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The early years of parenting gifted kids can be tough. You’re probably sleep-deprived, frazzled, questioning your parenting skills, asynchrony is in full force, and all around you, people are telling you to “enjoy every moment” and to “let them be little”.
Meanwhile, you’re wondering what in the world you’re going to do with a 4 year old who reads a math dictionary for fun while his friends are playing pirates and house.
My oldest is now 7 and has come a long way in the last couple years in his ability to regulate and connect with others. It’s still not easy, but the worry and doubt of ages 3-5 have mellowed a bit, so I thought it might be helpful to share what helped and grounded us along the way.
1 – Find Your Tribe
We all need people who understand us, can tell us we’re not imagining things, people who can validate our feelings and experiences and provide support along the way. Reaching out to other local moms and connecting through various groups is helpful, as are online forums like Hoagies’ Gifted Discussion Group and the Raising Poppies private Facebook group.
2 – Give Yourself Grace
You’re parenting your child (children). Not someone else’s. And your unique circumstances are not theirs.
Do not let anyone guilt you into feeling less than adequate when your kid isn’t doing all the things. No, my kids don’t play 3 sports, 4 musical instruments, and participate in 5 different clubs while doing enrichment this and STEM that, and our house sure wouldn’t show up on any Pinterest boards, but that’s ok. Are your kids loved, fed, and encouraged in their unique interests? Good job, Mom!
Oh, and another thing: you will mess up. I will mess up. We will all mess up. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But we do our best. As Anne with an E said, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.”
3 – Remember Who You Are
You will parent best when you recognize who you are as a person and what your needs are. If you’re an introvert, build in alone time. If you struggle with cleaning or organization and it just takes too much effort, budget or trade for help. Find ways to still connect with other adults outside of parentdom who can remind you that you are more than a nose wiper and sandwich maker. If you need to be creative, don’t feel guilty for maintaining that outlet. Go places that make you feel alive and energized.
Pay attention to your partner’s and children’s needs and strengths as well. My amazing husband needs alone time and a place to retreat when things get too chaotic. My kids do great on cloudy days, but too much sun taxes their sensory overload, and we get meltdowns if we’re out too long.
Trust yourself as an expert on what works best for you and your family. Sure – it’s great to learn new ideas, get advice or try new things, but ultimately you have to be the judge about whether something is a good fit for your family or life stage. And if something isn’t a good fit, (like the ballet class I tried to put my daughters in last year), give yourself permission to stop, breathe, and try again later.
These amazing little people grow up, but when you’re in the trenches, it can be overwhelming.
We recently returned from a quick family getaway to Dutch Wonderland. Three years had passed since our last visit, and the difference was incredible. As we were happily walking back up the hill to our hotel, I thought back to the last visit, when I had been pushing a double stroller uphill and dealing with triple meltdowns because we had stayed past our kids’ limits, and sighed.
The early years are amazing but oh so hard. Give yourself grace, find and nurture your tribe, and remember who you are.
This post has been part of Hoagies’ Blog Hop on Things I Wish I Knew Back Then.
Click on over to read about others’ experiences and what they’ve learned along the way.