Parenting Fails and Post-Blog Plans December 30, 2016

I’m really bad at good-byes.   Being someone who gets teary-eyed standing in the aisle of Hallmark while picking out cards probably proves I’m a sap.  A friend taught me that their way of handling something difficult is to focus on what’s going to happen after.   If you’re nervous about a presentation, you think about the lunch date you’re having with a friend following the presentation, for example.  And so, with my final Real Moms post, I’m focusing on what’s after this as a parent.

With kids aged 9 and 7, I’m in a different phase than many of you with babies and toddlers.  Each age has its tribulations as well as joys.  By now I have a feel for which areas of parenting I’m better at and which I need to work on.  With my kids growing older, those not-so-good aspects of my parenting tighten in focus.  To me, they’ve become stark and I can clearly see where I need to improve.  Maybe it’s just a natural phenomenon of kids developing their own personalities and habits once they’re out of the little-kid phase. I’d like the coming years to be as wonderful as these past nine have been as a Mom, so introspection is worthwhile.

My biggest issue is me.  Instead of having the girls step up and help more with chores, I just do them.  Or, as is more often the case than I’d like to admit, it doesn’t get done.  My frustration has been mounting as my expectations of them increase.  And yet, they’re not really getting it.  They’re at an age where they can do more than what they have but they aren’t going to just offer.  This morning, even though I had a lot of other things I wanted to tackle, I took the time to make up a chore chart.  Part of it is also a list for Ellie to stay on task each morning to get ready for school, but it also incorporates some chore-related items.

After it was done we went over the daily list together and then I had an additional chart with 2 chores I need them to pick from during the school week.  They aren’t hard things and they’re totally capable.  They don’t love the idea, and I’m certain I’ll have to remind them to stay on their lists, but it’s a step in the right direction for my sanity.  Plus a little domestic responsibility isn’t going to hurt them.

The other area is mealtime.  Getting my kids to try more foods so I’m not making the very same items constantly would be wonderful.  Again, this is entirely my own doing.  One recommendation I would pass along, and I included in a previous post, is reading French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon.  I’ve created finicky eaters and it had become annoying and embarrassing.  I’m going to have to get creative with this because I’ve let it go far too long.  I wish I’d read the book when my girls were babies  – it’s very educational.  There are lots of negative comments about it if you read the reviews but there’s a lot of common sense logic.  In the United States many of us are too quick with snacks, drinks/juices, so when mealtimes roll around, kids really aren’t that hungry.  When I did read the book (just a year or two ago) I was surprised to learn that strollers in Europe (according to the author) don’t come loaded with all the snack trays and cup-holder options that we have standard here in the States.  They simply don’t offer snacks like we do.  Wow – light bulb moment!  Mealtimes and eating habits are going to take a lot of time and effort to undo what I let I go for too long.  I’m going to see what strategies I can come up with, but hopefully by including the kids in meal planning – making each responsible for choosing the menu one night a week (without repeating from last week!) and throwing some other fun “conditions” into the mix we can turn things around.  I’ve got lots of ideas, the trick will be forcing myself to stick with it.  

Those are the areas I feel I need to work on the most now.  As problems go, those aren’t so bad to have.  We don’t have discipline issues, mean-girl issues, or wanting expensive things.  We’ll get through it.  

Sometimes it’s okay to appreciate what is going right in your parenting world.  I read somewhere that you should let your kids overhear the nice things you say about them to others.  I love that idea.  Not bragging or boasting, but appreciating what your kids do well and letting them know.  That’s something I try to do, and I think it works.  There are lots of things I’m proud of with both of my daughters.  

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I wasn’t sure kids would ever be in the plans for me.  So I found a sweet little dog to love on, to fill the void I didn’t even know I had.  Hindsight, right? I know, dogs and kids are not quite the same.  My pets were indeed my first loves.  But once I became a Mom I felt a sense of fulfillment and happiness that I had no idea I was missing.  I’ve had it ever since and the relationship my girls have makes me so happy and swells my heart even more.

Speaking of pets, after the loss of little Gabby last month, I’m contemplating when the right time is to consider another dog.  What type will suit our family best, and the type of dog that would be best for my girls.  Gabby was unabashedly my dog and never forgave those interloping children we brought home.  But that’s another blog post.  Wait, I guess not.  This is the last of them.

If you’ve taken the time to read some of my posts or to comment, thank you.  It’s been rewarding and enjoyable.  I started my post saying that I’m really bad at good-byes, and I am.  So my fallback is always “until next time.”  Thank you to Unity Point for the opportunity, and thank you for taking your time to read the blog.  Best wishes to you on your parenting journey.  Until next time.

Judy