The old saying, “when mom’s happy, everyone’s happy”, is true. Families don’t work when parents are overwhelmed and burned out, especially when it’s mom. Life falls apart when mommy gets the flu. It’s a full blown natural disaster when mom is depleted and struggling.
Parenting is a marathon. Sprinters run out of steam too soon. If you want to be there to help your twelve-year-old resist peer pressure and your teenager say no to drunken drivers, you need to prepare for the Mommy Marathon. How do you stay in shape for the long run?
Define Your Style
Stand at the finish line of any race and you will notice a variety of body types and running styles. Every runner is different. Some follow “the book” on form and training while others get there any way they can, hopefully smiling.
Every parent is unique. Define your personal style of parenting according to your strengths, your interests and your situation. For example:
• Are you a high energy parent or a calm, methodical parent?
• What’s your best time of day?
• Do you function better with little breaks along the way or do you need to check off today’s to-do list before you can relax?
• Do you love being indoors or outdoors?
• What are your favorite books, activities, and places to share with your children?
• How can a traveling parent, or a military parent, create rituals and routines that establish a sense of continuity and understanding in kids?
Learn what you need from the resources around you and listen to the experiences of other parents but, in the end, you cross the finish line in your own shoes. Remember, everyone gets blisters sometime.
Strive for Your Personal Best
Set your own goals. Everyone runs for different reasons. Some runners want to win races while others care more about the camaraderie. Think about your family values and your family mission statement. What are your short term goals?
• To get through the day with mostly healthy food, maybe eat dinner together more often
• To bring more calm to a jam-packed schedule
• To send pictures to faraway grandparents once a week, or to Skype daily
What are your long term goals?
• To cultivate a respect for learning and education
• To raise confident, courageous kids who look for ways to help others
• To create a playful home life where love and laughter rule the day
Once you set your priorities, it’s easier to notice your successes and accomplishments over time. Runners start that first mile again and again; parents start over each day. Each time is new but each time you add something valuable to what you already know.
Plan for Obstacles and Distance
The more you run, the more things can go wrong. Marathoners keep going through problems and bad weather, often facing defeat before reaching their goal. The longer you’re a parent, the less likely you can avoid doubt, frustration, criticism and mistakes.
Marathon parents have to be skilled problem solvers. They need to adapt and revise for an ever-changing reality. Children grow and change. Jobs change, people move, siblings are born, and detours occur.
• Focus on the big picture. Whatever the problem, you can get through anything as a family. Stand together in mutual respect.
• Boost your physical conditioning. You need a strong body for stamina and resilience. Eat, sleep and play (exercise). Every runner knows you pay a price for overdoing it or pushing too hard and too fast.
• Watch those mental ruts. What recharges your spirit? Is it quiet time, time with friends, date nights, or all the above? Laughter rejuvenates and heals – check your laugh-o-meter regularly.
• Build-up mileage. You know more than you think. Give yourself credit for all you learn every day as a parent. Take time to look back on the last six months, the last year, the last decade. You have amazing experience and yes, wisdom.
Mom, we want you to enjoy this mommy marathon. You can do it! And if you need a new outfit to boost your morale, we support that too.