Life as a parent is full of challenges! How you handle the situations thrown your way can really make or break your day. I've learnt that making the right call won't always happen. You're human and you make mistakes and all this pressure to make so many big decisions for your family all the time can be overwhelming. But if you plug away through all of your obstacles with a more positive attitude and a mental game plan it will help things run a lot more smoothly! I assure you!
October 20th, 2016
Sometimes the solution to the problem can be as easy as just letting it go. I used to 'debate' with my daughter, when she was 4 (too young to start deciding) about what to wear all the time. We didn't see eye-to-eye on colour co-ordination and style. She wanted to put on tattered, colourful, cotton dresses with multi-coloured tights every day. And I would've preferred something a little less worn-out and more mono-chromatic and pants/jeans thrown into the mix every once in a while.
I finally came to the realization that all of this bickering was a waste of precious time and energy. From then on I decided to go with a 'pick and choose your battles' kind of attitude (because there is A LOT your kids will fight you on, trust me). And I know it saved me from a lot of unnecessary aggravation! My daughter quickly adopted her own sense of style which only took a year for us to be somewhat more on the same page. And when we go shopping, I'll voice my opinion on any of her picks I don't agree with but let her decide (more often than not, it's the price I don't agree with, because I'm such a bargain hunter).
Don't take things too personally
Sometimes kids say things, but they don’t understand what they're saying or think about how it might make you feel. They have no filter and it's actually really endearing hearing them express their feelings (most of the time). They're little balls of energy filled with emotions, asserting themselves and discovering they're now capable of doing a lot more on their own (giving them a sense of independence). They have thoughts and feeling they can express that will be heard and taken into consideration. It can be a bit challenging and confusing for them.
I'm not gonna lie, when the kids argue about who's going to sit beside dad at the dinner table, I think to myself, why aren't they fighting over who gets to sit beside me? We can't help it, we're built that way. Don't over-think things too much. A lot of times kids are going to gravitate to one parent more than the other for certain things and it doesn't mean they have any less faith in or love for you.
Don't Lose Your Cool
You know that good old saying 'You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar', well it's TRUE! The more I raise my voice or argue with my children the more I get a negative response from them in return. If I handle the situation in a calmer manner, I get a lot more accomplished. I believe people have this innate feeling to be rebellious. Just like when you were a kid and your parents asked you to do something you were about to do, but now that you've been 'nagged' to do it, you don't want to do it anymore. Well, when my kids feel like I'm 'attacking' them, they fight back. Can't say I really blame them; we should be showing them to have a mutual respect for everyone (not just children towards adults). And I realized that by raising my voice or yelling to get my point across, I was teaching them that this was the way to get things accomplished. I couldn't bear to watch my kids screaming at each other anymore when they couldn't resolve their disagreements.
Try to get into a routine
I was never the type of person who was big on a regimented lifestyle until now. Let's face it, in a chaotic world of so many ongoings and in a family unit full of big opinions, it helps to make a plan and stick to it. Things work out so much more smoothly with a bit of structure; it's really not such a bad word.
-Decide what time is a good time to do homework (preferably earlier so that the kids still have energy and can focus) and get into a daily routine. That way there's no surprises when you tell them it's time to sit and do homework.
-Give your kids at least 20 min. to brush their teeth and go pee before bed. Kids are masters of doddling. To avoid bed-wetting accidents, try to get them to go pee every night before bed. And if they give you a hard time about brushing their teeth, show them pictures of rotting teeth online and they'll never doubt you again on the importance of teeth-brushing.
-Get the kids into the habit of making their bed quickly before going off to school. And if deciding on what to wear in the morning is a big ordeal, get them to pick out their clothes the night before.
Be frank with your children
Maybe you don't give your kids enough credit or underestimate their ability to comprehend the rules at home that need to be followed and why you make them. But they're pretty smart little beings even though they're new to this world. Because they're going to question every single decision you make, try to explain your reasoning for making that call. I've told my children on a few occasions: "Trust me, I would love to give you candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner because I know that would make you happy. And there's nothing more in this world that I want than your happiness. You're just going to have to trust when I make decisions you may not agree with, I always have your best interest at heart". And the more your kids start to understand, the less they'll argue with you.
Make your bed with your kids lying in it a few times (your bed is bigger than theirs). They love it!
These tips and tricks might not ALL work for you because every family is different. But these are tried and true to us and have saved everyone (on a few occasions) from tears. Try to be patient, understand that it's a learning curve for everyone (not just you), try to stay calm (REALLY try), don't try to control every situation and you'll see that things can be a lot less stressful in your home. It's ok to say sorry when you're wrong. Your kids will appreciate it; it's not a sign of weakness. Be honest with your kids and teach them that mutual respect for everyone is very important. Hopefully there will be many more smiles in your happy home!