Raising a child is a grand experiment. We spend our lives devoted to rearing our children in the best way we know. And we won’t know if we did it right for at least 18 years. Take some time to make motherhood your favorite pastime.
Short game versus the long game
“The game of golf can be broken down into two elements: the long game and the short game. In the long game, power and distance are required so that the player’s ball can approach the putting green in as few strokes as possible. In the short game, the skills needed are more finesse-related due to the need for accuracy. In order to be a successful golfer, a player must master both aspects of the game,” according to Chris Joseph, Demand Media.
Just as in golf, motherhood can become frustrating and overwhelming. The trick is to break down the parts into a more manageable size and keep the end goal in mind.
The long game
The long game of motherhood is the big picture. It’s about character and values. Mastering the long game takes foresight and planning. Mothers in the long game are deliberate.
1. Draft a family mission statement
Make a list of the most important things you want for your children as they grow up and into adulthood. Include things like education, religion and philanthropy.
2. Teach values early and often
It’s easy to think that children are too small to understand abstract concepts that pertain to religion or character. But just as you talked to your baby before he could talk himself, introducing these topics early will give them familiarity. Talking about values with your children often will make values part of their life.
3. Be an example
Set an example in your own life of the values that you want your children to embrace. When my husband made the decision to attend graduate school, a big part of that decision was the example it would set for our children about higher education. I like to use the phrase, “In our family, we go to college,” or “In our family, we treat others with kindness.” Setting the expectation early that you have family standards that need to be met will encourage acceptance along the way. It’s also nice to feel like you are all in this together. You are on the same team.
4. Be realistic
. Your job, as a mother, is to do your best to raise your child to be a well-adjusted member of society; able to support herself and potentially raise a family of her own. When life gets overwhelming, and you wonder if you are doing a good job. Remember the end goal and decide if the things you are doing will get you there.
The short game
The short game of motherhood is the day to day, in the trenches, got the blinders on and go, go, go part of the job. When you find yourself wondering how you will get dinner on the table, every child to a different activity at the same time, and do it all with a smile and a word of kindness, you need to take stock of your priorities.
1. Remember what is important
We live in a culture that requires more of us every day, and the same goes for our kids. Extra activities are fun and important in teaching valuable lessons like being fit, being part of a team, appreciating music and learning to practice and work hard. But you need to ask yourself if all the extra activities are helping your family reach the long-term goals you have outlined in your mission statement.
2. Be patient
It is hard to be patient with a toddler who just spilled paint in the carpet or the preschooler who wets her pants standing in front of the toilet. Every mom loses it sometimes. When you do, take a break. I like to have a mommy time-out, in the bathroom, with the door locked. With older children, take a few minutes to get the whole story before jumping to conclusions. When possible, find the humor in the situation. When her high-school-aged son dyed his hair blue without asking, one mother broke into peals of laughter. When he asked what she was laughing about, the mom replied, “You didn’t know that kids with blue hair can’t drive my car.”
3. Show love often
It’s so easy to get caught up in the tasks of the day that we forget the reason for the tasks in the first place. One mother of several young children made it a point to look her little ones in the eye after she buckled them into their car seats and tell them that she loved them. Making a habit of expressing love during routine parts of the day ensures that love is expressed.
Motherhood, like golf, can be frustrating. But it can also be the most enjoyable and satisfying part of your life. It’s easy to forget the long game when you get too caught up in the details of the short game. Take some time to decide what is most important for your children and your family. Keeping the end goal in sight will make the daily challenges more manageable.