Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.
In parenting, there is no quitting and failure is not an option. I approach running in a similar fashion. I know it is going to be hard and there are days I wish I could just stay in bed. No one else is going to parent my children and no one else is going to do my run. I do everything I can to make sure I get a good result. I follow my training program. I eat healthy. I avoid over training. I cross train and strength train. Despite all my efforts, it never guarantees I will hit my personal goal. It dramatically increases the possibility of hitting that goal but it doesn’t guarantee it. The thing is, even if I don’t get what I expect out of the run, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a successful run. It can be the most amazing run of my life and I still may not have achieved what I had in mind. Having expectations is a good thing, but letting them go and appreciating the beauty of what you have in your hands is even better. We cannot force our children to be mini-me’s.
Parenting is hard work, taking time to rest and recharge will keep you fresh and responsive to your children. Everyone becomes burned out with running and with parenting, especially if you have children with disabilities or special needs. Sometimes you have to let things go that you are not in a position, physically or mentally, to deal with at that moment. Prioritize your goals with your children. What are the most important things they need to know when they walk out of your house at eighteen? They need to be able to care for themselves, prioritize, take responsibility, regulate their emotions, interact with others in appropriate ways, think through things in a rational way, and have minimal cooking and cleaning skills. Some things are not worth the fight and cause more damage to your relationship with your children.
When things are challenging, go out and do fun and novel activities with your children. This helps build that positive relationship and fills the child with feelings of love and being important even when they are having a difficult go at life or with you. When you have a challenging week of running, you don’t walk away. You go out on your favorite route without a time expectation and find that love of running. When things are hard, those moments of love and joy keep our feet moving forward. Set goals with your children, taking extra care in making them challenging but attainable. You can set all types of goals related to grades, behavior, and extracurricular activities. Goals give them something to work towards, something to look forward to. Goals help them improve. Goals that can be measured are helpful in building self-esteem (feeling good about who they are) and self-confidence (believing they can do things). Accomplished goals, give kids and runners something to hold on to when things are building up to what feels like impossible climbs. They provide motivation to achieve that next level.
Discover and explore together. As runners, we explore all the surrounding areas where we live. We explore trails and new neighborhoods. We explore our thoughts and emotions. We discover new things about ourselves around each turn. We discover new strengths and facets of who we are. Children and many adults talk and relax while in motion. Talk with them about what is around them and what is going on inside while you hike through mountains or traverse a new street.
You cannot be a competent parent if you don’t take care of your own needs. Just look at what happens when you are tired or hungry. I know if I’m tired or hungry I’m short with others and don’t want to listen. Everyone gets overwhelmed and needs a break from their kids. Take time for yourself and go for your run, go see a friend, or go on a date. When you come back, you will be able to deal with whatever crazy stunt your kids did while you were gone.
Take a few minutes and just watch your children play. Enjoy them as they grow and discover the world. Even with older children, it is so wonderful to watch them bust out of their shells and let loose with their friends when they think you are not watching or listening.