Parenting comes with so many challenges. But the biggest challenge of all is stopping to enjoy the joys – the ‘sweet spots’ – of parenting.

This year has been one of the most challenging years of parenting for me. In some ways, I assumed this year would be easier because Esther would be at kindy, and I’d only have Maggie and Phoebe at home. But it can be hard keeping a one-year-old and two-year-old entertained.

Phoebe gets into everything, and Maggie likes to destroy everything. It’s typical toddler behaviour!

While I’m crafting with Maggie and Esther (on the days she’s not at kindy), I set up a toy obstacle course for Phoebe to play with. The morning always ends in a mess and screaming: Phoebe gets a hold of the glue and Maggie gets upset, or Phoebe takes Maggie’s favourite Barbie and snatches it from her, and Phoebe screams in protest.

Stop and Smell the Roses

It’s just a typical day with little people, I guess. But it can sometimes be unrelenting. The fighting and screaming and eye rolls have often left me exhausted by the afternoon. When Jacob walks through the door, I sigh with relief that I have a backup.

Through the mess and the attitude, the tears, and the screams, I stop to find my sweet spot in parenting.

That sweet spot might be seeing my girls play nicely together or when they remember to say please and thank you. My girls aren’t bad kids. But they sure know how to test me and my patience.

And patience is what is most important in these early years, as my girls grow and learn to control their emotions. Sometimes the to-do list can so overwhelm my brain that I forget to stop and take in the sweet moments of parenting.

A Sweet Shopping Excursion

Take, for example, last week when I took all three girls grocery shopping with me. I’ve reverted to doing my shopping back in the store because it gives the girls an outing and something to do, plus I’m not great at organising shopping delivery online.

I don’t mind taking the girls shopping with me. They are a great help picking apples and tomatoes and counting bananas. They are also cunning and have snuck the odd pack of lamingtons or bag of lollies in the trolley. I’m not sure how I don’t see it on the conveyor belt when I unload the trolley! Clearly, Esther has it down to a fine art.

Anyway, last week before we even walked into the shops, I spotted a 10 cent coin in the carpark and told Esther to pick it up. I said she could put it in her piggy bank when she got home.

Of course, Maggie was upset that she didn’t have a coin, so Esther gave it to Maggie to keep the peace. Apparently, she only likes gold coins anyway. Smart kid.

We went about our way through the aisles. When we got to the checkout, I started to unload the trolley. The checkout lady was talking to Esther and Maggie. Maggie kept jumping up and down and trying to put her hand over the conveyor belt.

“Such a Sweet Girl”

I was too busy feeding the belt with our groceries to take notice of what Maggie was doing. Maggie was insistent and said three times, “I can’t reach. I can’t reach. I can’t reach Mummy.”

I looked at Maggie and told her, “You don’t have to reach Maggie. Mummy is putting the groceries up here.”

She continued to jump and strain over the conveyor belt. The checkout lady stopped scanning my groceries to understand why Maggie was saying she couldn’t reach – and then it dawned on us both at the same time. Maggie was upset she couldn’t reach across the conveyor belt to put her money in the donation box for Blind Dogs Australia.

The checkout lady responded, “Well aren’t you a generous and clever girl, wanting to give your money away. Well done mummy for bringing up such a sweet girl.”

I had to blink back my tears. I picked Maggie up so she could drop the 10 cents into the donation box.

Then, without a second glance, she went to put her face up close to the mirror at the end of the checkout and blew a raspberry, thinking nothing of what she had just done.

Sweet Spots Are All Around Us

I could have missed that sweet spot had I continued to ignore Maggie as I unloaded the trolley.

The sweet spots of parenting are all around us. We just have to choose to stop and listen. Be sure to bottle memories like these for when the sweet spots are hard to find.

How do you find your sweet spot in parenting? What have your kids done lately that have made you blink back tears (in a good way)?

Originally published at The Plumbette. Image by Paul Hanaoka at Unsplash.

About the Author: Rebecca Senyard

Rebecca Senyard is a plumber by day and stylist by night, but these days she changes more nappies than washers. She is a happily married mum to three young daughters whom she styles on a regular basis. Rebecca is not only an award-winning plumber, she also writes an award-winning blog called The Plumbette, where she shares her life experiences as a plumber and mother. Rebecca also blogs at Styled by Bec, believing a girl can be both practical and stylish.

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