Do you ever wonder where kids come up with the questions they ask? They are always learning. Always. Which is why my four-year-old is constantly asking a never-ending stream of questions. And it’s exhausting. Just remember, they are little sponges and their one-liners are things to treasure!
Sometimes, I think the things that we are programmed to teach our kids in those little “teachable moments” that come up every day should be flipped. What if we learn just as much from them as they learn from us? As parents, we are here to teach our kids, and they have a lot to learn. They start as a blank slate, but they learn so much, so fast.
A couple of years ago, I was trying to teach Thatch about things not really being “free” when they’re advertised as free – and pointing out that there is a cost for most things in life, except love and hugs. He responded with “except buy one, get one free things, mom – the free thing is free!” I absolutely love being a mom, and learning from my kids. Their perspective is innocent, and usually brings much-needed comic relief just when we most need it.
Sometimes, the biggest “teachable moments” in life come not from what we can teach our children, but from what they can teach us. They remind us that the simple things are really what is most important in life. Giving them our full attention, taking the time to be together and enjoy each other, and being present for them. I fully admit that I am not a perfect parent – no one among us is perfect. But I try. And that is the best any of us can do. Try to be our best each day, and take each day as it comes so we don’t get overwhelmed.
As I look toward the second half of the year and the half-way point of summer, I try to remind myself to enjoy life as it comes. I am very type-A. I like to know my schedule at least a month ahead of time, and while I try to go with things when they change, I have been known to freak out from time to time when changes to the plan knock me sideways. But life moves on, and we have to keep going – there isn’t a “pause” option for all of us to take the time to get our bearings and regroup. I usually try to take 15 minutes to grab a cup of coffee, look at all the options, and then respond to how we can make the changes work.
Throughout my career, I have been blessed with a series of opportunities to learn from some very good bosses, and to observe situations where the leader could have done something different to inspire their team. Wherever you work – whoever you work for – my best advice is to try to build everyone around you up, and make decisions that take the whole team into consideration. Currently, my family is my “team” and the input I regularly give is for the best opportunities for us to have time together. My team includes kids who are not predictable, are not always well-behaved, and who do not always enjoy sitting through a speech or business meeting. Or, frankly, sitting through a whole day of volleyball games at a tournament with big sister…
As a businesswoman – keeping in mind that I work for myself and do not have employees – I have to set goals for myself. I have a static number of goals each day for my clients, and a goal for this blog to get a post out every week, and eventually more than one a week. I also have to keep up with general housework, laundry, making meals and cleaning up after them, scheduling all the various doctor’s appointments for the kids, keeping track of all of their schedules and mine, and keeping them healthy and happy whether we are home or away.
I hope that I am setting an example for my kids. I hope I am showing them that you can have any career you want – that you can set goals for yourself and achieve them. I have chosen to work at home, and I embrace working for myself. I made the choice to create a consulting business that allows me to be home for my kids, and to still work and have adult conversation. I also want to show other moms – and dads – that it can be done. It is not easy. Taking the leap of faith to work for yourself is just that – a leap. Finding the right situation for yourself is very personal, but take the time to figure out what is best for you and your family. And embrace it. Live your best life, for yourself.
Our kids can give us something no one else can – unconditional love. And acceptance. Kids roll with life, and they live in their reality. Whatever choices you make, don’t regret them. But explain your choices to your kids. There are things about our life that my kids definitely complain about. I try to explain that we all make choices. I don’t always want to go to meetings or events, either, but when we make a commitment to something, we have to follow through, just like when they say they will sign up for an after-school program and they don’t want to go, they have to go and be part of the group because they said they would.
Take the idea of the “teachable moment” and apply it to yourself. If there is something at work that has upset you, learn from it. Try to figure out how to do things differently so that same thing doesn’t happen again. Figure out what part of it upset you, and circle back with your co-workers or boss to explain what bothered you so that you can all learn from it. We all have to work with people or projects that we don’t like all the time. That is part of life – and one of the things we have to teach our kids as well. I try to explain to our teenager that if someone isn’t pulling their weight on a group project, it still has to get done and she will still be graded on the whole project. Or if there is a difficult teacher or coach, they still have the say about grades or whether she will play or not, so she has to work with it and do her best job for herself. We can’t blame others or use excuses – all of us have to make the best of every situation and do our best job, and not worry about what other people are doing.
This country was founded on acceptance of people. Acceptance of different religions. Acceptance of different ideas. Our founders were not perfect, and each generation since has changed things and tried to make things better. We all try to do the same, in our own way. My day-to-day is pretty easy-going and my immediate sphere is my kids and our parents, and keeping up with all of their activities. I don’t claim to have all the answers when it comes to life, partnerships, parenting or work – but I have ideas and things that work for me. I try to balance my life as best I can, and make it all work for our family in ways that may not work for others. But I live in my reality – and I am thankful.
I hope all of you were able to enjoy some family time this past weekend, have a BBQ or attend one, and remember all that we in America have to be thankful for. Because I am able to set my own hours and work for myself. I have the freedom to give my time and treasure to causes that interest me. I live in the greatest country on Earth. And I do not take that for granted.