Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tips for Parents from Someone who *Thinks* she knows what she's doing

Some of these ideas are thoughtful. Some, not so much. Just what I'm thinking about today.



1. When we're at the park, or a friend's house, or wherever we are when it's time to leave, I tell the kids, "I am going to sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' two times, then we're going to leave." Kids understand this concept. If I say, "Five more minutes," I might as well say, "27 more hours" because they have no concept of time. Think about it, when do kids learn to read a clock? Not till Kindergarten, usually! So how would they know what 5 minutes or 10 minutes or 1 minute is. However, the DO know how long songs last. This really has helped.



2. When we have to leave, I tell my kids to say "bye-bye" to wherever we're leaving. "Say bye-bye to the park." "Say bye-bye to the house." "Say bye-bye to the van." They like to say bye-bye for some reason.



3. When kids want to talk and I want to tell them something too, I listen, and when they've finished, I say, "Okay, now you had your turn to talk. Now it's my turn to talk. We're taking turns so please don't take your turn until I'm finished." If they interrupt, I gently remind them, "No, it's still my turn. You will get another turn in just a minute." I have tried, umpteen times, to say, "Please don't interrupt." I think I should say, "Please keep talking. Yes, more! And again!!!" because that whole "don't interrupt" never works. But the "taking turns" thing works. Again, it's a concept that they get. This still works for my kids at age 9, 7, and 6.



4. I have accepted that it is okay to fail. When I was a young mother, I wanted to do everything right.... which is obviously impossible. I wanted my children to turn out perfectly. Again, impossible. Now I have gotten used to the idea that I probably WILL fail, so I'm not so surprised when it happens. I try not to fail, but when I do, I only have to deal with learning from my mistakes and moving forward. I don't have to also add on the extra time of asking myself, "Why in the world didn't that work? How could I have been so stupid? What was I thinking?" I just bypass all that and go straight to, "Sometimes I'm an idiot. Now, what can I do to be less of an idiot tomorrow?"



5. I'm trying to actually ENJOY parening more. For a long time, it was just a job: get up, feed the kids, take them to activities they enjoy, give them what they need, teach them lessons, go to bed. I never had any joy in raising my children. My role was very utilitarian: get the work done, give the kids what they need to grow, just do it. Now I look back at that time with a lot of grief. Why didn't I take more time to just love them? Why didn't I put off all the things that don't really matter? Now, after some growing (see #4), I try to spend more time listening. More time laughing. More time doing little stuff (like staring into my baby's eyes, or building a lego house, or working on a find-a-word puzzle with a 6-year-old) than I do on the dishes, mopping, and laundry. And, when I have to do the "unimportant" jobs, I try to make them into a game with the kids. We do laundry basketball, where I dump ALL the clean laundry on my bed, let the kids stand on my bed, and sort it (towels/kids/grown-ups) into baskets on the floor. They toss the clothes like playing basketball. It helps me and they enjoy it. But I just try to remember, I can't get these years back. Once they are over, they are over for good. I don't want them to grow up thinking, "my mom never spent any time with me."



6. Kids are people too. They aren't mini-adults, but rather adults-in-training. I have quit expecting them to act like I do. I don't try to get them to have the emotions of an adult. They are still learning how to use their feelings and their emotions. Sometimes I let them have their emotions, whatever they may be, then later when the situation is not as intense, we talk about it. We discuss if those feelings caused them to act inappropriately. But, feelings are just feelings. They are not bad or good. We can't control our feelings, but we CAN control what we do about our feelings. I always tell our kids, "You can feel anything, but you must choose what to do about it. You won't get in trouble for your feelings but you might get in trouble if you let your feelings make you do something naughty. " And, actually, that's a lesson for adults as well. I could take that advice!



That's all I've got for now. As my infinite wisdom reveals itself to me, I will impart more jewels to you all.



ROFL

15 comments:

MeadowLark said...

This made me smile, as just yesterday BabyGirl (now 23) asked if I remembered telling them we were leaving in "one Gilligan's Island" :)

And my other favorite (now being used by a peanut butter commercial) - one kid gets to cut the desired food in half, but the other kid gets to pick first. :)

Jaden Paige said...

Great advice!! :)

sassy stephanie said...

Excellent post. I had to let go also and go along the lines of number 5. My girls love to help in the kitchen. So what if there is a huge mess to clean? They will always remember cooking, helping empty the dishwasher and just being with me.

crazy mommy of 4 said...

These are great tips! I especially love the one where you sing a song to let them know how long they have before they need to leave or stop doing something...I have 4 kids and have never thought of that!

Jess said...

That was awesome!! I need to reread these and reread these! I want to be more like you when I grow up!!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

MeadowLark - YEP I did the "you cut & I pick first" thing when I was a kid too. I am too much of a control freak - I have to divide up the snacks and then *I* hand them out! LOL

Sassy - you are brave. My kids always want to help in the kitchen. I'm not quite ready to be okay with wasting food for the sake of "fun" or "science experiment" yet. But I'm getting there!

Crazy Mommy - always glad to help.

Jess - Beware: I am not that grown up yet. hee hee

Manic Mommy said...

Perfect timing on this post and God bless the internet! I'm somewhere between inertia and ennui on day three of quarantine with my six year old and the stomach flu. Thanks for number 5. This was one of my 2008 goals. HAH!

Manic Mommy said...

Perfect timing on this post and God bless the internet! I'm somewhere between inertia and ennui on day three of quarantine with my six year old and the stomach flu. Thanks for number 5. This was one of my 2008 goals. HAH!

April said...

Those are all really good tips!

jori-o said...

Great advice! I have really tried to enjoy being a mom more instead of just being the lady who takes care of the kids. I like your basketball laundry idea! THAT one is gonna get used around these parts! ;)

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I like that song idea :)

Thanks for sharing!

Jen said...

that there is some pretty good wisdom. thanks for imparting on me.

Dorsey said...

I LOVE the "Twinkle Twinkle" song/time idea!!! This is SOO true. My Mother came down with all her wrath on an elementary school teacher once who sought to lecture her on how I was not using my time wisely. My mother simply looked around and noticed that the ONLY clocks in the room were DIGITAL. How the heck is a child supposed to learn the passage of time without "when this arm gets here..."?!?!

vanna said...

love love love the twinkle idea....great advice!!!

Pinky said...

LOVE the idea of taking turns while talking. Oh man, this is such an issue right now with my five yr old boy. I sometimes mow him down just to tell him to HUSH and quit interrupting me! (kinda doing exactly what he did)

Good stuff here, TM. :-)