Got parenting woes? Bad ‘adult’ days, crying kids, inconsolable babies, and worst yet, you’re at your wits’ end on how to handle it on a consistent basis? You’re not alone. Many parents have those moments (probably every day) where you just don’t know how to connect with your kids on a consistent basis to have some peace and harmony with just a pinch of “normal” chaos. Whether you have one child or soon-to-be 10 like we do, you don’t have to sacrifice your sanity for a straight jacket to get some harmony flowing through your home. Here are 5 crazy-simple hacks we use as parents to come out as…well, damn good parents.
Pray Often Or Quiet Time
Our parenting isn’t perfect, but what we firmly believe in is our faith. The perfection of God and what He teaches us. We won’t always get it, we’ll screw up many times, and yet we don’t beat ourselves up for it. We pray openly with our children. In the morning, we make it a point to ask what they want to pray for, how we can serve them, and then follow through with family prayer together. During meals, at the beginning of our day, sometimes at the end of our day, or anytime a child seems to need that spiritual guidance, we'll pray. What works for us is that we are not ashamed to pray for our mistakes and ask for forgiveness in front and with our children.
If you aren’t into that sorta thing, just talking with your children, having quiet time, time to meditate and realize that there’s more to life than self is just as effective. This is the main idea behind our prayer time. Try it out for yourself and see what happens.
We tend to get some pushback with this one, but don’t confuse putting ourselves first with the needs of our children. It’s no secret, so let’s be blunt. Children are selfish. They want what they want when they want it. Your children will want what they want even if it comes between you and your spouse. It may seem innocent at first, but next thing you know, you feel belittled, disrespected, and at odds with your spouse because you feel like you need to “stand up for your child”. Their wants come second to our marriage relationship.
It keeps us in sync with child-rearing with the children understanding that playing mom against dad or vice versa isn’t acceptable, nor will it be tolerated. I stand up and stand behind my husband’s decisions and likewise, he does mine - even if we don’t always agree.
This also includes continuing our date nights. Having a child cry and get upset that mom and dad are leaving is not cause to cancel our date in order to stay home to console that child. That is an example of a want, not a need. They want mom and dad to stay home. Their basic needs are not being neglected. A simple eye-to-eye conversation with that child and continuing on with the date is more important than succumbing to their selfishness to keep you home instead of nurturing the marriage relationship.
Put Them To Work
Children need to be occupied. We have 10...trust us on this. Our goal is to raise self-sustaining and functioning adults that feel confident to support themselves one day. They have to have the skills to do so. We give them responsibilities and keep them accountable for what they do accomplish and what they don’t.
So, daily chores are a must, beginning with a simple “pick that up” chore all the way to lawn, kitchen, and sanitary tasks around the home. Yes, cooking is definitely included. Take out isn’t an ideal lifestyle to maintain a healthy body, so dishes aren’t the only kitchen task they work at.
Promise Don’t Threaten
“If you fight with your brother one more time, you aren’t getting dessert.”
One hour later...the child is delightfully enjoying his double scoop of ice cream.
Threats don’t work. Your kid is smart. They’ll ‘believe’ it the first couple of times you make those calls. However, it won’t take long till they literally know you’re full of it. It sounds good to say it, but the follow-through, not so easy. If you say it, mean it.
Your child needs to know that they can trust you. Spouting off empty threats like a leaky faucet means a lot is coming out, but it’s of no use. It turns into a trust issue. You don’t stick to your word when you threaten. If you say no dessert, it’s a promise. No matter how much that kid begs, pleads, apologizes, and recants their behavior...stick to your guns. Promise… leave the empty threats for the politicians.
You’re wrong, I’m wrong, my husband is wrong. We’re so wrong, it’s really comical at times at the things we can blow out of proportion. It’s times like those that apologies are warranted. We make mistakes just like our children. We’re no different other than the fact we have more experience in the ‘made mistakes’ department. It’s not easy squatting down to a 6-year old level and admitting you’re wrong, but it’s necessary. You’re showing compassion, selflessness, and setting the example for them to follow.
We can be quick to tell them to say sorry to a sibling they just slugged, but are we just as quick to say sorry to them after yelling in anger or frustration?
These 5 simple hacks we use in our parenting keeps our family (including us) in line, on point, and seriously less stressed than most. Parenting is stressful enough, why add to it the unpredictable chaos not knowing how anyone will react? That’s not harmonic. You’ve got to have a system that works for you, no matter how many kids you have.
Bonus number 6...Let go of control.
We don’t control our kids, but we want to direct them. When I don’t have to do dishes, I give general guidance on where they go. I don’t have to do dishes… I’m not going to ‘go over’ their work because it isn’t perfect or how I would do it. It’s done, the task is done, so let go of control and sit back and enjoy the moment.
Try out one or two of our suggestions and see how it works for your family. If you have a system or routine that works for your family, some parenting hacks do tell!
Photo Credits: AndiL.