Thursday, March 13, 2014

Parenting - Coping Tips

I hear from a lot of my mommy friends that they have days where they just want to run away. I have these days too. If I had a really hard day at work, the last thing I want to do is have a challenging evening at home with the kids. Here are some coping mechanisms to get through those days.

When the kids are acting out and fighting with each other, its a sure sign:

1. The poor kiddo's are tired.
Do not use this time to clean the house or do a detail oriented chore. Sit down with your kids on the couch and rest with them. Another option is to give them a calming bath. I know that some kids out there hate baths, but ours love them. It never fails to get them out of that overtired mode and into one of heading toward sleep.
It is important to read the signs. I know that the dishes need to be done. But often if you take a moment now, you can get the things you need to get done a lot easier, later. One night Nolen was doing the dishes and Bekah was having a fit. Kicking him. Screaming. Pulling on him. I tried to calm her but she would have none of it. He didn't realize that she was trying to tell him that she wanted to go to bed. I usually put Sarah to bed and he puts Bekah to bed. Bekah wanted to go to bed and she ended up falling asleep at his feet.

2. They want your attention.
Those moments that we want to be alone are almost always the moments when our kids need us the most. I have tried to fight it and try to redirect them into something else. It always ends up in tears on both parts. I have discovered that if I take a few minutes to cuddle, it helps me feel better and gives them what they want.

When ever I see one of my kids doing things they KNOW they shouldn't be doing, it is most likely attention seeking. I try to call them over, ask them what is wrong. If they don't respond to that, I use this trick.
"Hey Sarah, Mommy is feeling tired and out of sorts. Will you please come give me a hug to make me feel better?" This instantly puts her in a great mood. She feels like she is helping me (in fact she really is) and it gives her what she wants (attention). So by taking the emotion I see in her, and turning it on myself, she learns it is OK to feel that way.

3. They need stability
Kids need a schedule. We have not been good about schedules in the past. With the year of instability we have had, I am working hard to get the family back into a rhythm. We are eating dinner together on a regular basis. We have a standard bed time, where you have to be in bed by this 8 pm. You can then read for a bit or watch the kindle, but you have to be in bed for quiet time. Lights are out at 8:30.

Nolen and I have always had different views on this next part. I feel that Monday through Thursday evenings need to be structured. I do not like doing a lot of activities these nights. The kids need to have homework time, dinner, family time, baths, then bed. Going to a function once in a while is fine. But having something all the time makes both parent and child exhausted. If you are going to do "extras", I feel you should do them as a family on the weekends. As the kids get older, this can change. But when you have kids under 10, I think that this is a good practice.

These are just a few ways I have learned to cope on those days when it feels the world is coming down around you and the kids are adding to it. We are parents. We brought these beautiful kids into the world. It is OUR job to nourish them. Teach them. Love them. Give them discipline. They are NOT an inconvenience. They are not something that we can push aside when we just don't want to deal with them.

If you have kids, take this moment to tell them you love them and give them a good cuddle.