So let’s skip over the fact that it’s been over a full year since I’ve last posted. I’ll just say 4 kids is a different ball game and it has forced relative simplicity. Memory, patience, creativity, strength, and capacity for joy are acutely stretched in this season of life.
If this gaggle of kids has taught me anything, it’s to carefully consider what is important to care about and what can be cut from my keeper list. My risk tolerance has increased exponentially, and my “give a shit” factor has equally decreased. The list of things I stick to my guns about has gotten shorter. It takes so much effort to be consistent.
Like all parents, at the end of the day I’m freaking tired. I’m tired of saying the same thing 35 times over, cleaning up dishes again, breaking up fights, herding the shorties to the vehicle in a hurry, navigating the ever changing mood of the house ……… it never ends.
The exhaustion paved the way into a rut with our 3 year old, who is in a particularly special stage of throwing wicked tantrums. I used to threaten to take away her screen time like it was my job, which I KNOW teaches her nothing. In fact, it only punishes us both. Tantrum management was on the wrong priority list and my approach needed a switch; prioritize reflection in order to move from survival to effective coaching. Figure out the reason for the tantrum, then teach her the skills she needs to navigate those big feelings. It’s worth the investment. I know the tantrums are still going to happen as we both learn but my goal is for her to gain skill.
THE SAME GOES FOR FOOD.
Mealtime interactions can fall into a rut too. I’ve seen the pulse of parenting at mealtime so many times. The fall into control, or bribes and threatening for volume or variety of intake at one little meal. Not because it is easier to threaten or bribe, but because it seems the only thing that works in the moment. They do end up taking those extra bites for the promise of iPad or out of fear of a toy being taken away. The hiccup with the approach comes with the lack of skill building.
As a parent, the hard part is actually tolerating it when your child doesn’t eat what you would like him to eat. To let it go when you think he is going to get hungry before the next meal or snack. Not to rescue him and start short order cooking when all he ate for dinner was tomatoes. To coach food problem solving skills. To teach taste instead of intake. It’s worth it.