With so much information out there for parents it can be overwhelming at times. I hope with this series you aren’t trying to implement something new each day – you will soon become exhausted, your little person won’t know what has hit them, and it won’t take long before you walk away from being intentional and say it is just too hard. We need to read information with a thinking cap on, and pick and choose the bits that will help our own family. But we can also store information for another day (and that is the benefit of reading and studying as a parent).
One of the thermometers I have to gauge where my family is at is the idea of peace – when my home is peaceful things are going well, when things are not peaceful there is something for me to think about. I’m not saying peaceful means perfect – I can have a busy, hectic day, with a wilful toddler not responding to me and there still be peace in our home. This peace largely has to do with my own heart.
Peace comes by
- Focusing on Jesus – not on me, my problems or my kids. Focusing on Jesus is more than having a devotional time at the beginning of the day, it is about having him as my friend, talking to him through the day, doing things that will please him.
- Dealing with my responsibilities – When I spend time maintaining my home the family can function and I can spend time training whatever needs to be trained. If I’m always behind the eight-ball then other things distract me.
- Keeping balance in my day, and margin in my life. When I am running from place to place, from task to task, I don’t have time for anyone to need me. I don’t have emotional space to be kind and loving. I need to arrange my day so I have time for my family and their needs.
- Having a time to refresh myself. Though the demands of motherhood are particularly intense when we have babies and toddlers we need to remember that we are a whole person with many roles and facets to our life. We need to find someway to find time to refresh (and it will be different for every mum). When my kids were little I took 1 hour a day, during their nap time, to work on a craft project. Another thing we did was Peter would take the kids for a Saturday every so often, giving me at home time by myself (which was something I craved). Other dads send mum out for coffee, or exercise, or to do a class.
So my first step when I feel things are out of control in our house is to check my own life.
The next I do is observe the kids behaviour and see which behaviour is being the most disruptive. That then becomes my training focus.
- Observe when this negative behaviour is happening, and if there are any triggers.
- Consider what is missing, what do they need to learn to do well in this area; thinking about these things helps me be specific in what I teach them.
- Decide on situations that happen in our family life that can give me an opportunity to teach and train.
- Tweak our family routine, to ensure this training spot happens regularly.
- Plan how I’m going to teach and what (if any) consequences are going to happen.
This is truly being intentional – and being proactive instead of reactive. When we just wing it, go with the flow and deal with it we will be reactive – we will react out of inconvenience, embarrassment, tiredness. When we do that we are open to being unfair and inconsistent giving our kids mixed messages. I’d rather be intentional, pick my battles, and address the issues with clarity.
We cannot deal with every issue in our kids lives all at once, we cannot teach every skill we want them to learn (be it a focusing skill, or kindness, or doing their chores) in one week, or 31 days. It all takes time. Please gather information, and pick your battles wisely.
You can see the rest of my Living with a Toddler for 31 days series here.
Or find more 31 day series here.