Ten Ways To Be A More Light-Hearted ParentBy Gretchen Rubin
One of my Twelve Commandments is "Lighten up," and I have a lot of resolutions aimed at trying to be a more light-hearted parent: less nagging, more laughing. We all want a peaceful, cheerful, even joyous, atmosphere at home -- but we can't nag and yell our way to get there.
Here are some strategies that help me:
1. At least once a day, make each child helpless with laughter.
2. Sing in the morning. It's hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone--particularly in my case, because I'm tone deaf and my audience finds my singing a source of great hilarity.
3. Get enough sleep yourself. It's so tempting to stay up late, to enjoy the peace and quiet. But morning comes fast. Along the same lines...
4. Wake up before your kids. We were so rushed in the morning that I started getting up half an hour earlier than my children. That means I can get myself organized, check my email, post to Slate, and get my bag packed before they get up. It's tough to wake up earlier, but it has made a huge difference in the quality of our mornings.
5. I've been researching the hedonic treadmill: people quickly adapt to new pleasures or luxuries, so it takes a new pleasure to give them a jolt of gratification. As a result, I've cut back on treats and impulse buys for my kids. The ice-cream sandwich or the Polly Pockets set won't be an exciting treat if it isn't rare.
6. Most messages to kids are negative: "stop," "don't," "no." So I try to cast my answers as "yes." "Yes, we'll go as soon as you've finished eating," not "We're not leaving until you've finished eating." It's not easy to remember to do this, but I'm trying.
7. Look for little ways to celebrate. I haven't been doing holiday breakfasts long, but they're a huge source of happiness. They're quick, fun, and everyone gets a big kick out of them.
8. Repetition works. A friend told me he was yelling at his kids too much, so he distilled all rules of behavior into four key phrases: "keep your hands to yourself"; "answer the first time you're asked"; "ask first"; and "stay with us" (his kids tended to bolt). You can also use the school mantras: "Sit square in your chair;" "accidents will happen," "you get what you get, and you don't get upset" (i.e., when cupcakes are handed out, you don't keep trying to switch).
9. Say "no" only when it really matters. Wear a bright red shirt with bright orange shorts? Sure. Put water in the toy tea set? Okay. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed? Fine. Samuel Johnson said, "All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle."
10. When I find myself thinking, "Yippee, soon we won't have to deal with a stroller," I remind myself how fleeting this is. All too soon the age of Cheerios and the Tooth Fairy will be over. The days are long, but the years are short.
Thanks go to a fellow lampworker who posted this on one of the lampworking forums I visit. This article seems to have come at a time when I seem to be at my wits end at what to do. Josh and I are clashing at every corner and I constantly feel like I am in 'yell' mode!! He definitely seems to go through these stages where he feels the need to test the boundaries and to see just how far he can push me. Last night it felt like he was clearly winning the battle of wits as I lost my temper which resulted in me yelling and screaming like a banchee....which is never good.
I got to thinking and this also got me frustrated as I realised that with 99% of his antics, if I had tried the same with my parents my lil' ol' bottom would have been in a permanent red state. We the clearly knew the boundaries and knew what would happen should we push them. There was 'NO, I won't eat this or that', there was 'NO, I don't like that' and there was definitely 'NO - yuck'!! Clearly I knew what the consequences were if I did not sit down and eat my dinner that had been graciously cooked for me. We live in times where disciplining our children, gets us parents being judged, we try to negotiate with our kids - apparently my parents did not believe in negotiation. I sometimes feel that my kids have me on my knees and I've lost control as a parent. When I end up yelling and screaming I am no longer the parent but the child throwing the tantrum.
Trying to get Josh home from nursery school has me wary and worried about the tantrum he is going to throw when I collect him. Trying not to go in to throttle mode around all the other moms who seem to be in control of everything or the teacher frowning at you and now you're thinking about what she is thinking and driving yourself nutz!!!
The moments at gym. After enjoying a great workout the fear of walking into the kid zone and facing yet another tantrum because he feels he hasn't been there long enough!! Then everyone staring at you in the reception area as you have this 4 yo throwing himself on the floor.
I get the feeling I would make a great NEGOTIATIOR one day because my kids are giving me all the training I need. I feel myself saying 'but when I was your age.......my mother.....blah, blah, blah'. My mother never ever NEGOTIATED and I love her for it!!
I crumble in shops. I'd rather get the wants and demands than face the tantrum that will follow. There is no one to blame but ME, ME, ME!! I have aided and abetted this behavior....I have allowed them to control me when I should be controlling them....I cannot follow this path of giving into his every whim - he will learn nothing from it.
Why does parenting seem so much harder in todays world than when we were kids and I have to wonder when we thought our parents had it 'oh so wrong', did they actually have it RIGHT!!