Every night I go to bed, feeling like a failure.
I am not the mom I want to be. I make mistakes daily. You would think after 14 years of doing this, I would get it right. I haven't yet. And for a perfectionist, that is a tough pill to swallow.
Yet lately I have been thinking that as much as I do wrong, I actually do a few things right.
So that is what I thought I would share today...a few things I am doing "right" in the parenting department.
- I encourage my kids' creativity. I keep "creative" things on hand like markers, paper, stickers, paints, playdough, etc. I rarely turn them down when they ask to do those things (unless we are about to have company).
- We have the bedtime thing down. We have a good routine. They are all good sleepers. (Note: there are many ways to get to this point...I am just glad we found one of them :)
- We eat a variety of foods. We eat shrimp. We eat fish. We eat Thai. We eat Mexican. We are still working on variety in vegetables, but overall, we eat a variety of foods which makes my job of planning meals much easier.
- I have always encouraged reading. If my children were interested in The Titanic, we got Titanic books. We have books every where...toy room, bedroom, living room, even the car. I let the kids "read" during breakfast and lunch (which I often do too). And thankfully, all four are readers who truly love a book. If I mention a trip to the library or Barnes and Noble, their faces light up.
- We have learned to roll with the punches. I can't say I do it 100 percent of the time, but hopefully more often than not. Spilled milk? Well, wipe it up. Rainstorm ruined our plans? What can we do instead?
- They know I love their dad. I have a "I Love You Because..." sign (framed) in the bathroom next to my husband's sink. I change out the answer 2-3 times a week (with a dry erase marker). Not only does he read it but they do too. They know I love him, and they can see specifically what I appreciate about him.
- They are learning responsibility through chores. We have a daily chore chart. We rotate out emptying the dishwasher, refilling the dishwasher, taking out the recycles, and cleaning the bathroom each night (as well as setting/clearing off the table). The kids also have an extra chore each day which might be sorting clothes, vacuuming their rooms, taking out the trash, etc. And yes, even the 6 year old does these things (we help a little with the dishwasher but he is almost able to do it himself). If we start to see "half-hearted" attempts on chores, the offender gets to "practice" for the next three days on that chore. :)
- I try to instill responsibility. We are all working on that one. I do take care of school paperwork immediately and establish an "accountability" routine (get your folder out as soon as you get home). If you break something that belongs to someone else, you get to replace it.
- We are (hopefully) teaching financial habits with allowances. One child was spending a lot at school for lunches. We incorporated extra money into that allowance and now the child can use as much as he/she wants...but if he/she runs out of money before the month is up, that child will have to use his/her own money or pack a lunch. Another child loves social activities. We will pay for certain things but many activities come from his/her own allowance. If they want a toy or a pack of gum, they can get them...with their own money. :)
- I (hopefully) model service to them with things such as buying for angels off the angel tree at Christmas, praying for friends at dinner or at night, and making meals for others.
- I (hopefully) model faith to them. When faced with tough situations, we pray. I cannot quote a lot of Scripture, but we talk about God's faithfulness even in the tough times. I speak openly about my walk with God and often pray for them/with them for their own walks...
- I model wonder of the world. I get excited about baby birds in our doorway. I run outside to take pictures of sunsets. I stop to check out a beautiful butterfly. I see that now in them. Our youngest child will stop and say, "Look at that pretty sunset, Mom..."
- The gift of exploration. We hike a lot. Not all of the kids enjoy it but at some point, they all have fun. We explore new places and talk about the neat things God made around us. I hope that as my kids go through life, they will continue that exploration whether it is through hiking, travel, interests, etc.
- I encourage their interests. I have never "forced" my kids to play anything. But if they show an interest (in gymnastics, in baseball, in cross country, etc), we encourage them to pursue those things. No pressure. Just try them out and see if that is something they want to continue...
- I hopefully balance the needs of the house and the wants of the children. I have read those posters about how messy houses mean happy kids. I don't know that I totally agree with that. I know that I feel unsettled in mess. So I try to keep things organized. We talk about keeping up with our belongings and putting things away. But at the same time, we sometimes will stop and go for a swim or just play a game. Hopefully they are learning balance.
- Honesty. I try to be honest with them. One recently asked me if I thought about running away sometimes. I was honest. "Yes. But I don't. But, yes, I do think about it some days..." When they ask me about death or love or news/current events, I try to be honest (age appropriate).
- I look for the meaning behind their behaviors. It is easy to immediately jump on misbehavior, but sometimes I realize what I really have is a tired child, so we just move bedtime up. Or a child is really hungry, so we get a snack. I am not perfect at it but I do try.
- I teach consequences (especially natural). "Yes, you can wear those shorts, but you may not say ONE word about being cold..." "Oh, you lost that dollar I gave you? Too bad. I hope next time you will put it away..." "If you leave that golf club outside, it will rust. I will not buy you a new one."
- I am (fairly) flexible. I expect the kiddos to keep their room fairly neat but it is their room. That was evident today when the girls rearranged their room yet again...I let them try things out. If they don't like it, they change it.
- I encourage independence. I don't make lunch at all for anyone except myself and the youngest. If they want macaroni, they can make it. I do regular laundry but if you just HAVE to have something (and didn't get it in the baskets on time), you can do your own :)
- I love them. And I try to show them in a thousand different ways. I may not be the most affectionate. Or the "lovey dovey" mom others may be. But I hope at the end of the night, they all know how much I love them and how thankful I am they are my children...