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One Perfect Day

By Susan Epstein, LCSW

Would you like one perfect day with your kids? One day where there was no hitting, kicking, screaming, no “You can’t make me!,” homework completed without nagging, teeth brushed without reminding, wonderful dinner time conversations and loads of smiles when you tuck your angels into bed?

Oh, to all be so happy and relaxed! I remember wishing for this many times.

Looking back ten years ago when I was raising my kids, a portion of which I was a

single parent, I don’t think that there ever was one perfect day.

I am quite amazed that I could do it all: working full time, dinner on the table six out of seven nights, lunches made, cookies baked, homework, bath time, reading to the kids, doctors and dentist appointments, shopping, cleaning, Little League, dance, Girl Scouts, selling cookies and wrapping paper, religious school, birthday parties, school plays, chicken pox, stomach flu, strep, up all night with sick kids, friends for the kids, sledding, ice skating, swimming lessons, holiday shopping, holidays in general, snow days, planning summers, planning and making vacations happen, finding sitters, time for me and my interests, taking care of me (exercising, eating well, etc…) and being totally, totally, flexible!

What I did have were many, many perfect moments, and these are the moments I cherished then and remember today.

While raising my kids I discovered that time is a commodity, planning is crucial and self-care is essential. Here are a few ways I had all of this:

  • We shut off the TV, Sunday night through Thursday nights (more time together, no arguing about what to watch or when to go to bed)

  • A sitter and a back up sitter and another back up Sitter.

  • Trading with other moms and dads for free time.

  • Cooking on Sundays for the whole week.

  • Making all lunches on Sundays.

  • Learning to say no to people and situations that weren’t at the top of my list.

  • Not involving my kids in more than two after school activities each week  preferably just one.)

  • Piano lessons at our house (no driving and waiting)

  • Basketball hoop at our house (I knew where the kids were)

  • Family time, games, puzzles, laughter.

  • And when I felt overwhelmed, asking for help from friends, relatives and experts.

  • Writing in my journal every night before bed.

  • Creating rituals and memories on Friday nights, Sunday mornings, and holidays.

  • I never punished my kids but created teachable moments instead.

  • Working on myself- doing the inner work – ALL THE TIME.

  • Always being grateful for all the love in my life.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with a full private practice while raising my children, parent/child relationships were a huge focus for me. Once I figured out and perfected one of the above approaches and tested it on my own children, I could in full integrity and good faith share it with my clients. These experiences at home and as a therapist now embody the full scope of my work as a parenting expert.  

I recently came across Letting Go by David R. Hawkins, MD, Ph.D. Reading and re-reading his book, I have learned to feel and accept my feelings in a deeper way (especially the painful ones). Paying attention to the physical sensations of my body and staying out of my mind has led me to an inner peace that I never knew existed. I have been able to let go of anger, worry & sadness and every day let go of that illusion of ‘human relationship perfection.’

Now that my kids are grown and live on the other side of the country I yearn for those imperfect days.  What seemed so difficult and stressful in the past was also full of the warmest of cuddles. I am constantly reminded that there are no perfect days and no perfect relationships … just those precious perfect moments.
 


About Susan Epstein: After 23-years Susan left her successful psychotherapy practice to launch a business in uncharted territory. In 2007, Susan created and grew her parent coach business, Parenting Powers. Susan coaches parents to successfully manage children and adolescents with challenging and resistant behaviors. She speaks all over the world training professionals and parents. Susan has sold over 10,000 books and products and continues to write books and develop up to date books and parenting videos. Head over to Parenting Powers to get your cheat sheet  “How to Immediately Put an End to Back Talk & Disrespect”. To learn more about Susan, click here.

 

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This article appears in:
2015 Catalyst, Issue 19: The Next Wave of Psychotherapy

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