Thursday, January 26, 2012

time and tone.

This morning my email gave me this message from Hal, of Scream Free Parenting:

There is something especially pernicious about bedtime issues. The kids are tired (although they sure as heck won’t admit to it), you’re tired (and you certainly have trouble hiding it), and like oil and water these two things just don’t mix.

I think children are afraid that all of the good stuff in life happens after they go to sleep. They will pull out all the stops in order to squeeze out a few extra minutes. Before the bedtime announcement, a child can be as content as can be. Afterwards, they suddenly are in need of water, a snack, a book, more time for homework. They move in slow motion as they clean up (if they even do) and they find any excuse in the book to engage you in a conversation as to why they aren’t tired. It can be so aggravating.

But aren’t we much the same? How many times have you been on your way to bed only to be lured to the glow of the television or the hum of the refrigerator? How many times do you know that you need to get some sleep, but you remember an important email you forgot to send? Too often, we expect more from our children than we do from ourselves. And this leads us to treat them with disdain and disrespect. Recognize that they are not all that different from you. Their lego project is every bit as important as your sales proposal, so don’t spring bedtime on them and expect them to drop everything and run upstairs. Start the bedtime process way earlier than you think you need to (for both of you!) and that way you can actually enjoy yourself along the way to dreamland.

Bedtime is bedtime here.  We have good nights and rough nights.  Ed does the boys almost every. single. night.  Bless him.  But this is his time with them.  And sometimes I rush them and that's not fair.  Ed does notice that I have a short fuse by bedtime, and I think it is obvious why the day ends this way for me.  I have been "on kid duty" all day.  Negotiating, entertaining, balancing, unfortunately bartering and arguing with human beings under the age of 8.  I am exhausted...mentally.  And by bedtime it is hard to realize the precious opportunity that this time of day offers...if we let it slow down and happen more peacefully. 

But this comment in my email today also reminds me that throughout the ENTIRE day, my children are little humans who have these needs that they often times have to verbalize and get help with.  Things like curing their hunger and thirst.  Help in the bathroom.  Permission for playing with certain things like markers and play dough and paint.  And this is all normal and developmental.  But sometimes I think, wow, how exhausting to have to ask for help with so many things.  To have to verbalize having your needs met...all. the time.  It has to be hard.  And to be brushed off with a "just a second."  Must be frustrating.  Even though on the mothering is only fair that you get to finish what you are doing before you hop up to get them another glass of water. 

My point.  Sometimes I forget that how I talk to my children wouldn't feel very nice...if someone was talking to me like that.  And that makes me really sad.  And yet, as moms and dads, we have to give ourselves breaks when we get frustrated and say things in a too harsh a tone.  I try to always remember that my tone says more than what I am actually saying.  And if I went to Target and asked where I could find the ranch dressing and the store lady rolled her eyes and said in a snotty tone, "I'll be there in a minute" and then a minute passes, so I ask again.  And she responds, "Right there!  Geez, open your eyes. Same place it was last time you were here."...well now, I would probably cry.  So today, I am admitting:

My name is Sarah.  I am a mama of three.  I sometimes am tired and frustrated having to communicate with  human beings that often times can't rationalize.  And sometimes I use a tone that isn't the best choice.  BUT, I am also known to apologize to my children.  And I think that - makes us all learn from our time together. 

Charley's teacher emailed today and said that a mom emailed saying, "her son has come home the last few days talking about a boy named Charley.  Charley asks him to play at recess, is kind sitting next to him in class, etc."  And his teacher said, "he is such a good role model." 

A reminder, that our low moments as parents can be low.  But they are just moments.  And as long as we are reflecting and always striving to do our best - those low moments don't overshadow all the good we do during on our mothering journey.  And getting kind comments from outside the family mean the world and they prove that we are doing it right...some of the time. 

I am thankful that my children have a daddy who can pull out just enough patience at the end of most days to try and fully experience the potential of the bedtime routine.  And how lucky we are that we can remind each other or relieve each other when our patience isn't there.  Slowing down, allowing more time, like Hal says, are solutions for responding to your child's needs ALL. DAY. LONG.  not just at bedtime.  Leaving the house.  Cleaning up toys. and on and on and on.

This is linked to Shell's Pour your Heart out.


MOMOF2 said...

Hello! I don't usually leave a comment on your blog. I just write you on your personal e-mail! But I too want to say that I apologized to my kiddos the other day also! I wasn't having the "best mom of the year day." And it really felt RIGHT & GOOD doing it after it was done! The Target example really was a great perspective; as it really drives me crazy when people act like that. And I can honestly say, I pretty much acted that way to my kiddos the other day! It is feels so good to SLOW DOWN! Thank you for this today....I really needed it as the week is winding down!

Goings on at the Glenn's said...

thank you so much for this post today. It is exactly what I needed. After Ethan has come down over 4 times asking if nap time was over yet it is exactly what I needed to hear.

natalie said...

I was reading a parenting book last night reminding me of the same basic topic. In this new year I hope to remember this often and remember that they are just kids.
I so relate to your mood at bedtime. At our house, we have a set routine and my kids are super about it, really no problems BUT my kids also know that mama hits the witching hour if we push it too late. They have in fact verbalized this to G and G!
Thanks for your link to the blog. I look forward to reading it everyday and love seeing the teaching projects you are doing...sometimes very similar to ours :)

Raina and Andy said...

GREAT post. almost all mom's can relate. and if they say they can't-they are pretending. so good to remember. Bedtime is trying over in this house too...and you are right about if someone talked to US like we talk to our children sometimes-we might also act "out" if we aren't already. great post. RR

Shell said...

I HATE bedtime here. B/c I'm just so worn out by then that I just want quiet. The day's activities have worn me out.

Thank goodness that even when I screw up, there are still some things that I do right during the day.

Kristen said...

Oh. I screwed up like 100 times today. I took a toy that belonged to one twin and gave it to another. Then I realized my mistake and gave it to the other.

*sigh* Bedtime tonight sucked. They were jumping on the bed. And... I said, "I'm not coming into cover you up later." ... later they wanted covered up. Ray had to go do it.... but tomorrow I will do better. Have more patience. Be better.

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

Ah...bedtime. The time of most of my snotty toned remarks. I'm glad to hear you admit to what we all do. It is hard some days, but you're right. Sometimes I step outside of the situation and hear how I sound and realize I would pound on someone else if they talked to my child like that. It puts it in perspective for me.


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