The day is over. I can’t get this one back. The good times and bad times are now a memory. What did I leave with them today? What memory from today might they carry with them into their future? Children are resilient and my mom fail moments from today they will likely brush off. It will be me that carry them much longer than needed but how can I improve tomorrow?
If there is ever a job in which I wish to excel, it is being a mom. We work hard at our jobs evaluating our performance and setting goals for improvement, we harshly critique our bodies and set plan after to plan to inch closer to our ideal body image, we take online courses to improve our educational credentials, and attend marriage counseling to become a better spouse. So, why not focus on our most important job, raising the next generation? Now I understand parenting is multi-faceted, always changing and not easily evaluated. Every child has different needs but who knows those better than mom, right?
After a somewhat challenging day I cuddled next to my sleeping boy and asked myself what I would do differently tomorrow. I thought about our conversations throughout the day, the challenging moments, the joyful moments, the rushed moments, the learning moments and everything in between. I noticed 6 phrases that I use too often out of habit or convenience. Let me preface the remainder of this post by saying that obviously there will be times when these phrases are necessary but I have challenged myself to only use them in such situations. So, here are the 6 things I wish I didn’t say to my kids.
I like to be on time and prior to having 3 kids I would pride myself on being punctual. While I still make every effort to be on time and remind my family that it is polite, sometimes I just can’t make it work. Someone can’t find a shoe, needs a last minute potty break, wants a wardrobe change or is simply contesting the fact that we must leave right now. As a result, “hurry up” is a well used phrase in my house.
Lately though, I’ve noticed I’ve been saying this out of habit when we really don’t need to hurry. And lets be honest, slowing down and joining our kids in their moment is sometimes more important than being on time. Instead of yelling hurry up through the house, maybe it is best to sit on my daughters’ bed for 5 minutes as she practices her independence in choosing what to wear. Or instead of showing my frustration, let her know we all lose things from time to time and join her in the effort to find her missing shoe. I mean, how many times am I looking for the keys or my sunglasses? This will be a hard one for me but I am challenging myself to only use this phrase when absolutely necessary.
Shh, be quiet.
A friend and I were discussing this at a play date the other day. We are home with our kids, no company and no one is on the phone. The kids are playing and the noise becomes a little louder and a little louder. “Shh, be quiet” we say. “Why mommy?” Hmm, I don’t know really. Because it gets on my nerves? There are multitudes of places that our kids are going to have to be quiet. Classrooms, churches, doctors’ offices, school programs, when mommy is on the phone, bedtime just to name a few.
In the safety and comfort of their own home, I’m going to let them be kids! Play without holding back. If that means the princess of the castle is yelling from her tower then go ahead and yell. Or if the warrior has to yell when he fights the dragon then baby boy let out those screams. If it becomes too much for my adulthood to handle, I’ll be quick to open the back door and take the party outside. I know this is easier said than done but for now this is a kid friendly house and I am going to enjoy it before it passes.
Don’t make a mess.
This phrase goes hand in hand with the one previously mentioned. I prefer to have a clean house and I do think my kids need to pick up after themselves, however, when it is play time why do I say, “Don’t make a mess”? Just play. Focus on having fun rather than if you make a mess or not. There will be a clean up time after and they will learn responsibility in those moments but for now just play. Summer is here so I am going to have plenty of practice with this. Wish me luck!
At first glance it doesn’t make sense for this to be on the list but hear me out. When I say this it truly comes from a good place. I want to reassure my child that they are in fact okay no matter what they are feeling in the moment. But the more I think about this, the more I disagree with that idea. When I am overwhelmed, sad, angry or disappointed the last thing I want to hear is “You’re okay”.
It feels as if my feelings are being brushed off as if they don’t matter. I don’t feel understood or that someone is with me in my hard time but instead alone. Yes, I may know that their broken toy is not a big deal and that they have hundreds of other toys or that I can buy a new one next week but in the moment, on their level it is overwhelming and a huge part of their world.
I want to start now creating a safe place for them to come with their disappointments whether it is big or small. So, instead of saying you’re okay and trying to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible, I am going to slow down, let them voice their emotion to me before reaching a solution together. Not only am I making sure to join them in their situation but also teaching them how to deal with their emotion. This is how I feel, this is why I feel this way and this is the next step in moving toward a peaceful resolution.
Quit being so silly.
My daughter will turn 7 this year and she is entering the goofy stage. I can tell right now this is not going to be my favorite phase. I am naturally not a very silly person but I hope to embrace this side of my kids and let them teach me to embrace my goofy side along the way. And at the very least, I vow to not squash this fun loving and beautiful part of their personality. “Quit being so silly” is not a part of my vocabulary any longer.
Just let me do it.
One characteristic I want my children to possess is independence. Learning to be independent and having the courage to be independent starts at a young age. Riding a bike, learning to read, tying a shoe, entering their classroom and making new friends are all things my kids are starting to do on their own. Scary for momma at times but good for them. It is a natural reflex for me to swoop in and save the day. I’ve been doing that from day one. Crying in the middle of the night and I am rushing to their room. Falling as they learn to walk and I am there to kiss the boo boo. Scared of the dark and I’m there with a night light.
It’s not easy to break that routine. However, in order for them to know they can do things on their own I have to take a step back. It takes more patience than what I currently possess to watch them try again and again to climb up the ladder to the club house or listen to multiple attempts at reading a word they don’t recognize. There is so much joy, though, when they finally do it on their own. “I did it, I did it!” I may not be holding their hand when they do it but I am their biggest fan and loudest cheerleader. And with each new accomplishment comes a little more confidence and a little more independence.
It is going to take some practice and patience to wean myself from saying these phrases too often but I know my kids will give me lots of practice. So here’s to a loud, messy, silly summer!!
What do you have to add? Do you have things you say out of habit that aren’t really necessary? Do you have tips to keep yourself in check in situations you are prone to using these phrases?
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