Parenting Style From My House to Yours

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, July 22, 2020
By Nicole Herdocia-Oria , RMFTI, MS

How many of us struggle to be perfect parents?  There are so many levels of fear and uncertainty when it comes to raising little humans.  It’s such an enormous responsibility that can make any parent feel anxious and overwhelmed.  It’s not easy trying to meet the needs of these little people that from one day to the next become your entire life.  The very thought of failing them can be the scariest thing in the world.

Nikki's kids playing

Today, with such uncertainty, parents’ anxiety is skyrocketing as we’re faced with having to make extremely difficult decisions in regards to our children’s safety, having to ultimately settle for the least terrible decision because that’s all we have.  It really sucks.  But there are things we can do to help reduce some of the anxiety and put our best face forward during these stressful times to be exactly what our kids need.

This COVID thing is getting old right?  In my family, we’re trying to stay home as much as possible because toddlers don’t understand that they have to keep their mask on or that hugs aren’t allowed and that now is a particularly bad time to lick the floor (insert facepalm emoji here).  In my case, I live with three amazing roommates that consist of my husband and two toddlers. All of which have the same daily tendencies of leaving their clothes on the floor, wet towels on the bed, and my favorite: strategically leaving Legos where I will be sure to step on in a way that hurts more than childbirth, good times.

So, how do we keep from throwing our partner out the window or locking ourselves in the closet during these trying times?  How indeed.

The following are some tips to help maintain your sanity, reduce stress levels, keep the peace at home, and generally keep it together for the most important person, YOU.

It Takes a Village.

Use your network.  I feel as though I’d be doing my children a disservice if I didn’t use everything at my disposal to make me a more informed, more efficient, and patient parent that I can possibly be. In doing so, I will be less anxious and a less insecure parent. I have fellow parent friends and colleagues that work as doctors, teachers, therapists, speech and behavior specialists, and friends with a few years on me on their journey of parenting.  Be open to inquiring about their take on things and be open to suggestions as well as recommendations.  You make the ultimate decision, but more heads are better than 1 or 2.

I’ve assembled what I like to call the “dream team” that consists of people I can learn from so that we can pick each other’s brains on things we may be unsure of.  Talking it out makes you feel better and more informed making you a more confident parent and a less anxious one. Thus, making you better equipped to be able to navigate this crazy parenthood thing.

Nikki's kids looking outside from playroom

Self Care Self Care Self Care

Make sure you’re taking care of yourself! Go through your Wellness Inventory or your checklist of needs and don’t neglect yourself!  Drink water, get in some “me time” and REST! Remember, when you don’t meet your own needs, you’ll be less likely to meet anyone else’s if you’re anxious, moody, or exhausted.

Try to stay physically active. This releases endorphins which can help stimulate your mood and give you an energy boost as well as promote restful sleep.

Get dressed! Really dressed, too many days in pajamas or frumpy clothes can take a toll on your self-esteem. Get dolled up for yourself.  Give yourself a boost.

“Everyone, Come see how good I look!”

You are Not Alone

There are so many parent groups on social media, school parent chats, and sports team chats that you can participate in that talk about the exact same things you’re going through.  The camaraderie makes me feel sooooo much better about my picky eater’s menu. When I read about how one kid was only eating hot dogs for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and doing fine; all of a sudden, the “meek” 10 meal rotation that I was agonizing over, looks fantastic! It feels good to know you’re not alone in the struggle and get different takes with helpful info on issues we’re constantly facing.

Set Parenting Goals

Same as we do for work, home, and planned events, it’s important to set and keep track of parenting goals for the littles.  Be consistent with your goals and break them up into small realistic more achievable steps to keep motivated and stay on task.

You are Enough

Don’t allow your quest for perfection to get in the way of being good enough.  Don’t sabotage the amazing job you’re doing by always striving to be perfect.  This will increase your anxiety, impair your positivity, and dwindle your creativity – which you will continue to need.

Make the Best of it

Keep it interesting.  Try to implement something different every few days.  That’s where that creativity will kick in.  Inflatable pools outside make for an amazing adventure and so does a hose with the littles! They’re easy to entertain!

Try new recipes, music, new workouts for yourself, and as a family.  I’m working on theme nights which I highly recommend.  Cooking Italian food while blasting Dean Martin and classic Italian music all while dancing.  Cuban food night is Salsa Night.  I’m presently living with a tiny Celia Cruz who dances around yelling, “Azucaaa!” …We eat Picadillo a lot.

Go with the Flow

“Wu Wei” is a Chinese expression that refers to ‘effortless action’ meaning, going with the flow.  This is particularly necessary during this very challenging period of our lives.  As difficult as it is, we must accept that we can’t control or change everything no matter how much we may want to.  Conserve your energy to do something more useful like taking a nap, building a fort, or cleaning the latest abstract drawing depicting my 2-year old’s “blue period” off of the sliding glass door.

Nikki's husband and kids at lake

Make Every Moment Count

Try to focus on the positive as much as possible and spend quality time with the kids.  We’ve been given the gift of time.  Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t spend this much time at home with our families.  Take advantage of this opportunity to spend “quality time” together and slow down.  As our own Ricardo Sardiñas stated about spending quality time on his recent blog: “it contributes to their emotional growth…” Even when you, as the parent, are not attempting to teach your children, they are looking to you and learning with every move you make.”

Teach them to be present.  Teach them to take in every moment.  Before you know it, we’ll be back to fast-paced living, complete with traffic and appointments.  Make the best of this. It’ll be over before we know it and I think we’re really going to miss the good parts.  I know I will.