We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Our kids are adorable and precious. They really are. But after a day filled with bickering, whining, requests to find countless “lost” items, requests to not do what they were asked to do, burping on purpose, and complaining about what was served for dinner, it’s a bit of a challenge to find them very likable, wouldn’t you agree?
If you’re feeling discouraged with the difficulty of living with your precious offspring, then this is the post for you! Take a break from playing referee and sit for a minute. That pile of potty accident clothing on top of the washing machine can wait until after you read this…
Step 1: Get away from the children. Not forever, just for a little while! If you can manage a quick outing without the kids, that is ideal. If that’s not possible, 30 minutes will do, or whatever you can manage. Send each child to a separate location with a stack of books or something similar. Turn on the TV if you need to. The purpose is for everyone to regain some perspective.
After 5 min. – your blood pressure and heart rate will start to return to normal.
After 10 min. – you will stop speaking in the third person (we don’t want to fight all day, now do we?) and your tone of voice will become much more pleasant.
After 15 min. – rational thinking returns. Boarding school is probably not necessary after all, is it? Having him clean up the mess he made is probably adequate. Ahh, much clearer thinking.
No one can be “on” all the time and still be a happy mom! But I totally get having stages where you can’t get a babysitter and your husband works a lot. Do what you can to take a break when you need it, even if it’s a few minutes, and everyone will be more happy.
Step 2: Look at old photos.
I’d suggest keeping a folder on the desktop of your computer with cute photos of each child at various stages. When all you have in front of you is a “threenager” (or an actual teenager – we have both!), it’s hard to picture anything but ATTITUDE.
Wow, now that’s some attitude!
(This picture makes all of us chuckle! Janie was 2 at the time.)
Thankfully, the majority of our photos are much sweeter, and a trip down memory lane is good for the soul.
Photos remind us of the important moments and of how fast time flies. How fleeting the stages are. How the crazy moments don’t matter in the big scheme of things, and how they won’t always throw tantrums over the color of their plate or the fact that their cookie is “broken.” All good things to be reminded of! (And even those bad attitude photos are funny later, when you’re not in the moment anymore!)
Just keep flipping through those old photos until you love the kids again!
Step 3: Find something to laugh about together. The key here is to remove the atmosphere of mom vs. them, and laughing will accomplish this. There are lots of funny things to laugh at! For younger kids, read a book backwards or in a silly voice. Check out our best kids jokes post. For older kids, watch a funny video or play a game of spoons or do a minute-to-win-it challenge.
After stopping to enjoy something together, it’s easier to step back and problem solve as a loving parent rather than an exasperated one.
Step 4: Learn (or experience) something new together. As homeschoolers, our attitudes can go south when we are focused too much on the daily grind. Yes, we do have to get school done. And laundry. And grocery shopping, meal prep, clutter clean-up, pet care, dentist visits, bill paying, etc, etc, etc. Sometimes we just need a break from having to make kids do things they don’t want to do so that we can like them again! Last week, we took a day off and went to the state fair, and it was totally worth it. When we are out experiencing something new or learning something new at a museum or field trip, we are all energized again and much of the petty bickering stops. Not all of it, but it’s better.
Step 5: Make time to observe other kids the same ages as yours. Hang out with other kids, and you might just find that yours is not so bad after all! I’m a firm believer that good character doesn’t happen by accident, and that teaching our kids to follow the Lord is a process worthy of our maximum efforts. Our culture needs higher standards, not lower. But at the same time, our expectations can often be a bit high for our own kids. Does your child try to climb every railing he comes across in every parking lot, and climb every wall, especially when you are in a hurry and don’t have time for that? Yeah, my 8 year old does that too, and even the 11 year old most of the time. The 14 year old has thankfully outgrown the constant need to climb… mostly.
While behaviors that are “normal” might still need correcting, it sure helps to know that our kids are actually really normal. We all need the reminder not to be angry about it, just keep on teaching and instructing!
Need more encouragement?
- Do you wonder how I survive as a mom of 5? Here’s The Reality of Life with Five Kids!
- Thoughts on Surviving a Difficult Parenting Season