Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Thoughts on Parenting

Stressed at home?  Here are some tidbits that have helped me be a responsible parent.

Being a mother is the most challenging, exhausting, yet gratifying role of a woman’s life.  Becoming a mom almost eluded me.  However, being in my mid-40’s when I finally had children allowed me the maturity I needed to handle the craziness of raising triplets while still managing a successful broadcasting career.  I hope my successes and failures in parenting will help you find balance in your life as a working mother. 

I married and divorced in my 20’s.  My 30’s were focused on my sports broadcasting career.  As the big 4 0 came and went with no potential suitor in sight, a harsh reality hit me… becoming a mother was a long shot.  But as singer Bonnie Raitt wrote, my husband Bert came into my life “in the nick of time.”  We took one shot at In Vitro Fertilization, implanting two embryos.  At age 45 I gave birth to identical tripletgirls.  Presto!  I was a mom times three.  And as if my life raising triplets while working full-time wasn’t chaotic enough, my troubled teenage stepdaughter moved in several months ago.  My life changed light years in just over four years.  

Here are a few tidbits that have helped me keep my sanity: 

When life throws you a curve, lean in. 
At my age I was pleasantly surprised and mildly shocked when I first learned I was pregnant. When I learned I was pregnant with triplets, I was numb.  Everything I’d envisioned about pregnancy and motherhood was thrown out the window.  I had a complicated pregnancy that included weeks in the hospital and the birth of extremely premature babies, born 15 weeks early, who spent three and a half months in the Neonatal Intensive Care.

I not only had to lean in, I had to dive in the deep end.  People marveled at how I held it all together, working while my babies were in the NICU, home for ten weeks and then back to work.  I carried on and pushed through.  Now looking back, I couldn’t imagine life without all three.

Procrastination is no longer an option.
I was a procrastinator before children.  I focused better when I was under the gun.  Now I never know when I’ll get a decent night’s sleep or have a crisis free day, so I chip away at tasks.  If I put off getting something done, then I’ll either not finish the job on time or do shoddy work.    

Don’t try to do it all on your own.
If a friend or family member offers to help out by bringing you a meal or watching your kids so you can go get a massage, take them up on it.   As they say, “it takes a village.”

Love your children completely, but with a firm hand.
I constantly hug, kiss and tell my girls I love them.  They are enveloped in a secure world that translates into being relatively well-behaved children.  Don’t get me wrong they still have utter meltdowns.  I believe there is nothing wrong with a swat on the rear end as well as timeout.  My daughters often respond to discipline with love.  They know they’ve been bad and think twice before repeating the behavior.

Be a parent, not a friend.
Having a teenager in the house has only affirmed this stance.  My stepdaughter’s mother never bothered to parent her.  There was no structure, discipline or boundaries.  She failed classes, stayed out all night partying and disrespected her mother with no consequences.  Find your kid’s currency and use it to keep them in line.  If they can’t live without social media, take it away when their behavior is unacceptable.

Pick your battles.
Not everything is worth fighting over.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is a great philosophy. Certain conduct deserves punishment, but you have to let other stuff go.  For example, if your toddler can’t stay out of the dirt, don’t stress just give them a bath.

End entitlement. 

Most American children are stuck in a negative attitude of entitlement.  Take your children to serve meals at a homeless shelter, pick up trash, or volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Show your children at an early age it’s better to give than receive.  

I believe motherhood is the most important job in the world.  You can never be fully prepared for it until it happens to you.  If I can raise my children to be respectful, responsible, productive, generous and have empathy for others, then I believe I will have made the world a better place.

Key Words: Motherhood, triplets, child development, discipline, parenting.

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