Friday, May 3, 2013

Mother’s Day (By Stacy Hladek)

Mother’s Day is May 12th, that is a week from this Sunday.  There are likely to be lots of articles to suggest ways to honor your mom or help your children honor their mom.  I would like to take a different approach and speak to moms directly.  Give yourself permission to pat yourself on the back and to take a break.  Parenting is both the toughest and most rewarding job in the world.  This is a good time to remind moms (fathers too) that you have to fill your own bucket before you can fill up others.  Remember the example given on airplanes, you must put your own oxygen mask on before you help others.  If you do not, you are going to pass out and not be helpful to anyone.  In fact, you could hinder someone else as they try to care for you.  Please don’t “pass out” figuratively. 
The emotional temperature in a home is usually set by mom.  “If momma, ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!”  Often times this phrase is taken to mean mom is in charge and things will go her way or there will be issues for the whole house.  However, I would like to suggest that what it really means, or should mean, is that mom is the barometer in the home.  Research shows that children learn about emotions and how to express them by reflecting how their primary caregiver handles emotions.  Just think about the last time you were tired, isn’t that just the time your toddler decides to throw a huge fit or your teenager was moody for no apparent reason?  It is time for you to take care of you so that you are able to take the best care of the rest of the family. 
Again, I already said pat yourself on the back and give yourself permission to take a break, but it is worth repeating .  Often times, moms have a hard time doing this for themselves.  Treat yourself the way you would your best friend.  Tell your “best friend” to take a break or not to be so hard on herself.  This is also a great way to model self-care for your children. 
I can hear the collective, “yes, but”, now.  Yes, but I don’t have childcare or I don’t have the money.  Try swapping childcare with another mom.  “I will take your kids this Monday, if you will take mine next Monday.”  Just establish the rule that this is for down time, not to go do your spring cleaning or run errands.  Use the extended family.  Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and god parents, are great mentors for our kids and are often more than willing to keep the kids for an hour or two.  Take a nap or hot bath while the kids are napping.  Make an arrangement with your partner for one night a week to be their night to care for the kids or one weekend day a month for you to get to sleep in while the rest of the family goes to get donuts.  Check with your local churches and community centers, they often have a mother’s day out program that is free or very low cost. 
Figure out what your favorite way to re-charge is and then work on a plan to make that happen at least once a month.  In doing so, you will be and even better mom.  Healthy, happy moms tend to raise healthy, happy children.  Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for all the little things you do each day to raise our future!
For more suggestions on how to take good care of yourself, emotional competency in children, additional ways to support your family and for other great parenting tips call the Family Support Line at 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373) OR 1-866-Las-Familias (866-527-3264) for Spanish speakers. You can also e-mail with questions or concerns. The Family Support Line offers parenting tips, resources and information only and does not serve as legal or mental health advice. We believe you are the paramount person to decide what is best for your family. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

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