Parenting is no easy task. As our kids get older we trick ourselves into thinking it's going to be an easier road to travel - but you know what? We're so wrong.
We're lying to ourselves, likely to make it through the witching hours and the temper tantrums. But each year comes with new developments and new struggles. New hurdles to find ourselves jumping over, looking forward with a smile on our faces, and then over our shoulders to see what's coming up next.
So I'm here to offer you a few strategic tips on managing parenting without losing it on your kid. I don't always manage to pull these off, but when I do? They work. And since I know they work I try to do them more often. The trick is remembering.
6 Ways To Manage Parenting Without Losing It
1. Schedule some you and your kid time. I know, I know - you're thinking WHAT? That's how I want you to find a way to not use the never-ending yell on your child? Yes. Yes it is. I want you to spend a good solid hour or two on a weekend, or weeknight, just you and your kid. I want you to talk, read together, and focus on the activity at hand - instead of your phone, the television set, and whatever work is calling. Pencil it in if you have to. Just do it.
2. Let them interrupt you. You know they're going to do it anyway. So sometimes? You have to let them. Shelve those thoughts on how it's not proper to interrupt, and your concerns about their manners and all that and let them speak up. Think about the amount of times you've said to yourself - I need to say this right NOW - and interrupted your spouse or friend or colleague. And remember how you were busting a gut trying to not do so? And then multiply it. By whatever age your kid is. That's rough, man. Let 'em have this one sometimes.
3. Teach them to respect your privacy. Simple. Easy. Back to respect. Manners. As much as you need to give them the freedom to not do this? You also need some times where you absolutely must. You must do it. You must turn around and say, 'Listen, sweetie, mommy is going to be in the bathroom for the next ten minutes and I need you to stay put,' - and truth, good luck with that. But as they get older it needs to happen. And as they get older they'll ask for the same. Which brings me to the next concept.
4. Give them some privacy. What? Your 4-year-old doesn't need privacy? Yeah, she does. Sure, it'll be with the door open and your ear will be pressed against the wall, but she needs it. She needs that time to cool down and recover from the outburst or the sadness or whatever made her explode on you or your partner. Your baby needs a few minutes apart from you, too. Ensure that she gets it.
5. Explain things to them. It's so easy to say to our kids that we need them to let us have a few minutes without them hovering over us, but we're not really inclined to tell them why. And I know, again, that we're the grown-ups. We shouldn't have to answer to our kids. Of course not. But imagine if someone you loved just said to you - no - I don't want you to stand here - go 'way. True, we don't say it that way to our children, but it sounds like that to their little ears and hearts. So explain it to them. Because they need to learn that sometimes there will be grown-up conversations that they don't need to be a part of. And when that time comes and you direct them to their space? They'll need to know why.
6. Lastly? Take some time for just you. Leave your child with a sitter, a family member, their other parent, your partner, the drop-in day care center you've been terrified to look into but know has a great reputation. Moms, dads, go out for a child-free meal, alone or with someone. Get yourself pampered a bit, walk around Target for an hour or two, hit Starbucks or Barnes and Noble. Hit the pub to watch the game. Go to the range. I don't care what kind. Just give yourself a little bit of distance from your child for at least an hour or two each week. Once they're of school age this is a little bit easier, but if you work outside of the home or in the home pretty much full-time you're not going to feel like the hours of the school day are enough. You're entitled to take an hour to yourself to sit down with a good book, catch up on your DVR, or even go grocery shopping alone. You're allowed and it will be a good thing for you, for your child, and for your relationship (for your relationship with anyone else who lives in your house, too).
So - there you have it. These might sound like matter-of-fact ideas to you, but I'm sharing them anyway. Because sometimes it takes someone else saying these words to you to remind you of the importance of these actions. And sometimes it takes a stranger or a friend on the Internet to say them for you to suddenly say, omg - YES! That's right! I need to do that!
I hope you find this list helpful. If you have any other must-do suggestions for me, for your fellow parents out there in this virtual world we share together, please do leave me a note in the comments and let me know what they are. Because as parents we need to have each other's backs. We need to look out for one another. And we need to share ideas and support and understanding. All the time. So, come back by and talk to me. I got you.