A good friend of mine introduced me to the phrase ‘your child is your mirror’ several years ago. Admittedly at first I thought she was being a crazy hippy, but I quickly realised how true it was and it is a concept I find it useful to remind myself of time and time again.
Over the last few weeks the dynamic in our home hasn’t been great. Isaac has been mildly destructor-like and ignoring me a lot and both him and Sophia have been very shouty and irritable with each other. I’ve been blaming it on the post holiday come down, the imminent arrival that we’re expecting, hormones, the lack of routine as everything we attend took a seasonal break, too much screen time… However yesterday I took a step back and realised that the problem actually lay with me! I’ve been mega grumpy the last few weeks. A mixture of having to finally stop weightlifting (so I’ve lost my exercise endorphins) and my SPD having got much worse and painful and limiting my mobility and ability to get out had left me glum and down in the dumps and it was rubbing off on everyone. Yesterday, I decided to make a conscious effort to be happier and not shout or be grumpy. And low and behold, everyone was much happier and it was the best day we’ve had in weeks! My children really are my mirror!
At first I said to Dan what a huge responsibility it is, being able to affect the mood of the whole household. To be honest, I almost slipped back into being blue as I pondered how tough it was for me 😉 But then I realised what an idiot I was being! It is in my own best interests to be happy and positive and if that rubs off on the rest of family then that is ace!!
I’m not saying that it’s always easy, old habits are hard to break and, for reasons I’ve never fathomed, sometimes it seems more satisfying and easier just to bark and shout rather than staying calm and talking through what feels like the hundredth sibling squabble of the morning. But I’m finding that for me it’s about reaching deep into my reserves to search for that last shred of patience in order to try and model good conflict resolution skills. And the funny thing, the more I do this, the easier it is to do the next time, and the next… Of course, we slip up every now and then. Yesterday Isaac thought it was hilarious to run away from me in the library and refused to listen to the waddling mother slowly dropping behind as I asked him to come back to the children’s section. In the end I told him there’d be no ipad when we got home if he couldn’t listen. That stopped him in his tracks! I didn’t feel comfortable having resorted to bribery but at least it was a calm solution. It’s a constant evolving process of trial and error, this parenting malarkey! But I am committed to being less shouty, less of a dictator in my own home and actually trying to engage in dialogue with the kids. If I want them to show me respect, I need to model it through respecting them as humans (albeit small ones).
It all seems so idealistic and easy when they are babies, but as they get older you realise that no matter what you do, they all want to push boundaries, to explore their own ideas about what they want to do. Some of the mainstream parenting techniques might seem appealing but I genuinely believe that communicating through talking rather than shouting, being reasonable in the boundaries you set and trying to parent from a loving, gentle perspective, although may take longer to see results, is a viable and successful approach.
So that about sums up my rambling thoughts for this Saturday morning. I discovered The Orange Rhino last year, a site set up by a Mum who challenged herself to go a year without shouting. I think it’ll be a site I keep going back to for support and advice in my attempt to change my parenting style to maintain a quieter approach this year. I really hope this post hasn’t come across as preachy, I just thought I’d share what I’ve been pondering over the last few days in case it was useful to anyone else. I hope you all have a lovely weekend, whatever you find yourself doing.