To say my children are different is an understatement! One is quiet and observes everything slowly to take it all in. One is very outgoing and strong willed, brimming with enthusiasm. Parenting two children has been a journey so far...We are only 2.5 years into our journey with two kids but it has taught me many things about being a mother and a parent. I thought that all my years of teaching experience had prepared me for motherhood...hahahahahah...well maybe I did have a few techniques but not as many as I thought.
My children have been my greatest teachers. I am sure most of you reading this can relate and for others maybe your children are little humans who clean up after themselves and don't disagree with anyone! I am not sure where these unicorn children are but I would love to observe them in their natural habitat! In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some of the things that I have learned to make life a little bit smoother as a parent of very different children...I am not an expert so take my advice and apply it to your own situation.
1. Have structure. This structure can be as simple as a daily bedtime routine or as complicated as an hour by hour schedule but structure is what children thrive on. They want to know what is coming up and most of the time you will meet resistance when they are not aware of what is coming up next. The summer and vacation time are a place where you can play with how your children respond to a more free form structure. We have been doing something different everyday but our 2.5 year old still has an afternoon nap each day and we still have the same bedtime routine as we do during the school year, although it is usually a bit later in the evening. This is to benefit all of us. I still want time in the afternoon to have one-on-one time with my 6 year old and I want time in the evening with just my husband. We are still having fun but we know that our children are still little humans and need their rest too. Take some time to look at your children's schedule and how it reflects their needs. Can you make adjustments to bedtime or activity levels? Do you think this will adjust their behaviour? I know that when my kids don't get enough sleep they are poor listeners and usually fight with each other more!
2. Be Present. This is one that I am working hard on this summer. We can so easily get distracted by our phones or other issues around the house. I am working on making time to be with each child and focus on what they want to do. It is so obvious when I am focused on other things, laundry or cooking, and not giving them the attention they deserve. Their behaviour tends to be more whiny and obstinate. This does not mean giving them attention when they are demanding it but they are children and they need attention so plan for it! If I take time (even 10 minutes) just for them, then they will feel filled up and more often than not will settle into an activity while I go and do what I need to. If you can build this into to your day as part of your schedule then they know it is coming and you can plan other things around it. If you are working full time and this seems overwhelming...think of how much easier making dinner would be if you included your kids and got some time with them at the same time. There are so many easy tasks kids can help with in the kitchen. Our 6 year old loves to grate cheese or mix. They both help to set the table. I am also trying to schedule phone time in to my day. As someone who works with an online platform it can be easy to justify being on my phone. But again if I take the time to be present with my kids and really appreciate the time, it is always well spent! Take time to reflect on your time with your kids, how can you be more present?
3. Understand Them. Each child is different. This is very evident in our house! We have spent time thinking about how each of them responds differently to certain situations and expectations. What worked for our 6 year old for somethings is not working for our 2.5 year old and that is okay...but we had to be okay with that. It means putting in some time and effort to understand each one of your children. We also have had to share with family members that they are different and that they need to be okay with that too. Our 2.5 year old is very sensitive to animals and does not like to be around them at all. We are working on her comfort level with them but as for everyone else they just need to know she doesn't want to be around animals. At first this was hard for some of them to understand, but they saw that we were strong in our understanding of her needs and they followed along. We know our kids, understand them and what they need. Take some time to observe your kids, is there something they need that you are missing or something different from one of your other children?
Switching your mindset around parenting can be one of the biggest helps to reducing stress in your house. Our house still has meltdowns and disagreements but when they do happen we try to adjust and make changes so that it won't happen again. If you feel that you are very overwhelmed with parenting I suggest you seek help in a local family therapist or ask for help from a close friend or family member. Parenting is hard work and the more support you can get the easier it can be. If you want to continue this conversation please message me and follow me on social media @mountainmamawellness. Happy Parenting!