I’ve been a parent now for approximately 6 and 1/2 years. If I worked in an industry or sat down at a desk anywhere for 6 and 1/2 years, I would be considered a veteran – a loyalist – perhaps even an expert in my particular position. Yet with parenting, it feels like I start the job over every single day. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today. Certainly we have found a rhythm, but we haven’t mastered it. Turns out that three children plus two adults equals a total of five different opinions, world-views, tastes in food, beliefs for how to do things, passions about where we want to go, and 10 arms and 10 feet to accidentally push/pull/touch a single hair on someone’s head. It’s just a lot of moving parts – literally. My toilets are never completely clean, the laundry is never done, and there are always, always, always toys to pick up.
Pile on top of it a desire to raise good children, who love well and serve well and take their plates to the sink and want to pray for their friends and their health before bed. So there’s the day-to-day must-do’s to survival (eat, clean, sleep, bath, brush teeth, pack snacks, send in show and shares, remember it’s show and share day, remember to send in loose change to school each day for a week) – that’s survival. Then there’s the inherent character stuff – this is the stuff that I want to focus on. I want my kids to be truth-tellers, people-respecters, to understand God gave them each and every breath, I don’t want them to wig out when it’s time to leave someone’s house, I want them to be patient, kind, and incredibly respectful of their mom and dad.
So, now i’m pregnant with #4 (a blessing), and we’ve been sick for what seems like all of March, but with that my defenses are down. By necessity, I’ve started to care less about my priorities of character building and more about how to just get by. And what I’ve learned is that there are a 3 magical ways that reduce the amount of friction in our home.
- Say yes. “Mom, can we watch…” yes. “Mom, can I eat…” yes. “I can get my own iced water” says my 4 year old, OK. “Mom, can I color with the permanent markers?” Sure. No one complains when I say yes to their request. They all look at me like, “Did you hear what I said?” and I just look back at them like, “yes. go, quick.”
- Go to Dunkin Donuts. Just go through the drive-thru. Always. Every time you pass it. And while i’m there for my own vanilla chai, I grab a donut for everyone, and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, everyone is happy. Even my child in utero who is feasting on mine. I’ve spent about 6 years saying no to my kids at drive thrus.
- Turn that TV on and let her rip. Fill their brains with the dumbest stuff: dinosaurs made of Legos who want to eat Lego hot dogs, underwater creatures who give creature reports about who knows what, a fireman (Sam) who can solve any problem that is humanly possible to occur. Why are there so many fires in Canada?
And while your child is sorting beans into proper containers and eating organic snacks while downing kombucha, mine are wasting away into an oblivion. At least this week they are. We’ll go hard on character building when we are healthy again.
What are your (shameful) magical tips for getting through the day?