Parenting

Why I said yes (Shaping my kids)

Over the weekend, I asked Brooks to go upstairs, shower and get ready for bed, then he could open some gifts he received.  (He’d been begging to open them for hours, but we were trying to get the house in order, clean up, etc from a busy weekend at home but never at home).

About 2 minutes later, he comes upstairs to my room and says, “Mom, can I open one of my presents now and then right away I’ll go take a shower?  I’ll be really fast and hang my towel and get pjs on.”

Normally, my answer is no when my kids push back on something they are asked to do.  I don’t like to have gray area where they think that every time they whine or ask me to change my mind, I’m going to do it. That’s a slippery slope that’s hard to recover from.

But the way he came up and almost presented it as a business option made me smile inside.  (Gosh, this boy is just like his papa – a master negotiator.)

I said yes and the reason I did is because I want him to recognize when he chooses to take a little risk in a negotiation, sometimes it will pay off. Especially when he approaches it the way that he did – a reasonable compromise and a win-win for both of us.  (He did in fact, take a quick shower, hang his towel and get PJs on right after he opened the gift.)

I also want him to experience WINS.  I feel like I can often come across as a NO mom.

Can I bring all my pokemon cards to the grocery store? No.
Can I have a piece of candy tonight? No.
Can I play outside after we come back from dinner? No.

I want to have my kids feel like they win, too.  That if they approach things reasonably (without crazy whining and complaining), they may be able to argue their case.  I don’t want to turn my kids into little Gingers because I like them better as one-of-a-kind Brooksies (or Landons).

I’m trying to do a better job saying yes.  And letting them figure out what approaches result in success in our house.

The cost of my yes.

I’m reading a book with my women’s bible study called “Present Over Perfect” and while I’m only halfway through, generally the premise is that so often we get stuck trying to be everything for everyone, except for those we really need to be there for.  We’ll bend over backwards for those who are in our “outer circle” (your happy hour buddies, friends I see 3x a year) but they aren’t really our “people”.  My people are my family, my closest friends… these are the people that I’m going to call when I get crazy news – good or bad.

And as a result, we live this frantic life trying to do, do, do.  We leave no margin in our life and so we are exhausted and overrun. We keep ourselves busy doing unimportant tasks for people who really aren’t that important to us.  We’ll cancel our family plans because our boss’ boss asked us to start a huge project at 4pm on a Friday (due Monday morning).  Or we’ll try to take on the Team Mom, Room Mom and PTA Coordinator roles – but by the time our kids get off the bus, we’re wiped out and angry because we’ve been stretched too thin trying to be too much for everyone else.

I can completely relate to this.  I often say yes to too much and then our family life suffers.  I sign us up to volunteer for events, or to host friends on the same day we have back-to-back sports activities.  I find I either say YES to everything, or YES to nothing.  It’s hard to find that happy medium.  So our life will be crazy hectic for 4-5 weeks and then completely dead for a month or two so we can recover.

Even when I’m resting, I’m not really resting.  I’m mentally planning my kid’s upcoming birthday party or I’m folding laundry while I relax and watch a show. I think mom’s are especially guilty because we take on so much when it comes to our children. I want to be super mom and working mom and helper/volunteer mom and party planning mom and playdate mom.  I want it all.

But at what cost?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  How can I really find the balance that we need for our family?  This book has really helped me remember that sometimes saying YES to something only feels important for a moment, but when I look back at my life, does my YES really matter.  I want to do things that make our family better.  That give us more margin to do things God might spring on us.  Not to have us suffering as we run from one activity to the next, one to-do list to the next.

The best parts of my day.

I think we all find ourselves in moments of our day where we wish we could stop time.  Or take a mental picture that never fades.  The parenting moments that make my heart skip a beat.  The times it feels like we were plucked right out of a magazine ad.  These are some of the best parts of my day:

Snuggling in bed with my kids, with fresh pjs and wet “just showered” hair.  Often watching a kids cooking show and discussing what we’d make if we were on the show.

Tucking them in at night.  Hearing the highs and lows of their day. What made them laugh? What made them feel silly? Did someone/something make them sad?

An extra special prayer.  The moments that my kids remember a prayer request and pray on their own accord.  For a neighbor, or a sick friend.  Not just the “thank you for the day and my toys and cozy jammies” the ones that have an extra something to them.

Dance parties in the car.  Music blasting and my eyes darting to the backseat to see my boys singing the words and throwing their hands up to the beat.

An unprompted, unexpected thank you.  When Brooks comes and says, “thanks mom for the note in my lunch. It made me smile today.”

My kids laughing.  Their real, head back, belly laugh.  It can be the result of a tickle war or a joke that only the two of them understand.  But I love those moments where they are just uncontrollably laughing.  Absolute joy written all over their faces.

Yes, like all families we get the fighting or the “why isn’t he doing it, too?”  But in between these moments, there are the highlights.  The snapshots that I take hundreds of time each week. The ones that make me say, please time, slow down.

He’s such a good dad.

When the kids have special events on the calendar, he’s always quick to put them on his own.  He knows it’s important that they can look out into the crowd of the gymnasium/church and see dad cheering them on.

He’s such a good dad.

When mom is at her wits end with a child who refuses to listen and is starting to yell, he’ll trod upstairs and try to diffuse the situation.  Stepping in so mom can get a break and the kids get a gentler voice.

He’s such a good dad.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 97° outside.  He will sit out there and toss pitches to his sons. Over and over again. Hours of pitches.

He’s such a good dad.

When mom is too wimpy to get into the barely summertime pool that is still quite chilly, dad hops into the deep end where the boys like to be.

He’s such a good dad.

And even if he’s busy doing something else, anytime he gets a call that they want a tuck-in upstairs, he puts it down for some snuggle time with his favorite guys.

He’s such a good dad.

I hope my boys are learning each day from their dad’s example.  They’ve seen patience, generosity, care, selflessness and love over and over again.  If they have just half of what he gives, their kids are going to be lucky!

 

Someone inform my kids…

Someone needs to tell my kids…

…that despite it being bright and sunny outside, it’s still time to come in for dinner and start shower time. #thankyoudaylightsavings

…that having multiple tablets to play with is a huge luxury and not the norm.

…that when you mix every paint color together, it doesn’t make “rainbow” it makes “mud”.

…that dinner time is at 6. Not 6, and 6:30 and 6:55 and 7:20 and the minute we tell you it’s time to get in bed. #imstillhungry

…that juice is not a healthy drink option.  “But mom, it’s fruit!”

…that reading books does matter and they will need to do it one day. (or every day!)

…that navy blue and black don’t match. And neither do 5 unrelated shades of blue.  #colorblind

Anything else you’d add to the list?

Sometimes I lie to my kids.

It’s true.  I know lying is bad. It’s a commandment afterall.   But sometimes I do it.

I tell them that if they drink all their milk, their muscles will grow huge.

Or if they wiggle their non-wiggly teeth and try to force them out, the tooth fairy doesn’t like those ones and she gives less money.

I tell them if they lick the floor they’ll get sick and have to get shots.

I tell them ice cream shops we drive by are closed.

Or clothes I really don’t want them to wear to church/party/special event are dirty and in the laundry.

I tell them they’ll get a belly ache if they eat chicken nuggets three days in a row.

During bedtime routines, I tell them I can’t read another story/do an 11th round of “what do you like better” because Mommy has to go to bed right now too.

I tell them dinner will be ready in “just a minute” – when it’s really going to be like 30.

I’ve said that their artwork was put away in a special folder, when in fact, it went into the trash – about 5 minutes after it was brought home.

I know. I’m not going to be able to get away with these untruths for much longer. They’ll get older and call my bluff.  But for now, I’m sticking to my story.