Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection

Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection

by Alissa Marquess
Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection

Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection

by Alissa Marquess


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Looking for more connection with your kids—and more fun, too? Welcome to the Bounceback Parenting League!

This insightful and empowering book is more than just another parenting guide. It's a playbook filled with simple yet powerful "secret missions" for parents who want to recharge, refresh and restart in a positive new way.

Filled with simple challenges, journal prompts with room to write, and inspiring advice to try today, this is a game-changing resource for overwhelmedmoms and dads everywhere.

Get ready for your first mission....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143131779
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Alissa Marquess is a mom to three and the founder of Bounceback Parenting, where she helps parents build loving, resilient relationships with their kids. She has a built a large and loyal community of readers across many social media platforms.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Are You Ready to Become a Bounceback Parent?

Welcome, recruit!

Are you ready to feel more capable and confident, and less overwhelmed and guilty as a parent? Are you ready for connection, not perfection? You're in the right place!

You hold in your hands a field guide that will help you become a Bounceback Parent who can embrace a mindset of growth and learning. Bounceback Parents are all about connection, not perfection. This way of thinking about parenting tends to help people lighten up and enjoy parenting more.

Hi, I'm Alissa Marquess, a mom to three and the founder of Bounceback Parenting. I'm so glad you've joined us. I'll serve as your director of ops for Bounceback Parenting League.

Why Bounceback Parenting?

When I first had kids, I was totally unprepared for the huge emotional upheaval I was thrown into. I found myself struggling to learn how to deal with anger and fears I'd never experienced (at least not at this level) and learning how to take care of myself while caring for small people, all while frequently being utterly exhausted. Oh, and I wanted to be a connected, loving mom too.

What I didn't know at the beginning of this journey is that parenting would be the ultimate training in resilience. I had to learn to bounce back over and over again when I would stumble, and I've stumbled a lot.

Sometimes bouncing back has been extremely humbling; I've had to reexamine my assumptions and change my perspective. Sometimes it's been invigorating when I can bounce back with more knowledge, a new parenting tool, or a deeper commitment to building the connected relationships I treasure. Either way I'm always learning, and to me, being a Bounceback Parent means seeing the challenges in parenting as opportunities for growth. I believe everybody is capable of growing and learning, starting from right where they are.

All of the missions in this book will lead you to a Bounceback Parenting outlook. The Bounceback Parenting framework gives you the ability to be a work in progress yet also enjoy your kids and parenting as you learn.

Bounceback Parenting Credo

We build resilient, connected families by having a growth mindset in parenting.

We believe everyone can learn and grow, starting from right where they are-by choosing to look at past mistakes and current challenges not as indications of failure but as the foundation for growth and resilience.

We seek out everyday connections-by finding joy in the ordinary, nurturing open communication, and looking for unexpected moments to connect.

We practice compassionate self-care-by getting to know and accept ourselves, learning to notice our own needs, and taking steps to tend to those needs.

We empower others-by building on strengths, allowing for growth, and expecting the best from the people around us.

We give ourselves permission to pause-by reflecting on what we've learned, celebrating wins and honoring losses, and creating space to be intentional.

Connection, not perfection!

Why Secret Missions?

As a mom, I sometimes take myself way too seriously. Parenting is the task I was determined to do perfectly. So when I had kids, I buckled down to be a good mom.

Only problem was . . . what the heck did that mean?

I looked outward, grasping at one style of parenting or another, trying to match myself to their standards. I craved so badly some assurance that I was more than just okay; I wanted to know I was a really good mom.

And any time I would make a mistake it felt horrible.

I felt guilty that I wasn't living up to my own expectations, much less those of the people around me.

Finally, I cracked.

The picture I had built up in my mind of a good mom was so huge that it crushed me. And, thankfully, that's what changed my mindset.

I had to make a change in order to stop feeling resentful and exhausted. I started to look for small, everyday actions I could take to improve and stopped trying to constantly measure up to such huge ideals.

The idea of parenting secret missions was part of my arsenal for changing my mindset. Sometimes we need to surprise ourselves out of a perfection mindset.

Rather than feeling like I had to be perfect and revamp everything I was doing, I'd come up with a secret mission for myself to let me lighten up and experiment a little bit.

Over time my mindset changed, and this has been key to becoming a Bounceback Parent. Instead of looking at our mistakes or missteps as indication that our parenting is doomed, we need a growth mindset about parenting. Parenting secret missions let you take this on.

When you do a mission in this book, think like you're an investigating agent making observations and staying curious. You can ask, "What will this do? How will it work for me?" Give something a try; see how you feel and jot notes in your field guide about your experience. The missions are low-risk, with the potential of high rewards, and most important, they get you unstuck.

How to Use This Field Guide

All the operations, briefings, and missions in this book will lead you toward connection, not perfection. You can read it in order, or pick it up to "bounce back" when your parenting is feeling heavy or off track.

Consider starting with basic training to learn about the growth mindset, as this will be a theme throughout the book, but if you are feeling a particular need for any section, jump right into it.

You'll find symbols throughout the book for easy navigation.

Indicates a secret mission. You'll be able to see from the title what the objective of the mission is. When you see one of these symbols, put on your investigative-agent thinking cap: get curious and get ready to shift perspective on something in parenting.

Each mission contains one or two assignments. When you see this symbol, you'll know this is a specific way to take action.

Each operation contains field notes sections with journal prompts as well. You can write on these pages, add inspirational quotes, and answer the questions to make this book your own. This will help you apply operation insights to your unique family and situations.

When you see this symbol, it indicates that you can find more resources in our online headquarters at /HQ.

Permission Slip

I want this book to be a notebook for you-a book used, reused, dog-eared, and tattered, and then flipped through again. Pages scribbled all over on the front and the back and notes taken. I give you permission right now to write in this book and bookmark your favorite pages. I give you permission to open it in the middle or read it from back to front.

One more tip: The most powerful tool I've found for continually growing my ability to parent positively is to do a weekly check-in. You can find a format for doing your own weekly check-in in chapter five, "Operation Pumpkin Seed." As you work through this book, I suggest taking up the habit of checking in with yourself each week. Grab a notebook so you can keep these reflections together. This can be simple and take a short amount of time. Each week look back and look forward. In this way you'll be able to be more patient with yourself as you see that you are making progress. You can find printable weekly check-in pages at the online headquarters.

Remember to have fun. The idea of this book and its missions is to remind you that parenting involves trial and error. Try something new in a secret mission and smile, because no one will know what you're up to.

So let's get started. The only way you can learn is by taking action. You don't have to be perfect. Each time you try one of the missions or write down observations in a field notes section you'll improve your Bounceback Parenting skills, leading to closer and more connected relationships with your kids.

Chapter Two

Basic Training: Parenting with a Growth Mindset

Message from Ops

Welcome to basic training. Here we'll tackle the most important part of your Bounceback Parenting education.

You'll be trained on the growth mindset in parenting and find out how its opposite, the fixed mindset, makes everything harder.

You'll learn to recognize the villainous Should Mama, who is determined to make parents' lives miserable by reminding them of all the things they should be doing.

And you'll find out how having a growth mindset makes decision making easier, allowing you to see opportunities for growth instead of becoming paralyzed.

Parenting is one area we all long to get right. Even if we're open to trial and error in other parts of our lives, we'd like to parent perfectly. And so we read and question and strive, adding one should after another to our "be a good parent" list.

Soon, not only do we know what we should be doing, we can see all the ways we're not doing it. Or we're doing it wrong. Or we're discovering that what "should" work according to others doesn't work for our family.

Then the guilt descends. In this swirl of guilt and self-doubt, we can no longer see a way forward. We lose trust in ourselves to make choices for our family and get stuck going in circles on a path clouded by guilt. It is the path away from growth.

This is why we need to banish the shoulds, let go of how we thought parenting would be, and look toward possibilities for learning. That's what we'll begin in this section-we'll take on a growth mindset, to find our way free of the guilt-and-judgment path and start down one that offers possibility and growth.

What's a Growth Mindset?

The growth mindset is the underlying theme to all our parenting secret missions. In short-a growth mindset means everyone can learn and grow, starting from right where they are.

According to psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck, we can adopt either a fixed or a growth mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe intelligence and abilities are set, and spend their time trying to prove they have those traits-instead of working to improve them.

People with a growth mindset believe intelligence and abilities can be improved through effort and hard work. This mindset lets people develop resilience and a love of learning.

The neat thing is, just by knowing about the growth mindset, we can move toward having one. We don't have to know everything, because everyone is capable of growing and learning. We can try new things, let go of things if they don't work for us, laugh a little, and try again.

One of my frustrations when I started learning to parent more positively with my kids was the feeling of reading a positive parenting idea and thinking, Yeah, that would be great if I had the patience of a saint.

Or being in a situation where I was so angry, and knowing there was probably a better way to handle the situation with my kids, but having no idea what that way might be. I'd feel even more angry, guilty, and discouraged as I worried that I was handling it all wrong.

What I was missing at the time was a growth mindset. I was stuck in a fixed mindset and believed there was a right way to parent, and when I made a mistake it meant I was failing. I didn't yet have the habit of saying to myself: I will keep learning, and we'll get better at this.

As I began to see that indeed I did improve in being able to handle anger, tantrums, communication, and more, I developed a growth mindset and began trusting myself-I could keep learning. You can trust yourself too-you will keep learning and improving.

Fixed Mindset Parenting Examples

See if you identify with any of these beliefs indicating a fixed mindset-but don't worry if you do; you can change your mindset!

You are inherently a good parent or a bad parent. You try to prove to the world that you are a good parent, because if you make mistakes it indicates that maybe you just aren't cut out for this job.

Connection with your family should happen automatically. If you need to work at your relationships, it means you are failing.

You are doomed to repeat mistakes that adults made in your life when you were a child.

Personalities are fixed. For instance, "I have a bad temper, so my kids will have bad tempers."

Growth Mindset Parenting Examples

These are the antidotes to having a fixed mindset about parenting!

Good parenting is not a set gift that some people have and others lack. Parenting skills can be learned.

Relationship and communication skills can be learned and improved.

The problems and issues that arise in families bring opportunities to learn and grow.

We can trust in the potential of parents and children to grow toward their best selves.

Mission: Grow Your Growth Mindset

To develop a growth mindset in parenting, it's helpful to have a collection of phrases that remind you you're always capable of learning and growth.

Here are some things you can say to yourself.

I'm in tune with my children, and I'm always looking for the adjustments we can make to improve our family life.

I made a mistake, and I'm a big enough person to learn from it and move forward instead of clinging to something that isn't working.

This used to work for us, or I thought this would work for us, but now it doesn't. I can make a change when things aren't working.

Every time you make a mistake, every time you fall flat on your parenting face, you are opening the door to a new opportunity to learn. What a great example of lifelong learning! Isn't that what we want our children to see-how to continue learning and growing all through their lives?

More Phrases That Encourage Growth

I am a work in progress, and this is part of that progress.

Always learning!

We can all improve with effort.

I always have potential for growth.

What have I learned from this?

Mistakes mean I'm learning.

Fail fast and learn quickly.

I'm showing my kids how to keep learning.

We're learning together.

We are a family of learners, and we value mistakes.

Your Assignment: Choose a Growth Mindset Phrase

Choose a phrase that reminds you of the growth mindset. Write your favorite phrase on a note, take a picture of it, and make it your phone home screen. When you find yourself getting upset about mistakes or uncertainty, refer back to your growth mindset phrase and use it to change your thinking.

Letting Go of How I Thought It Would Be

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Are You Ready to Become a Bounceback Parent? 1

Why Bounceback Parenting? 2

Why Secret Missions 4

How to Use This Field Guide 5

Chapter 2 Basic Training: Parenting with a Growth Mindset 8

What's a Growth Mindset? 9

Mission: Grow Your Growth Mindset 11

Letting Go of How I Thought It Would Be 13

Field Notes: Edit Your Possibilities 15

Mission: Processing Loss, Finding Hope 18

Meeting the Should Mama 21

Field Notes: Who Are You? 25

Mission: Replace the Shoulds 29

Mission: Decision Making with a Growth Mindset 30

Field Notes: Moving Forward 33

Chapter 3 Operation Everyday Connection 42

Why Connection Matters 43

Field Notes: What Connection Means to You 45

Connection, Not Perfection 48

Mission: Smile to Be More Present 51

Mission: Adding Connection to Daily Rituals 52

Field Notes: Take a Needs Inventory 55

Better Communication for Better Everyday Connection 59

Field Notes: Get the Conversation Started 61

Mission: Whole-Body Communication 62

Mission: Ten Minutes of Special Time 64

Field Notes: Our Favorite Easy Activities 67

Chapter 4 Operation Compassionate Self-Care 78

Self-Care and Making an Uneasy Truce with Guilt 79

Field Notes: Reminders of Why Self-Care Matters 81

Mission; HALT for REST 83

Self-Care Is Not a Reward, It's Part of the Process 85

Field Notes: Ridiculously Simple Self-Care Rules 86

Mission: Speak to Yourself like Someone You Love 90

Mission: Learning to Trust Yourself 91

Mission: Find Unexpected Downtime 92

Field Notes: Bite-Sized Self-Care 94

Mission: Time to Yourself 97

Chapter 5 Operation Pumpkin Seed 109

Stop Squeezing Pumpkin Seeds 110

Field Notes: Control 113

A Strength-Based Perspective 115

Field Notes: Discovering Your Child's Strengths 116

Field Notes: Letting Your Child's Strengths Shine 119

Mission: Seventeen Seconds to Reduce Anxiety 121

Mission: Increase Problem-Solving Skills 124

Mission: Plan for Mistakes 128

Field Notes: Building Skills, Handling Mistakes 130

Chapter 6 Operation Permission to Pause 139

Be a Real Hero 140

Field Notes: Get Your Bearings 141

The Touchstones of Childhood 144

Field Notes: Making Memories 145

Field Notes: Weekly Check-In 146

Mission: Pause to Celebrate 148

Chapter 7 Staying on Target 159

Parenting Reminder for the Hardest Days 159

Six Easy Ways to Turn Around a Bad Day 160

Self-Care Checklist 163

100 Ways to Be Kind to Your Child 165

Ten Fantastic Conversation Starters for Your Family 171

Online Headquarters 173

Acknowledgments 175

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