We don’t send our daughter to bed. We put our daughter to bed. We spend a few minutes at the end of the day tucking her in, saying prayers and listening to her – really listening to her – and we are absolutely amazed at what she shares with us. The things she thinks about, the stuff she never mentions during the busyness of the day, comes pouring out.
During those few minutes, we get precious opportunities to help her consider ideas she hadn’t thought of before, to guide her through problem solving and relationship issues and to lead her to new conclusions. We get to talk about God and ideas and feelings and passions and fears and goals instead of the functional things of the day that include lunches, homework, chores, laundry, rides . . .
Sometimes, we just listen.
We only recently stopped these end of the day conversations with our near 15 year old son. Why, I wonder? Just because he’s becoming more and more independent every day? Because we don’t have a regular bedtime routine for him anymore? Or are we just being lazy? There’s a loveseat in his room that I need to sit on tonight.
I want my children to be thinking of these conversations as they drift off to sleep. I want these conversations to filter into their dreams. I want them to wake up with a vision of God as the center and compass of their lives, an awareness of possibility and a sense that they can influence their future by the choices they make and the actions they take.
What are your night time routines?
“It is incumbent upon us as stewards of these precious lives to introduce them to their potential, to lift their eyes off of today’s realities and focus them on tomorrow’s possibilities . . .
The most significant visions are not cast by great orators from a stage. They are cast at the bedsides of our children. The greatest visioncasting opportunities happen between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday. In these closing hours of the day we have a unique opportunity to plant the seeds of what could be and what should be. Take advantage of every opportunity you get.”
I’m still asking for your best/favorite/unique/effective PARENTING TIP
It can be a tip about ANYTHING. Regardless of the age or gender of the child – it can be pragmatic practices, logistics, shaping character, spiritual development, allowances, scheduling extra-curricular activities, nurturing talents and skills, potty training, dealing with tantrums, bedtime and sleeping habits, developing relationships with your teenager, cell phone limits, family policies, dealing with schoolwork, sibling relationships, dealing with a parent who travels a lot . . . ANYTHING that worked or is working for you!
Comment or write your own blog post and link to it in a comment. Share one tip or many!
Tina has inspired me again. A few weeks ago, she wrote a post on a Bible study she was doing and what she gleaned from it.
“Being kind is definitely something I struggle with. Not with the rest of the world, but with my own children. I get impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind. And I really SO do not want to be that mom. I am praying now for a gentle spirit. I’ve always admired women who have that….godly women that love the Lord and seem to just live and breathe Proverbs 31. Believe me, my children don’t, as a rule, arise and call me blessed.”
My daughter sure as heck doesn’t arise and call me blessed. Often, she’s a crank in the morning until after we give her some orange juice or Ovaltine and her blood sugar levels out. We OFTEN wake her up with a no-spill sippy cup in our hand. (Try it, you might be amazed at the difference in your kiddo’s morning attitude and cooperation.)
I write about my parenting strategies and my perspective, and it may seem like I’m getting it right, but I need to clarify. I fall off the “good mom” wagon all the time. I just get back on as fast as I can. AND, I used to fall off MUCH more often when my kids were home with me 24-7. AND I know some of the reasons why.
PinkGirl and I have our moments. MOST of the time, I can give her grace when she has a blood sugar dip and starts crying for no apparent reason. But sometimes, I find myself asking her, “WHY are you crying NOW?” and saying my standard, “Handle this differently” or “Solve your problem.” in a frustrated, impatient tone of voice instead of my encouraging, reminder voice. Sometimes, when she is “disagreeable,” I completely forget to calculate when she ate last and I react with what is to me, a lack of empathy and a toneless voice. What SHE sees is a mom “who doesn’t care about me when I’m upset!” (and she tells me exactly that.) Instead of responding with grace and providing her a complex carb/protein combo before continuing in a reasonable conversation with her, I react immediately and escalate the situation. The whole episode steals time and energy and peace from our day. It’s a waste. And I know it. I don’t like it. So I try to take my own advice and “Solve my problem” by “handling things differently.”
When find myself impatient or frustrated with my kids, I start by looking for the root causes so I can fix my real problem. Physiological, psychological, spiritual . . . I always start with the physiological. (I’ve got my fair share of problems, but today I’m only focusing on ONE of the the physical problems.) I do a little self-check.
Am I tired?
Am I hungry?
Is my iron low because I keep forgetting to take that stupid pill?
Until I “fix” these physical issues I can’t consistently parent intentionally or well. Unfortunately, “fixing” isn’t an instantaneous, one time thing. Often I have to make consistent changes over time to completely get RID of these problems rather than just trying to manage them. If I’m not careful, I could end up like this: (the first two minutes)
But back to fixing my (physical) problems and handling things differently. Let’s start with “tired.”
I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep. So I’ve made a few changes:
First, I now take Ambien when I need it. Not every day – only when I can’t get to sleep. I started with Tylenol PM. One was too much. Half was just enough. When both my GP and my GYN heard I was taking it, they both suggested Ambien instead. I started with 10mg control release. Too much. I need to wake up when a kid needs me. Then I went with the regular 10mg. Too much. Drowsy the next morning. I now take 5mg.
I also intentionally GO TO BED earlier. Sometimes (not often) as early as 10:00 p.m. I’m a night owl. Sometimes I’m not sleepy at 10:00 p.m. If I can’t get to sleep, I take some Ambien. My goal is to go to bed the same day I wake up instead of wake up the same day I go to bed.
When I read in bed, I only read fiction. I don’t need to be learning when I’m trying to calm my mind. Even when I read a devotional, I find my brain ramping up when it should be ramping down. To make sure I don’t slip up, I don’t keep any non-fiction books in the bedroom.
The low iron can make me weak and tired too, so I take a prescription iron supplement. (But I’m fixing that too.)
No coffee after 1:00 p.m. or so. Enough said.
Back when PinkGirl was a baby, I would nap when she napped. I read this over and over again when FavoriteSon was a baby and I rarely followed the advice. When PinkGirl was born, I was older, with more on my plate and more tired. I kinda had no choice.
Sometimes it was the kid’s sleep cycles that threw a wrench in mine. When a kid won’t go to sleep or wakes up in the middle of the night, what are you going to do? Sleep anyway? Not likely. I’ll write another post on overcoming kid sleep problems. We had to do that too.
I removed things from my “To Do” list. Some jobs get harder the longer they are delayed. Like dishes and laundry. But some jobs take the same amount of time and effort each time you do them, regardless of whether you last did them yesterday or last week. Like vacuuming, cleaning the toilet or dusting. So my house wasn’t up to white glove standards. big whoop.
So, given my history and challenges, I have a question for moms like Tina and I who sometimes get, as Tina put it, “impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind:”
What kind of sleep are you getting? Supposedly, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes. I know that when my sleep is fragmented or I don’t get enough of it, I’m predisposed to a lack of patience and frustration. It doesn’t take much to push me off the “good mom” wagon.
Yes, when I get more sleep, my day is shorter. I have less time to accomplish all the things I “need” to. But when I get more (and better) sleep, my day – and my family’s day – is BETTER. And all those things I “need” to do? Some get done. Some don’t. Some jobs I keep doing. Some jobs FirstHusband handles. Some jobs the kids take care of. Some I decide not to do anymore.
You CAN change your situation. Even minor changes can add up. We have choices to make every day. When you say to yourself, “I HAVE to do (insert urgent, important task here).” Rethink it. Do you? What’s the worst thing that would happen if you didn’t? What things can you let go of? What things can you allow others to take responsibility for? Maybe the person who picks up your slack doesn’t do things exactly like you would. Is it THAT important that something be done your way?
I used to think I had no choices. But I was confusing “no choice” with “difficult choice.”
“Dear God, please help Mamaw understand that real freedom is about caring and sharing with your family and who you love. Please help Pappy not be sad and help him be okay that Mamaw is going away . . .
Then the sweet talking that only happens at bedtime. She is snuggled up under the covers with the stuffed animal chosen tonight, petting a cat who somehow knows she needs him right now, in a dimly lit pink room, with soft music playing. Her night light is a 2 foot Christmas angel, dressed in white, holding a candle lit by a small bulb.
“I love Mamaw, but is it okay if I like Pappy more?”
“Yes, sweetie. I know you love Mamaw, but you do more stuff with Pappy, so it makes sense that you like to spend time with him more. He does lots of fun things with you.”
“I know you’re supposed to love everyone in your family, and I really do, it’s just that Pappy really understands my imagination and he’s the best drawer ever! He can draw anything! He even helps me draw hard stuff.”
“I know. I love Pappy’s drawings too.”
“Even though some of my family lives in Georgia, I still love them too. They live far away and I love them, so now Mamaw will live far away and I can still love her. But some people in my family are more fun to play with than other people. Like TeenageGirlCousin is lots of fun and CollegeBoyCousins are lots of fun to play with but that doesn’t mean that I love them more, it just means I like to play with them more, right?”
“That’s exactly true. I know you love your family and that you love Mamaw too. But I understand that some people are more fun to play with. That doesn’t mean you don’t love the people you don’t play with. I know you love your Mamaw, but I also see how much fun you have with Pappy, and he really does understand your imagination. You’re right.”
Thinking. Petting the cat.
I kiss her soft, sweet smelling cheek , say goodnight and go into the office right next to her room to wait on her to fall asleep. Minutes pass.
“Okay. Goodnight honey. Love you.” (yes, sweetie, I’m still here)
Jenn, over at Mommy Needs Coffee and Mommy Bloggers, has motivated me to tell the truth. I do not have it all together. When I don’t get my solitude (or any help), I reach my breaking point. So, in the spirit of honesty and solidarity, here are the events which led to my literal “breaking” point last week.
But first, a trivia question: What’s the difference between dropping your phone and heaving it forcefully to the floor? See the answer at the bottom of this post.
Back to the (humiliating) story.
FirstHusband left town on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. and I drove him to the airport. (He returned Friday evening and we picked him up at the airport just in time for rush hour.)
I am taking iron pills because my blood work shows my iron stores are “depleted.” (“Iron stores?” I never shopped at an iron store.)
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, alone with the kids. The kids do their chores, pack their own lunches, do their homework, pack their own backpacks, lay out their own clothes, bathe and dress themselves, but not without . . . encouragement. (They might call it nagging.) Through it all, I’m patient. Pleasant, even. When they want to stay up late on Tuesday night to watch American Idol “because EVERYONE will be talking about it tomorrow and I won’t know what they’re talking about,” I LET them stay up! (Have you ever heard the phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished?”)
So, Wednesday morning comes around and I have comatose children. PinkGirl didn’t even move. No groan. No turning over. Just dead weight. FavoriteSon is too heavy to drag downstairs and, while still in a coma, he pitifully BEGGED me to let him skip P.E. The fact is, I was wiped out too. When FirstHusband travels, I don’t sleep so well.
So, I did the UNthinkable. I let the kids sleep in an extra hour. I let my son miss 1st period P.E. and my 1st grade daughter be an hour late for school. I can’t remember, but I think my husband will learn about this as he reads this blog post. (Remember the family rule, hon. No helping. No complaining.)
Anyway. I drop the kids off a little before 9:00 a.m., go back home to shower, eat breakfast and work a little before I go BACK to school to have lunch with PinkGirl at 11:15 because the new girl is giving her a hard time. Get back to the house around noon. A little more work (and probably a little blogging, I don’t’ remember) and then it’s BACK to school to pick up the kids. I get PinkGirl and two friends at 2:40 p.m. and then wait for FavoriteSon to get out at 3:10 p.m. Everyone is hungry, so it’s off to McDonalds. I’m keeping PinkGirl’s friends for the afternoon and drop FavoriteSon off at the house to do homework while I take the girls to a park. While they play, I sit on a park bench, reading a book and taking notes for a seminar I have to deliver next week. Every 30 or 45 minutes I call home to ask FavoriteSon how he is doing on his homework. I’m patient. Pleasant, even.
After nearly two hours, the girls get bored with the park and want to go to our house to play for a while before I take them home. No problem. No big deal. Sure. We go home. FavoriteSon has finished his homework. The girls play upstairs while I respond to a client email request. I was supposed to take the girls home around 6:00 p.m., but it’s 6:10 and they just put Chicken Little in the DVD player. I let them watch Chicken Little sing “We are the Champions” before we go. I’m patient. Pleasant, even.
I tell FavoriteSon I’m taking the girls home and he can play video games until I get back. When we arrive at the friend’s house, I let PinkGirl walk them to the door and then, I even let her go inside for a few minutes. I’m patient. Pleasant, even.
When we get back to our house, it’s 7:34 p.m. So far that day, I’d been in a pretty good mood. I was feeling pretty good about all the nice things I’d done for my kids. I mean really. You read the post. I was great, if I do say so myself. Cool mom. Nice mom. Pushover mom.
So how do I know it was 7:34 p.m. when I got home? Because, in our house, we have a family rule: All electronics off at 7:30 on school nights. (American Idol was a test – which they failed.) So I say, “okay, guys, it’s 7:34.”
I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught. The screaming. The stomping. The sarcasm. The insults.
THIS is what I get from them after saying “YES” to them over, and over, and OVER all day?
I wasn’t patient. Or pleasant, even.
I had an armful of stuff from the car (and not all of it MY stuff either). Picture it. Ever seen a little kid stomp their foot on the ground and thrust curled up fists down at their sides? That’s what I did. But remember. I was holding stuff. And my Treo.
Amazingly, what I actually said next was, “Well, that’s got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.” followed by, “PinkGirl, go to your room right now.”
Then I logged into ebay and sniped a Treo.
So what’s the answer to the trivia question? That would be $93, plus $15 shipping (If you have an ebay account and know how to use it). See, when you just drop your phone, it doesn’t always break. But when you throw it at the floor really hard, you have to buy a new one.
Yo, Jenn. Mommy didn’t have coffee Wednesday night. She had cabernet sauvignon. With dark chocolate.