Celebrate small victories to be a better parent
It’s the small victories. Give yourself credit. A break. Be kind to yourself.
These are things people have said to me, that I’ve said to others, when we’re in stressful times. But what does that mean?
Parenting can make us question ourselves, doubt ourselves, and worry that we can’t do anything right. And when we doubt ourselves we feel like we are not good parents.
But here’s the thing, we tend to focus on the negative we do or feel. It’s easy to pass over the positive things we do every day as moms and dads. But a small shift in our focus can have big impacts on how we see ourselves and how we move on through our parenting life.
Why small victories matter
One thing that has become crucial to riding out the anxious, depressed times, the difficult parenting moments, is to give credit to your small victories.
We thrive when we see our steps as a continuum of progress, not just whether or not we got to the end of the race, not just the big picture.
When we recognize small victories we give ourselves a mental boost to keep going, to keep worries of failure at bay. It helps keep us grounded.
What small victories should we celebrate?
Small victories are everywhere if you look. Did you get everyone out of the house on time (or close enough) without screaming? Did you make a few minutes for your kid even though you were busy? Did anger creep up out of nowhere and have you screaming at your kids for something stupid they did only to come back and apologize and offer everyone a do-over?
Part of the problem is a vicious cycle of fear and blame and guilt so more fear etc. But when we start to give ourselves credit for the small victories, we build our confidence, we put that cycle away and start down a path to even bigger victories.
How to acknowledge small victories
So once you see small victories, what do you do with them?
I’ve written before about the power of journaling. If you have a gratitude journal, or want to start one, this is a great place to begin.
You know how saying something out loud suddenly gives weight to an idea, same goes for writing it down. Write in your gratitude journal that you’re grateful you had a moment of clarity, that you had a moment of extra patience you didn’t know was in you. Whatever it was, write it down and be grateful. Then, when you forget that you’ve ever done anything right as a parent, go back and read through those times and find reassurance.
You could have chosen so many other courses of action. But you didn’t this time. This time you did something, even for a moment, that you could be proud of.
It might seem silly to make this much of an effort for something so small as an apology, but don’t laugh. Or laugh and then move on. This is powerful stuff. You’ve got goals and they are big and this one little thing doesn’t seem to change anything. But foundations are laid one stone at a time.
After you do this for a while, you’ll be able to see that you no longer see yourself as a failing parent even in the hard times. You see yourself as someone who makes mistakes but also as someone who can and has made the right choices.
I believe it is in this acknowledgement that we find balance that can feel so elusive as parents.
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