experience of hiking. It becomes easier, more enjoyable, and fulfilling because we are being intentional about what we learn.  We intentionally ‘up our drive place’ (our reflexive skills, knowledge, and self-awareness that make up our reactions to our experience).

It is the same with parenting.  We get confused, challenged, and tired at times. And in order to react in a way that is constructive and loving, we do best if we intentionally ‘up’ our drive place by adding new knowledge and support.

We can let helpful science in; science that can open us to a new direction.  We can practice skills like listening, being patient, visualizing, voicing, exploring, and setting boundaries. We can just listen to people who expand our know-how. We can become more aware of the vast resources within ourselves.  But by adding to our skills, knowledge, and insight, we can alter how we experience those confusing, tiring parenting moments. (If this sounds about right to you, check out the book, The Dance of Parenting – Finding Your Inner Choreographer).

And we also can just plain old nourish ourselves. When hiking, our drive is sustained by ongoing nourishment (water, food, and rest). The need for that is obvious. Well, our parenting drive needs ongoing nourishment too.

So this week, nourish yourself! Support your ‘drive place’! Weave something throughout your days that is just for you, that sustains you, that gets you away from the constant needs of your children, and that leaves you feeling better even as you return to the demands of parenting. It can be simple, even free. Do it several times.

We are intentional about how we make hiking more fulfilling, so too can we be intentional about how we make parenting fulfilling.  And what better way to start than to do some simple things just for yourself!  Parenting is a long hike, after all!

Sometimes parents get stuck and can’t think of what to do.  If that is you, the prompts in our e-class on parenting affirmations will totally help you.

Until the next post, be well, Natasha