My family and I are currently going through a big move out of state. This has made good parenting feel at least double as hard as usual and my “Danish Way of Parenting” methods seem to go right out the window in one stressful situation after another. Unfortunately, I can see that this has its effects on my children. Understandably so, their safety net is being pulled away under them and my husband and I are trying to keep the ground from breaking below them. But this is so much easier said than done while we are navigating transfer of school and medical records, buying and selling a house, saying goodbye to our town and friends etc. This has turned me into a different kind of mom, a stressed out mom, a mom who is constantly watching the mess they make because some potential buyer could show up and look at the house in less than one hour.
What is interesting though is that this stressful situation shows how much our usually pretty calm, engaging and patient parenting means. Children thrive in a calm, safe and happy home with parents who have time for them, who are there for them. A stressed out parent who is constantly looking for perfection – who for example constantly fights little fingerprints and mess so that the house can sell – is not what they need.
It is almost impossible though to not get stressed during a move with children so all you can do is to be good to yourself – which I believe would be the case in most stressful situations. Try to get the stress levels down. Have breaks to restore your energy physically and mentally because only by being good to yourself can you find the patience and energy needed to be there for kids. I think this self-care is such an important part of “The Danish Way of Parenting” – instead of blaming yourself for not being a perfect parent and failing yet another time, embrace yourself and your unmet needs from the past. There is a reason why we sometimes scream at our children. If you empathize with yourself and take good care of yourself, you can get the emotional space to empathize with your children – and others. On August 28, Iben Sandahl and Sarah Zobel have a new book coming out on this topic called “Det goer Ondt i Maven, Mor!” or “My Stomach Hurts, Mom!”. It is about embracing your own past and pain so you can feel better and thereby be a better parent every day.
So here is my call out to other parents who are stressed for whatever reasons (aren’t most of us?): It is more or less impossible to meet your children’s need for love and attention if you do not take care of your own needs! So go ahead and be good to yourself. When you make yourself happy and relaxed – by replacing some of the “shoulds” with some of your own needs wishes – you will be able to be there for someone else and live up to their wishes.
Oh, and plus your mood rubs right off on them! -What a great excuse to give yourself some happiness 🙂 After this realization I know I am going to enjoy that cupcake with wine, meditate and try to chill out – at least a little more 😉