Keep it Simple!

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You are a parent. Your time has come to make decisions, and while you raise your child within a “village” of family and friends, the final choices rest with you.

Many people care so much about what other people think that they lose sight of the kind of parent they’d like to be. Just like comparing yourself in any way with others is unhealthy, comparing your parenting style to others will never lead to a sense of fulfillment.

Be brave. Keep it simple.

Here are 5 ways you can simplify you life, while fostering your own family culture:

(1) Make a list
Put some time aside with your spouse/parenting partner to decide the most important values for your family. Boil it down to a few, and then filter everything you do through these values. Maybe you highly value integrity, so you place importance on honesty. Perhaps you want to teach your children about work ethic, so you prioritize time management and give them ownership of certain jobs around the house. Maybe you highly value forgiveness, so you model that behavior in everyday life. You will probably want to teach your kids all of the above, but just focus on a few at a time.

(2) Worry less
If your kids eat white bread or meat or french fries, or something that isn’t organic vegan paleo – it’s OK! If every now and again you skip a bath, calm down. If your child has a terrible hair cut because he wouldn’t sit still, he will live to tell the tale. Sometimes it’s great to be details focused, and other days just give yourself a break and “zoom out”. Big picture: Will this moment affect the rest of their lives?

(3) 10 minutes a day
Some people wonder how they can spend more time with their kids. Maybe you need quality time, not quantity time. Try this – put aside 10 minutes every day of undivided attention, and have your child decide what to play. Join in with whatever he/she is doing, without getting up or looking at your phone. Set an alarm, and give your child a 2min, 1min and 30 sec warning of when the play time will end, followed by a fun countdown from 10 to 0. During that time, focus entirely on being part of the game. It will do wonders for you child’s self esteem and your relationship.

(4) Put everything in context
If you live in the suburbs with a big house, that’s your context. If you live in a two-bedroom city apartment with three kids, that’s your context. If you live on a farm, then you can hardly compare your lifestyle to the suburbs or city. What truly matters is finding what works for your family in your context. Don’t try to be someone else, use what you have already got and go from there.

(5) Do YOUR best 
Most parents do their best with what they’ve got. In your family, emphasize effort rather than perfection, and see where it takes you. No Mom or Dad has ever got it right – this is the hardest job in the world, with no definitive answers. Find the balance between seeking out counsel and using your innate intuition. Trust yourselves, talk it out with your partner, and do your very best!

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