My 5 Step ‘Role Model’ Parenting Approach

If you’ve been on my site for a while, you probably already know that my life is centred around my daughter. After all, this blog was inspired by her. What you may not know is the amount of emotional growth that being a mother and writing about my experiences has gifted me. There is just something about opening up about the things that worry you that not only empowers but also allows one to see them for what they really are; little hurdles. Trust me when I say that there have been a few hurdles and skeletons in my past, a few of which I have chosen to share in a very abstract way over a five part series. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my previous posts in the Accepting Grief series, do take a moment to do that as it will help a little with an understanding of my wellness journey.

Accepting Grief Series:
Intro
Breaking the Cycle
I’m Obsessed with You
To my old Friend, time
Letting go (coming soon)

When I fell pregnant with my daughter, I vowed to be a role model, someone she could look up to because my mother was that person for me. My views on motherhood were engrained by the great person that she was, so I knew that I too needed to be an inspiration to my children. It has been close to three years since I fell pregnant with my little angel and that burning desire to be the best version of myself only grows stronger with time. What has changed during this period is what being ‘a role model’ really means and how I choose to live it out. As I sit and ponder these goals, I have to admit that I was reaching for the stars and while it is a good thing to aim higher than your reach, it was a little silly on my part not to dig deeper to see where each point came from. To begin, let’s look at the goals:

My initial 5 step approach

  1. Keep my hair in its natural state
  2. Be the perfect housewife while maintaining a full time job
  3. Keep to a strict routine
  4. Be very patient at all times
  5. Be selfless at all times

Looking at the list in isolation, I should still strive to ace all of the self development goals because always trying to be the best version of myself would definitely teach my daughter to try her best, right? What makes this really wrong for me is that they are rigid and don’t leave any wiggle room for error. Lord, knows I always make mistakes! It’s ok though, because as a human it is only expected that I will make mistakes. What matters most is how I get back up after tripping over the hurdle. I’m older and wiser now (with lots of room for more improvement) and I hope that my personal experiences are able to help other young moms tweak their expectations.

Keeping that in mind, I have identified the errors in my goals and adjusted accordingly;

  1. Keep my hair in its natural state

Background: My fellow kinky haired sisters will relate best to this one. Across the globe, women of colour are taking part in a ‘movement’ to prove to the world that our natural hair is beautiful as it is and that we do not need to have straight, blond hair *cough, Beyonce* to be considered attractive or professional. My mom did not allow me to chemically straighten my hair growing up, but after losing her I decided to do so in an attempt to be like everyone else. Fast forward to 2014, I decided to do the ‘big chop’ and let my hair grow back in its natural state, but what I found was that with my lifestyle (exercise and long hours of work) I didn’t necessarily have the time or patience to do everything necessary to keep my hair healthy.

Problem: I stayed strong though, and after falling pregnant, I knew I had to stick with my guns so that my daughter would like her kinky hair that looked just like mommy’s. It didn’t matter that I was unhappy with my hair and wasted valuable time trying to detangle it, I had to do this for Gabby. What I’ve learnt is that it doesn’t matter how determined you are to do something for someone else because if it doesn’t make you happy, are you really transmitting the right message? So in 2019, with a new born adding to my to-do list, I made the personal decision to relax my time consuming hair.

Correction: Forget what others think, be the person that I want to be. In being comfortable in my own skin how I see fit, my children will learn that it is ok not to be like everyone else.

2. Be the perfect housewife while maintaining a full time job

Background: This mama over here is proudly African and although I was raised in Asia, my hardcore African dad made sure that my sisters and I knew everything about taking care of a household. That meant cooking, cleaning and serving your family while still getting good grades and working hard for that corner office job. My dad always said that you can employ people to run your household, but if you don’t know how to do it, you will never be able to ensure they do it right.

Problem: It is the twenty-first century and women are allowed in the workplace. Logically, that should mean that responsibilities at home should be shared – unless agreed upon otherwise as a couple. My husband is very hands on with the household chores, cooking and with our daughter so why struggle alone?

Correction: Be a good wife and mom, keep your home in check, but be easy on yourself if it isn’t always perfect. It’s completely fine to order dinner, or skip a load of dishes. Spending time with your family is more important than toiling away in the kitchen.

3. Keep to a strict routine

Background: If you are a new mom, I’m sure you will agree when I say that the bar is set quite high! Most of us stare admiringly at all the seasoned mothers who are so put together, make their kids’ food from scratch and are never late to an event. Guys, I am yet to arrive on time for a single function due to Gabby’s existence. In fact, the only thing I am mostly on time for these days is my office job!

Problem: In the early days I used to set alarms on my phone for feeds, diaper changes, etc because that it so that meant waking up a sleeping baby for feeds that she didn’t necessary have to have at that very moment. This later translated into other things around the house which nearly drove both my husband and me insane. It is great to strive for perfection, but with my history of low self esteem, it is not constructive to keep such rigid goals because when they are not met, my assumption is that I am a failure. Babies/kids are not predictable beings and it is far more important to adapt to their needs as and when they arise. Keeping mealtimes set is one thing, but living by a detailed and rigid schedule is very difficult to stick with.

Correction: Set a flexible routine and adjust accordingly. This will teach your child that they need to adapt to different circumstances.

4. Be patient at all times

Background: My mother was amazing. She was calm, caring and very calculated – the complete opposite of how I turned out! Believe me when I say that I can remember every single instance that my perfect mother ever shouted at me because she usually she reprimanded in a calm and collected manner. I have no idea how she did it or why that trait was not passed on to me, but it was something that helped me stay in line and really listen to the rationale behind why she was upset with me. This is one of the many reasons that she is my role model.

The problem: My mother was not a twenty something old mom with very little experience raising children, she was quite the opposite really. With my dad out of the picture in the early years, she was forced to be the breadwinner, the caregiver, the educator and everything else that comes with parenting, It took experience to teach her how to handle mischievous little ‘rugrats’ so it should take experience for me to do the same.

The correction: Try to stay calm, learn to express yourself calmly and don’t be hard on yourself if you mess up. This will teach your child to use their words and that imperfection is not a defect.

5. Be selfless at all times

Background: Remember when I said that a ‘good’ mother and wife does x, y and z for her family? Mothers will do anything to make sure that their kids are fed, bathed and that their ‘booboos’ are kissed with every band aid that’s placed.

The problem: My view that a mother should be selfless and loving has not changed and that usually means I find myself pushing my mental state to its breaking point and only slowing down to relax once the volcano erupts. Every mother will tell you that she often gets tired and needs a break to recharge – it’s normal. Taking care of yourself does not mean that you aren’t considering your family’s needs. If you wait until you get to that point, how likely is it that you will still be present for your family without needing to be committed into a psychiatric ward for going insane, or to prison for murder?

Correction: Take care of your family, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. You can’t care for someone else if you cannot care for yourself.

As a takeaway, here is a quick summary of the new approach to role model parenting that I will be following, as well as the reasons why.

Revised 5 step role model approach:

  1. Start by loving yourself and constantly speak positively about your body, intelligence, etc. Your kids will pick up on these practices and adopt them for themselves.
  2. Live a balanced life and focus on a hierarchy of priorities. Your kids will realise that family is the most important element.
  3. Promote stability in your daily routines but be willing to adapt to change. Your kids will learn the importance of certain routines and understand when it is time to be serious or time to play.
  4. Pick your battles wisely as not everything is worth stressing over. Your kids will learn to process their emotions and react calmly.
  5. Establish some time for self care. Your kids will learn that they not only have to be kind to others, but must also love themselves.

Obviously each person’s list is different, but I challenge you to take a moment of reflection to really think about your approach. Is there something in your parenting style that may need improvement so you can be a role model for your children?

44 Comments Add yours

  1. Ky says:

    I love this! I always feel down on myself when I let the house go to spend time with my family, but it’s always so worth it. Practicing self love and self care has always been a big thing for me and I’ve started teaching my kids as well. So rewarding knowing good examples are being set for our future leaders. Very well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      If I posted pictures of how my house looks on the weekends, you would probably feel like a supermom! I’m glad you take good care of yourself. It’s something that I stopped doing as soon as my little one was born and realised that in doing so, I’m never 100% to look after her! ❤ Wish you all the best with the little ones!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I love this article, as a mother of 4, I sometimes feel guilty when I decide to do things for myself that don’t involve them, especially as my life has always revolved around them. I totally agree that no matter how hard you work to keep the home and family together, you definitely shouldn’t forget to take absolute care of yourself. You sure do need a sound mind to achieve this.

        Like

      2. barbie mhanie says:

        Having my kid is my greatest blessing from God. She’s my also inspiration why I created my blog. Being a mother is a wonderful feeling that I will value for the rest of my life.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Shelly DS says:

        It really is the best feeling in the world! Your daughter is lucky to have you 😊

        Like

      4. Dr Surabhi says:

        Very beautiful post! It’s important to love oneself. Thanks for these reminders.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Shelly DS says:

        Thank you!! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂

        Like

  2. beth says:

    i love your realistic transformation, that can only be learned over time and experience. this is so good for your baby as well as for you and your husband

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks so much for reading Beth. I’m 10000% sure you’re a pro at this topic, so I’ll take your word for it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. beth says:

        All trial and error for me, but I now have 3 grown daughters and 6 grandchildren and we’ve all survived in spite of what we did or didn’t do )

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Suzanne says:

    Such great goals to aspire to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks Suzanne 🙂 Achieving them is the next step 😉

      Like

  4. Josephine Nerissa Leão Panzo says:

    I like how your revised 5 step approach can be applied to a lot of things in life – I will definitely be using it as a guide for many situations. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Please do! It doesn’t only apply to motherhood. We all need to look at our personal aspirations and adjust accordingly.

      Like

  5. Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) says:

    A very inspiring post. We all start out with a vision of what a perfect mum should be. But it’s hard work and it’s more important to spend time with our kids than have a perfect house, perfectly cooked meals, and perfect hair!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks for reading Michelle. You are absolutely right, I’m glad that it took me only a year to realise that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Audrey says:

    I love that you took time to reflect on all this and how your journey through motherhood is going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks Audrey. Motherhood is probably the only thing in life that questions my sanity lol. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  7. mariekhealy16 says:

    Thanks for sharing this great post! I really like the list at the end!

    Like

  8. Ok, I love everything about this post! I like how you tell us your original goals but then go into the issues and corrections. That is so helpful! Goals are meant to be adjusted in order to be achieved. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Like

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Hi Brigit, thanks so much for reading! Being a parent is so hard, especially when all the advice in the world feels useless because each kid is different. We really just need to keep adapting and working towards realistic goals.

      Like

  9. PoojaG says:

    Not a parent but I love the post! I think a lot of times parents are expected to be perfect but at the end of the day they’re also human and trying the best they can.

    Like

  10. Krisna says:

    I love how you adjusted your approach. I haven’t really paused and thought about my parenting style but I think it’s a good practice because it has a direct impact on kids. I’d love to be the perfect mom and wife who’s never late for anything, house well kept, no pile of laundry, etc. but nothing’s perfect in life and no one is perfect. As cliché as that sounds, it’s super true. As moms, we do our best and that’s the most important thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks hun 🙂 And you’re right, we just have to do our best and accept that nothing and no one is perfect. It would be nice if that was achievable though!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. justcalmwildness says:

    Not a parent but I love this post. I read it yesterday and I had to come back and read it again. I never realized the intentionality that goes into parenting. This is gold. Thank you for sharing.

    I hope you and your family are doing well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Oh wow this really just made my day ❤ thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to come back and share your kind words. I really, really appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Anne says:

    Indeed inspiring. As new mum this reflect me on what I would be to my daughter. Your list and even the revised one are great. I’ve learned a lot. Thanks !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks for reading Anne, I appreciate it 🙂

      Like

  13. Diana says:

    hey at least you had a plan! i have no plan with my daughter! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Hahah do any of us really know what we are doing?

      Like

  14. Lyosha Varezhkina says:

    very helpful guide and you definitely show everything about being a parent. I hope I will be able to work it

    Like

  15. Monidipa says:

    Although I am commenting here today but yesterday I had already read it and shared it with my sister and sister in law, they absolutely loved it and they said these are the goals a parent must have and we also need to accept the fact that parents can’t be perfect too as they are humans as well but this approach can really make difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words 💖 I truly appreciate it and am glad you found it relatable!

      Like

  16. Alyssa says:

    I love the way you outline the background, problem and the steps you did to correct your parenting approach. It’s important to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses and there’s always room for growth. You’re an incredible parent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Alyssa, thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your kindness 💖

      Like

  17. Michele @ ourredonkulouslife says:

    I love that you presented why you picked those actions, what you realized in doing those actions, and how you corrected the issue to fit your household. Very good. I really enjoyed this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks Michele, truly appreciate it ❤

      Like

  18. marjiemare says:

    I am with you. I think it’s very important to maintain a stick routine. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shelly DS says:

      Thanks Marjie 🙂 Hope you are staying sane ❤

      Like

  19. Sam Mitchell says:

    I think you’re kinda good for having a plan! I just kinda go with the flow…but I must say…I’ve always put my kids first and seem to forget about myself and any form of self care. I’m a tad OCD so my house is always clean, however, I do only rest when I am just about breaking point…coz i seem to NEVER ask any one of my “couch potatoes” to help me! But I try do the best I can and do my best in trying to set a good example…

    Like

  20. Eric Gamble says:

    So I am not going to lie, I am not a parent so my views here are strictly from the outside and perhaps how my own parents raised me and thus what I feel helped me as a child becoming a man. I think you were spot on with Routine and Patience! Those two of the 5 may be the biggest in my eyes followed perhaps by the Hair! I like the whole concept on prioritizing not only what is important (not hair design) while also showing your kids that it is okay with being yourself and sometimes that means wild, messy, greying hair! But with the rest, I think if I am lucky to become a dad, I will have to work on Patience the most.

    Like

  21. nikhila says:

    For now, I do not need this but it’s great to read about it.

    Like

  22. maryevardaman says:

    I love how you show the problem and give a clear solution! Thanks for sharing these! Inspiring to me as a mom for sure!

    Like

  23. Jan says:

    A good read and an interesting perspective on being a role model parent. Thanks for sharing☺️

    Liked by 1 person

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