Week 34, Day 1
Heart: You’d think by three kids, someone would be an expert. In fact, I look at most women with three kids and that’s how I view them. They’ve got it all figured out! Then I look in the mirror and have a panic attack! I’m learning lessons all over again… and again… and again! As gray as parenting is, I’m learning there are a few things that are black and white with my kiddos:
- Take your sweet, sweet time. Nothing is as important to my kids as spending time with me. “Mom, wanna play with me?” “Mom, what game should we play?” “Mom, can I snuggle with you?” These are all the same question, “Mom, will you spend time with me?” Our best days happen on the days I make sure to spend some time with my kiddos. Real time, not distracted time, not leftover time, but real one-on-one time. You want to know the number one way to eliminate behavior problems in your home? Spend time with your kids! At least, that’s how it works at our house! Unfortunately, I can’t spend every second from 7am until 8pm playing with my kids, wouldn’t that be nice? I have meals to make, laundry to do, a house to clean, projects to sew, etc. Some of that they can help with (and love to help with), but sometimes they have to play on their own.
- Allow kids to feel pride and disappointment. This is a fairly new discovery for me as a mom (less than a year), but it has been so incredibly profound! Swapping “I’m proud of you” with “You should feel so proud!” has allowed both boys to take ownership over their actions. Likewise, we’ve replaced “I’m so disappointed” with “Do you feel disappointed in yourself?” This had been beneficial with Banayner, especially. If we’re discussing a poor choice he’ll typically say, “I’m sad mom. I know I could’ve done better. Next time, I’ll make the better choice.” What I love about this is that it’s his own motivation to change his behavior. Let’s be honest, I can’t change my children’s behavior, only they can. What I can do is help them to understand the feelings of disappointment and pride in their choices.
- Honey, honey, honey! To be totally cliché, you catch way more flies with honey than vinegar! My kids do best when we deal in the positive. Regardless of the situation, age, etc. rewarding positive behavior is far more effective at our house than punishing negative behavior. We use positive phrases whenever possible. “You can absolutely have a snack, as soon as your toys are picked up.” gets the toys cleaned up much faster and without argument than, “You don’t get to have snack if you don’t clean your room.” Similarly, we make sure they know exactly how they should respond in a certain situation. When our kids are disrespectful after we’ve asked them to do something, rather than argue with them we reply with, “What I’d like to hear is ’Ok Mom, I don’t really want to, but I will’” This lets them know it’s ok to not want to do something, but they’re still expected to obey. We have found this is far more effective than, “You’ll do it because I said so!” Too bad it doesn’t eliminate all poor choices. Sometimes, consequences are necessary.
- The best consequences are natural consequences. This seems to be one of those things that transcends different ages, personalities, situations and is pretty much just a truth. There are no consequences that change behavior at our house like natural consequences. Nothing has ever made my children decide to obey when I say, “Please put on your coat” like being cold last time because they chose not to wear one. Unfortunately, not all scenarios lend themselves well to natural consequences. So, the second-best consequences correlate well with the action. When a natural consequence isn’t feasible (it’s dangerous, too delayed, etc.), I’ve found that consequences have way more meaning and behavior-changing power when they correspond to the poor choice. Banayner still talks about his consequence for standing on the bus from 18 months ago! The natural consequence wasn’t feasible (if the bus crashes, you get hurt… uh no way!) so we had to implement an artificial consequence that corresponded to standing on the bus. We told him that if he didn’t want to sit at the appropriate time, he would lose his privilege to sit at dinner. So, he ate dinner standing at the table (since we have a counter height table and he could barely see over it, it was pretty effective). As I said, he still tells people about how he’ll never ever stand on the bus, because he doesn’t want to lose his sitting privileges.
There’s still so much to learn and I know I’m going to relearn these lessons again and again. But they are the big ones I tend to keep relearning. Spend time with kids, allow them to feel pride and disappointment, keep it positive, and teach through natural consequences when possible. Despite being a challenge, parenting is the greatest adventure I’ve ever been on and I am going to try to embrace every second of it!
Soul: This morning I was reading Acts 6, where the apostles choose seven believers to be in charge of food distribution. I’ve read this passage before, and typically pass right over it. In fact, I read it several times this past week, but today it resonated differently with me. Today, prompted by my study, instead of the focus being on distributing food, I realized that it’s more about the apostles trying to delegate certain duties so that they could focus on spreading the gospel. It made me question how we, as a church, are supporting our leaders as they try to serve God. Are we coming alongside them and helping bear the weight of our congregations, or are we leaving them to try and do everything on their own? Are we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, serving each other, meeting one another’s needs so that our pastors can focus on sharing the gospel with the unsaved? Or do we expect them to do all of those things because ‘it’s their job’. Are we offering to bear some of the load in the lives of others so they can have time to serve God, or have we adopted more of an ‘everyone’s on their own’ attitude? If there’s anything I’m learning about the early church, it’s how much they depended upon, relied on, trusted, and shared with one another.
Even in my own home, with a husband whose plate is filled to the max between work, worship, training for races, etc. am I helping bear some of his load so that he can have time every day to meet with Jesus? Am I supporting and encouraging his walk by offering to help where I am able? Lately, I think I’ve been so self-focused, so worried about my walk, my relationship with Christ, my growth, that I haven’t been a great supporter of his walk and his growth. While it’s important to focus on my walk with Christ, this life is so much bigger than me. In fact, I would wager that my relationship with Christ will be strengthened as I encourage and support others in their walks.
Strength: If I didn’t have this blog, I would be giving up right now… I can feel it in me. I know this place, I’ve been here before. Far too many times, I’ve been here. I’m watching my calories, I’m eating a relatively healthy balance of protein, fats, and carbs, I’m exercising… and nothing. How has my focus shifted back to weight again… is it the only driving force within me? How do I get past this?! How do you take a lifetime of thinking that weight is the most important thing and transition to the importance of health? How do you fight years and years of doubt, discouragement, and fear? Today I’m feeling at a loss… But, I do have this blog. I have the ability to bring these thoughts to light. I have the ability to stare them in the face and choose to keep going. So, I will, I’ll choose to keep going.