Parents and parents-to-be, were you ever told that having kids would change your life? Josh and I were definitely told…several times. Now, we find ourselves telling others the same thing. I also remember being told not to let our children rule our lives, to keep living our lives, but with children. I remember wanting an explanation of how I was going to do this, especially at eight weeks postpartum with Little Nugget (my first-born). The thing is, babies don’t come with a manual, and if they did, it would be impossible to have that many editions of how to raise a child. Every. Human. Being. Is. Different. Now, two nuggets ‘deep’ and a love for myself, I’ve discovered how to continue living my life…with children.
I’ve discovered that I simply (as if anything in this world is ‘simple’) need to incorporate my children in what I like to do. I don’t have to discover what they like to do as that will be their job. They’ll naturally find an interest in my hobbies by joining me, or they won’t. I have to understand that either is perfectly alright. They won’t love me less and I won’t love them less if they decide not to enjoy mountain biking or photography, for example. I will respect whatever it is that they want to try and will try it with them. My intention in doing this—Josh deserves part of the credit as together we’ve decided on parenting this way—so, our intention in doing this is to honor the individuals our children are while exemplifying conscious behavior.
I’ve also realized that I can’t force my nuggets to do something they don’t want to do. This may sound like an obvious one, but let me tell you, I have been in parenting situations where I’m blinded by emotion and I don’t always make the most sensible decisions. For example, forcing Little Nugget to hug someone when he doesn’t want to is not honoring his individuality and freedom of choice. I’m also not trying to say that I plan to give Little Nugget reigns over his life—at least not for another fifteen years—but I do want to give him the opportunity to learn how to make good decisions, and how to consciously react to his environment.
My language towards Little Nugget has also changed. I find myself constantly telling Little Nugget, “Be awake. Be aware. Be conscious. Be alert.” and why it’s important to do so. I’ve been doing my best to stop using reactionary terms like screaming “Just stop!” or “What are you thinking?!” Words that don’t have much substance nor allow room for learning and growth. Screaming at Little Nugget doesn’t solve anything and definitely doesn’t make him anymore responsive.
So, what I am trying to say with all of this wordiness is, don’t stop living your life because you have children. If you like to ride your bike, run marathons, paint, dance, play video games, etc. have them join you. (When appropriate, of course.) You might have to bring it down a level, ie: play family-friendly video games or start off running around the block. Before you know it, they’re outrunning you, getting to the end of the game before you, or sucking you into their hobbies.
Keep living life…with your nuggets. You’re teaching them to stay true to themselves and share their authentic self with others. By loving yourself, you are speaking louder with your actions than you ever could with your voice. Take care of yourself so your children see self-care as a normal part of life. Imagine the generation we can raise by taking care of ourselves and participating in what brings us joy and health. What a generation of children we can raise by starting with ourselves. We are good people. We are good parents. We just need to believe it.
Cheers to the lives we live!