8 Joyful Parenting Lessons from My Job in Social Work

I had to do some mental gymnastics to come up with an age appropriate way to explain to my little people what I do when I go to that place called “work” every day. Here’s what I came up with…

Mummy works with people who’ve made some bad choices in their life. I talk with them and I try to help them make better choices so that they can stop hurting themselves and other people.

(I actually like this version much better than what’s on my business card!)

Social Workers Light Bulbs

I’ve always been able to trace a zig-zaggy line through my life, my education and past jobs that eventually ended up with me having this career. This strange and often difficult job where I try to help people who don’t always want my help. But after becoming a parent, I started thinking about it in a very different way. What if it wasn’t that I was just taking the next logical step? What if I didn’t chose this because I thought it would be a good fit? What if, instead I ended up with this job because it would teach me the exact lessons I needed to learn? Lessons about life, people, family, work and myself. So, because I love lists, here are the 8 Joyful Parenting Lessons I’ve Learned from My Job in Social Work.

  1. I’ve learned that we all want the same things. I used to complain that making decisions about other peoples’ lives is waaaay easier than making decisions about my own. It seemed like I could clearly see other peoples’ areas of need and be objective, positive and encouraging when I was at work, but when I got home and I was knee-deep in decisions about relationships and family and parenting and finances I just couldn’t do it. Most days I didn’t even want to make a decision about what to have for dinner. Now I realize that we all want the same things, and the conversations I have with my clients are the same conversations I have with my kids and the same ones I need to have with myself. We may be at different stages in life or struggling with different issues and stress, but at the most basic level, change is change, and people are people. Remembering this helps me show compassion for my most difficult clients, for myself and for my kids in their most difficult moments.

  2. I’ve learned that self-care is so so so important. Whether I’m spending that day with clients or kids, I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of and help other people.

  3. I’ve learned that my roles as a parent and social worker are just two of the many, many roles I will have in my lifetime. Neither one is or should be my whole identity, I need both.

  4. I’ve learned gratitude. I have a stable job, regular paycheque and my job allowed me to learn and grow and do things in a way that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. I’ve traveled for training and conferences, met people from all around the province and had nearly two full years off to be with my two kids after they were born. I am so grateful for these opportunities, both personal and professional.

  5. I’ve learned to look for and infuse joy in everyday moments. I used to think I had to push through the pressure and stress at work and count down the days until my retirement. Now, I refuse to wait until retirement to start having fun, relaxing and finding out who I am and what I enjoy. This is a lesson I’ve learned both for my kids and from my kids. We love to try new things, get messy, be silly and have fun!

  6. I’ve learned that done is better than perfect. Perfectionism is basically self-harm with a nicer name. I flirted with burn-out at work for years and years before taking time off to have my kids. When I went back I realized I couldn’t sustain that frenzy anymore and I didn’t have to. Instead I decided to take a really close look at myself, my work and my priorities. I changed how I define words like “enough” and “success” so that they’re actually attainable for me each day at work and at home.

  7. I’ve learned that I have no control. Control is an illusion, especially when dealing with the public and with little people. I can plan every minute of my day and week and month, but things are never going to go according to that plan. My to-do lists are only going to end up as a colourful pile in my recycle bin, so I’d rather be flexible, accommodating and focus on my priorities. I try as much as possible to do the things that will make my life easier and when I can’t do that, I can at least choose not to make things worse.

  8. I’ve learned to trust myself. Every day I have to balance the needs of work, my family and myself. When I trust myself, I’m calm and confident. I’m able to get really clear about my thoughts, my feelings and my options. My most creative, motivational and confident moments with my clients and with my kids happen when I trust myself and just go for it. Instead of planning and over-thinking and over-analyzing I just open my mouth and say what I’m thinking. It may not be perfect, but it’s real and honest. Then I don’t second-guess and doubt myself. I trust, I breathe and I move on. Yes, it does make me feel all exposed and vulnerable sometimes, but that’s the way change happens and connections are made.


Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.

Answering Real Life Parenting Questions: Keeping Calm

q-and-a

Q-What are your thoughts about dropping off your children at daycare? I’ve always believed that it’s important to say goodbye and let them know you’ll be back, instead of just sneaking out and them wondering where you’ve gone (thus developing trust issues etc). However, as of recently, as soon as I mention I’m leaving, she freaks out. If I just sneak away, she’s usually fine. Just curious what your beliefs are on this?

A-I totally get where you’re coming from and have felt the temptation to do this too! This is what I’ve decided:

I think it’s really important to be open and honest with my little people and to let them feel their feelings. After all, they’ll still have a reaction, even if I don’t see it. I’d rather them be upset because I’m leaving and take a few extra minutes to comfort them, then sneak out and leave them confused/upset/scared with no way to express that. I think as parents (especially mums) we are our kids’ safe place (they can freak out and totally lose it on us and we’ll still love them no matter what) so we often see their big, big emotions more than anyone else. And I think their reactions are harder and more uncomfortable for me than they are for anyone else. But, I’m the grown-up so it’s my job to stay calm and cope with both their feelings and mine. I let myself feel the mummy guilt for a moment, have a cry in the car if I need to and move on with my day knowing they will get over it long before I do. I hope this makes sense and is helpful for you.

Q-We’re TTC baby #2, any tips/tricks that you felt helped with the process?

A-My best suggestion is to do whatever you can to help both you and your partner relax and enjoy the process. We tried for months and months and nothing happened until I started taking really good care of myself and learned to calm the fuck down. Unfortunately, for me the stress got worse before it got better and I needed the extra support of counseling to sort through some stuff. But when it got better it got sooooo much better! Wishing you all the best.

Joyful Memories Book


Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.

How are You Happy?

Did you see the interview I did with Renae Christine from Rich Mom Business a few months ago?

(if you missed it, sign up below and I’ll send it to you)

After a brief intro about me and Joyful You and some amazing, juicy compliments about the Joyful Parenting workbook she dropped a giant bomb on me…it was a totally huge, totally unexpected question:

“I want to know…how are you happy?”

Einstein QuoteMy first thought: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I didn’t rehearse and answer for this! Stop the ride, I want to get off!

My second thought: I’m so glad she caught me on a good day! If this was one of our more difficult days this question would have reduced me to tears and brought up all my “you’re a fraud!” inner critic self-talk.

My third thought: Okay, breathe…you’ve got this. Everything you create and write is about JOY. You’re the best person to answer this question! Just open your mouth and whatever you say will be great. GO!

Funny how I remember all those things happening over the course of probably 1.5 seconds. I’ve re-watched the interview a few times now and I’m certain no one else knew what was going on for me at that moment. So why am I bringing it up now?

I do love the answer I gave, about letting go of perfection, trusting your intuition as a parent and starting over as many times as it takes until you can get back to a place of joy. It just felt a bit…incomplete. Here’s the full answer that I can give you all now (with unlimited time to think and edit!):

acceptanceAs much as my kids drive me bonkers somethings, they are what makes me happy. When I was a very new parent I remember talking to people about struggling with how serious I was. I would literally have to schedule in unstructured play time (because I read in a parenting book how important it was for my baby!) As some time passed the scheduling was less and less necessary and it felt less and less awkward to be silly with my kids, even in front of other people! Now that I’ve been doing this for several years, I can honestly say I’ve been able to let go of that old label I had for myself and let go of caring what other people think of me or even noticing that they may be watching me with my kids. I used to think that joyfulness/optimism/whatever-you-want-to-call-it was a personality trait, you were either born with it or you weren’t. And I was quite sure that I was not. Now I know better. You can absolutely change your outlook, change your focus and change your life. I learned how to be happy from my kids and for my kids.

So the short answer to that question is:

I’m happy because I work at it. Every day I focus on joy and gratitude. I give myself permission to make mistakes, to learn from them and to start over and I give my kids the same permission.


Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.

 

Even-Steven

Joyful parenting is always a balancing act. I’m constantly trying to find balance between having alone time and family time, family time and couple time with my husband and balance between each of my two amazing kids.ClickHandler.ashx

When my little people were very young we talked a lot about keeping things the same-same (our phrase for exactly the same for both of them). I really wanted to make sure they had the same experiences and opportunities and stuff because I thought it would help with sibling rivalry and the mummy-guilt and it did to an extent. So for example, L is my oldest and was my only baby when I went off on maternity leave for the first time. When D was born, I put L into daycare for two days each week so I could have the same kind of alone time and bonding with baby D. I also tried to host similar first birthday parties for both of them and keep similar photo albums. And when I needed a second car seat for D, I bought the same kind that I already had for L, because who would ever want to choose which baby to put into the safer car seat!

Now that they’re getting older, I find myself talking more about things being even-steven between them. I have two very different little people and I’m noticing their two-and-a-half-year age difference even more at this age, so trying to keep things just the same just wasn’t working anymore. Instead, I try to make sure they both have what they need as individuals and that they both get alone time with my husband and me every day to do the things they like best. That means that D might get to read two books before bed, but those books put together are shorter than L’s one and D (as our second little person) doesn’t get much brand new stuff so I don’t hesitate to buy something extra cute even if it’s not on sale. So in the end it’s all basically even-steven.


Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.

 

Another “New Uses for Old Things” Post!

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I’ve mentioned this organic multi-use pad before…I really did use it for everything! I put it on the bathroom floor under a hooded towel for after baby baths, sat the kids on it on the grass in the back yard, used it to cover an old change table we inherited without any padding, under the kids’ heads when they were sick and sleeping (to catch vomit) and under their bums during potty training.
Set up summer toys inside the house in the winter time! This is always a big hit at our house. Dusting off the kids’ tents, tunnels, balls and bubbles in the middle of a snow storm is great fun. If you don’t mind a bit of clean up, you can set up a water table on a vinyl table cloth. Even a bath with swim goggles can be enough to combat a little cabin fever.
Set up summer toys inside the house in the winter time! This is always a big hit at our house. Dusting off the kids’ tents, tunnels, balls and bubbles in the middle of a snow storm is great fun. If you don’t mind a bit of clean up, you can set up a water table on a vinyl table cloth. Even a bath with swim goggles can be enough to combat a little cabin fever.
A tiny elastic band around the straw of a sippy cup keeps it from getting pulled out and spilling all over the floor
A tiny elastic band around the straw of a sippy cup keeps it from getting pulled out and spilling all over the floor
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Kids love anything in a mini size! I bought these coloured shot glasses to help making drinking green smoothies and juice more fun for my kids
Give your old jewelry a new life in your kids' dress up box. Make sure it's clean and safe first! Wood, plastic and acrylic pieces work well. Avoid anything that would have small or sharp bits if broken.
Give your old jewelry a new life in your kids’ dress up box. Make sure it’s clean and safe first! Wood, plastic and acrylic pieces work well. Avoid anything that would have small or sharp bits if broken.

 


Ready for some more JOY in your life? Enter below for some fabulous FREE gifts from Christine Marion-Jolicoeur at Joyful You!

You’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of the Joyful Memories book + the video of my latest interview, “Work-Life Balance” where I give my 5 best tips for living a balanced, joyful life + the monthly Joyful You newsletter, all sent directly to your inbox.