I am not a perfect parent. Not even close. And I'm not always clued in to my own emotions and reactions. So when I'm grumpy or impatient with my kids, I always try to follow up afterwards and apologize for being "off" or try to explain what was making me edgy, if I know. So when my kids are emotional or short-fused, although I am not always patient, I try to be understanding, or try to figure out what might be going on with them.
I have become very clear on one effect of stress in my kids. When I am tense, they are tense! Boy, what a responsibility! Sometimes I can try to force myself to remain calmer than I feel, for their sake. Other times, and more often than I care to admit, I don't hide my tension, and the result is that my anxiety spreads like wildfire. It so happens that hubby, who always tries to be supportive of me, takes on my tension as well, which often leads me to switching gears just to ease the increased tension in the room. Ultimately, the only way I can see to reduce tension in me and my family is for me to find ways to reduce mine. No one is suddenly going to burst into the room and take over, settle things down, and send me out for some decompression time. It's up to me, time and time again.
Basically, that is what my mission is all about, and why I started this blog.
This is just a lengthy lead up to an interesting and surprising discovery I made the other night. Tuesday night, as usual, I had taken the kids upstairs to get ready for bed. And, as usual, I started the process grumpy, prepared for a battle. My kids are pretty good about going upstairs when we say it's time, though they often will say they're hungry right before-hand, and shortly after dinner. (aggravating) Once we're upstairs, DD engages herself in games and drawing in her room while I sqwawk at her to get undressed, get her pjs, brush and floss.... My son also enjoys playing at this time, but he's a bit easier to get through the evening routine. DD finds joy (or perhaps it's her expression of anxiety...) in running away from me, or saying that she wants to do this or that first. I start off annoyed, and just become more so as the time goes on. Once the kids have gotten ready for bed, then the battle becomes about getting into, and staying in bed. DS is easy in this regard. Once he's in bed, for the most part, he stays there. DD, on the other hand, finds every reason under the sun to delay getting into bed, and then to get up again and again. It drives me mad. (Though I am just like her so you would think I'd be more understanding...) I had become so aggravated by this process night after night, that hubby had started to come up to help me with the whole process. Add to this the fact that DD doesn't want hubby to do anything with her, and UGG. I was ending up angry and frustrated every night, and everyone knew it very well. (sighs)
So, Tuesday. I found myself sitting in our bed, yelling, angry, focused on my plight. I was pissed. (Sorry for the language) I wouldn't let it go. I was going to make DD suffer for my state of being. And I did. And she dug in her heels, and focused completely on her hearts desire, which at the time was a styrofoam easter egg that was downstairs. I was tired of her getting out of bed, then back in, then out, then in..... Often when she gets up, my son then finds a reason to get up.....ARGH!
But, as usual, I felt terrible after they went to sleep. Awful. I questioned my reasons for getting upset. I questioned my parenting. I questioned everything. And I made a decision. As I keep saying, the way to get rid of a battle is to get rid of the battle ground. And that was up to me. I discussed my plan with hubby, who was supportive.
Wednesday night we went upstairs as usual, and the kids got "listed" as we call it. (Evening list) Hubby then went downstairs for his evening break. I explained the new plan to the kids. I spent a few minutes in DD's room playing with them, then went into our bedroom. I explained that I would be in their reading, and that I'd be happy to read to them when they were ready to go to bed. Not a long time later, my son came in and curled up with me for some reading. He soon fell asleep. I gently informed DD that it was getting late and she might be tired in the morning if she stayed up too late. She came in shortly after that, and fell asleep quickly. The next night was a repeat of that night. The third night was similar, with just a reverse order of who came to bed first. Calm, no stress, happy. What really struck me is that two nights out of three, after the kids went to sleep, I went into DD's room to find that she had CLEANED UP her stuff!!!!!!!!!!! DD is not a neat person, and typically requires about 600 reminders and help with cleaning up the simplest project. I was amazed. And what a difference in the atmosphere!! Neither kid has taken too much advantage of the freedom. They are getting into bed a bit later, but are falling asleep faster. I go downstairs a few minutes later than I was before, but I am going downstairs calm, and the kids are going to bed calm. Completely worth it.
*Here's an interesting thing. On the second night, while lying in bed, I asked my daughter how she felt about the new evening plan. She informed me that she doesn't like it. She said she wants to go back to the way it was!!! Totally surprised, I processed this a bit with her. She said she might like it if we compromise between the two. Let her stay up a little while, then start to call her to the bed. Weird!! Not a chance. =)
How to wrap
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