Confessions of a Tired Momma #2

It’s been a while since my last post of this sort and things have changed so much. Instead of one kid, I have two! My eldest is 4 and my youngest is 2 and boy can they be a handful. But as I read Confessions of a Tired Momma #1, I can tell that I’ve grown and changed as a parent.

Back then, I think I was still desperately trying to hold on to my pre-baby life and now I’ve accepted that my new normal is vastly different. I was also much too sarcastic and had such a negative perspective. I’m by no means perfect and always positive now, it’s pretty hard when the world throws COVID-19 into the mix, but seeing perspective has helped me cope a lot.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m still physically and mentally tired a lot. My girls, for the most part, play well together, but just like any siblings, they will fight. My mental battery drains each time I play mediator and my physical battery never feels fully charged because although my kids are early to bed, they’re early to rise too.

I’m tired of doing laundry multiple times in the week and the never ending stack of dishes in our sink. I don’t think our floor will ever be spotless and toys will always be strewn about somewhere in our home.

But I’m happy.

I sometimes fantasize about what life would have been like if we never had kids and although it would have been fun, I think I would have eventually wanted kids. Kids are exhausting, dirty, and infuriating but our girls are also incredibly compassionate, goofy, and joyous. The pros outweigh the cons for us and I absolutely adore our little family.

When the days are long, I have to remind myself that this isn’t forever. One day, our girls will grow and not need us for cuddles anymore. One day, they’ll want to be independent and do their own things. So for now, albeit frighteningly early in the morning, I’ll take the cuddles and be the help they need.

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“You’re so smart!”

This praise was what I longed for as a child. All through my elementary and high school years, I just wanted to be smart. My focus was on getting straight A’s and it should come easy. I only realize now, in my 30s, that it was holding me back, that I had a fixed mindset.

Ever since being introduced to Carol Dweck and her idea of fixed versus growth mindset, I’ve been reading and reflecting on it a lot. Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t realize I had her book, Mindset, on our bookshelf until recently!

An area of particular interest to my husband and I is how we can cultivate a growth mindset in our daughters. I feel like with parenting, unless you’re aware of it, you default to how you were raised and I wasn’t raised on a growth mindset. I mean I don’t blame my parents at all because you don’t know what you don’t know and they had the best intentions. It’s also so much easier to praise the result (Great job on a high score!) than effort (I saw you work so hard and it paid off!).

Curiously enough, this wasn’t the first time we read praising the process over the result. It was also mentioned in our Danish Way of Parenting book and it was nice to see it presented in a different light, with more scientific evidence.

I’ve got to say, it definitely takes more effort to find the right language but I know it will benefit my daughters. I’ve seen how my oldest tends to have a fixed mindset and will often get frustrated when she can’t succeed immediately. We’re trying to coach her into embracing challenges and that things shouldn’t come easy. It’s still early but I think she’s getting. We model it as much as we can because it’s monkey see monkey do in our household!

Here are some phrases we’ve been using:

  • Great job! I saw you practice and it’s paying off!” instead of “Wow you’re so good at that!”
  • Oh this one was kinda easy, let’s try something a little harder!” instead of “You’re so smart!”
  • Tell me about your drawing and the colours you chose!” instead of “Wow my little artist!”

Bottom line is we want to emphasize that effort is important and smart doesn’t mean it comes easy and you don’t have to work hard for it. Hopefully as our girls get older, they’ll embrace the challenges and not be deterred by failures.

Have you tried making this switch with your children? What have your experiences been like?

The Power of “Yet”

This post is inspired by this talk given by Carol Dweck about Developing a Growth Mindset. I highly recommend that you watch the short 9 minute talk because it’s applicable in many areas of life.

When I was a child and teenager, I excessively pressured myself to get good grades and excel in academics. I did well in high school but when I got into university, I had a rude awakening. For one thing, everyone was smart because everyone got into university. Secondly, the challenges crippled me in my first year.

I graduated from high school with the intention of becoming a doctor. I thought this was achievable because I had done so well in high school and I anticipated university would be much of the same. I was definitely naïve to think that but no one had told me differently. Reflecting on it now, a little more than 10 years out of high school, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany?

When I was going through school, I can’t recall any teacher ever approaching classes and assessments with a growth mindset. It was the traditional pass or fail and I, luckily (or unluckily?), only knew and experienced the pass category. Because I did well at school, I never got to experience failing a test so I didn’t know what to do with myself when I failed my first ever midterm in university. As Carol put it in her talk, I was devastated because my core intelligence had been tested and I had failed miserably. At the time, I freaked out. I didn’t have a growth mindset at the time but I’d like to think that I’ve grown a lot since then and if I were to go back to university now I wouldn’t have been so devastated by my first “fail”.

Back then, my first fail felt like the ultimate failure. It felt like some odd confirmation that I indeed was stupid and wouldn’t be able to tough it out in sciences and to become a doctor. It “confirmed” all the insecurities I had been feeling in that first semester of university. Sadly, I let it guide me decision-making for the remainder of my undergraduate degree.

Now, I don’t regret studying business and the path I’ve been on. I believe that everything happens for a reason and it’s strangely satisfying to reflect on something I did 10 years ago with the knowledge I have now. 20/20 hindsight am I right?  I may have done the exact same things if I had a growth mindset at the time but maybe I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself.

I can’t recall when I started developing my growth mindset but I’m glad I did. I hope to instill it in my daughters at an early age as well so that they realize it’s not the end result that counts so much. It’s the effort they put in and their attitude towards it. I don’t want them to feel stupid because they didn’t do well on a single test. I believe we can learn to be better learners and my daughters will be able to do whatever they put their minds to. My daughters are still under the age of 5 but how my husband and I are trying to instill a growth mindset now is by praising them wisely. We praise them for their process in solving a problem. We praise them for trying again and again. We encourage them to find alternatives. We let them make mistakes.

I will also keep this in mind as I get into training and development. Just because I’ll be working with adults, doesn’t mean they won’t be sensitive or be affected by this sort of stuff.  If you have any resources or articles that are along these lines please share them below because I’d love to look into it more! Thanks for stopping by and reading. 🙂