Friday, November 6, 2015

How Can I Be A Better Parent?


My last few posts have been pretty down beat. There is the one about how I yell at my kids too much; and don’t forget the one where I compare my kids to Darth Vader.

So its been a rough couple of weeks. But each of these posts has had a single uniting theme underpinning it: I think every single time I butt heads with my kids comes down to my own flaws.

There. I said it.

When my kids are playing right up to and past their bedtime and I can’t wrangle them into bed; when they won’t get their shoes on to leave the house to buy THEIR snack; when they want more snack than common decency dictates; when they want more TV time or tablet time; the times when they ask the most inane questions, or when they won’t get their own underwear despite standing right next to the drawer.

Well, OK, maybe that last one isn’t on me.

But the rest? If it isn’t time travel, I think they are all on me. When they play past bedtime its mostly a failure to leave enough time. Indeed, I’ve known for a while that my own personal stress is often at the heart of the conflict.

In fact, the failure to plan or leave enough task time is the cause of 90 percent of conflicts with them. After all, is it their fault I started dressing them 10 minutes before bedtime? Maybe in some isolated cases they are fighting me, but mostly it’s a failure to act quick enough.

This was especially true last night. Last night the wife was out so I was on my own. The kids and I trekked upstairs super early. Which we never do. We mostly do this because the vast majority of their toys are downstairs, but also because we tend to go upstairs at a scheduled time.

We got upstairs so early that the chase game we usually play before right before bed was finished with an hour to go. I used the transition to get them pajama’ed. And while that brought a few howls about wanting to play more, I quickly explained that we had plenty of time to play. Hey, who says you have to wear normal clothes right up until bed time. Why can’t you change them at 7 for an 8:30 bedtime?

But that is just the thing: I caught that transition perfectly. Instead of interrupting play with mere minutes before bedtime and telling them no more play could occur, I was able to get what I wanted and what they wanted. 

Bonus.

And all through the miracle of better time management.

Going out is the same thing. It stresses me when we are trying to leave and for complicated time-space-travelling reasons can’t get out the door. But leaving more time to get out the door, even if it seems like a ridiculous amount of time to leave to simply get into a vehicle, helps everyone out.

And then we have the inane questions. Questions like: "Daddy, what does Liam have for snack." Even though she can see what he has for snack in his bowl, which is right beside her. And its not like I gave him some type of seaweed and sushi combo. His snack looks exactly like hers. Those questions really wear on me. But what kind of Dad gets upset when his daughter asks him what snack her brother has? An impatient one, that is who. One who needs to learn to slow down, calm down, and generally be wound down a bit.

You live and you learn. Life, and parenting, are about the journey, not the destination. I’m not a perfect parent, and I doubt I will be even with my new found knowledge. And that is OK.

Do you have any tips or suggestions about how to be a better parent?

4 comments:

  1. Nothing really to add, but this is just a really great and inspiring post. I think we could all use a moment to remember to slow down!

    I know I personally always over-plan how much time something is going to take because I don't like to be rushed. But then if other people don't do that and cause me to be late (and rushed), I get angry! So angry! But you're right. What's the rush? Really, is it the end of the world?

    Thanks for the reminder :)

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  2. I try so hard not to nag my girly over time and just slow it whilst I can. I can be so frustrating when they ask the same questions, or take forever to walk anywhere or go to bed. I think you have to the best idea - take more time, start earlier and definitely don't beat yourself up! Thansk for linking to #throwbackthursday but I have a feeling you meant this for #bestandworst !! :-) xxx

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