It’s about the outcome!

“It’s not about being right, it’s about getting the right outcome.” This applies to everyone and everything in my life, but oh how it applies to a four-year-old! Four has been our hardest year yet with K (I might have said that about 2 and 3 also). She was always an easy-going baby and a surprisingly easy-going toddler, we basically skipped the terrible-twos and the trying-threes, but we are now immersed in the “f”ing-fours” (can’t claim that term as my own unfortunately)! I don’t think we’d ever had a public tantrum until this year. And let me preface this with saying that  K is actually a relatively mild-mannered kid, but being my first time with a four-year old, it seems difficult to me – I have a feeling my littlest one will be 10 times worse! Some things about four are much easier, like the fact that she can pick out her own clothes, get dressed, put her shoes on, feed herself, use the potty, survive if left unattended while I take a shower or, God forbid, pee in privacy. But, oh the assertion of independence is major these days; which is good of course, I wouldn’t want anything else for my little girl, however the in’s and out’s of dealing with those moments on a daily basis can wear me down.

We can get into a “situation” over anything from how much to eat for breakfast, which car door to enter or exit, brushing and flossing her teeth, if I’ve prematurely peaked in the backseat to see if her seatbelt is on (she likes to buckle it herself and OMG if she’s not finished when I check it), or how many books to read at bedtime (12 was the demand the other night). These situations can so quickly escalate to a full-blown meltdown for her – and I’m sure my quickly rising anxiety during these times doesn’t help her at all. So, this is something I’m vowing to work on. As a parent, I’ve believed in the past that if I don’t enforce the rules and make her obey at the very moment that we have an issue, then all hell will break loose and the child will never follow a rule again in her life. I’m trying to approach this a different way because I’ve noticed that my pushing during these moments is intensifying her frustration and resistance. My goal is to think of the quote above, “it’s not about being right, but about getting the right outcome.” During her meltdowns I’ve noticed that it helps most to stop and just give K a big hug. If she can get this emotional support and calm down, she can almost always get into a space where she can talk and think rationally. At that point she will devise a plan on her own to get whatever task we were arguing over accomplished. Really, what an amazing kid! What I would like to avoid  is the meltdown where she is crying and I am yelling/frustrated/anxious/boiling over and go right to the stop – hug – talk – plan phase. This will be hard because my patience with the timing of a preschooler is constantly being tested in these situations. I am not a patient person, never have been. This new approach may seem like it will take more time than me putting my foot down and demanding she follow the rules (which rarely works) but I think that in the end, avoiding the meltdown will probably save all of us time.

So, think about the outcome and try to take a different path. Let go of being right and focus on completing the job in a different way. Because if in the end I can teach my child the task at hand, regardless of how we get there (her listening to my demands or her devising her own plan), then I am accomplishing what I wanted in the first place – to teach her that certain rules in life must be followed.

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What influences how you react to your children?

I think it’s rare to find someone who has no concerns about how they are viewed by others. We are all insecure about something and periodically think about how others perceive us. I see so many mothers who seem to be (probably subconsciously) using their children to affect how others see them. I understand that it’s fun to do our little girls’ hair and dress them in cute clothes, but is a wardrobe from a name brand store (at over $20 per item) really necessary for a 3-year-old? Does one spend hundreds of dollars on cute clothing that will be outgrown in 3 months because it is what their child needs? Or is it because they feel it will say something about them as a parent or a person? Before I became a mom I heard someone once say “how my child chooses to dress does not reflect on me”. I thought this was important because it is saying do not try to influence who your child is as an individual  because YOU are worried about how their choices will make YOU look. Worry about what is best for them, worry about the message you are sending them by disapproving of their outfit choice or their chosing not to brush their hair in the morning. Of course there are certain things that are important to teach our children. It is important to take care of our bodies, our hygiene, our belongings. But battling a four-year-old who doesn’t want to brush the tangles out of her hair before school, is just not necessary and honestly I think it tells them that you disapprove of their appearance just as it is – and that really says you disapprove of THEM, which is detrimental! What girl won’t eventually WANT to brush her hair? This is not something I lose sleep over. Sending the message that appearance is so important at 3 or 4 is just not healthy. It is not something that has even entered their tiny little minds yet. Just because it’s your concern and what you think about in the morning, doesn’t mean it has to be theirs. So with this in mind, I have made a vow to never feel embarrassed by my children; by how they look or how they act.

This goes for behavior as well. Of course we need to teach our kids appropriate behavior and discipline them reasonably. But kids are kids and most behaviors are age-realted. I see many mothers who laugh nervously when their child is throwing a tantrum. This laugh is probably not a way of genuinely expressing how they feel at the moment, but rather it is more for their audience; a way of responding to those who may be watching. Can you imagine how this must make a little, very angry or sad, person feel when their mother is laughing at their distress? This is one of the areas that I am trying to improve on. I am trying to respond ONLY to my child at any given moment, and to do it as if no one is around, because who cares what other people think? The only important thing in that moment is how my child feels and if I’m meeting her needs with how I respond.

This is hard. We, as adults, have it almost ingrained in us to worry about what others think. I haven’t met a person who truly doesn’t care at all. But when it comes to our children, are these fears what is affecting how we act? Or is it the emotional needs of our child that are affecting how we act, regardless of who is looking? Yes, a tantrum at school or in Target is never fun, but wouldn’t it be great to totally disregard your audience, get down on the ground with your crying little girl and give her the biggest hug ever while telling her that you understand it’s hard to not get your way all of the time? Likely, the other parents will look on with admiration. Because who wouldn’t want to be the kind of parent that is ONLY concerned with one thing? I definitely strive to be that parent!

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Who the heck put me in charge?!?

Hi! I’m “Mommy” to two lovely girls (4 and 1) and wife to a handsome hubby. I’m a part-time working mom, which is code for “I have 4 and 1/2 jobs” – (taking care of my girls, taking care of my marriage, taking care of the house, taking care of me, and oh yeah, that other job that I get paid for). Most of the time I still feel like I’m not a “grown up” yet and all day long I have experiences that make me question just exactly who put me in charge?! The funny thing about motherhood is that the more you learn, the less you know, and most days I feel like I’m well on my way to knowing NOTHING! 

When I first thought of starting a blog, I intended to write about the hilarious and ridiculous events that make up every day as a mother of my two precious girls, but as I thought more about it, I realized there is so much more to motherhood that deserves to be included. Now, quite possibly, writing this could solely serve as therapeutic for me, but I am betting other mothers out there will enjoy knowing that they are not alone on this crazy journey. I would enjoy knowing that, as sometimes I do feel all alone. Motherhood, to me, is of course a wonderful gift and I couldn’t feel more blessed to have the amazing babies that I do. I love them with all my heart and soul and our little family is really the only thing in this life that matters. Motherhood also, however, is a series of lessons about who we really are inside, as people, as women. Are we here to teach these little people, or are they here to teach us, how to be better people, better examples? I’ve never had a time in my life where I feel I’ve had to look as deeply at myself and address things that I didn’t really want to see. All because of two tiny little ladies who are watching my every move.

I believe there is a stereotype of mothers, the woman who gives up all aspects of herself to care for her family, that when one becomes a mother, nothing else in the world matters and can therefore be forgotten in the name of their children. The mother is the woman who can do it all; care for the children, clean the house, cook homemade meals, and for some of us, bring in some money! This is a lot of pressure to live up to! Of course, with two beautiful girls that I love more than anything, I would give up everything for them, in an instant, but I’m not sure that it is healthy to give up one’s self. In fact, I believe that keeping myself intact, strong and healthy, keeping my individuality, NOT making my happiness dependent on my husband or children, is really the only way to raise whole, healthy children. This is a huge topic and I have so much more to say on this, but I will leave that to another post.

I feel like parenting the second time around has given me so much more confidence as a mother. However, it has also taught me that I really know nothing. I am winging it. I am often times stressed, sleep deprived, emotionally frazzled and on the brink of what feels like a breakdown, but my heart is always in the right place and all I can do is pray that will be enough to be a successful parent.

As I write this, I speak only from my own experience, not for all moms by any means, however I’m sure that most moms share many of the same experiences. I am in no way an expert on anything! This blog is mostly for me because I enjoy writing and it allows me to process the craziness that goes on in my brain all day long. I would be flattered if others read it occasionally, but I in no way assume that will be the case, however if you are reading I hope you enjoy!

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