Guest post by Rhapsody Hahn-Chaney
I want you to picture yourself in your office, surrounded by various staff members.
Imagine one coworker is a guy who takes things from your desk, and he never has the cash for takeout. Another coworker is always striving to be the center of attention at the office. Picture Mr.-Know-It-All, who has an overly confident attitude considering his work output. Don’t forget about that simple guy who uses company time for small talk and computer games.
Spoiler Alert: Your son is all of these characters, wrapped up into one little crazy ball of cuteness.
Being a mom of boys is serious business!
Years ago, I left my career behind to stay home with my little boy. At a glance, motherhood didn’t seem to have anything in common with business. Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails is an accurate description and I felt like I was chasing my tail. Despite the major learning curve, I still wanted to be a better mom. Thankfully, I realized how to use business sense to help with raising boys.
I secretly began to view my family as my business. I was the manager, the boys were my permanent employees (note: you cannot fire them) and my priority was to care for them and develop them as individuals. My goal was to grow our family into a thriving team.
How to make it your business to be a better mom
In the Baby Stage
- Plan ahead and be organized. You’d never survive on the job without a calendar and a task list. Keep track of time and set reminders for doctor appointments, feedings and meal planning. Little boys (and big boys) are ALWAYS HUNGRY. Have a plan, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, buying/making baby food. Always pack snacks for you both.
- Balance your time. No one expects you to work 24/7 without vacation time or sick time, right? Motherhood is an around the clock job. If you don’t plan time for yourself, you will not get a break. Build vacation time into your life. Hire a babysitter for two hours so you can do something relaxing or something fun.
- Be flexible and ready to adapt. In the business world, things change regularly. Every stage your boys go through will bring new things to learn and adapt to. If you feel like you’re nailing it on all points of motherhood, just know that a curve ball is coming. Boys grow and change so incredibly fast. You’ve got to be flexible and ready for changes in schedule, interests and disposition.
In the Child Stage
- Acknowledge and leverage your differences. Moms and boys have obvious differences. Discuss things that are unique to boys and girls. Designate a male role model for your boys to emulate, whether it’s a father, grandfather, an uncle, a teacher or coach. No matter how much a son loves his mommy, he wants to grow up to be like Daddy. Encourage Daddy to hold himself to a higher level since your son is watching his every move.
- Use incentives to motivate. Everybody likes to get a raise. Little boys like entertainment like video games and movies. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding them for finishing homework, doing well in school or completing chores. Have a list of tasks your boys can do to help at home, and require them to do some before setting up the Xbox or having movie night.
- Use team building exercises and set goals. Boys are naturally competitive. Teach them how to work together, and how to push themselves to be their own personal best. Help them to set goals and show them what is required to achieve them. You can create a strategy on paper to serve as a visual reminder. Show support by holding them accountable and having an encouraging attitude. Remember to take the role of a coach and not just a cheerleader.
- Think outside of the box to maximize their potential. Your energetic little boy spends a ton of time in a school setting. It can be hard to make them do homework when their bodies want to run and play. Help him study for a test while bouncing on a trampoline or shooting a basketball. When it’s time to sit down, provide tools needed for their success- a designated work space, books and supplies. Minimize distractions and/or change the environment if they have trouble staying focused.
In the Teenage Stage
- Command attention and communicate effectively. Speak to your teenage boys at their level so they are engaged in the conversation. Show concern for their fears and take an interest in their passions and gifts. Be authentic, and ultimately be sure they know that you are the boss. Earn and require their respect at all times. Express your love, no matter how old they get.
- Prioritize and streamline. Growing boys often have a lot on their plates. Between school and sports and other activities, they can feel burnt out or stressed out. Help them wisely choose how to spend their time. Try to achieve a balance of academics, exercise, creative time and family time. It’s important to let them try different things without overwhelming them. If most of their free time is spent playing on the computer or being bored at home, sign them up to volunteer at the local library or community outreach program.
- Don’t micromanage your employees. (Or your boys) Provide clear instructions, ask if they have questions, then get out of their way. Show that you have faith in them and their abilities. Give them room to breathe and try not to remind them or correct them constantly. Stay nearby if they need help, and follow up after they’ve finished their job. Supervision is good, but micromanagement is counterproductive in the teenage stage.
Analyze the Results at Every Stage
You’ve heard the phrase: Work smarter, not harder. In the workplace, it’s important to review, read reports and analyze how something is going. If something is working well, continue to apply those principles elsewhere. If something isn’t getting the desired response, it’s time to make some changes.
The same is true with parenting. Make it your business to monitor whether or not your kids are learning, growing, healthy and happy. Reading your kids is much more important than reading all of the parenting books in the world. Pick up on the unspoken cues your boys give, listen to their feedback, and make changes as necessary. Also, keep in mind that what works for one of your boys may not work for the other. Make it your business to find out what works and be consistent.
Be a Better Mom for Life
Being a better mom is a lifelong goal. There is no retirement plan. One day, your little boys will be men and they’ll be on their own. Even then, you will still be needed on some level. You will always be their mom. Be available and keep an open line of communication.
Are you still feeling unsure of your new position as Chief Mothering Officer? Be intentional about living in the moment. Let go of your old identity and step out of your comfort zone. Little boys are only little for a while, so make the most of every stage. And keep your notebook handy, Boss.
About the writer:
Rhapsody also works from home for a digital marketing company. Her sons are almost 5 and 7 years-old. She lives in southern New Jersey and spends her free time playing basketball in the backyard and helping her husband with his film production company.
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