Don't Let Your Kids Run Your Life
It's easy to get caught up in your children. Especially in a large family of 5 children, the needs and wants of the children can seem overwhelmingly necessary. The most stressful times for me are mornings getting off to school and evenings preparing for bed. There are a barrage of questions, mostly stalling tactics.
In my self accountability, I'm learning that sometimes, it's not the kids, it's me. Here are some lessons I'm learning along the way that may help you too:
- Set the expectation. Give them clear, concise instructions. Give them the consequence if said expectation is not followed. Lastly, and this is for us, follow through with the follow through!
- Make them work. If your children are 3 and above, they can do some chores so you're not doing it all. Simple tasks like emptying small trash bins for smaller kids and vacuuming and emptying/loading the dishwasher for older kids.
- Don't jump into a fight. I'm guilty for always trying to play referee with the kids. Sometimes it's easier and faster for me to step in and intervene. But what's easiest is not always best. Plus, if you're always the referee, they'll never learn to resolve conflicts themselves. Let your kids solve quarrels on their own. Do a little ear hustling so that everyone is being fair. But don't give your two cents if they have it under control.
- Stop nagging (yes, it is possible to nag your kids). This is a lesson I've learned in the last month or so. Waking the kids up in the morning, they know they are to make their bed, get dressed, brush their teeth, clean their face, moisture and get all your items ready for school. I found myself fussing behind them every 5-10 minutes if it wasn't done in the time frame I thought it should be done or I feel they were dragging their feet. This on top of getting myself ready, some light cleaning and getting the twins together. One morning, after I woke them up, I just let them do it at their pace. Guess what happened? Absolutely nothing. They did what they needed to do in the time they needed to do it. Around the age of 8, kids should already know the expectations set before them. If not, see the first bullet point.
- Answer a question with a question. My kids incessantly ask questions. Part of my frustration is that the questions are answers I know they can answer for themselves. So, I started giving the indirect answers. Example:
- Kid: Mom, where's my jacket? Me: Not sure. Where did you put it last?
- Kid: Mom, are there clean spoons? Me: Did you look in the dishwasher?
- Yes, these are real questions my kids ask me.
- Let them see you doing you. If you say Dad's on the phone right now on an important call or Mom is going to the bathroom or reading, that's that. Explain to them it's just Mom and Dad at the movies tonight, sans the kids. Teach them that giving Mom (and/or Dad) her space is normal and needed.
- Just say no. No explanation needed.
Children are indeed a blessing. They enhance life's outlook and bring a unique joy like nothing else. Sure, sacrificing for those you love is normal and can be healthy. But they shouldn't run you ragged or deplete you of all your energy, time and peace. Fall back a little bit so you can keep your balance and keep your perspective. All parties learn in return.
What are some practices in your household?