When I was growing up, my step-dad used to say “do as I say, not as I do.” It would annoy me to no end, but as an adult, I get it. We don’t always model the behaviors we desire to pass down to our kids, it’s easier to talk the talk and hope they remember one day.
I won’t lie to ya, I’m a fusser. I lecture and I don’t sleep peacefully at night unless I say what I need to say. I often think to myself, “I could be the only person giving them this advice, ever!” And even if I’m not, whoever gave said person the advice, they probably didn’t say it like me. You better ask somebody about Mama Neeka’s talks! Anywho, these days I’ve found myself fussing advice at my kids that I should probably take heed to. They’re all very sensible things that would improve my life drastically, too.
Here are 6 things I tell my kids that I should tell myself:
“Just pray and ask God to help you.”
Raising kids is a lot. I don’t always know what to do when the kids aren’t feeling confident, or they’re anxious, or when my son won’t stop disrupting his classmates. So, in helpless frustration, I often remind them to pray and ask God for help. I want them to know that God is ever-present. They are His, He hears them, and He can help, no matter how big or small the worry. In addition to this, during prayer, I thank God for loving us even when we aren’t perfect. I want to remind them that they are loved just the way that they are. I tell them that even if they don’t know what to say during prayer, they can say something they’re thankful for. There’s always something to be thankful for.
I, too, need those reminders. As I get older and my children’s demands increase, I realize I’m only one person. I can only do so much and be so much to so many people. But God is ever-present. I am His, He hears me, and He WILL help. All I have to do is ask. He loves me just as I am. I’m so thankful that He sustains my family. I feel lighter when I pray. I pull out that journal and lay those burdens down. I should definitely do that more often!
When was the last time you prayed? Like really, really prayed?
“Just take a few bites of your vegetables!”
I’m very particular about what my kids eat. I was a fat kid growing up and I’m now a public health major in graduate school. Over the years, I’ve learned how much food affects behavior, overall mood, and bodily functions. Let’s not forget confidence! Not enough vegetables and they’re constipated. Too much juice and they run the risk of getting diarrhea. Too much sugar and it opens the door to a world of future health problems. So, I try to find balance in giving them healthy foods and allowing them to enjoy life’s pleasures, but they have to eat their vegetables. I want them to feel good in the bodies that they’re in. And it’s no different for their mother.
I can be a little cranky, and I’m always tired. Always! However, in this moment of self-reflection, I’ve realized “maybe I’m just hangry and nutrient deprived.” If I’m being honest, I hardly eat. When I do eat, it’s usually Malik’s goldfish, or a bite of each kid’s dinner, or overpriced fast food on Doordash. I know better than that. I know I need to throw a salad, or an apple, or a six bottles of water in there. Healthy foods! You know what’s in healthy food? Vitamins. Protein. Healthy fats. Nutrients! Ya know, the stuff that keeps the body going.
During undergrad, a nutrition professor once said, “eat to fuel, not to fill.” We have a lot to do for a lot of people. We need to give our bodies the nutrients they need to function. And drink some water, please! The daily processes that occur in your body literally need water.
“TVs off! Y’all have been watching them all day. Color, or something!”
I can’t stand the glazed look in my children’s eyes when they’re sitting around watching tv or glued to a screen all day. I know, I should cut them some slack because they’ve been at school all day, but there are more enriching ways to be entertained. Let’s not forget that there was a day in time when it wasn’t seemingly mandatory that every room had a television in it. There was a time when kids went outside and played. That time still exists in my household because I simply refuse to listen to the Ninja Kids all day.
I have to be honest though, when they’re away at school, or asleep, I’m the binge watching queen. Snowfall, or Maid, or Girlfriends, or Blindspotting, or Run The World (I could go on forever) take me away from reality for days. Sometimes weeks! The creator in me knows it’s time wasted. I can’t get a creative juice to flow through my bones when I’m binging television. I always tell myself I need the rest, but there are more enriching ways to rest and spend my free time. I could work on a blog, do some homework, read a book, journal, draw. Plenty of things. The television shows and social media posts will be there. Disconnecting every now and again is needed.
How often do you disconnect? Did you know that doing so helps increase your attention span? Not just yours, but your child’s too.
“Let’s get your homework out the way so we can relax.”
The idea is that the kids (Malik) will still be in the swing of their school routine, so asking them (Malik) to do homework shouldn’t cause too much of a disruption. It’s just easier when I don’t have to deal with on of them (Malik) throwing a fit because they have to cut off the television and do homework. Then, after homework, the evening is theirs to do as they please. I can cook dinner without feeling rushed. The night flows smoothly.
On the contrary, if you open Merriam-Webster’s dictionary right this second and look up the word “procrastination”, you’ll find my picture. EYE need to get my homework done first so that EYE can relax. Imagine if I did all the hard stuff (homework, errands, laundry, printing business labels, etc.) when I have the opportunity to complete them without being interrupted, rather than using that time to relax first, then acting like there aren’t enough hours in the day when the deadline begins to approach (every single time). It sounds great in theory, and I’m working hard to make it a reality, but I’m just not there yet.
But! I just got this really cool calendar from Michael’s and it’s changing my life! It helps me organize the month, then break down the week and the day. I need to be able to see the big picture and the day to day at the same time. Basically, it helps me to see that I have things to do. It reminds me to Carpe Diem! It was on sale, too!
What’s that one thing you’re putting off?
“Uh uh! Clean this room up!”
Oh! My Gawd. Princess Mahari is busy, do you hear me? My girl twirls all over the house, leaving a trail of nail polish, roller skates, art supplies, barbie dolls, and socks (I can’t figure out where the sock leak is coming from). Her room looks like a tornado blew through it 26 days out of the month. Want to hear something funny? When her room is clean, she’s so chill. She relaxes in her room like a princess in her palace. Oh, the irony.
One day, I had a come to Jesus moment with myself. I decided that I needed to start keeping my room a little more tidy. Actually, that’s a lie. I was fussing and Malik told me that I needed to clean my room too. *side eye* He was right, so I listened. How often do we clean the entire house and leave our rooms to fend for themselves?
I won’t exaggerate and say that my room is spick and span, but I have made an effort to make my bed immediately when I wake up. If I don’t I’m getting back in it when I drop them off. My mom always said making up your bed makes your room looks clean. She’s right, too. The perception of my room looking cleaner inspires me to actually clean it. When my room is clean, my anxiety is lower. When my anxiety is lower, I’m more productive because I’m not sitting around hiding from the world and deep diving into the rabbit hole of my thoughts. The world is just a better place when my room is clean.
“All you had to do was ask for help.”
Nothing drives me up a wall like cleaning up a juice spill. And not just any spill, the kind that follows a child trying to be independent and opening up a gallon of cran-apple on their own. While I honor their effort, I always say “baby, why didn’t you just ask for help?” They usually respond with puppy dog eyes, saying that they didn’t want to bother me or they thought they could do it. I wonder where they get that from.
I never ask for help, ever. Once, I even told someone, “I don’t ask for help, so just pay close attention and if you see me in need, that’s your queue.” What a crazy person.
If you know you need help, just ask, or run the risk of making a mistake (ie. spilling juice all over the place) and STILL having to ask for help. I promise, it’s not the end of the world. However, that preventable mistake will probably feel like it.
I started asking for help and you’ll never believe it, but it’s made my life easier. Ha! As it turns out, life is better when I accept that I don’t have six arms and I can’t be in two places at once. Life is better when someone else can help you carry the burden for a little bit, even if it’s just a few minutes.
“Go to bed, you need your rest.”
Have I ever mentioned that my son, Malik, doesn’t sleep? At all. I know for a fact that he gets up and walks around the house in the middle of the night, just for..I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. When he finally decides to stop fighting the sandman, it’s usually almost time to wake up. Then, he’s in a terrible mood (think Alexander’s and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day). So he walks around the house super slow. Wrinkling up his clothes after I reluctantly iron them, and/or getting toothpaste on his shirt after he’s completely dressed. Then, he goes to school and acts a fool. Thennn, I have to go all Rochelle on him. It’s great. Not!
However, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I, too, stay up all night. And when I do, I almost always oversleep the next morning. It’s all downhill from there, not just for me, but for everyone in the house.
As a mother, I’ve always understood that I need my rest. It’s why I’m not that mom who doesn’t let her kids sleep in the bed with her. That’s not my ministry. I understand that I’m the CEO of my household and an actual business. If I want to make rational decisions and have the patience to deal with Sonic the Hedgehog and the Kidz Bop Queen, I need to get some rest.
You need some rest too, your mind and your body. And not just any type of rest, good rest. Like adequate sleep most nights of the week type of rest. Prioritize that and I bet at the very least, your overall mood and productivity will increase.
Kids are the best teachers. If we take the time, we can learn a lot from them. In raising my children, I’m reminded of what I needed as a child that I didn’t have. I’m glad I can give them more; not just material things, but knowledge, insight, and perspective as well.
Our children are not only a reflection of us, but a glimpse into the future of our legacy, our community! We’re their example. My daughter often says she wants to be just like me. She’s already stealing my makeup, all up in my closet, trying on my shoes. Her is so precious!
I want her to be the best woman she can be one day. She has no idea all of the things God has in store for her (and neither do I, but I know it’s going to be out of this world). How awesome is that I get to lead her on this journey of taking care of herself mind, body, and spirit to experience His blessings in their fullness? The both of my children! However, I can’t do that for either of them if I’m not taking my own advice.
I need to pray. I need to take care of my body. I need to disconnect from the world every now and again. I need to prioritize the important things so I can enjoy my free time. My home needs to be aesthetically pleasing. *coughs* I need to ask for help. And I really, really, really need to get some rest! I need to be modeling these positive behaviors for my kids so that they can learn to deal with life’s stressors without flipping out. So that they can be healthy, both mentally and physically. I want to give them a strong foundation in this world.
Mommy’s, while you’re raising children, completing classes, running businesses, growing in your careers, and leading carpool, please, don’t forget to take your own advice. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.