Parenting

The parenting countdown: One…Twoooooo…Two and a Half…

We’ve all done it! The thing where you ask your kid to do something and they don’t listen. You repeat it, with a more stern voice and they still don’t listen. So finally, you give a stern, “One… twooooooooo….” And usually, they listen. Like magic, they do whatever it was that you told them to do two tries ago. The funny thing is, most of us don’t actually know what’s going to happen after we get to “three” when we’re counting, which is exactly why the pause gets longer and we draw the numbers out longer to give them more time to move! But why is this counting technique so magical? Why didn’t they listen the first two times?

It took me awhile to figure this mystery out with my first kid. I was getting so tired of asking and nothing happening until I started counting. But without fail, he listened as soon as I started counting. SO frustrating!! Then I stopped to think about what changed from the first time I asked him to do something and when I started counting. I noticed a few things: 1.) I was no longer asking, it was a command. 2.) My voice was stern and I meant business. 3.) He knew this was the end of the road and a consequence (whatever THAT mystery was supposed to be…) was going to happen next. I used this information to try to hone in on a better system.

I changed my delivery of these commands. And let’s face it, they’re commands. We might “ask” them to go pick up their toys, but in reality, there’s no question about it. We want them to pick them up. We don’t care if they don’t want to or if they don’t feel like it! Why do we even ask them to do it? We need to just tell them. That helped a little, however, I think I had already created a bit of a monster. By asking twice (or more) before the counting/possible consequence took place, I had trained him not to comply until then. I had let him know that it was okay to ignore me until he heard counting. Whoopsie! Here I thought I was being patient, but instead I was feeding the problem. So I realized I needed to move that possible consequence up to the first request. And what do you know? It worked! I would say, “I need you to stop and clean up your blocks. 1…” and like magic, he would go pick up the blocks, then come back to whatever he was doing. Totally evidence that it had been a “me” problem and not a “him” problem.

He’s 14 now and I’m happy to say that I don’t have to count every time I need him to do something. Thank GOD! Ha! I actually don’t even have to command him to do everything. I can ask him to do something and he’ll go do it. I just had to retrain him. I continued the command/counting sequence for awhile and then I could start to leave off the counting. He wasn’t even waiting to hear it anymore. He knew when I told him to do something, it needed to happen immediately and there wasn’t a way around it. Gradually, I could make it more of a conversational thing instead of a command and he would still listen because he was in the habit of doing things immediately as I asked. Luckily, his compliance helped train the rest of the kids as they were growing up. They would see him acting immediately and they started doing the same thing. They’re not perfect and we still have our moments, but for the most part, they know they are to comply with what they’re asked to do the first time. All I had to do was retrain myself!

organization, Parenting

When Schedules Collide

With four growing kids, you can imagine how ridiculous our schedules can get. I struggled to try to find a way to keep everyone connected. We used Google Calendar, and I still do. But somehow we ran into some hiccups where my husband wasn’t seeing things on my calendar, a few things mysteriously disappeared…basically just chaos happened. We needed something better!

A friend of mine is a Mary & Martha Consultant. I hadn’t heard of the company until I became friends with her, but their products are awesome! As a super thoughtful gesture, she gifted me a weekly calendar notepad, similar to the one in the picture that I found on Zazzle. It has been a game-changer. I’m positive she had no idea how big of a help that was. Or maybe she actually saw that I was a hot mess and was gently trying to help. Who knows!!Either way, I will forever be buying these things because they have majorly changed things at our house!

On Sunday afternoons or evenings, my husband and I write everything from our calendars (digital calendars, school calendars, activity calendars…everything) on one of these pages. We ask the kids if there’s anything they need to put on there like due dates for projects, spelling tests, activities we didn’t know about, or anything else. Not only do we make sure everything is laid out in one place, it’s a good reminder for us as to what the week actually holds. It’s easy to look at my calendar on my phone and think I’ve got it all. But to actually have to carry it over and write it down? It cements it in my brain and makes it harder to forget. Not impossible, but harder!

When it’s all on the counter in one place, not only can we make a plan to divide and conquer if needed, but the kids see what the week holds. It is SO easy for them to see which nights are jam-packed and which nights are free. We are all on the same page and there’s no surprises. It has made all of our lives so much more streamlined! It’s such an easy thing. I’ve seen notepads like this in the past. I’m pretty sure I’ve even bought them. But I don’t think I fully understood the need for them until there were six of us going in different directions at once. Now? Now I get it!

The most brilliant part of all of this is that we’ve started using the back of the sheet as a grocery list. Whenever somebody uses the last of something, they’re SUPPOSED to write it on the list. My husband and I are good at this but the kids aren’t quite trained…yet. It’s still been super helpful though! We usually place a grocery order on Saturday nights (we are QUITE the interesting couple, I tell you!), so it’s right there in front of us, ready to be entered.

Now, we still forget things here and there, but it’s been such a practical thing that we put in place that has made a huge difference! If you’re starting to feel like a chauffeur that has no idea where they’re going, give it a try. Go back to the basics of a pencil and paper. There’s something about it that just works for us!

Self-Development

To The One Who Is Always the Fixer…

Have you ever had something happen that is so coincidental it gives you goosebumps? Like, you’ve been hoping, praying and brainstorming about how to fix a problem and can’t find any great answers. Then all of a sudden, something falls in your lap that is completely NOT the direction you were looking at going, but you realize is probably the perfect solution?

I’m such a “fixer”, that this hasn’t happened very often in my life. I like change and sometimes I crave it, so I’m not scared to quickly change things, situations, schedules to try to fix problems. At this very moment, I’m actually wondering if I’ve sabotaged myself from opportunities simply by always trying to fix things myself. I’m so quick to jump in and come up with solutions that maybe I’ve missed out on things bigger than what I could ever dream up.

Recently I’ve been struggling to find some answers or solutions to a pretty major dilemma in my life. I’ve been scrambling to make it better. I’ve changed schedules, changed ways that I approach it, willed myself to change my attitude, tried things I’ve done in the past to make it better, made adjustments big and small…but nothing has really gotten to the root of the problem. It’s all been band-aids. Honestly, recently, I accepted the fact that I was pretty much out of ideas. I was disheartened and defeated. I just tried to make myself content and accept the things that I can’t change. I stopped fixing. I finally shut up and listened to the silence. I accepted that I am not the be all, end all. I have a cute sign hanging in my house that says, “Be still” and yet, I didn’t. Clearly I ignored my own advice. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the meaning of that phrase. Until now.

In my silence, an answer to the struggles came flying at me. Literally right in my face. It came at a time where I just didn’t see how things would ever get better. It came in a way that is impossible for me to ignore. It is 100% not at all where I was looking for an answer. It doesn’t fit with what I thought my own plan was. But after I’ve sat and thought about it, I’ve realized that it doesn’t FIT my plan…but it’s better! There are still so many details to figure out and it is still just a hypothetical thing. But I see a plan forming right in front of a me. A plan that is better than anything I could have come up with myself. A plan that I didn’t have to struggle to come up with. A plan that doesn’t have to drain me of energy to try to make it happen. Even if it doesn’t come to fruition, I don’t care. I’ve learned something. It’s good to be proactive. It’s good to try to help yourself. It is! But sometimes it’s good to be silent. It’s good to listen. Listen to things you can’t hear and see at first. Trust that sometimes things need to happen that are bigger than yourself. If you are struggling with something, if you’re the person that’s a “fixer” and you’re trying to find an answer. Just stop. Be patient. Pray…however that looks for you. Be still. And when you feel a nudge, listen. Don’t ignore it because it doesn’t fit what you were planning. It might be bigger than you. It might be exactly what you didn’t even know you needed. Stop fixing and listen.