Being a parent is one of the most challenging while simultaneously rewarding experiences in the world. The roles and responsibilities can feel scary and overwhelming, especially if you are a new parent. Jennifer Monness is a teacher who has years of experience in early childhood education. She created an instagram account @MoMommies and co-founded a physical play space called Union Square Play. Both have transformed into a massive community of parents, experts, and specialists that all work to help one another through parenthood. The companies also launched an app called Parenting + to widen their community and help even more families.
She would like to share 5 points that could help new parents navigate through their journey.
- Learn to trust yourself
There will inevitably be moments of self-doubt when you are a new parent, but trusting our instincts, and believing we are the expert in our own parenting journey is crucial. This confidence and trust comes from believing we are always doing the best we can and also believing that our children are too. Self trust is contagious – when our children hear us say “this is so hard! but I know I can do it” that becomes their own inner voice.
- Make time to for yourself
Exhaustion, stress, feeling overwhelmed are all inevitable aspects of parenthood. However, when we allow ourselves some time to feel “unproductive” and allow a more “productive” time for self care we are showing both ourselves and our children that we matter. This also helps us to set boundaries that our children can benefit from accepting to help them in life.
- Let your child lead.
We often forget that children are people! They are communicators from the start. They let us know when they need us, when they are uncomfortable and it isn’t our job to project our own discomforts on their experiences. If a child is figuring out a puzzle and can’t quite get it, we aren’t there to solve the puzzle for them, we are there to offer emotional support when things feel really hard and when they ask us to help. Even saying “that looks like a hard puzzle!” may be enough for your child to feel supported vs. rescued. and still preserve their sense of mastery and accomplishment.
- Learn to ask for help
Accepting that we can’t and aren’t meant to do everything on our own is really important. If we believe we are meant to do this parenting thing on our own, then asking for helps feels like we’ve failed. Asking for help is winning, it’s being able to lean on outside support and show our children that asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of. It is a sign of confidence to know what we need help with.
- Try and retain your sense of humor
Sometimes bringing humor to the toughest moments is really valuable. When our resistant toddler isn’t willing to take a bath, it probably means that they are in need of connecting. When we shift the experience to one that is light, fun and involves humor, we are connecting with our child. They become more open to the experience and more willing to cooperate. I take out our puppet “kiki” who laughs with my child as he complains about the bath – I find that laughing at the seeming impossibility of it all is the best possible remedy when things feel really hard. It also diffuses power struggles and reminds us that parenting should be fun.
Parenthood is a beautiful journey and experience to go through with a lot of tough moments in between. These tips from Jennie Monness may serve as pointers, that doing our best, is enough.