In an age of helicopter parenting, the very concept of “less is more” may sound horrific to some, not to mention totally a bad parenting notion. However, if only such parents understood the hidden meaning and the long term effects of doing less in parenting, would they actually sit back, relax and enjoy the journey called parenthood.
When I was pregnant, I was lapping up every type of child rearing literature, all in the name of creating an Einstein. In short, I was eating, seeing and doing everything that would pop out a ‘child prodigy’ right at the delivery table.
As an extension to that, post birth of my son, I started raising my son with a military precision timetable. My kid had to be fed, bathed, pooped, taken for outings and again the same cycle, all dot on time. Any delay was making me more overwhelmed than my baby, except at sleeping time, where both of us were at par, in terms of frustration.
In short, I did not enjoy my first year and most of the times, I ended up feeling inadequate (Sometimes depressive too). I was in the endless cycle of feeding, poop cleaning, bathing and sleeping, with very little time for sleep. To add to my woe, there was no help too (I will not go back there)!
Despite doing every bit of child nurturing on time, I was frustrated and super depressed. I wasn’t enjoying the process and worse, was feeling guilty for not feeling like a “happy mom”, especially when I had a happy cherubic baby in my arms!
I knew I was doing something wrong, because despite putting in so much effort, I was depressed and above all highly frustrated.
I understood the problem.
I was doing too much to the extent of being impractical.
My own self-realization and an effort to find ways to ease the parenting style came to my rescue. My inquisitiveness to find the right solution and my urge to enjoy with my child made me read and read. Like a helpless parent, I resorted and appreciated every site that guided me, pinpointed my mistakes and appreciated making mistakes. All of that made me feel normal. Earlier I simply felt I was failing all the time!
Thanks for the research, I came across Dutch and Danish styles of parenting, which made me feel relieved and made me feel like I could start all over again, without judging myself or anyone else.
It was through these styles of parenting that I realized that the very basic element of raising a child was my own happiness, my own mental stability. I started taking it easy even when things went wrong. Although, it was difficult to let go of that sense of control that I gained when things happened on time, but at the same time I also saved myself from that terrible amount of stress when things didn’t! I became more spontaneous, more adaptable and more attached as a parent!
Also I reduced the stress baggage in my own life, by getting adequate help at the time of need. Earlier, I saw getting anytime of “help” in parenting as a sign of failure and weakness as a mother, but with time I realized that it helped me build a support system, made me stronger and better as a parent.
Slowly, yet gradually, I realized the mindfulness in it.
I started putting my child in day care for an hour after school( freaking out less thinking that I was being the bad parent) and allotted some father-child bonding times( ignoring how good/bad it went), while I did my own thing. I started having more time to myself, including doing things, which I thought I never had time for. As a result, I started focusing on spending more quality time with my kid. I started taking him out, planned more play dates for him and was enjoying more in his social activities.
I wasn’t doing much in terms of quantity, yet quality wise I was doing very well than before. I was enjoying the process by not being ‘so hands-on’ parent. I was giving my child a lot of space, allowing him to make a mess of the house, while he played. He too sensed this and started responding and helping me clean up and with many more activities, which earlier were a struggle.
I wasn’t doing more. In fact, I was doing less, yet my child was learning and enjoying more and so was I.
To cut short, let me quickly highlight what all I gained through this approach of focusing on my well-being and by being less of a helicopter parent.
- Helped my child become more independent and function a little bit more smartly on his own.
- Helped my child to freely play on his own (without me planning his activities) and hence, made him a tad bit more independent and decisive.
- Made him more confident through his heightened sense of authority and control that my parenting brought about
- Helped to manage his temper tantrums as now I’m able to detach myself and my ego from overwhelming situations (like a screaming and yelling child in a department store, an untidy house, a soiled dress, food all over the dress etc.)
- Brought myself peace of mind and lots of time!
Now although, some people might read my blog with raised eyebrows, trying to figure how it all works, but its ok. I don’t want to convince them that I am unable to extend support to my child when actually he might be having that nervous breakdown due to my overbearing style of parenting!
I can’t deny that I am still a tad bit of a super involved, highly activity-oriented mother, but now I don’t plan or hover much. I take things in my stride as the day and my child’s mood goes along. This has helped as now I don’t plan much or feel disappointed when the plans don’t’ work out. I now firmly believe that this frivolous sounding concept in parenting-“Less is more” has been a brilliant revelation, an eye opener. Try it and it will get your lost sanity back, provided you mentally gear up to let it go, little by little!