Yesterday was tough.
It was one of those parenting days when you wonder if 5:00 is too early in the evening to put the kids to bed.
If you are a parent of little ones, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I heard the edge in my voice. I was tense, stressed and not at all loving. The kids were not obeying. They were fussy and fighting with each other. Benjamin appeared to be looking for ways to get into trouble. Gracie was overly sensitive. And Levi, well, he was just being a baby.
It’s easy for me to blame the children. It’s easy for me to look outside myself to find any reason why the day was so frustrating, but the fact of the matter is…it was me.
As the mama, my attitude flows down to the kids. When I have a bad attitude, the kids catch it like a sickness. When I’m easily agitated, they have no patience with each other. When I’m grumpy, their fussy levels skyrocket. When I’m unkind, they are unreasonable. It’s all about me being the role model, the example, the mama. When my example is bad, I am showing them how to act.
After spending time thinking and evaluating last night, I realized that one of the biggest reasons parenting is so hard right now is because I am tired. Something about being pregnant while having three kids aged 3 and under. Since I was tired, I was no longer following through with what I said. I became that parent that threatened and reminded again, and again, and again, and then… just gave up. In other words, I didn’t mean what I said. And they knew that.
This morning I knew we needed to hit the reset button. I gathered Gracie and Benjamin for a family meeting. I talked to them about obedience and explained that I wasn’t really being obedient to God. I was being a lazy parent and allowing them to just do whatever they wanted. I apologized for letting things go and told them that things were going to have to change. I told them that when I asked them to do something, I expected them to obey right away. We then did some role playing, where I showed them what a good and bad example of obedience was. I then let them do some role playing (which they LOVED), after that, we were ready for our new day. It took a few tries, but eventually they picked it up. I was amazed at how much happier they were today. Benjamin was a lot more snugly than normal and just seemed more at peace. Gracie asked me if we could have another family meeting today.
It’s going to take continual work. This parenting thing is not easy, it takes a lot of work and consistency. Hitting the resent button every so often can be a great idea.
If you are looking for ways to do that, here are some ideas for you:
1. Start with yourself. When evaluating why your kids are acting a certain way, make sure you look to yourself first. Chances are, the reason you kids are behaving the way they are is because of something you are (or aren’t) doing.
2. Figure out the problem. When evaluating yourself, you are going to figure out what the main problem is. For me, there were a lot of little problem; I wasn’t being kind. I was being too harsh. I wasn’t following through. But the big problem was that my discipline had just gone out the window. I had started letting my preschooler and toddler run the home.
3. Pray about it. For me, this is the best and easiest way to get answers. There is so much in God’s Word about how to parent. When I am feeling clueless I go back to the Source and usually come up with some answers.
4. Make a plan. This is the fun part for me. I love planning and coming up with ways to make things better. I created a new discipline plan. The old one (of asking over and over and over and then never following through) just wasn’t working.
5. Have a family meeting. Talk to the spouse first and make sure they are on board. Then, get the kids together to talk about it. I knew that I needed to start with myself, rather than focus on their behaviors. Since their actions were a direct result of what I was doing, I needed to apologize for my lazy parenting. Figure out what you can apologize for, and then clearly talk to them about the plan going forward.
6. Just do it. Role play if you need to. Once the family meeting is over, start right away. You have to be consistent (this is my struggle). Do what you say and say what you mean.