It's no secret that I've been loving Dr. Laura's new book Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings.
It's also no secret that I have four kids, run my own businesses and spend most of my time dealing with food, messes, and all the assorted issues associated with having kids.
So time is a luxury I often don't often have. I find myself staying up late most days to accomplish tasks that didn't get done during the day (like writing these posts!).
Parenting is a gig that you're in 24/7. Peaceful parenting even more so (in my opinion) because you just can't say I'll deal with it later or just separate everyone and send them to their rooms.
Well, because it doesn't really solve the issues and won't teach anyone anything beneficial.
In Chapter 5, Dr. Laura explains why when teaching children to resolve conflict, you just can't take any shortcuts.
So what's a busy parent to do? What about the times when ALL HELL breaks loose at the SAME time and you have a poopy diaper to change, children yelling and trying to hurt each other, supper on the stove, a 3 year old who is cutting her hair and you as the parent have to deal with it by keeping yourself calm and with empathy, compassion?
The truth is, it's really HARD.
But it's not impossible.
It does take practice and definitely some RE-TRAINING of our minds.
This Chapter, like Chapter 4, has scripts and scenarios to give you lots of tools and ideas to work through and implement.
But in addition to that, I'd like to share that it's not as easy as the scripts make it seem.
You WILL have to fail first before you succeed.
You WILL wish you could and most likely actually just quit and send the kids to their rooms or timeout.
You WILL loose your cool and yes, maybe even raise your voice.
You WILL realize you CAN do it differently.
And that's why Dr. Laura is so great. She has empathy not just for kids, but for parents too. She KNOWS it's so hard to do the whole peaceful parenting thing. But she also has a way to explain why it IS SO important to parent this way.
So just like I tell myself, hang in there. It is worth it in the long run. Take the time (again with the time thing!) to practice and practice the reels in your mind and change them to a more calm, less reactive version of Mama. And once you do, you'll realize it comes easier and doesn't require much for you to dissipate and resolve a situation.
So what did I find helpful?
Be aware and mindful of what your kids are doing, saying and feeling. Almost always an escalated situation could have been halted if a child had their needs met. Hunger, thirst, sleepiness...and all that, are major triggers. If you know your child is experiencing one of these primal states, you also know they won't have the patience or know-how to deal with the emotions that come when their little sister or brother ruin their game, take their toy or just say "the wrong thing". But here's the thing: if this happens and a primal need triggered a fight or argument, take a few moments after it's resolved to teach your kids WHY it happened. Explain to them that if they get too hungry, thirsty, etc...they will not have patience and get cranky. Once I began explaining this to my kids, they put the two together and now the older 2 are very good about taking care of their needs (mostly on their own, but sometimes they do ask me for help if it's something they can't do). I'm still holding out on the younger two...have a ways to go!
Go on YouTube and make a playlist of videos you wouldn't mind your kids watching...music videos, kid songs, funny animals, whatever! You can set the privacy setting to 'private' and then play it whenever you need a few minutes of quiet. Yeah, I know it's like using the Internet as a babysitter, but it works and it's not like they are watching unsupervised, commercial-full shows. If you have Netflix or some other streaming site, that works too. But I like the YouTube playlists because you can have variety and set it to however long you want. I especially do this during meal prep times or when I need to put the baby down for a nap.
Find shortcuts in your life that will make the times of day when things usually fall apart a bit easier. For example, is dinner time hell at your place too? For some reason that is the time everyone is tired, hungry, needs something ALL AT ONCE. And I'm trying to get supper ready and getting interrupted. So. I said enough is enough. Most days I'm on the ball and have supper planned and prepped WAY BEFORE dinnertime. That way I just have to take a few minutes to put the final touches together and this leaves me more time to be attentive or if the kids are having a good day, I can take a few minutes to chill out (happens once in a blue moon, but I'll take it). I know it's tricky when you work full time and are getting home late, or you have to take the kids to classes...but there are always ways to find shortcuts. Freezer meals, batch cooking, or making a healthy twenty minute supper (yes, it's possible!). Breakfast for supper is always a favourite at our place for a day when planning ahead didn't go so well. Get yourself on Pinterest or some other Internet sites, and look for recipes and ideas for healthy, easy meals.
And that leads me to my last point: kids are what they eat. Doesn't have much to do with actual 'time' but when we think about it it can save you a lot of meltdowns and free your day of unnecessary cranky times. If they are not well fed, and I don't mean just 'not hungry', I mean fed foods that will nourish and fuel their little bodies and brains...they are going to show it in their behaviours. It's truly amazing, but not surprising, how the food we eat affects our mood, behaviour and of course our health. This applies even more so if a person is eating foods they are sensitive to but don't know it. If you notice your kid goes bonkers or their mood changes noticeably after eating a certain food, you may want to try eliminating it and see what happens. For example, my oldest doesn't do well with dairy. She's not allergic, but she definitely has some sort of reaction. She will get SO irritable and complains her head hurts. With my older son, it's wheat. He gets hyperactive and will also break out in eczema a couple days later. Of course we all know the classic sugar high. And that applies to all kids and even adults. I am definitely not one to always remember this food point. I love that I can just give them a granola bar when I'm busy with something. BUT I almost always pay the price later when they come down from their sugar high. I'm trying to make a point to batch bake my own granola bars, protein balls, and other healthy snacks from scratch so I know what's in them and can control the amounts of the usual suspect ingredients. However, this isn't always happening because I'm drowning in laundry or dishes or spilled water or some other mess. Maybe my fairy godmother will come and help? Nope. I just have to remember to delegate and maybe while the hubs folds the laundry I can whip something up. Or heck, maybe I should cut my Facebook time in half and use THAT time for a better purpose?
I don't have other time solutions right now, but if I think of any, I'll let you know. And if you have any, I'd love to hear about them.
Chapter 6 is next...see you then!