Have you ever felt more like a firefighter than a parent? You don’t seem to have time to put any real thought into caring for your children because you are too busy putting out small fires all day long, hoping that you aren’t faced with a wildfire that consumes the family before you make it out the door to school.
Or maybe you feel like a referee, putting one child in the penalty box while the other one gloats on the sideline? And I’m sure you have all, at one point in time, felt like the maid: too busy picking up toys and doing laundry to enjoy the small moments of fun with your children. None of these images is all that positive when associated with the job of caring for our small children, so I am going to ask you to remove all of those negative images in order to leave room for a new, “improved” positive vision of what your life as a parent could look like.
Parenting is a journey. The journey begins when you bring your first-born child home and continues until your youngest reaches 18 and moves into his/her second phase of life. And every journey requires a ROADMAP. The journey of parenting is no different because, without a roadmap, it is impossible to parent from your best.
A Parenting Roadmap can look like any map you would use to plot a course from Point A to Point B. I like to imagine myself up on a hill with a birds-eye view, visualizing the road below as it winds its way through mountains and valleys and through my child’s life from 0 to 18. Maybe your map looks like a board game, or an ordinary roadmap.
No matter what image or map you decide to use, remember that each one has three things in common:
- The starting point
- The final destination
- The distance in between
As a parent, designing your Roadmap, you want to make sure you:
- Identify your starting point (where are you today?)
- Identify your final destination (where do you want to go?)
- Plan for the distance in between (what will it take to get there?)
I’m pretty sure that when you began your parenting journey (or thought about beginning it!) your images did not include feeling frustrated, stressed, confused or discouraged. I’m asking you to put aside those negative feelings and attitudes and focus on answering a few simple but powerful questions:
- How do you want to spend your time with your kids? (The choice is yours.)
- What are your values and how can you better live into them?
- How can you enjoy the experience of your children’s childhood with them? (This includes more than playing with playdough and make–believe.)
Those may seem like tough questions to answer, but creating a Parenting Roadmap will help you focus on the outcome, evaluate and track your progress, and enjoy more and worry less. The choice is yours.
For more information on creating a Parenting Roadmap, see Ch. 5 of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program.