Happy Mama Monday!
I am super excited to introduce Kacie Ellis to you – she’s an amazing mama to two adorable little daughters. Kacie shares so many helpful parenting tips and tools as well as some of the funnest toddler activities to do with your children. She does IT ALL!
Today’s guest post features Kacie, who gives moms such amazing advice! I know I have personally loved following along on her blog and instagram and have since I started blogging almost 5 years ago. She has given me so much insight to parenting or at least to helping me not feel discouraged in those challenging times we go through as mothers. Today Kacie is sharing 12 Essential Tips to Happy Parenting to Remain Calm during Challenging Times. You’re going to love her post today!!
If you are new around here, I have been featuring an amazing mother that inspires me as part of my Mom Talk Monday once a month. You can see our last guest post here.
MEET KACIE ELLIS
We all become parents wanting, hoping, and planning to enjoy our children. We love them so much. We want nothing but happiness for them. We want their childhood to be filled with so many wonderful memories. We don’t plan on feeling frustrated, upset, stressed, or overwhelmed. But parenting is hard work. It has it’s difficult phases, long days, and oh so many emotions (for both us and our children). It can be difficult to stay calm through it all.
I recently shared a post about yelling; why we yell, it’s effects on our children, and the importance of being a calm parent (https://elementsofellis.com/yelling-effects-on-our-children/). I received a lot of messages from moms saying they don’t want to yell at their children, but don’t know how to remain calm in those difficult moments. But with these 12 tips on happy parenting, I know we can all be the calm, happy parent we want to be. Well, most of the time. Aftervall, we are still human and nobody is perfect.
12 ESSENTIAL TIPS TO HAPPY PARENTING TO REMAIN CALM DURING CHALLENGING TIMES
– Forgive Yourself Quickly:
We all have moments where we snap. We yell, we react to a situation instead of responding to it, etc. We’re not perfect, and that’s ok. In those moments, it’s important to forgive yourself, and forgive yourself quickly. It can be easy to get lost down that rabbit hole of feeling frustrated and angry at your child, and then at yourself for how you reacted. You immediately feel guilty for yelling/reacting, and that guilt turns to anger, and that anger starts to feel justified. When that happens it can be hard to pull yourself out of those feelings of frustration and anger. It takes a conscious effort to bring yourself back to a calm state so you can change your reaction to a calm response. But if you forgive yourself quickly, it’s easier to pull yourself out of that rabbit hole, and you will find it easier to then respond to the situation in a better way. Remind yourself that it’s ok to have feelings too, and it’s ok for you to not always handle every situation perfectly, and it’s ok for your child to see that sometimes. When you make a mistake and recover from it, you’re teaching your child that it’s ok to not be perfect all the time, that it’s ok to make a mistake and that they can recover from their mistakes too.
–Validate Your Own Feelings:
It may seem silly, but when you’re in those difficult situations, whether you’re trying to keep yourself from expressing your emotions in a not great way or you’ve had an expressive emotional moment that you need to recover from, verbally validate your own feelings. Take yourself through the same steps you’d take your child through when they are upset (label and validate the emotion). “Mommy/Daddy is feeling _______”. This allows you to recognize what you’re feeling, so that you can then let go of that feeling. It’s also great modeling for your child. It teaches your child that you have feelings too and shows them an appropriate way to express those feelings (ie. saying “Mommy is feeling very frustrated right now” vs yelling or throwing yourself on the floor in a tantrum like our children do).
–Find What Re-energizes You:
Read a book, take a bath, go to the coffee shop kid free, workout, take a nap, etc. Taking some time for yourself (aka “me time”) isn’t selfish and it doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your children. Self care is not selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite. When you are in a better state mentally and emotionally, you can care for your children and loved ones even better, and with more patience. It’s also healthy for your children to see that you have your own wants, likes, and dreams, and it models for your children that their own wants and needs are important. For me, I find that getting up 1-2 hours before my kids re-energizes me. Yes, that means a 5am wake up and less sleep, but I’m in such a better mood and more patient with my girls when I can start my day with some calm, productive time to myself.
Time is a great parenting tool that can be used in a variety of ways. One way we can use time to our advantage is to give ourselves time to get to a calm state of mind when we feel that we’re close to reaching our breaking point. It’s ok to say to our children “Mommy/Daddy needs a break right now to feel calm”. Make sure your child is in a safe place, and then take a break, walk away, lock yourself in the bathroom, whatever you need to do to find a moment of peace. It’s ok if your child is crying in the crib for a minute while you give yourself that calming moment. Remember, putting your mental health first is going to benefit them in the long run.
Another way we can use time to our advantage is by being proactive. Plan ahead. Instead of waiting to respond to a situation after it has happened, anticipate what will come next so you can be prepared for it, and sometimes even prevent it. Those moments of transitioning from one activity to the next or when our children want something right now can be some of the most frustrating moments, but if we are proactive about our children’s wants and needs, it will help to lessen their frustration, and ours too. Prepare their meals before they’ve reached a level of hunger that makes them quick to anger, redirect them to a new activity when you see them begin to misbehave… Being proactive gives us a sense of control and power over the situation, whereas being reactive causes us to feel powerless without us even realizing it.
–Stop Feeling Responsible For Your Children’s Feelings:
As parents, we tend to take on our children’s emotions. We feel like it’s our job to keep our children happy, and we feel responsible when they are sad or upset. But it’s important to remember that we are not responsible for their emotions, they are. We don’t need to go on the emotional roller coaster with them. It just causes us to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and upset too. Instead, our children need us to remain calm and teach them how to handle their own emotions.
–Respond vs React:
You don’t have control over your child’s feelings or the way they express their feelings, but you do have control over your own feelings and how you handle the situation. When you react, you are letting your child control your emotions, and you lose any power you had. When you respond, you remain in control of your emotions and the situation. So when faced with a difficult moment where you feel yourself getting upset and frustrated, take a moment (walk away, take a deep breath, get down on your child’s level) and respond to the situation in a calm manner. You may not have control over your child’s emotions, but you do have control over your own emotions, and you do have the power to get the momentum and energy headed in a positive direction by remaining calm.
“Do as I say, not as I do”. Well, children will do as you do. If you yell, your children will most likely yell. If you stay calm, your children will learn to stay calm. Model the behavior that you would like to see in your children and they will quickly follow suit. Calm parent = calm child = calm parent.
–Change Your Perspective:
Try not to take your child’s behavior personally. Tantrums, yelling, hitting, etc. are not personal, they are developmental. They are not trying to have a personal attack on you or ruin your day. Their behavior is a reflection of where they are developmentally. They don’t yet have the emotional and social skills to properly express their feelings. They also don’t have the time awareness, they haven’t practiced being patient, and they don’t have enough experience to know that just because they have to stop an activity now, it doesn’t mean they never get to do that activity again. Try to see the situation from your child’s point of view. Yes, it’s frustrating that they are still playing with their blocks when I’ve told them three times already that we need to leave for school, but maybe that block building is really important to them (after all, play is a child’s work). Yes, it’s upsetting that …., but was their intention to upset you? Probably not. (Worst case, they were just looking for attention from you, and to a child, negative attention is better than no attention). Seeing things for their perspective allows you to have empathy for your child, which helps you to approach the situation from a calm place of understanding. It doesn’t mean that you need to give in to their wants or demands. Instead, validate their feelings. Show them that you understand things from their perspective, and then set the boundaries of what needs to be done moving forward. Everyone just wants to feel heard and understood, even if it doesn’t change the outcome of the situation.
–Adjust Your Expectations:
Our children’s (poor) behavior isn’t what makes us feel frustrated, stressed, or upset with them. What is making us feel that way is our expectations for what their behavior should be. We expect our children to always to do exactly as we ask without complaint, not throw a tantrum because they want something they can’t have. We expect to be able to have 100% control over our children’s behavior and feelings. But the reality is that they are still learning social skills and we don’t have control over another person’s emotions and reactions. So if we adjust our expectations to be more realistic (ie. they will tantrum, yell, hit, not listen, etc), we won’t feel as frustrated, stressed, or upset, and we will be able to respond to our children and the situation better.
–Let Go & Be:
This is just a phase of life. It may be a difficult one, but it won’t last forever. It may be a phase that requires so much of your time and attention that the house isn’t as clean as you’d like, or your typical routine has gone out the window, and that is ok. Let go and be present in this phase of life. Letting go will allow you to feel less overwhelmed. You will enjoy your children more and be able to be more present with them.
–Look For The Positive:
Look for the bad and you will see the bad, but look for the good and you will see the good. Difficult moments will happen, but don’t let that define your day or your parenting. Ignore the negative. Find any bit of good, of happiness, of positivity and focus on that. You have the power to create a positive environment by simply looking for and acknowledging the good. When you ask your toddler to put their toys away, and they throw their toy into the basket as they begin to tantrum, ignore the tantrum and say “Good job putting your toys away. You’re awesome!” When a child back talks while doing chores, ignore the backtalk and say “Thank you for doing your chores. You are such a big help to this family.” The behavior we give attention to is the behavior we reinforce, so reinforce that positive behavior. It will not only create positive behavior from our children, but it will also create a positive mindset for ourselves, which in turn will help us to stay calm in those difficult moments.
NAVY GRACE Q&A WITH KACIE
Q: How did you get started as a blogger/influencer:
A: I used to own an online clothing store, and I would work with bloggers to advertise for my store. I decided to start my own fashion blog as a way to share outfit ideas for the clothes I sold in my online store. Eventually, I closed my store and changed my blog name, but continued to blog about fashion + beauty, diy’s, lifestyle, etc. I swore my blog would never become a “Mommy blog” when I had kids, but after I had my oldest, I started sharing more and more mom/parenting stuff. I discovered that talking about motherhood, offering positive parenting tips, sharing kid crafts/activities, and supporting other parents, it where my true passion lies.
Q: What is your favorite mom product that you are always sharing or talking about?
A: My favorite product is more of a service than a product…online grocery ordering. If you haven’t tried it, you must! It saves me so much time and prevents me from having to grocery shop with two toddlers. Ha!
Q: What is your favorite baby/toddler/child product?
A: The Gathre mats. We use the midi size the most. We used it for tummy time when the girls were babies (so easy to wipe off spit up too!), and now we use them when we play with playdough or do any arts and crafts projects. We also bring one on our picnics, hikes, to the beach, etc. They’re lightweight and so easy to clean.
Q: What is something you do for yourself to make you be a better mom and wife to your family?
A: I’m honestly super bad at giving myself/asking for “me time”. I know it’s so important, but it’s a big struggle for me. I feel so much guilt, but it’s something I’m working on because I can tell it’s starting to take a toll on me mentally. Right now, I wake up 1-2 hours before the girls each day so that I can have time to myself to get ready, accomplish at least one task on my to-do list, and sometimes workout. It all used to be so much easier when my oldest would sleep in until 8/8:30am, but she has started waking up between 6-6:30am. Ugh! This area of “me time” is something I really need to start making a priority. Wish me luck!
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to other moms?
A: Spend quality time with your kids. Time where you are positive, present, and free from distractions. This piece of advice is more for moms to kids ages toddler and up, because if you have a baby, you are most likely already spending a ton of quality time with them nursing them, holding them, and rocking them to sleep. But as our children get older, play independently more, demand less of us in order for them to survive, we sometimes let life’s distractions take us away from our children without even realizing it. Then our children begin to misbehave to get our attention because our attention (negative or positive) is what our kids want most, and to a child, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Whereas if we give them our quality time and attention, it will lead to better behavior from our children, as well as help us to enjoy our children and build a strong relationship with them that will carry into future years. I wrote an entire blog post (https://elementsofellis.com/less-tantrums-less-whining/) on this subject where I share what quality time looks like, share an enlightening statistic, and an analogy that really helps us adults better understand this concept. So I challenge you to spend at least 15-20 minutes of quality, positive time with your child each day and watch how it transforms their behavior.