Parenting is like climbing a mountain. Literally! Last week I climbed Bluff Knoll with my family. The idea of reaching the summit together seemed like a romantic adventure, but in reality it was hard work! Sometimes we can start our parenting journey with wonderful expectations of how glorious it will be, and then reality hits. We can find ourselves feeling guilty for wishing it away!
The sign at Bluff Knoll said that after years of weathering the mountain range had been worn down. A few years of putting up with whinging and defiance from a strong willed child can wear down your sanity, and make you wonder how you will make it through each day!
I’m going to share eight tips that helped us to climb Bluff Knoll, and they can be applied to our parenting journey too. I may or may not have sung every song I could think of relating to mountains on the way up 😉
Our mindset can help or hinder us on our way up the mountain. Elijah (4) exclaimed, ‘YES! I’M GOING TO CLIMB THOSE DUNES!’ Kale (9) said, ‘That looks too hard and I don’t want to climb that mountain.’ We encouraged Kale, but about a quarter of the way up, his whining intensified in to a full blown meltdown. Ash (11) was racing to get to the top first and was out of sight, so we decided the show must go on.
My hubby put his arm around Kale and literally heaved him up the mountain. Kale thought it would be appropriate to wear a Pokémon Electabuzz onesie for the day, and looked like a hysterical Pokémon having a fit up a mountain. Although Elijah was smaller, he climbed the mountain with ease because of his positive mindset. So if you have a child, whether you like it or not there is a parenting mountain to be climbed. We can either enjoy it with a positive mindset, or have an awful time with a negative mindset.
If Kale was climbing the mountain alone, he wouldn’t have made it. Thankfully his dad was there encouraging him every step of the way. Make sure you actively surround yourself with people who are on the same journey as you so you can support each other. We’re not meant to do this parenting gig in isolation.
It was encouraging when people were passing us on their way down from the summit, telling us we were nearly there, that we were on the right track and to keep going. As much as possible, talk with people who have successfully climbed the parenting mountain. Perhaps they are a few stages ahead with slightly older kids, or they might be at the grandparent stage. Seek their advice and be encouraged by these mentors.
The signposts along the way were a good reminder to keep things in perspective. The sign saying 1km to go was a relief and a reminder to enjoy the views and celebrate how far we had come. Your children won’t be small forever. Sometimes looking back at old photos or videos of your kids when they were tiny can help you to appreciate that this precious time is limited. As unbelievable as it sounds, one day you’ll miss them being little.
5.One step at a time
So how do you heave a resisting child up a mountain? One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. Stick to the path. At some point you’ll look around and realise you’ve come a long way without noticing. I’m happy to say that the outraged Pokémon child calmed down eventually. At some point, things will get better. Tough times are temporary.
A sign said it would take three hours to climb the mountain. Of course, when you have kids, ALWAYS double the amount of time it will take for you to do anything, and don’t try to fit too much in one day, otherwise you’ll end up frustrated! It took us SIX hours to get up and down the mountain!
Afterwards we bought ice cream as a reward for making it to the top of the mountain! Remember to reward yourself with special treats, and often! Parenting is a tough gig after all!
Later on Kale revealed that he had stayed up late reading using his torch the night before, and that he was extremely tired. So the tantrum was just tiredness! As a parent, get lots of sleep otherwise you will actually go nuts! And if you go camping with your kids, remove the torches from their tents when you put them to bed!
I’ve had the realisation that I’ve only got six lots of long school holidays with my eldest daughter before she turns 18 in year 12. So with that perspective in mind, I’m determined to have a positive mindset and enjoy the holidays travelling as a family and making the most of the time we have before it runs out.
Also, due to the conditions on the mountain, there were beautiful flowers, unique to the mountain. Due to the tough conditions of parenting, there are parts of us which are forced to grow and flourish. So make the most of your parenting journey! I’ll end with one bonus practical mountain climbing tip- take toilet paper with you, because TRUST ME at least one of your kids will need it! :/