Do you find yourself repeating the same sayings constantly — especially if you’re a mom?
My current season as a mom to a 4-year old is pretty cool because as her vocabulary expands, so do our conversations. I think we’re understanding each other on a deeper level and it’s exciting to see.
Just like you, I’m figuring out this motherhood business as I go. Despite not having a background (or even good grades!) in Psychology, I still understand that our voice becomes our kids’ inner voice as they grow up. So of course I feel a responsibility to be as positive and encouraging as possible.
In no particular order, here’s what’s been on repeat lately:
1 | WE CAN DO HARD THINGS
Anything from waiting in line to cleaning up a big mess, this is my response if she gets all whiney about a task. It’s so imperative that she believes that she can overcome the initial doubt or hesitation that we all feel sometimes.
2 | IT'S NOT A MESS WHEN WE CLEAN IT UP
One day at the library, a couple of kids were playing with some legos that they had scattered all around. Gigi loudly complained that they made a mess.
I’m glad their moms thought it was cute – I was slightly mortified. Around that time I had read somewhere that kids don’t see their play spaces as messy, like we do. They see an island being invaded by pirates or an intergalactic space kitty expedition.
As an artist, I want to foster a healthy imagination in my child and never make her feel bad or guilty for doing what’s natural to her. So, as long as we clean it up before moving on to something else, it’s not a mess.
3 | DIFFERENT IS OKAY
I know I won’t have the perfect response for everything, but when Gigi points out a person because she’s curious about them for whatever reason I want to have an answer. With this simple phrase, I hope to instill in her a foundation for acceptance and compassion.
4 | I KNEW YOU'D FIGURE IT OUT! or I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!
This is my alternative to “good job!” which I’ve read is too vague a response for anyone – especially a little one. Paying attention to whatever our kiddos are working on will give us the response that will be most helpful to them. It is my hope that when she's older, on her own, and faced with challenges, her inner voice will be cheering her on.
5 | WE’VE GOT TO WORK WITH WHAT WE HAVE
I said this at a Cracker Barrel when my toddler wanted the peg game at the next table instead of the (perfectly fine) one she was holding. I offhandedly told her, “Sorry babe, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got” and my aunt praised me for good parenting. Um... really? I brushed it off at first, but after further reflection, I agree with her. That simple phrase is teaching her to be resourceful and to find contentment in her present circumstance.
6 | IT’S NOT ON OUR LIST
I fully intend to be upfront and honest about money and how I make purchasing decisions when G’s a bit older. But for now, when she wants every shiny object that catches her eye, I tell her it’s just not on our shopping list. Sometimes, I’ll snap a pic and tell her we’ll put it on her Christmas or birthday list. This has helped avoid those dreaded middle-of-the-aisle-full-body-screaming tantrums.
7 | ONE THING AT A TIME
I recently read that multitasking is not a thing. I (stubbornly?) still think I’m able to do it, but not well. I say this in a few different scenarios like when she’s asking me to hold her when I’ve literally got my hands full or she's having a meltdown because can't color at the dinner table. This is one I’ve heard her say back to me and it’s quite cute: “One thing at a time, right mom?”
8 | A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
I think if each family member – not just the kids – are aware that every single thing has a home, clean up is much less of a struggle.
9 | TELL ME ABOUT IT
This is what I say when she shows me something. Instead of giving a knee-jerk approval ("I love it!"), I want to give her a chance to tell me about her creation. This is also great for when you have no idea what they're showing you ("Oh, it's not a bear? It's a dust storm? Of course...")! This also gives me a moment to give her meaningful feedback: "I love how you used the color blue to make the raindrops!" and "You worked really hard on those swirls!"
10 | YOU DO YOU, BOO
A sweeter way of saying, "Let your freak flag fly!" I think it's important for all of us to know that our individuality is our power. To help build her confidence, I want her to know that as long as she's not mean or hurting herself or others, she can be or do whatever she wants.
Your turn! I'd love to hear what's on repeat in your home.