Hey imperfect parent!
When was the last time you truly embraced a mistake? Smiled when an old habit poped-up? Or shook off a bad mood?
We have a tendency to hold ourselves to a ridiculously high standard: Perfection.
Every moment we mess up is evidence that we are missing the mark.
What if we flipped this script?
What if, instead of striving toward unrealistic goals, we simply loved our imperfect selves?
OK. Maybe that sounds a little too woo-woo for you.
But let’s clarify…
Loving ourselves doesn’t mean we excuse abuse, continue in addiction, or allow others to cross inappropriate boundaries.
Loving ourselves means accepting that we are still learning, that even with practice there will be challenging days and that a setback doesn’t mean failure.
It’s unfortunate that this is such a foreign concept to us as parents.
Talk to any 3-year-old and you’ll hear a whole story about how awesome they are, as well as a list of their amazing abilities (like pulling on their own socks).
Somewhere along the line, we stop celebrating our sock-pulling-on abilities!
Seriously though, loving ourselves makes us better parents.
When we can empathize with ourselves, we can empathize with others.
When we hold ourselves to realistic standards, we can have realistic expectations for our kids.
When we minimize mistakes and celebrate even small successes, we can model this for our kids.
Here are 15 ways to show love to yourself today
- Breathe. Take a few deep breaths or just be mindful of your breath as it flows through your lungs.
- Hug yourself. Yep. I said it. Especially if you’re in a stage of life where hugs and snuggles are limited.
- Smile. Hold it for 10 seconds and explore how your body responds.
- Do Over. Give yourself permission to start a conversation, sentence, action, or thought again.
- Take a social media break. Really. Maybe more than once each day.
- Rephrase negative self-talk. “I am learning and growing as a parent.” Or, “I am imperfect and that is exactly who I am supposed to be.”
- List 3 things you did well today. Even if they seem small or insignificant.
- Remind yourself that mistakes do not equal failure. Mistakes are part of the process.
- Journal. Take time to write thoughts, feelings, observations, encouragement, or notes to yourself.
- Notice. Observe your feelings, thoughts, actions, struggles, without judgment, criticism, sarcasm, or annoyance.
- List 10 things you are thankful for. Keep going if you can think of more than 10!
- Slash the to-do list. Focus on a few things that absolutely must get done rather than putting equal urgency on all your tasks.
- Eat or drink something mindfully. Allow yourself to enjoy this moment!
- Find something that brings you joy. Maybe something you see, taste, hear, touch, smell, do or say.
- Normalize. Everyone struggles. You are not alone. You are not the only one. Your challenges may be unique, but imperfection is the one thing that all parents have in common.
Today is a new day.
Maybe today is the day you choose to love your imperfect self.
Maybe today you decide that these mistakes are not flaws but signs that you are trying something new.
Maybe today you realize that you are stuck and need more support to move forward.
Or, maybe today is the day you say, “Hey imperfect parent. You’re hanging in there. Your kids love you. You’ve got some baggage from your past that pops up sometimes, and you’re working through that. You made an awesome Lego tower yesterday and you were quiet when you wanted to criticize. Yay! Plus, you pulled on your own socks. Love you!”
Show yourself some love!
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