In one of this year’s hottest parenting books, author Antonia Cetin answers your most pressing parenting questions and allays your worst fears
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or someone who works outside the home; fed your kids broccoli and quinoa for dinner or drove through the golden arches for some fast food; and allow them a little screen time, or none at all, you’re likely bombarding yourself with questions. Am I doing a good job as a parent? What more can I be doing for my child?
Antonia Cetin knows how you feel. The mother of a 12-year-old boy, 28-year elementary school teacher – who has worked with hundreds of children from Grades 1 to 8 – and instructional coach asks herself the same questions as you do every day.
“I am a mom who wants the best for her child and who is navigating how best to achieve that goal,” she told Parenting Times. “I’ve felt overwhelmed by the demands of caring for my child, of keeping my family healthy (and) of making decisions that affect my child’s future.”
Most moms have the same challenges and questions, says Cetin. She continues: they wonder if they are good moms and if they are doing everything they can for their children. They want their children to be happy and healthy. They deal with feelings of guilt, self-doubt and worry. They are trying to balance work and home life, to keep track of their time, their money and their stuff. They are bombarded with social media and advertising. They wonder what’s happening at school.
“I have a very real and current grasp of the challenges facing parents today,” says the Ottawa resident. “I see them and hear them as they deal with feelings of guilt, self-doubt and worry; I see how they and their children are affected by developments in technology and by money challenges; I understand their concern for natural food and health options; I hear certain frustrations about the home and school connection; and I feel the work involved in striving for a work-life balance.”
Finally, she decided to author a book to address the worries that mothers tend to have. Released in July, You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern World is for moms who feel like they are trying to survive parenting, says Cetin.
“We all sometimes feel that our responsibilities consume our thoughts and make us feel like we’re just going through motions to get through another day,” she says. “Sometimes the years seem like they fly by but the days go on forever.”
Cetin’s book includes tips and strategies to create more time for self and family; helps moms realize they are perfect for their kids; to let go of their guilt, worry, and self-doubt; to raise their children to be independent, resilient, and happy; gives them insight in how to work with their kids’ schools to create the best experiences; reminds them to have faith in themselves; explains how they can shape their perception and attitude to experience more joy; and provides tips and strategies for money, health and achieving work-life balance.
One of the messages that Cetin wants to spread is that there are blessings in every moment – and if we find them, it’s the key to feeling good about our lives and ourselves.
“That’s a conscious choice and it takes effort because we may sometimes feel that those blessings are hard to find,” she says. “As we go through our day, we have to look for the blessings and the miracles.
“If we don’t look for the blessings we are focusing on what’s hard, and life is hard. At any given moment, things can go wrong or events can just not go according to our plan. At any given moment, there are so many needs and ‘shoulds’ we need to address that they can feel overwhelming and burdensome. Focusing on how hard life is can be depressing and can rob us of the joy in our lives,” she says.
Cetin suggests stopping for 10 seconds when rushing out the door to give a child a big hug and being grateful for their presence in our lives; appreciating the quiet time for reflection and catching our breath as we sit in traffic; and being grateful for the person who listens to our parenting challenges and showing us they care.
“I may not be able to control events that happen in my life and in my child’s life, and every moment brings something new and unexpected, but I can control my own thoughts and actions,” says Cetin. “I can look for blessings. I can choose to allow joy into my life. This helps me keep going.”
Antonia Cetin’s strategies for moms
Take the doubts in stride
Doubts invaded Cetin’s mind until she realized two things: First, that there are things she cannot control, and that she will have to deal with them as they arise; and second, how others see her, and even how she sees myself are less important than how her son sees her. “I wanted to be his example of a strong, independent, caring and capable woman making the decisions needed by her family, enjoying her family and her life. I want him to see me happy and fulfilled so that he knows that it’s his right to be happy and fulfilled,” she says.
Doubts and worries will always be there, but they are not reality, Cetin says. “They are in my mind and without the meaning I give them, they are nothing. So, I choose how I will react to them, how I will handle them, and I choose my own attitude. I may not be able to control events that happen in my life and in my child’s life, but I can control my own thoughts and actions.”
Presence is the best present
As mothers, we want our children to feel loved and to be resilient. We want to spend time with them; to show them how to live a full and happy life; to protect them and to empower them to follow their dreams.
The best way to do these things is by being there, Cetin says. “What they really need and want is our presence. They have no doubts or worries about us as mothers. They have complete trust and confidence in us. They just know we are there for them and that is enough.”
Know that you don’t have to go through it alone
Cetin has a hard time asking for help, and thinks most women are the same. “It makes me feel like I’m imposing, taking something from someone, (that) I’m asking them to sacrifice their time for me,” she says. “I have to actively remember that when I ask for help, I am giving that person the opportunity to be helpful, to feel good about themselves and their contribution to my life. Give others the opportunity to be there for you. Give them the opportunity to be thoughtful and generous. Allow your friends to be your friends.”
You can find a little peace for a few minutes
When you are in survivor mode, you don’t have time for yourself, Cetin says. “You are in constant motion, dead asleep, or awake in the middle of the night with your racing mind. You need to break this cycle and take the time to just sit in quiet for a few minutes. In quiet, you can just be.”
Take control by prioritizing
“When I am in the frenzied mode of doing, I have a hard time seeing what really needs to be done next,” says Cetin. “I’m just rushing through one task to get to the next.” But if she takes a minute to slow down to think, or to ask for guidance, she is better able to decide what really needs her attention.
“We need to block in those breaks to recharge and we need to value that time by taking those breaks,” Cetin says. Whether a break means deep breathing, stretching, yoga, meditation, prayer or a walk, Cetin suggests doing something you love that will take you out of your head and release you from your responsible thoughts for a time. We need to do these things for ourselves so we can do things for others better, with more energy, and from a place of peace and love.
Focus on being present in what you are doing, and find the beauty in it
You need to rejoice in the accomplishment of every task no matter how little you think it is. Find the joy in walking the dog, going for a walk and getting the kids fed. “Remember to find the joy in what you are doing and to acknowledge yourself,” says Cetin. “You are doing this. You’ve got this, Mom!” – Tracey Tong