I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of parent I want to be lately.

The past few weeks have been pretty intense around our house in terms of the daily demands on both my husband and I. We keep hoping and planning for a “low key week” to regroup and recharge but we’ve had to delay having a slower week as new work projects roll in that we need to take on.

This has caused me, especially, to become particularly stressed.

I’ve gotten short. Cried. And really have not been PRESENT with my family even when I’m not working. In particular, I have not liked how I’ve been “showing up” as mom.

It hasn’t felt good at all. Can you relate?

Maybe you feel overwhelmed too and end up yelling at your kids at the drop of a hat, being impatient and harsh with them and then end up afraid that you are going to ruin your kids. (I think we all have this fear at one point or another.)

We all have our “defaults” we fall to when life gets stressful and overwhelming and sometimes it’s easy to think life will always be like this.

But something I learned a while back that I was recently reminded of is: Focus on what you want to become NOT what you don’t want to become.

In other words, if you don’t like that you have been harsh and impatient with your kiddos, instead of getting fixated on the fact that you keep doing that and beating yourself up about it, start cultivating an image of what you would rather be like in those situations.

Ask yourself: what kind of parent do I want to be in this situation? And start to fixate on that instead. It’s the clear vision that makes all the difference.

For me, I really didn’t like that when I was “spending time” with Asher I was in a completely different head space, not present and available, which made me feel easily annoyed by him and in turn I would be short and try to pawn him off to the TV or to Paul.

What I realized is that, even though in this season I need to be more present to work I ALSO wanted to be more present with Asher. I care deeply about having a strong and safe connection with him and for me, that involves being as present as I can when I am with him.

So instead of getting upset with myself for how, in my eyes, I “failed” as a mom recently, I chose to cultivate an image of what I wanted to be instead.

I remind myself often throughout the day: “I want to be a calm and present mommy.” And then I choose to believe that it’s possible even when I’m not matching up.

And it’s worked! I’m making really great progress on being present and connecting with Asher when it’s my time to be with him and it feels really good. Am I perfect – heck no! But I keep coming back to the image of being present and calm with him instead of trying to avoid being impatient, in a different head space etc…

Now this is not the magic pill to make all your struggles go away, but it’s one small step that I hope you will take with me this week as we face off with our own unique challenges.

Choose what you want to become as a parent, not what you want to avoid.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!

Much love and grace,

Ali Parnell