Monday, April 29, 2013

The School of Hard Knocks (Part 1)

I'm talking about parenting.
I've only been at this for a little over 5 years and it is hard, y'all. It's hard emotionally, and it can be hard physically, from pregnancy to wrestling and bruises with unknown origins.

I don't have all the answers, I doubt you do either, but here are a few things I've learned through a bunch of trail and error. Heck, I haven't even really learned all of these, a lot of them I am still learning. If you have something to add, please do!

1. Noise is just that...usually. If you can learn to block it out, or listen selectively, you can handle a lot more chaos.

2. A well-fed and well-rested child is a much happier child. Too many times I've been perplexed by cranky, irrational children, only to later realize they're hungry or they didn't nap well and got to bed late. This is a nasty cycle. Once they miss a little sleep, their bodies seem to think they need less the next time too. Override this. You're the boss.

3. Momma's attitude can steer the whole house. Believe it or not, people take their cues from Mom - probably unconsciously. When I'm stressed and freaking out, it affects everyone. If I'm calm and relaxed, other people trust that things are under control and can be calm and relaxed too.

4. Mother's intuition is a real thing. I am with my kids more than anyone else. I am privy to things I don't even consciously pay attention to - runny noses, good/bad attitudes, subtle comments, flippant requests. All of that contributes to mother's intution.

5. Kids can always understand more than they can communicate to you. I've been reminded of this with each child so far. Apparently it's a hard lesson to accept.

6. Children are the best mirror you'll ever have. If you want to hear how your tone of voice sounds, listen to your kids. Want to hear which words you should stop using, listen to your kids. Curious as to which phrases you use frequently, listen to your kids. This doesn't just apply to speech. Do your kids respond in anger immediately? Do they hug a lot? Mirrors don't always show us what we want to see but, man, they are helpful tools!

7. Kids will eat what they need to eat (barring some medical issue). So many times I've worried about how much food and what kinds of food my kids should be eating. They'll eat what they need to, it just might not be at meal times always. And also, offering healthy choices can ease some of that anxiety. There's a reason they're called growth spurts. Some days you'll feel like your kids are eating you out of house and home, then you notice they've grown 2 inches. Other days, you'll wonder what in the heck fuels all their energy since they've only had a 1/2 a banana and 4 animal crackers, oh and they only slept about 7 hours the night before.

8. The sooner you accept that you will not sleep through the night, maybe ever again, the happier you will be. Keeping track of how often you got up during the middle of the night serves no purpose. If you are just curious and can laugh about it, go for it. If you are getting bitter, quit counting! And different kids have different "sleep personalities." Got a deep sleeper? Awesome, they probably wet the bed on occasion. Got a light sleeper? Awesome, they probably love when you come to snuggle after a bad dream (and they will probably never wet the bed ;)).

9. It is ok to choose to spend time playing with your kids instead of picking up toys, emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, etc. The mess will always come back. always comes back. It's all about time management. Which investment will produce the most reward? Picking up toys that will be pulled back out in 5 minutes, or sitting down to color or run trains on the track with my boys? I promise they will feel more loved when you leave those toys out ;).

10. To follow up with that last point, remember your spouse. Honor your spouse by taking care of things that are important to them. That is your first family priority...not your kids.

Come back for Part 2!


Anonymous said...

Greta, I feel that I might have made you think that I did not think that you were a good parent when you were here. That is far,far from the truth. I think that you and Bob are really great parents. There should be more like you. You handle your children so well...sometimes I don't see how you do it, but that is what makes you such a good "mama". I love you and those babies and please don't ever think that I am questioning anything you do with your children. They are really very well behaved considering their ages. Even your Aunt Jane remarked about how well they play and share things with each other. You are right in saying being a parent, especially, the Mama, is a hard job. It is one of the hardest, but most rewarding jobs in the world. Can you imagine having an 8 hour a day job along with being a Mama. It is really tough....but it has been done. Love you all, MM

a + j vachris said...

I love reading all of this. Don't even have a one yet, and I'm older than you are. I'm filing it ALL away and bookmarking (literally!) as much as possible for the future. You and these other mamas are SUCH a wealth of knowledge to me, even now! THANK YOU! (Eager for part 2!) (and p.s., HOW do you have time to do this?!)

Meggie said...

Love (and agree!) with the whole list!!

Lauren said...

Love this. I miss your blogs and love it when you pop in and share some good heart-nuggets. :) In my dreams I-20 is a lot shorter and we have morning playdates and long conversations while kids make lots and lots of noise. ;)

Amy Walker said...

Good stuff!