Becoming a parent changes everything. All of a sudden you’re looking down at this amazing little person and the weight of responsibility settles in.
We all want the best for our kids. The best what though?
I think we all start out with the right intentions. We want to see our kids grow and thrive, to be happy and fulfilled little humans who grow up to be fully-functional big humans. But somewhere along the way things sometimes get twisted. We lose sight of what’s really important and start focusing on the wrong things.
When it comes to parenting, we need to play the long game—focusing on long-term goals and dreams instead of quick wins or surface stuff. We need to weave intentionality and strategy into our daily decisions and keep our eyes on what really matters.
This fall my husband and I launched our third and last child into the adult world. As an empty nester, I’ve learned a thing or two about parenting over the years. I certainly didn’t do it perfectly. But I want to share a few things I’m pretty sure I did right.
- Let the little stuff go.
We’ve blown this whole parenting thing out of proportion with helicopter parenting at an all-time high. And so many parents are more worried about being their kids’ best friend instead of a solid parent. So we obsess over every little detail—stressing our kids out and wearing ourselves thin in the process. Does it matter if your sweet little one’s hairbow perfectly matches her shirt? Notsomuch. But what about her feeling seen and heard by you today? Now that’s a game-changer.
- Give them wings.
I wanted my girls to feel like they could conquer the world and do and be anything they wanted. So I drove this message home constantly—filling our home with inspiring resources and tools, giving them experiences and opportunities for growth, showing them as much of the world as I could, and cheering them on at every turn.
- Make health and fitness a priority.
I believe everything starts with fitness. If you take amazing care of your body, the ripple effects of positivity and growth are tremendous. My girls grew up in a home where fitness and healthy eating were the norm. Ultimately they get to decide how they treat their bodies, but I wanted to set an example of commitment and passion for living a life of health and wellness. Not only that, but I wanted to be operating at my best as a mom, so making exercise and nutrition key priorities was essential.
- Chase your dreams, mama.
When we’re in the trenches hyper-focusing on every tiny little detail of parenting, it leaves little margin for realizing our own dreams. And what does that show our kids? That it’s more important to have matching outfits or the perfect home to than to go after big dreams that could change our lives and impact others for good?! That makes no sense to me at all. I wanted my girls to watch me going after big goals, pouring into a team of amazing women, and creating an amazing life—both for myself and my family. I wanted them to leave the nest feeling like they could chase—and realize—giant dreams, too!
- Take care of yourself.
There’s a lot of buzz out there about self-care these days. But quite often it’s the wrong kind of self-care we’re talking about. Wine and bubble baths might be great (not my cup of tea!), but often this kind of self-care is more about escape than intentional care that really moves the needle. I wanted my girls to see me taking excellent care of myself by regularly seeking long-term health, growth, and wellness in my life. For me that means daily exercise, eating well, seeking continual personal growth, and incorporating life-giving rhythms and experiences into my life. Not only did this kind of intentionality allow me to function optimally as a parent, but it hopefully set an example of lifelong positive habits and self-care for my daughters.
Related Post: How to Create a Full Empty Nest
I’m not saying parenting’s always easy. Or that I never tripped up. But I want you to know this: in the long run, the big stuff matters and the little stuff doesn’t. Being intentional and focused now will pay off dividends when your kids grow up.