Mom is angry. A lack of sleep. Nagging kids. It’s a mess. Dad is trying his best, but doesn’t have time for you. It’s a house filled with frustration.
The time of living a carefree life, just hanging around without being constantly stressed or worried about something, is over. No more sitting across from your partner on a sunny terrace and staring into each other’s eyes without a constant distraction at the table. Just the thought of it makes you shiver, but this is the new reality. With a speck of light here and there, yes.
Once you start your own family, everything will change, for good. The relationship with your partner will never be the same again. Flexibility makes room for structure. Time seems to be cut in half. Are there really still 24 hours in a day? It feels like 12, on a good day.
And there always seems to be something. Your own ‘self-centered’ life is no more and has become a humble existence in the service of your offspring.
But how do you survive that without internally exploding every day? Without growing into a watered-down version of yourself, with a stress level so high you’d almost think you like it, and are into S&M.
Parenting is a sport, at the highest possible level. Nobody will tell you it’s easy. But you can make it a bit easier for yourself. There’s hope.
First, it is important to realize that you don’t have to do parenting alone. The other parent is just as responsible. If it doesn’t feel like that, it’s time to actively change it. The better you work together as a team, the better your children will be.
Kids go along with the family team a lot more easily when their parents are having a good time together, respect and love each other, laugh with each other and give each other space in their role as a parent.
And back up when the children try to drive a wedge between you with their manipulations. A classic that pops up again in every age category.
Step two: it’s time to accept. Accept that you have to suppress your tendencies towards spontaneity. That you can meet friends and other loved ones less often. That your relationship takes on another dimension. And that the time of “me, myself and I” is kept to a minimum. If you read it summed up this way, it seems like a disaster. But you’ll see that you get enough, and so much more, in return. Just wait.
As soon as you accept it all, you’ll notice it will become less frustrating than you made it out to be. If you keep pushing towards something you want, which is simply not possible, you’ll only build up frustration. That brings you in an imbalance, and with that, your whole family. So give in. Bite the bullet. The reward will be amazing.
The third step is to manage your expectations. Expectations of yourself, your children and the other parent. You don’t need to be the best parent in the world. Be aware of your imperfections, but also of your strengths. It’s good to take a moment every once in a while to think and talk about what’s going well, what could be better, and how you could handle that.
Your children are not sweet little angels and never will be. How can you deal with that in different stages of life? I’ll explain more in my next blogs.
What’s always important, is to listen to your kids. Truly listen and avoid discussions. Pick your battles wisely.
The same goes for the relationship you have with your partner or the other parent. I always tell my clients: celebrate your differences. Set up three ground rules you both find important in parenting. There’s no point in whole lists of them, you won’t be able to remember them anyway. So, let go of the rest. Which I know, is easier said than done. Especially for mothers. But it will bring you so many great things, it’s worth the try.
There’s no need to be an angry mom any longer.
To be continued.
Meta Herman de Groot was born in 1975 and has a 21 year old son. She was originally a singer, with her own songs and her own band. She started at the same time as Lady Gaga, but one of them took a slightly different path than the other. Then she jumped into business as a marketing consultant. Although she enjoyed the work, it didn’t bring her the satisfaction and purpose she was looking for. There was still a lingering desire to become a psychologist for children in the back of her mind. She followed it. It took various training courses in Holland and abroad and four years of studying for a psychosocial therapist and child therapist. But, her wish became a reality. In 2012 she opened her own office as a therapist in the field of relationships, parenting and personal development. She’s currently a thousand sessions in, with clients from different countries. Her motto? The past affects the present, but you affect the future.