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I DID, AND IT’S DEFINITELY THE BEST THING I DID FOR MYSELF IN 2015!
If you read last night’s post, you know that yesterday was not my best day in the parenting department.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this, and I know what I have to do.
I keep coming back to Positive Discipline.
And I know a lot of you are like, Jesus Christ, here she goes again with the Positive F***ing Discipline.
But hear me out.
I know I need it. I know the kids need it.
And I know it works.
Because here is the thing.
If I fucked up at work and my boss seriously went off on me, or if she told me I had to be separated from everyone else in the building for a while and told me where to go sit and that she would let me know when I could return and interact with other people, if she told me I had to accumulate a certain amount of “good” days or actions before I could get paid, if she had a certain set of rules and standards that applied to all the employees behavior but not to her own, and if she gave me the impression that she valued me as a human being only when I was following all the rules, I’m pretty sure I would tell her to go fuck herself.
But being brought up in the era of do as you’re told and respect your elders, no matter what, it is very, very, very difficult to look at parenting (and even teaching and coaching) from another perspective.
It is easy to say, That’s what my parents did, and I turned out okay.
And again, if you see the words Positive Discipline and start rolling your eyes, throwing up in your mouth a little bit and saying to yourself that’s a bunch of bullshit and a crunchy, kumbaya, entitled, permissive, let-your-kids-do-whatever-the-hell-they-want philosophy, um…
And the reason I keep sharing this stuff is because I think we all very often find ourselves in the situation where our kids may be fine when we are in the room watching their every move like a drill sergeant, but as soon as we leave, within minutes, or sometimes even seconds, they are either beating the crap out of each other or destroying something or attempting to do something they know they aren’t allowed to do, or they aren’t taking responsibility for their actions or their homework or their belongings or whatever, and we want to rip our fucking hair out and we say over and over an over again, Why can’t you just do the right thing for once???
And this is the biggest goal of Positive Discipline.
It’s not about catering to our kids’ every whim and being a doormat and reliving the bullshit that drives you crazy over and over and over again.
It’s about helping children develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem solving skills (I took that straight from the cover of the book).
And those are all of my biggest issues right now.
I am having such a hard time getting the kids to do the right thing when I’m not in the room. The arguing and the getting-to-be-right-wars which often ultimately lead to knock down, drag out fights, the blame game and the finger pointing and the lack of cooperation is really fucking annoying.
It’s beyond annoying.
It’s wearing me down. Quickly.
And last night I had my own meltdown.
And here’s what I know.
I know I don’t feel good about it.
But I also know if someone gave me the opportunity to calm down on my own terms in my own space in my own way and then calmly sat down with me, let me know they understood how upset I was, and then helped me think of some things I could do to better handle the situation in the future, and then they let me know they would help me implement those changes, I’d be a hell of a lot more receptive to what they were saying than if they were to yell at me, tell me how disappointing I was, compare me to other people who appear to be more capable of doing things the right way, and then dole out a massive punishment.
Sometimes even though you know you are doing the wrong thing, you just have trouble seeing a way to do things better.
Take my organizing issues, for example.
This is a whole different animal, but a big part of my problem was that while I knew I needed and wanted to get my house organized, and while I know I’m an intelligent person, I was overwhelmed and frustrated, and I just didn’t know where to begin. And I needed help and guidance. I needed someone to help me come up with a better system. I needed someone to show me the way.
If Sue came into my house and belittled me and made me feel really bad about my house and asked my why I couldn’t keep it as organized as my sister keeps her house (I don’t have a sister, but you know what I mean), I’d feel pretty bad about myself.
And that’s one of the big things with Positive Discipline.
Children don’t do better when they are threatened within an inch of their lives. Children do better when they feel better. They do better with encouragement.
We all do.
So anyway, getting back to last night and me losing it on the kids and telling them I’d like to run away and leave…
Yeah, um, that did not feel good for them to hear. But I also felt pretty crappy for saying it afterward.
I know that we will all have those moments as parents, but I’d like to have them less.
And I know I need to make changes in order to do that, and I am 100% sure that the more Positive Discipline I incorporate into what I’m doing every day, the less those shitty moments will occur.
Last night I mentioned I knew I needed to make some changes, and a friend in a closed Facebook group asked me what they were.
Well, the biggest one for starters is that I need to take better care of myself.
Number 7’s preschool has a Positive Discipline expert who works with the kids on a regular basis.
Once a week or so there is a white board at the end of the hallway with a Positive Discipline tip on it. A list was sent home not long ago with all the tips that had been written on that board so far, and the first one was:
Parenting is the most important and the most difficult job we will ever have. We are at our best when we are rested and calm. Take care of yourself to be a great role model for your children.
This is where that oxygen mask analogy comes in.
If you are on a plane that is going down, you are instructed to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your kids.
That’s because you can’t do very much for very long if you aren’t breathing.
And that can be the hard part for parents, and moms in particular. It can be your nature to take care of everyone else before you take care of yourself.
But you can only function for so long like that before you run out of air.
When that happens, you start to panic, and then you’re basically fucked.
That’s where I found myself last night.
In some ways, I do take care of myself fairly well.
I exercise regularly, and since starting Whole30 two weeks ago, I’m eating healthier than ever.
But I’m still struggling in the trying-to-do-too-much-at-once department.
And when it comes down to it, if given the choice, my kids would rather have a (relatively) rested, calm, relaxed and PRESENT mom to come home to after school and to tuck them in at night than one who is their class mom and girl scout troop leader and baseball team mom and who runs the school store organizes the school fundraiser and is on every board there is to be on in town ( I don’t do all that stuff, but you get the point) and who is also a complete and total stressed out and spread thin raging lunatic from the moment they get home until the moment they are in bed.
I have to pare down my list of things to do.
I’m clearly capable of doing a lot.
I can run marathons when I haven’t been able to properly train. I can survive financial ruin and broken bones and near misses and whatever else life throws at me.
But it’s time to slow down.
I’ve got nothing to prove.
I’ve proven to myself that I can handle a whole boatload of shit at once.
I’m done proving stuff to myself.
And I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.
That’s not to say that I won’t continue to challenge myself or set goals and try new things.
But the challenges can’t all be happening simultaneously.
And maybe other moms can do it.
But I can’t. I cannot carry the load of stuff I am currently doing and still be the mom I want to be.
I once had a therapist who described some people as human doings. Always needing something to do.
I’ve been a human doing for a long time.
It’s time to be a human being. It’s almost summer vacation and Number 7 is going to kindergarten in three months.
If there were ever a time, it’s now.
I need to pare down my to do list to one thing.
Obviously I still need to do work stuff.
But if something else comes up, other than the one extra thing in my life, I need to wait.
I’m frustrated because I know this. But I seem to have temporarily forgotten.
My life is no different than my house was before Sue came. Cluttered.
Of course, my life will be more cluttered than the average person’s because we have more kids than the average person.
That’s even more of a reason for me to simplify.
But most organizers will tell anyone who has issues with clutter and who has just decluttered a room or a whole house, that there’s a one in, one out rule.
For every new piece of clothing you put in your closet, take an old one out.
If your kids get a new toy, an old one has to go.
I can’t train for a marathon and throw fundraising parties and run a retreat for women and declutter my house and be the mom I want to be all at the same time.
I really wanted to do a couple of triathlons this summer.
But you know what? I just can’t add training for that onto my plate. Not this year.
As much as I hate to admit it, that’s gonna have to wait until next year.
The clutter that I’ve put into my schedule and my life is affecting not just me, but also my kids.
It’s time to declutter my life to a level that I can reasonably handle and still have time to take care of myself.
That will enable me to be rested and calm.
And then I can start focusing on the other changes I need to make to in order to have more of the quality parenting moments I want to have with the kids and less of those really shitty ones.