Making the Days Smoother: A Tip for Parents that Might Help

sand dollar at ocean

Many parents are now living full time with their kids. Here’s a parenting tip that helped me when I first started living with my kids around the clock.

When I was first adjusting to being with my kids around the clock, something I found helpful was this: I leaned into my kids.

When I found myself getting frustrated and ready to be mean to them, I stopped everything else I was doing (even if it meant cold cereal for dinner and leaving half cooked food on the stove) and hung out with them. I kept a mental list of stuff I most enjoyed doing with them- maybe it was watching TV, going for a walk, or snuggling in bed while we looked at books.

It worked every time. Because really, it was never them I was frustrated with. It was always something else. It was just easier to blame them.

The more I did this, the more I started to identify what was really causing me to lose it each day. I could then evaluate it. Why was I trying to control so many things? Was the result of our fight over “screen” time really less damaging than “screen” time? Was the tension and pressure I put on that second cupcake less harmful than (I believed) the second cupcake was? (Through intense personal research I’ve learned the solid and unrefutable answer to both of those is no. Click here for more.)

Where do we go from here? Well, it’s probably best to retire the idea that the amount of time teens spend on social media is a meaningful metric influencing their wellbeing. (Click here for the whole article.)

The Parenting Tip is Not Permissive Parenting

Sometimes people think this means we are permissive parents. I assure you, we are not. What leaning into my kids allowed me to do is figure out what was really upsetting me, learn about it, and make a far healthier and more informed choice- choices that allow my kids to learn so much more than if I had chosen another route.

This isn’t something that can be learned in a month or two. It took me years. (Click here for more.) It’s also harder to do if you are working full time from home. You can’t always drop what you are doing to lean in. Maybe you can more often than you think, though.

What I can say is that this small-but-not-so-simple act set me on a course to improve myself and my relationships with my kids (and them with each other) in ways I never could have dreamed of.

Not everyone can do this. Not everyone wants to. Maybe, though, if you find yourself really struggling with your kids day after day after day you could give it a try and see what happens.

One More Parenting Tip

Remember to look at their faces while you hang out. Listen to what they are saying. Ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answers to. Back off when they are done answering. Don’t be annoying. Don’t make it about you or about insituting some thing you have ready is good for every child. Don’t ask something just because a parenting article says it’s a good question. Don’t follow anything just because a parenting article says you should!

These times aren’t easy and I’m in no way pretending there’s a quick or easy fix to make the days smoother. Maybe it could be just a little bit easier than we think, though, and maybe leaning in is something we can try more easily than we suspect.

If you’d like to hear more about how parents who spend all day every day with their kids are are happy, calm, engagend, and keep things mostly connected and smooth, here are some wonderful thoughts from one of my favorite people in the world, Martha:

 

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