I tend to “write” a post first in my head and this one has been brewing for a while. Today, I read this “life hack” from @mymomalogue on Instagram and I knew that’s how I would start this post.

Life hack: If you tell the pizza delivery person, “Thanks so much, you’re making our pajama day awesome!” when you and your toddler answer the door in pjs, you transform from the mom who couldn’t get her shit together into the fun mom who hosts theme days.

This, and the many meme accounts I follow with my @thebabyconcierge insta are a really good reminder that we are not alone in thinking being a parent is not a walk in the park. Parenting is a daily constant struggle, one that you are never really 100% sure you’re succeeding in, but there will be small moments to reassure you that you are on the right track.

I knew since I saw that instagram post this morning that I was writing this post tonight and ironically I got a reassuring moment of my own today. I was playing outside with my kids after camp and when I said it was time to go in, my younger son was crying that he wanted to stay out and play. Before I could even say a response, his older brother ran up to him, got down to his level and said something to coax him to come in, along the lines, “do you want me to come and play with you in your room?” A huge parenting struggle I’ve been dealing with is big brother constantly bothering little brother and me TRYING to stay out of it, and this was just a moment that felt like a win, it felt like we are on this journey together.

Parenting is hard. From the details of making sure your child/children are fed (attempting a balanced diet, and no you can’t have candy for dinner) clothed, (and they grow out of their clothes oh so fast) entertained (but also want them to be bored to use their imagination) to their social and emotional well being. The list goes on and on. Just when you feel you have everything under control, whether that be when they’re babies and you have a routine set or when they’re older and you’re in a groove, they change and you need to adjust. You have to have all this (and way more since I didn’t even really start with details) under control and that’s before taking into account doing anything for yourself, your home, your work etc. When I think of it this way, of course it makes sense why there are so many times when I feel like I didn’t have a ‘good parenting day.’ I know I’m not alone because I’ve spoken to friends about this, there are times when we go to sleep and know it wasn’t our best day but we need to remind ourselves (or have a friend remind you – that’s what I do) that tomorrow is a new day, a new chance in getting this parenting thing “right.”

We all have different strengths, so for some they and their kids always look put together for others their kids eat healthy. No one scores a 10 in each category and that’s more than OKAY! And you can’t look at someone else and judge yourself for it, because you are not them and they are not you. For example, I love pictures and photobooks so I am not drowning in pictures and am up to date on photobooks, but I hate meal planning and thinking of what my kids should eat and mealtimes stress me out (and many other things I don’t score a 10, but that’s just one example)

So now that it has been established that parenting is a daily multi-faceted challenge, here are some things I’m going to try to do this summer to ease the challenge a little.

1) I find that my mood can set the tone. Children model behavior and do as we do not as we say. So if I’m yelling and angry and stressed then I can’t be surprised if they act like that. I’m going to make a conscious effort to say to myself each day or more specifically before more stressful times (dinner/bath time) today is another chance to model to my children how I want them to behave. I’m going to begin relaxed and enjoy the time instead of thinking of any of the potential unenjoyable parts of it. (I.e. my kids saying doody every other word and then fighting over the one toy that they both won’t care about 5 min from the fight) If I set a calm tone and an excitement about spending the time together, then we are starting off on the right foot.

2) When I started my Instagram account I did a tech challenge where I put my phone out of reach for the pre-bedtime hours. I really liked it but my only thing was that I didn’t like not having a camera, especially since the 3 kids are together. (There can definitely be an opinion, live in the moment don’t need your camera, but I’m trying to be realistic for myself and I know I will want my camera – plus I already have Shabbat with no camera) I’m going to try, starting tomorrow, keeping my phone with me but putting it on airplane mode or calls only. Access to camera, but not to any social media apps or messaging apps. What’s the point of this one? Being present, fully present, makes a difference and can help eliminate some negative attention seeking behaviors.

3) I’m going to try to say Yes as much as I can. I try and remind myself how it would feel to have no say about majority of my day. When my kids ask for something, if it’s within reason I’m going to try and say yes. In the spirit of full honesty – I can say no for no other reason than I can say no for no other reason then I’m feeling lazy and tired. I’m going to try and say yes more than I say no.

4) Remind myself that they are kids. Not adults. Not robots. Kids. With brains still developing. Learning to deal with emotions. It’s important to remind ourselves of this because we come to expect so much from our children and it’s always a good idea to take a step back and remind yourself that they are kids.

Sometimes a simple change in how you speak to them can make a big difference. Instead of “please wash your hands,” try “do you want to wash your hands in the bathroom sink or the kitchen sink today?” “Do you want to leave the park in 5 minutes or 10 minutes?” If they have choice and they buy in, it can make the process smoother.

If you’re struggling with tantrums, keep a mental diary of what is setting them off. If it’s when they’re hungry, try and make sure they have something to eat before they reach that point. If it’s just because, get down on their level, offer love, and let them know that you’re here and ready when they’re done. At a time that’s not during a tantrum, can talk about it and role play and come up with a signal that you give that means “you’re having a tantrum. I love you and am here when you’re done.”

5)I’m not going to repeat myself 100 times. It doesn’t do anything positive, in fact it just leads to negative because I get frustrated for repeating myself.

The struggles of parenting change so much with the age of the children. It’s very easy to get into a rut, too much yelling not enough enjoying. It’s always helpful to have a checkin with yourself and come up with some ways to get back on track. I’m a big fan of family meetings and working together for a solution, even with young kids. Not just for behavior but for sleeping too. If your child is waking you up all night which usually leads to an unhappy parent, a meeting can discuss what’s expected and what are ways everyone can do their part to fix the problem. Having your kids be a part of the brainstorming and solution process is the first step in making progress because it becomes a team effort instead of you against them.

To sum up, I’m going to make sure I set a calm tone, model behavior I want to see, set times that there’s no phone distraction, say yes more, not repeat myself, and remind myself that they’re just kids. I’m also going to give lots of hugs and kisses because somehow I blinked and my baby is old enough to be picked up and dropped off by a bus to a camp where he only knew a few people. As they say, The (summer especially) days are long but the years are short, so I’m going to try and make these days memorable family days. Memorable for the joy we have with each other (not the struggles).