Learning to Pivot

We strive to continue supporting our patients beyond their fertility journey and into parenthood. One of our resources for this support is our on-staff parenting coach Tiffany Paul. This was originally published on her website yourfamilyhappier.com, reposted here with permission. 

As parents, we have to do and be so much, all of the time. As gentle parents, parents who are striving to be intentional about the way we relate with our children, there are certain qualities that we need more of…we have to keep a steady flow of patience, and foresight, and the ability to take a deep breath on tap. But there is one quality that I think, if we can keep a deep well of it flowing, actually helps to create more of those characteristics that serve us so well and that is the willingness to pivot.

We all have ideas of the way things should go, right? We make a million little decisions each day, as well as long and short term plans, and then we march towards those goals. We do our research, we make the call, then we figure out how to make it happen. We are ambitious and hard working and we know how to get stuff done. But life doesn’t always work that way. And life with children rarely works that way! So cultivating the ability and the willingness to pivot and change direction in your steady stride towards What You Want and go instead in the direction of What Needs to Happen is something that makes the going so much easier.

Say for example, that you have decided that your child needs to be potty trained by the time they are two and a half. You know it’s possible (your sister’s kids all did it!), so you are determined to make it happen in your house. But maybe, despite the musical potty and the jar of jelly beans and the sticker chart and the special potty song, your two years and seven months old child just doesn’t want to. Guess who’s going to win that stand off? THEM. Every time. So it’s your job to pivot. To let go of your own plans and let them drive the bus this time.

Or, maybe you have planned a fun family outing. You pack up the sunscreen and the water bottles and everyone is excited and happy! And then you get there and suddenly they are complaining. It’s too hot and they don’t like the food and there is a lot of whining and not really any fun happening. You try to stay positive and cheer everyone up and help them get more comfortable, but when it doesn’t work, there comes a certain point where you just have to decide to pivot. You can force your kids to stay, you can force them to listen to the band on the stage, you can blow bubbles at them and buy them popsicles, but you cannot force your family to have fun. So you fold up the stroller and go home and put the kids down for a nap. And then you lay on the couch and read a book. Because you can find the freedom in flexibility, in being able to embrace the need to change direction. (PS: this is a real life example from this past weekend at my house. I was maybe not so graceful about it in the moment, but the lesson came to me quickly. )

This is not about giving in when your kids whine or your partner complains. This is about tuning in to the moment you are in and being willing to change your mind. To admit that Plan A isn't working or wasn't the best choice after all. This is about learning the difference between giving up and loosening up. 

The point here is that we don’t get to decide how everything goes. We are only one part of the equation! We are in relationships with our partners and our children; they are human beings with their own ideas and opinions and problems. And we live lives that are unpredictable sometimes and that’s okay! Sometimes, that’s great. Because if we can let go of the reins a little, if we can be willing to have a wander down someone else’s path and follow their lead, we will find that it’s actually really freeing to know that we don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. Instead, we can be part of the exchange that truly connected relationships require. We give and we take and we listen and we share. And that is a beautiful thing.

xo, Tiff

Tiffany Paul