This year, I have given up on making big changes. I’m making little ones instead. Little ones are easier and more manageable for me, and I need that. I have days when I feel overwhelmed, like I could be doing so much better as a parent.
So I did some reading and some thinking and came up with a list of five little things that I’m going to do consistently as a mom this year. And happily, I’ve already seen some positive changes.
Five Little Things 1 of 6These are five little things I need to do to be a better mom.
photo credit: Graur Razvan Ionut.
I will stop saying “in a minute” and actually give them a minute. 2 of 6Years ago, I read a book called "How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too!" by Sal Severe, PhD. In this very helpful book, Dr. Severe suggests that when your kids are constantly bugging you for attention, you should stop what you're doing for one minute and give them your full attention, every time they ask for it.
Over time, your kiddos will gain confidence that when they ask for your attention, they'll get it. And eventually they'll need it less, because they'll know it will always be there.
At first I noticed my kids asking for my attention more. I think they were testing out this new thing. They were seeing if I was going to stop and focus on them, or stay checked out. Once it became more consistent for me, it became easier for them to give me a few minutes to take a phone call or return an email. As a work from home parent, I'll take it.
Available at Barnes & Noble.
The “If I can’tsee you, I can’thear you” rule. 3 of 6There is too much yelling going on in my house. Little people holler at me and each other from across the house until it seems as if no one remembers that there's even such a thing as an "inside voice". This rule is such a no-brainer. One of the (brilliant and attractive) Rants from Mommyland readers told me about this. As a family we discussed why we were implementing the "If I can't see you, I can't hear you" rule. I've already noticed a big decline in the amount of screaming.
photo credit: Michel Marcol.
When I say “no”, Im also going to say why. 4 of 6One of the best pieces of advice I got from the famous book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, was the importance of explaining things.
Instead of barking: "Don't leave the milk out!" or "Why did you leave the milk on the counter again?" they suggest saying, "If you leave the milk out, it can spoil. If it spoils, we have to throw it away and that's wasteful."
This advice really hit home for me. My kids are young and there are times when I just assume they know why I'm asking them to do something (or telling them not to). Instead of saying "NO" I can say, "I'm sorry but you can't ride your bike because it's getting dark and there are a lot people driving home from work right now. All those cars won't be able to see you in the street and you could get hurt."
By taking just a second to explain why, I'm teaching them about their world, about our family's values (e.g. wasting milk is not OK, I want you to be safe), and how to make their own smart choices in the future.
Available at Barnes & Noble.
Im going to greet them like a Labrador. 5 of 6This sounds silly but it's based on solid mom-logic. Every time I pick up my kids from school or practice or a friend's house, I'm going to greet them like our dog Brady would (minus licking and sniffing, of course).
Brady is always happy to see us. It may have been only an hour or it may have been all day, but he always manages to convey: "I love you! I'm happy to see you!" Even when he's sleepy, or grouchy or really focused on a bone or something, he still manages a big smile and some tail wags.
Babble's Monica Bielanko wrote about this as well and said: "the way you react when your kid enters the room is so important for their well-being and sense of self." She's absolutely right, and I wish I had done this all along.
photo credit: Victor Habbick.
The last thing they hear each night will be “I love you”. 6 of 6At least once a week, the last words my kids hear from me before they fall asleep are not things like: "Sleep well!" or "Don't let the bed bugs bite!" What they hear is my dragon voice saying something like: "FOR THE LAST TIME, GET IN BED" or "STOP TALKING BEFORE YOU WAKE UP YOUR SISTER!"
And I really, really hate that. Moreover, I'm genuinely ashamed of it.
As soon as they fall asleep, I just have to look at them and my heart melts into a puddle, and any frustration I had with our bedtime routine is forgotten. This year, I'm making a promise to myself that no matter how difficult our evening was, the last thing my kids will hear every night before they fall asleep is my voice, telling them that I love them.
Then I'll point to the silly little signs I painted for each of them that hang above their bedroom doors. And I'll ask them if they know how much I love them. And they will glance up and then back at me and say "no matter what."
Poorly painted sign by me.