We’ve had a rough year or two with parenting.
Jake and I started out parenting with a whole lot of energy. Sure we were stressed at different points and made poor choices at others, but overall, we had more than enough patience, compassion, and stamina to parent our kids well.
We were committed to spending a lot of quality time with them, listening, asking good questions, looking behind the behavior into the heart, calmly redirecting and being generally playful.
Somewhere along the way things began to shift.
We got tired.
We got distracted.
We got tired some more.
Our patience grew thin and our words got lazy.
As the kids grew older, we expected more out of them. Sometimes way too much. Wasn’t it time that we see dividends from all of our hard parenting work? Shouldn’t we start to feel the parenting season ease up a bit?
I have news. It really doesn’t. Some people will claim it all gets easier, but I have a hunch that it’s actually not supposed to. Sure, diapers go away and you start sleeping through the night on a semi-regular basis. But what was once physical exhaustion has become emotional exhaustion. No longer am I chasing around toddlers, but I’m doing the hard emotional work of teaching compromise and cooperation and fairness. I’m listening to hurt feelings. I’m mediating arguments. I’m listening to negotiations. We’ve raised our kids to be question askers and advocates for themselves and others. Let me tell you, we’re feeling the weight of all of this as they’re figuring out how to make their way in this world.
Kids take a lot of time and energy and compassion and patience.
And we ran out of all of that.
This year Jake and I are committed to moving back to positive parenting. Each month we’re going to try and focus on a different aspect of positive parenting, because small baby steps are always easier that big giant “makeovers”.
For January, our focus is connection.
In our family, this looks like:
- Sitting next to the kids on the couch during screen time, asking about what they’re playing and maybe even playing along with them.
- Folding laundry with them instead of having them do it by themselves.
- Asking them to help make dinner with us.
- Saying yes to playing dolls when we’d rather be cleaning or reading or working.
- Initiating play- Would you like to play a game with me? Want to color?
- Reading to them at night before bed instead of having them read to themselves.
- More dancing, more songs, more silliness.
- More fun family outings.
We’re excited about this parenting change, but recognize how CRAZY HARD it can be at times. One thing that’s been helping me is reading books/articles to keep it fresh and in the forefront of my brain. Even if I probably know what an article is going to say, I read it because I need the reminder, the encouragement, the redirecting of my brain.
Here are a few resources that have already been particularly encouraging this month:
The Whole-Brained Child by Daniel Siegel
Positive Parenting Connection blog, particularly this article about connecting instead of punishing in some circumstances.
How to Connect with Your Uncooperative 8-year-old
The Imperfect Families Blog and FB page
Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond Facebook Group
What’s your biggest struggle right now in parenting? Any good positive parenting resources that have been helping you?
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