This week, I announced I was going to choose joy and get out of the negative. I wanted and needed a change. Who knew all it took was a little action on my part to get it?
For you parents just entering the “I’m out” stage of summer, I found some hope for you. For those parents who’ve been in that stage since June 1, I have relief for you too. Pour yourself a small glass of wine, relax and prepare for good news.
First and foremost, just remember: there are only four weeks left of summer vacation. You’ve already made it through eight, these last four should blow right past you! Not as satisfying as you wanted, is it?
Save some of that wine, I have more to say.
I discovered four secrets to parenting (I’m sure there are many more, feel free to share them): ignoring, redirecting, focusing and letting them go. To clarify, by letting them go I mean letting them talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk without stopping them.
Instead of letting the tantrums get to me, I try to ignore them. When 2 YO is screaming because her blanket’s on the floor and she’s mentally unable to bend over the centimeter required to get it, I ignore the screaming and act like we’re having a normal conversation. I find this confuses her enough to make the screeching stop. It’s like magic. You’re welcome.
When 2 YO is upset, I redirect her attention to the cat video she’s obsessed with; pick one, it’ll work. The videos last an average of two minutes and 43 seconds so have a backup ready. When 5 YO is screaming at 2 YO to give back her zebra, I redirect 5 YO to the exact same duplicate zebra sitting next to her. No, really. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it makes the crying stop.
Sometimes you can’t feel the rage coming because you have other things to worry about. Like keeping your children alive. You do know what sets you off, though. When you see it coming or your kids start stirring up their no nap crazy potion, focus your attention on not yelling in your dad’s angry voice. I don’t have a 100% success rate yet, and neither will you (unless you’re a wizard), but it’s so much better. When I focus on that I can refocus 5 YO’s attention on me and away from thoughts of Shopkins and devices. Trust me, it’s a necessity.
I’m a Mom. I expect demands for my time and letting my hobbies be postponed, but it’s a little harder to deal with the desperate demand for undivided one-on-one face-to- face interaction. Yesterday, 5 YO talked for about 40 minutes without a breath while I was trying to write. Instead of getting frustrated with the pulls, I chose to let her tell me her stories while I wrote and responded when necessary. She was happy to simply talk, even if I wasn’t actively listening. Learn to multitask, or get better at it, and let them go while you do your thing.
Shockingly, diet and exercise have helped me achieve the four secrets of parenting. I crack a lot of jokes about working out and losing weight, but that’s only because I like food and not expending physical energy. I do know there are insane people that enjoy exercising instead of Oreos; I’m just not one of them.
We’re (I can’t do it alone) making an effort to change that. I can’t complain but do nothing about it. On Wednesday I mentioned we started working out. I decided to do four days a week and never when my husband is home. Just like that it became another bonding thing for us girls.
I can happily report that we’ve completed four days of workout and found a stretch routine to do every day. I had no idea exercise could do this to a person. Sure, the first two days I was ready break my own ankle so I’d have an excuse not to do it, but today only the muscles in my upper thighs feel like I’ve been carrying 60 pounds of children and their bags nonstop. So, same as pre workout. That’s progress.
I’ve also started the Whole30 diet and I really love it. The food is colorful and light and clean and it tastes good. I didn’t think there was a way to live without cheese or my coffee creamer, but it’s actually energizing. Most everything I eat is from scratch and depends entirely on what I have in the house – it’s like an adventure. An adventure that my 5 YO has yet to be impressed with. My 2 YO gives it rave reviews, but my husband doesn’t find it filling enough. I’ll take the 50% success rate.
This first real summer vacation has been a challenge, full of hard but good change. I don’t have a permanent grasp on them yet, but I’m rapidly learning how to do better. Change isn’t always bad, we just need to retrain our thinking.
What are your parenting challenges? How will you make a change?