I recently attended a Positive Parenting Workshop because my 7-year-old son had been giving me a run for my money. We were both emotional and volatile. And at every turn, it seemed like we just weren't seeing eye to eye.
So when I discovered that Amy S. Lasseter, counselor and owner of Holistic Therapies and Consulting, was conducting a workshop described as "a class that addresses behaviors as well as the emotions behind the behaviors and how to get the best responses from your child," I knew that I just had to go.
As the discussion started, I had pen and paper ready to take notes on techniques to get my headstrong kid in line. Imagine my surprise when Lasseter shared that the most important thing a mom can do to ensure a happy home is to take care of herself first.
"Consider for a moment that your child is a cup and you, as the parent, are a pitcher. As the pitcher in this scenario, it's your job to keep the cup full. So ask yourself, are you keeping the cup full? Do you have the ability to keep the cup full?" Lasseter asked.
The analogy made sense to me and I reflected on my own life. I thought of the days when the demands of being a mom to young children were so relentless that I didn't even have a second to take a shower. I tried to remember the last time I stole a moment to just sit and read a book.
Our cups were depleted, and it affected how I reacted to my children. Lasseter took the analogy even deeper. "When a mom, in particular, becomes unbalanced or unstable, she starts to feel unsure, frustrated, anxious, and annoyed, her pitcher is very low or empty." she said "If emotions are water, think about what water you want your kids to drink, is it clean water that is refreshing or murky and dirty water that is difficult to swallow?"
My pitcher wasn't just low. It had a pool of murky water on the bottom. I realized that I had to make myself a priority before I could be any good to my children. It's a simple concept but one that's hard to see when you feel overwhelmed or exhausted.
So what steps can a tired mom take? "First, it's important to recognize that once the pitcher is empty it's going to deplete quickly and take longer to refill once the process begins," Lasseter said. "So be patient with yourself and your partner and, most importantly, be consistent with your refill."
I left the workshop that evening with a new sense of hope and a few other tricks up my sleeve that Lasseter shared to get better responses from my little stinkers at home.
I took her advice and made myself a priority. Exercise became a regular part of my day and I made it a point to try to fit in a shower as often as possible. I also decided to practice meditation and really relish in the time to focus on breathing deeply. It's amazing how even the smallest amount of self care can make me feel like a new woman.
"Anything that the parent finds rejuvenating is up for grabs," Lasseter said. "It can be as simple as turning off your smart phone for 1-2 hours everyday, being outside the house for a couple of hours a week, or scheduling a staycation for a few nights without your children."
It's also crucial to make your relationship with your partner a priority. After all, your other half has a cup that needs filling, too. Lasseter feels that we should all keep in mind that reconnecting with your partner is important, but it's equally important that you connect with yourself outside of your mom persona. It's all about balance.
Is your cup empty or full? What are some things that you do just for you? Do you see a difference in your parenting if you don't carve out time for yourself? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Holistic Therapies is hosting a Positive Parenting 1.0 Workshop on Oct. 14. Please visit their website for details.