Thursday, April 12, 2012

It works for us.

Before I had kids, I had lots of time to dream about the kind of parent I would be. I even wrote a big long post on it before Cam was born. Rereading that post, not much has changed. But I can tell you what works for us.

Consistency - we have rules. There aren't too many, but we have them and we are consistent. You have to say please and thank you. You have to help clean up your messes. You can't play on the fireplace. You can't stand on the furniture. We are always nice to each other (no hitting, yelling or SPITTING at each other). If you need to cry (due to a temper tantrum), you sit in the crying chair until you are done.

Routines - It's another way to say consistency, but my kids know what to expect. We eat a home cooked dinner together about 95% of the time. After dinner, we clear the table. We have a bath, read books and go to bed. In the morning, we get dressed, go downstairs, have breakfast and go to school. Mommy drops off, Daddy picks up.

Give the kids power. I see a lot of power struggles with some of my friends. In my house, these are some mantra's that help me. For eating - 'It my job to supply the healthy food, and their job to eat it'. For potty training - 'It's their project, not mine' (as in - I supply the tools to train, but we do it when they are ready. I desperately want Maggie to be ready, it's taking all my willpower not to push it) For getting dressed in the morning? I used to yell a lot at Cam - he can totally do it himself, but will often tell me 'It's too hard for me - you do it'. I would get frustrated (this morning he can't put on his sock, the last 4 days he put them on with no issues) and end up yelling. Which I hate to do. So I started saying - you can either dress yourself or go to school naked (or without pants, shoes, whatever the issue is). I have yet to need to follow up with this threat... but god save me when we appear at school naked, lol. We do lots of 'acceptable choices' - Do you want to brush your teeth in the tub or after the tub? Do you want to read 2 books or 3?

Follow through - this is the hardest one. But I do it. It's hard in the moment, but always pays off in the end.

Have fun. I'll put off a chore or whatever if the kids ask me to play a game or go outside to ride bikes about 75% of the time. The other 25% - I tell them to play themselves! Explore outside! Play next to me while I work! If I put off all the 'work' we do around the house (cooking, outside work, fixing things, laundry) to when the kids aren't around, I would never have time to sit and relax. So while I know one-on-one time is important, Mommy's sanity is also important. I strive for a balance.

One-on-one time with each kid. Aaron and I take time often with just one kid. It often ends up being Cam with Aaron and Maggie with me - but that is the kids preference right now. They just eat up the one on one time!

Empower Aaron - I let Aaron do child related things all the time. Without direction from me. Does he do it differently than I do? Yes. Is it done and the kids are happy? Yes. Let it go. It means that Aaron knows he is a capable parent, and I know that I can leave the house. This was much more important when the kids were infants, but it still rings true now - Aaron makes the school lunches every day - huge time saver for me.

I think those are the big ticket items - but it makes me happy to see that I'm the Mom I wanted to be over 4 years ago. Nice.


Rachel said...

You are a lucky woman. I am worried that we are rather infamous in our apartment building for bringing our mostly naked daughter down to the lobby to get dressed. We keep trying the: "It's your choice whether to get dressed but we will be leaving on time" route. It unfortunately frequently results in her waiting until we're in the lobby or on the steps of our building to put on anything more than underwear. We have on occasion allowed her to go outside without hat or coat or shoes if she refused to cooperate in putting them on (and you know we're in the same climate zone as you are).

But then again, she's 3, and getting dressed in the morning is really the least painful "natural consequence" we can allow (I'd never let her go off without breakfast, so I land up packing it "to go" many days).

Cece said...

Ha. I wish I lived in your building! You crack me up. I never push the hat/jacket - when they get cold, they ask for it. Totally not worth the battle. We often forget that kids run hotter than we do!

Carrie27 said...

A lot of the same things apply to this house as well.

I'm also all about giving the kids choices, I just limit their choices so it makes it easier to choose.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I think you and I would get along very well in our parenting styles.