The best parenting tip — be kind to yourself

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee is one of my favorite people to follow and learn from. He is a British physician, author, podcast host, and more. I subscribe to his weekly email and the one he sent on January 2nd has stayed with me more than most. He was talking about new year’s resolutions and why many of them don’t work. He said, “But the reason New Year’s resolutions usually don’t last is because they’re coming not from a place of love, but a place of lack.”

New Year’s Resolutions

I couldn’t help but think about this in terms of parenting. I will not yell at my kids. I will feed them vegetables with every meal. I will never look at my phone while they are talking to me. All of these are great resolutions and all of them have already been broken just six days into January.

The yelling, the unkind comments, the distraction, the eating cheese for every meal — all of these focus on lack. A lack of patience, a lack of understanding, a lack of alone time, and a lack of motivation/time to cook. The problem is, focusing on these “lacks” are not changing my behavior. Berating myself isn’t changing my behavior either. Dr. Chatterjee goes on to say, “Many of us treat ourselves with a chronic lack of respect. We constantly talk down to ourselves, often without even realising it.”

A lack of self respect

A chronic lack of respect. The voice in my head is guilty of exactly this. Jenny, you idiot. Jenny what is wrong with you. Jenny, just stop. Jenny, just start. This voice is not helpful and certainly not one I would want to model for my kids. So how do I turn it off?

Dr. Chatterjee says the following:

I am convinced that the number 1 factor that determines our long-term health and happiness is the ability to be compassionate and kind to ourselves.

Dr. Chatterjee

Well doesn’t that sound easy. It’s the only thing we can actually control even though I still have to remind myself daily that I cannot control my children.

Mel Robbins was interviewed on one episode of Feel Better Live More and talked about the power of self compassion. She mentioned looking in the mirror every day and giving yourself a high five. While I’ve done it and it feels a bit ridiculous, I also love it. Telling myself, “Girl you got this. And I’ve got your back,” is a way of showing myself self love to start the day. It’s a way of telling myself, “You be nice to that girl. She’s working hard and doing the best she can.”

Two important questions

In this same email, Dr. Chatterjee asked his readers to ask themselves two questions every day. The questions are:

  1. What went well today?
  2. What can I do differently tomorrow?

While I haven’t formally done this every day for the past five days, I have been more mindful of answering these questions as the day winds down. They are so simple, yet also incredibly powerful and can be applied to any and all areas, not just parenting.

In regards to parenting, it is helping me notice what is going well. It is so easy to focus on everything that is not going well (which sadly these days feels like a lot with snow, school closures, Omicron, etc.) so forcing myself to focus on what is going well has been helpful. The second question also leaves room for growth and improvement without focusing on a lack. It could be as simple as, “Tomorrow I will leave my phone upstairs while we play in the basement.” It’s not a year long resolution, it’s a change for tomorrow. It’s nothing major and there is no guarantee that it will “work.” However, it has been a way to show myself a bit more love, encouragement, and confidence each day, and for the next day.

Dr. Becky’s mantras

Lastly, I have coupled asking myself these two questions with mantras that Dr. Becky suggests. Before I even start using them with my kids, I’m using them with myself. The ones she recommends are:

  • This feels hard because it is hard
  • Yes this is challenging and yes I can do it
  • Every time I’m working hard, my brain is growing

Beating myself up, focusing on ALL that is lacking, and making long term unattainable goals are not helping. Being kind to myself definitely hasn’t been a magic pill to stop yelling, put down my phone, and have steamed vegetables appear at every meal. But, being kind to myself, noticing what is going well, and cheering myself on like I would a friend is absolutely helping. You got this girl.

12 comments

  1. Thanks for reminding me to find something good in every day – and not focus on my mistakes. My kids love steamed broccoli in their Mac’n Cheese!

    • Yes! Broccoli is our one vegetable right now – great idea to include it with the Mac n cheese! Thanks Sally 🙂

    • Thinking about a change for tomorrow has been far more helpful for me than a change for a year. It has been helping me make goals that are more realistic and therefore attainable!

  2. This is such a helpful post Jenny and it applies to so much more than parenting! I love Mel Robbins and I’m currently reading The High Five Habit. Yes, it feels a bit ridiculous giving yourself a high five in the mirror but it does work to change your perspective. Negative self-talk is an absolutely killer and most of us are guilty of it.
    High Five to you for doing such a great job with this blog!!

    • I just got that book too! I can’t wait to start reading it. I’m starting to catch myself more and more with the negative self talk – awareness is the first step! Xoxo

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