Intentional parenting

Being a peaceful parent isn’t about being calm all the time

Parents spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the kind of life they want to provide their children with. We want to earn enough so that our children can have the basics as well as some luxuries. We want to have some kind of work/life balance so that we can actually spend time enjoying those earnings with (and sometimes without!) our children. We want to have healthy and strong relationships in the hope that it makes our children feel secure and loved. We want exposure to these relationships to be enough to prevent our children from entering into damaging ones.

When you think about the kind of life you want to offer your family, you’re also asking yourself what kind of parent you want to be. When I was pregnant, I was given a few issues of a parenting magazine. A few of the articles were about ‘peaceful parenting’. I devoured them and decided that this whole peaceful parenting vibe was one that I wanted to have going for me. I wanted to be ‘zen’ (despite never having done yoga in my life).

I wanted to be a calm parent. I wanted to be a creative parent. I wanted to be a parent that could let the little things go. I wanted to practice mindfulness every day. I wanted to live off the land more and have my child savour all the food from our garden simply because we grew it.

Soon enough, Henry was born. And not long after that, the concept of peaceful parenting that I’d been clinging onto was dead.

​I thought I was fully prepared for Henry to be born. I’d cooked meals in advance and frozen them. I’d washed all of his clothes. I had bucket loads of nappies and wipes. I had the pram set up. The baby seat was installed. I’d read parenting books. The nursery was organised. The house was spotless.

But the truth is you’re never fully prepared for a baby. It doesn’t matter how many things you do before the due date, there’s simply no way to get a head start on parenting itself. The moment that baby enters the world is the moment you begin a journey of overwhelming joy, but also one of sleeplessness, uncertainty and stress – all of which you experience in a way you never have before.

It’s important to have an idea of what kind of parent you want to be because that’s what will guide your decisions. It’s important to set ourselves goals as parents.  But it’s just as important not to feel too disheartened or guilty when we don’t live up to our own ideals.

I struggled for a while there because I realised I wasn’t the peaceful parent that I’d wanted to be. I lose patience when I’m tired. I yell at Henry when he throws my belongings in the toilet. I ignore his cries for attention when I’m doing something else that simply has to be done. I smack him when he’s doing something that’s endangering his life.  

I simply don’t have it in me to be calm all the time. But seriously, who does? If we weren’t meant to behave in other ways, we wouldn’t have the biological ability to do so. I don’t know why I let a few two page articles in a magazine dictate how I felt about myself and the way I’m raising my child. After all, those pages themselves were only snippets of those people’s lives.

I absolutely want to be a peaceful parent but my understanding of what this means has changed. Being a peaceful parent is not about striving to be a super chilled mum all the time. It’s about being at peace with the way I parent. It’s about accepting the things I can’t change. It’s about understanding what does and doesn’t work for my family. It’s about taking it in my stride on the days that don’t go well. It’s about knowing that there is a time for peace, a time for chaos and a time for all things in between.

Beth x

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