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Saturday, 12 January 2019

Looking inside to become a better mother...

This past December, I took some time off from work. Like REAL time off; I did not switch on the laptop, I did not answer to emails, I did not read papers for ten days. For those of you that know me well, you understand that this was not an easy decision but a much needed.  I needed time to clear my mind and be with my family. Within this "being with my family" need, I also had the need to spend quality time with my two boys, observe them, understand them, and know them better. As a working mother, time is limited during the routine of everyday life. Or rather let me put it better, how many of us parents have the time to reeeeeeally sit down and talk with our kids every single day of our lives? Among school, family, work and social obligations, days come and go and we talk only about practicalities. So, my idea for these holidays was to cover for all the lost time.

At the same time, I had the need to find new ways to become a better parent (don't we all do so?) and I was determined to educate myself. I registered for two parenting courses through UDemy (How to get your kids to cooperate and Alternatives to saying No, Don't, Stop without giving in) and Bob's your uncle...

When we make plans though, someone up there LOLs (when did the SMS-language disease hit me?)...

My 6 and a half-year-old bigboy "decided" this exactly is the right time of the year to challenge his poor mum...the same mum that "decided" to be an improved version of herself simultaneously... And that is where the fights started... Fellow parents, please confirm that we ALL at some point or another of our parenting career, we have wondered "What am I doing wrong?" or "Is there something wrong with him/her?" or "What changed and we lost our communication?".

Returning to the office in January, I was demotivated and confused. A discussion and a comment by one of my students though put things in perspective (thank you!). My student's dad  - a busy professional - when taking a break, he makes people around him "pray" for him to find something to do. I took a step back and reflected on my own personality characteristics which by the way, are quite similar to my son's. When I do not have my own routine, I feel as if I am out of control. My brain looks for any chance to implement order in what it perceives as chaos.

What if my son's reacting the same way? His brain is confused during holidays; if there is no routine, it will impose one. If there are no strict rules, I will invent a few of my own. For example, to avoid fights becoming worse, I would ask him to go to his room. He knew during the holiday, this rule would not be as strict as during school time. The reaction, hence, would be disrespectful and certainly testing "my" rule: "if I say NO, would she change her mind?" and the fights became worse. Until the lightbulb moment, a new rule needed to be established "every time you start becoming difficult, I will give you a hug attack" (if you have other ideas please share...). A strict rule with clear expectations helped both of us - I don't know for how long...

What did I learn from all these?
  • Before despair, observe, analyse, get all your facts right...
  • Treat the kids as if they are grown-ups. The only difference is in mastering the reactions and controlling the emotions. An adult would not growl but would be grumpy and in a bad mood for example. 
  • Our kids, most of the time, have some personality traits of ourselves. Identify them, it will help. 
  • One rule does not fit all and not at all times. My babyboy thrives if you give him options to choose and good reasonin: "Your grandfather needs help at the supermarket to pick the correct yoghurts" would have him dressed and ready in seconds to go and help, in comparison to "get dressed, you are going to the supermarket". My bigboy would not go to the supermarket, if the schedule in his mind did not include "going to the supermarket". (Guess who does not like changes....)

Self-reflection, introspection, open communication, and objective observation of the kids' behaviour and characteristics might provide more solutions than theoretical analysis.

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