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How to get your parenting mojo back

Mojo: a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful – Miriam-Webster Dictionnary

In high school, I passed Calculus with an A+. I was no math whiz – I went on to scrape by in algebra and geometry, and my mathematical hopes were dashed when I crossed paths with statistics in university.

But that A+ was an incredible high. I would sit down with my calculus homework every night, excited to solve those little puzzles. The x’s and y’s would zip across my brain’s neural pathways with sparks flying. I would scribble down the answers and hoot with joy at my genius.

Something magical was afoot.

When we excel at a task, we often say we have mojo. Oh sure, we’re also working really hard, and we can’t attribute all of our success to magic. But talk to any Olympian or successful business owner, and they will describe a magical moment when they won the race, won the bid, or conquered a challenge.

Mojo

People often describe parenting as the “hardest job you’ll ever do.” In some ways, this is true. We aren’t resuscitating patients in the ER, or saving people from burning buildings – we’re doing something a lot more monotonous, with very little positive feedback. And so finding your “mojo” in parenting can be tricky.

I think I lose my parenting mojo on a regular basis. My whole life has been about hard work; I train myself to do something, I repeat that skill over and over until I have mastered it, and then I am done. It’s a clear, linear path to success.

In contrast, parenting is like entering a corn maze. You are often lost, sweaty, and cursing your way through it. Occasionally you will find a bright and open spot in the middle of the maze – a sense of calm amid the confusion. You will sit in that place to rest for a while, until it’s time to find your way back out. Sometimes you can get lost in that maze for days or weeks.

How do we stop ourselves from going in circles around the parenting maze? How do we all find those magical moments in parenting that will keep us fueled through the hard work?  It’s not simple, but here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1)  Get together with friends who have kids – nothing makes us feel better than to commiserate with other parents. None of us knows what we’re doing, and it’s so comforting to flounder in that failure together.

2) Get together with friends who do NOT have kids – it’s an amazing opportunity to focus on life outside of parenting. The conversation won’t revolve around sleep schedules or your child’s behavior at school – you may find yourself chatting politics or social issues! Imagine that!

3) Do something creative: if you can't find your parenting mojo, then go find some magic in another area of your life. We live in a world full of opportunities! The other day I decided I wanted to try ballet, despite the fact that the last ballet class I took was 30 years ago. And guess what? There IS such a thing as a beginner adult ballet class! Think about a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, and then go find a class.

4) Get out in nature: if you want to experience mojo, there is no better place than the outdoors. Our kids need nature too. Try hiking, camping, or paddling – wherever you can, seek peace and quiet, without the distraction of our fast-paced world.

5) And speaking of a fast-paced world, try turning off your technology for a day or two. I'm all for gadgets and social media, but in moderation. There is no better way to stimulate your creative mind than to shut the computer down and turn to a different task - drawing, painting, whatever!

I hate to tell you this, but your parenting mojo will not always be accessible. It’s impossible to parent children and feel that magical connection at all times of the day. In fact, you may only experience fleeting mojo – the moments when your child does really well at school or in an activity, or when you witness their kindness towards a friend, or when you are snuggling with them in bed after a long day. Make those moments what you seek – your mojo will find you in the end.