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The Parental Messer-Upper: How to Correct and Reconnect

Today, my biggest “success” may have been when I spilled our 350-degree-straight-from-the-oven dinner all over the floor, but managed to avoid covering my nearby child in it. You know that joke people sometimes make about “Well, did everybody survive the day? That’s all that matters…”–well, today, I feel fortunate to answer that one affirmatively. 

Not. The. Best. Day. 
 
Considering the oven incident was our, ahem, good part, I was feeling tonight as if (gasp, do I write this?) I shouldn’t even be a parent. Yeah, it was kind of a melodramatic thought.  And then I remembered something important.
 
One of the best ways to reconnect with your child when you feel you’ve blown it is to try. Were you looking at your phone too much and feeling guilty about it? Put your phone down in the other room and turn off non-essential notifications. Did you raise your voice and intimidate your kid when he wasn’t moving fast enough? Remember what you read in good books about playful parenting (afflink), and try again next time. 
 
For me, for tonight, I’m writing my child a love letter. Love letters help me see through the messy, mucky murkiness of parenting and help me remember what a gift our relationship is. The more I can make my body shake the tension of a tough day and emotionally recall the incredible warmth and joy that’s underneath it all, the more easily I can extend grace to my child and to myself, and heal from the tricky parts. 
 
Acknowledge “Yes, today was rough, and tomorrow will be better.” All you need to do is authentically reconnect with your child in whatever form works best for you. It might be in the form of a love letter she won’t even know how to read for awhile; it might be a promise to start tomorrow with a hugging game (as long as she’s up for that). It might be starting a new rock collection together while you’re out in nature, or it might be as simple as remembering what his tiny hand felt like in yours when he was a baby. Sometimes reconnecting with your child starts with connecting with a piece of them, even just in a joyful memory, before you come back together entirely. Whatever it is, you can find it. Search, and watch how your heart feels when you find it. 
 
Breathe. Try again. You DO get a do-over.

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For helpful resources (and some fun things, too), check out the Things We Love page.

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